Don't be surprised if one of these guys slip into the first round
And as we see every year once the draft gets rolling, most people are wrong.
Without fail, there are always a handful of players selected in the first round who few people expected to go that high. I call these guys "Draft Crashers." They are the players who ruin your mock drafts and definitively prove that NFL execs love creating smoke screens while keeping their real intentions close to the chest.
I've targeted four such players who could be draft crashers in the 2021 NFL Draft. These guys are all high-ceiling players who aren't getting much love from draft analysts — but may get love from the people who matter.
Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
You could make a strong argument that Humphrey is the best center available in the draft. Very few mocks have him going in the first round, which seems strange for a position of such high importance. Then you need to factor in that he spent his college career playing in the same offense that produced Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts — three projected Week 1 NFL starting quarterbacks. Humphrey is about as safe a pick as you're going to find in this draft.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
A lot of scouts and analysts are drooling over the combination of size and athleticism of Patrick Surtain II. Melifonwu has the same size, athleticism, and overall skill set — he just played at Syracuse and not Alabama. Anyone looking for a big, athletic corner and not in a position to draft Surtain is going to target Melifonwu. Don't be shocked if that happens near the end of the first round.
Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
The defensive tackle position hasn't gotten much love this draft season, thanks largely to the depth on offense. Be that as it may, the position is always key in terms of equating individual talent with overall team success. Nixon is a specimen who dominates in the trenches — and he has yet to reach his full potential. And let's face it, Iowa guys who play in the trenches are about as close to a sure thing as there are in the NFL draft universe. I like a team without a lot of glaring needs to take Nixon early as a luxury pick.
Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
During the season, you couldn't get on social media on game day most weeks without people talking about the show Trask was putting on. Then draft season started and we forgot about him. Meanwhile, everyone is high on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Gator wideout Kadarius Toney. Go watch the game film of those players. What you won't see are highlight-reel catches. And that's because the ball was always where it needed to be. Those passes were delivered by Trask. I like him to be the sixth quarterback taken overall.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.