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This week the NFL Draft 2021: The Latest Picks and Analysis

This week the time has come: the 2021 NFL Draft. Over the past two months, we’ve looked extensively at each position and the most incredible talents. This week is all about the NFL Mock Draft. 


  • Age: 21
  • Length: 1.93 m
  • Weight: 123 kg
  • Senior
  • Michigan Wolverines

The Colts have only six picks in total this year, all of which are also at the end of the round. In short, the options are scarce, and every selection should actually be a direct hit for head coach Frank Reich and GM Chris Ballard.

Offensively, an extra slot receiver and OL are the main focus points. Why OL? Next season’s OL is fantastic, but of the starters, LT Sam Tevi, RG Mark Glowinski and RT Braden Smith will leave next year on a free transfer. In addition, a few backups are also going, making the flush next year very thin. So, in addition to a receiver like Rashod Bateman or Kadarius Toney, an offensive lineman like Dillon Radunz or Samuel Cosmi is an absolute possibility.


But also defensively, the Colts could use some reinforcement. S Trevon Moehring wouldn’t be a bad idea here, while on both ILB and EDGE/pass rush, the Colts could use some amplification. The best option on ILB is Jamin Davis, but on OLB / EDGE, Zaven Collins, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari, Joe Tryon, and Gregory Rousseau are still available. The question is: who do we choose. We’re going for a pass rusher that the Colts really need. Kwity Paye is a Colt.


  • Age: 21
  • Length: 1.96 m
  • Weight: 140 kg
  • Sophomore
  • Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tennessee Titans start this draft with four picks in the first three rounds. Head coach Mike Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson thus have quite a few picks to strike in this draft. What do they need? First, the Titans need outside of slot receiver to support AJ Brown and Josh Reynolds, who came over from the Rams. In addition, Jonnu Smith has of course left. A weapon like Elija Moore, Kadarius Toney or Rashod Bateman wouldn’t be a bad idea. That is the most obvious option offensively.

Defensively, there are a few more holes. A nose tackle like Christian Barmore (to replace Mack Daylon) wouldn’t be a bad idea, but could also be done later in the draft. At OLB, Zaven Collins in the 3-4 system of the Titans would be a welcome addition to the new addition Bud Dupree. Finally: ILB, which now houses Rashaan Evans, Jayon Brown and David Long. Jamin Davis and Nick Bolton could complement or replace them just fine.


We let ILB go because that is where the value lies in the second round. Then we prefer Barmore over Collins because the Nose Tackle is a bit bigger than OLB. Finally, the choice: will it be a receiver or Christian Barmore? We go for the latter option. Barmore is the Titans’ new nose tackle.


  • CB Age: 20
  • Length: 1.85 m
  • Weight: 86 kg
  • Junior
  • Northwestern Wildcats

With the 23rd pick, the New York Jets will have the chance to choose a player for the second time in the first round. After the Jaguars, the second team of four teams (also Jaguars and Ravens) can twice decide in the first round. Who chooses GM Joe Douglas here?

In the second choice, of course, it was Zach Wilson. So QB has been filled in. The question that remains: what now? Offensively, an RB makes the most sense here. A first-round RB is a huge gamble, but Najee Harris, Travis Etienne and Javonte Williams are still available. This is the first choice in the design where RB is likely to really be considered.


Because it is clear that the defense needs help. An extra EDGE rusher to support Carl Lawson and Jabari Zuniga wouldn’t be destructive. With Azeez Ojulari, another first-round EDGE rusher is available. Jamin Davis backing up CJ Mosley and Jarrad Davis could be okay, especially since Jarrad Davis will be a free agent next year. Finally, the secondary, where especially the corner ridges, could use some help. The # 1 CB right now is … Justin Hardee. Exactly. Greg Newsome II would then be the logical reinforcement.

But who do we choose? As much as we’d like to give weapons to Zach Wilson, RB is dropped due to the significant needs on the defensive side of the ball. An RB can also be drafted in the second or third round. For us, it’s between Azeez Ojulari and Greg Newsome II, and due to the lack of quality in the CB position with the Jets, Greg Newsome II is our pick.

An analysis on Kwity Paye

Kwity Paye spent two full years and a half at Michigan. His 2020 season was short and sweet due to an injury. However, especially in the game vs Minnesota, he still showed the Paye who played so, especially in 2019. There are still some question marks when it comes to his technique and its consistency. Still, in general, Paye seems to be already further along in his development than Rousseau. The question that remains: is it better?

