Nixon is the top defensive tackle prospect in this year's draft
Teams looking to beef up their defensive line will have plenty of options at tackle to choose from in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, including Daviyon Nixon. Here's a look at what teams like and have some concerns about when it comes to taking last season's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2021 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Click here to get your copy.)
Daviyon Nixon Draft Profile
A powerful, nimble athlete at 300-plus pounds, Nixon is a junior college transfer who was brought along slowly while focusing on academics in 2019 before breaking out as a dominant force last fall. He’s an explosive mover at the snap who packs a ton of power at the end of his long arms, rocking offensive linemen back and blasting creases open. He’s exceptionally quick once that crease opens up, capable of knifing through while his contact balance keeps him from falling off. He has the relentless motor and closing speed to finish plays when he gets into the backfield. As a run defender, he’s at his best as a one-gap penetrator but can also man two gaps and hold his own while occupying multiple blockers. He’ll also chase down run plays in pursuit like a man 50 pounds lighter. NFL staffs will appreciate that he chose not to transfer and stayed with a program that’s popular among pro evaluators.
He didn’t see a lot of world-beaters playing a Big Ten-only schedule that didn’t include Ohio State, and he’ll be making a jump similar to mid-major players when it comes to level of competition. He sometimes has issues locating the ball, and while it should correct itself with more reps, misdirection at the NFL level could exacerbate it.
Nixon seemed to be just scratching the surface last season, and he brings enormous upside as a 3-technique or nose shade in a draft class that’s thin on impact defensive tackles. He might start off in a rotational role, but he has a three-down skill set and All-Pro potential pending a couple of seasons of refinement.
Final Grade: 1st/2nd round
(Top photo by Brian Ray courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)