The biggest flaw at the moment is its positioning. Especially in the running game, he sometimes forgets to put the edge, and the pure pass rusher in him comes out. Just when this is not the intention. There were times when he showed that he could, but it still happens too often that RBs saw a lot of space on the side because Paye went in instead of checking the outside and forcing the RB in.

This, too, all has to do with consistency. There are times when Paye looks like a top-10 pick, but there are also times when you think, could he be a first-round talent? In some games, he had no influence whatsoever. He was invisible, and in some games (like vs Minnesota last season), he single-handedly demolished the opponent’s offensive line. If Paye can bring this consistency throughout the season and be technically well-coached at the NFL level, Paye is a home run from a pick in the 15-30 range.


Two other side notes: Paye only played four games in 2020 due to an injury. It is also the only injury he has experienced so far, but it is something to be reckoned with. Furthermore, Paye, just like Rousseau, is not suitable for coverage. In a 4-3 system, he will therefore be more like DE than EDGE, but with Paye you have (unlike Rousseau) a bit more versatility in that respect. A 4-3 system can act (as a three-technique or just standing) as both DE and DT due to its functional strength.

Kwity Paye, just like Rousseau, certainly still has some steps to take and already has more match experience (at a somewhat higher college level). Also a bit more versatile and further as a player than Rousseau is. Also for Paye is that he can become an all-pro in the NFL with good coaching. However, as with Rousseau (and many of these EDGE rushers in this class). The NFL team that drafts him may also see the other side of the coin.

The Kansas City Chiefs return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969

With yet another crazy performance by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969. The Chiefs, who entered the playoffs as the second seed in the AFC, came back from a backlog on the second quarter board. With 28 points in a row, they outdid the Tennessee Titans (# 6 seed): 24-35. On February 2, the Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Miami.


Just like last weekend, the Chiefs did not start well. Last week they quickly faced a 24-0 deficit. This time, it was a 10-0 deficit, but they went into halftime with a 21-17 lead. Trailing 17-7, Mahomes and his team went off with a whopping 342 attacking yards against just 39 of the Titans. Then the so-called garbage time started. With 7:30 minutes left, the game was over. Mahomes did everything: long passes, short passes, rushes. He was untenable. Tennessee kept the field short and did not seek refuge in deep balls. It didn’t matter to the Kansas City quarterback. The Titans defense didn’t control him, so he ended the game with 23 of 35 passes, 294 passing yards and three touchdowns. We also forget his already legendary touchdown run.

Chicago Bears seizes the golden opportunity.

At Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears had a golden opportunity to seize division profit against perennial rival Green Bay Packers. Before that, it still had to be settled with “final boss” Aaron Rodgers. That assignment seemed to go smoothly for three quarters, although the fourth quarter was still a bit tense. However, Rodgers was unable to complete his drives and was caught by Eddie Jackson at a crucial moment in the endzone. It was the first! Interception against Rodgers this season.

Another drive ended in a field goal, but the onside kick was nowhere for the Packers. The Bears kept their lead thanks to the defense, but Mitchell Trubisky also contributed. The sophomore quarterback stayed clear, leading his team 20/28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns to the 24-17 win. Yet there is only one name that circulates in Chicago: Khalil Mack.

The Bears are 10-4 and can even hope for a top-two finish in the NFC. This, if the Saints or the Rams make another mistake. For the Packers, a loss at Soldier Field is a painful end to the season.

Best rush defense in the NFL

With Ezekiel Elliott facing the best rush defense in the NFL and Amari Cooper facing Marshon Lattimore, player Dak Prescott needed an extra target. This to get out of the heavy pressure of the Saints defense (7 sacks). Wide receiver Michael Gallup fulfilled that role with flying colours. Especially during the first drive, the rookie proved his worth. First with a third-down conversion, then with a catch for 40 yards. In both cases, Eli Apple was unable to stop Gallup from press coverage. Hence, the Cowboys’ plan of the attack appeared to be based on exploiting Apple’s weaknesses. The Saints ended up with Eli Apple searching for a cornerback before the trade deadline remains a mystery.

The Dallas Cowboys immediately scored from their first drive. With that, the New Orleans Saints fell behind in a game for the first time since October 14. Usually, that shouldn’t be a problem for a team that, until last night, scored an average of more than 37 points per game. In Dallas, however, it turned out to be a lot more complicated. Drew Brees struggled against the Cowboys defense from the outset, which became apparent with his first four incompletions. This is unique because Brees has never started a match with 0 out of 4.

The quarterback, who is in a historically good season in terms of completion percentage (on track to break his own 2017 record), then recovered somewhat but only got 18/28 for 127 yards. The Dallas D’s coverage of Michael Thomas (8 catches for only 40 yards) was excellent. Two-headed running back monster Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram had to take enough with just 63 rushing yards total.

Still, the Saints came close to winning eleventh in a row. The Cowboys forgot to push through in the second half and failed to take enough distance in the final phase. Dak Prescott lost the ball in the red zone, giving Brees a chance for a winning drive. Jourdan Lewis, who saw an interception slip through his hands in the opening phase, was still the celebrated man with a pick on Brees.

Inducting (Another) New 3-Sigma Athlete

I wrote the last induction post in April 2015, welcoming Connecticut corner Byron Jones into the club. This is what i said at the time.

The name of this blog is 3 Sigma Athlete, which refers to the rare NFL player who stands three standard deviations above the NFL standard pSPARQ at a given position. I’ve written before about the 3 sigma athletes who are currently in the NFL: J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson, Evan Mathis, and Lane Johnson.

On the day that this site was launched, Mathis was the one to think of the 3sigma club.

What is a 3 Sigma Athlete?

3 sigma athletes don’t show up very often. 3 standard deviations from the mean correspond to the 99.87th percentile. It isn’t 1 in 1000, but it isn’t far off, either. In 2014, no players were added to the 3sig club, though Seattle’s 6th-round pick, Garrett Scott, did just miss, falling short by an impossibly small margin.

In the last two years, Calvin and Mathis retired. Kristjan Sokoli was tentatively in the club (if he stuck at offensive line), but he’s playing DL in Indy. That left us with three members of the club: J.J. Watt, Lane Johnson, and Byron Jones.

We now have a new member to induct; Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. I’ve waited to announce as we didn’t have his Combine 10-split and his pro day short shuttle time was difficult to pin down. Values between 4.09 and 4.30 have been reported, and I wasn’t comfortable finalizing Obi until i knew he’d stick. With the full data back now, he’d be a 3sig even with the short shuttle lower bound of 4.30. With the more widely reported 4.09, he lands at 3.3 sigma, clearly the best safety athlete of at least the last 19 draft classes.

Obi is yet another case study in how teams value elite athleticism. Jones wasn’t a notable prospect until he set a world record in Indy, and he went in the first round. Melifonwu might end up going just as early as Jones, and there wasn’t any buzz suggesting that before the Combine. It’s not hard to see a team like Dallas or Seattle, each with a history of targeting uber-athletes, targeting him at the end of the first round.

As I said two years ago, the 3 sigma club is just trivia, but it’s fun trivia. Congrats to Obi. We really do need to get him a t-shirt.


2017 Combine Prep

Hey all,

I posted the 2017 SPARQ rankings page. Each sheet is populated by the 2017 Combine roster. I’ll be adding data to the pages as it comes along over the next week. Currently, measurements are taken from all-star games already attended, like the Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. Those measurements will be replaced by Combine measurements as they become available.

Let me know on twitter if there’s anyone that should be in a different positional category. I do my best to get players assigned to roughly the correct position group, but there’s probably a few misses in there. (but yes, listing Jabrill Peppers as safety is intentional).

Non-combine invites and pro day measurements will be added as they come along later. Happy Combine week (feat. Solomon Thomas Day).

Combine Results: All positions poste

SPARQ rankings for Combine results at all positions are now available on the rankings page.

Please note:

–I decided not to calculate approximate SPARQ results for a few high-profile prospects who didn’t complete all Combine drills. This is particularly relevant for Robert Nkemdiche and Charles Tapper. I project each to among the top at their position.

–Rankings will be updated to reflect pro day data. I haven’t included any yet. It’s just easier to update with a big chunk of data after we accumulate a week or two of results.

–Some players are probably not at the ideal position, particularly with DL/EDGE/LB, where lines are a little blurrier than elsewhere. Let me know on twitter @zjwhitman if you feel someone listed at the wrong position.

–There will inevitably be a few birthdays where I fat-fingered the year. Let me know if something looks off (but not with Andrew Billings. Yes, he was born in 1995. Stop tweeting me about 1996, please and thank you).


Combine Results: Running Backs, Defensive Backs

We waited all Combine weekend for freaks, and they were all in the defensive back group. The best 6 projected SPARQ scores all came from the secondary.

The full rankings are now posted at the RBCB, and Safety pages. Please note that many of the results are estimates as players did not complete all necessary drills — particularly in the case of missing agility drills, the results are approximate.