By Shan Reddy
With Stanford’s 2021 NFL Pro Day now in the books, Draft Day looms large for the Cardinal’s future NFLers. Though many didn’t get much time in the spotlight this season, recent draft buzz seems to indicate that a few of the Cardinal’s stars — most notably Walker Little and Davis Mills — may be picked earlier than previously thought. Here’s where and when The Daily’s Shan Reddy thinks that you can expect to see the Cardinal’s draft prospects going in this year’s NFL draft, which begins Thursday.
QB Davis Mills
Redshirt junior Davis Mills was the top-rated quarterback recruit in the country back in 2017 and started in 11 games over the past two seasons for the Cardinal. Mills shows average athleticism and mobility and has limited starting experience; nonetheless, his impressive arm talent and prototypical size indicate he could have a future as a starter in the NFL.
Recent mock drafts have seen Mills going as high as the end of the first round; look for a team with an aging starter at quarterback to pick him up as a developmental backup somewhere on Day 2 of the draft.
Potential fits: Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Football Team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OL Walker Little
Senior Walker Little is another highly touted recruit who will likely be taken in the first few rounds of the draft as a developmental prospect with promise thus far unrealized. Little was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection as a sophomore, putting up the third-highest pass-blocking grade of any lineman in this year’s draft class per Pro Football Focus. Though he got off to a hot start in college, he only started in one game in the two years since. This lack of game tape makes Little a big bet, but one that many teams will likely be willing to make in a league where the pass-blocking tackle is becoming an increasingly premium position.
Little is athletic, technically sound in his pass sets and quick in picking up defenders at the second level in the run game, and he has an NFL pedigree. He’ll need some time to get used to the play speed of the NFL and will likely need to put on some weight, but he should be a starter by his second year in the league if he can stay healthy. Look for a team with a non-urgent need at tackle to take him in the middle of the second round as a developmental prospect who could sit on the bench for the first half of his rookie season and start to see playing time as a swing tackle towards the end of his first year before taking over as a starter in year two.
Potential fits: Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions
CB Paulson Adebo
Redshirt junior cornerback Paulson Adebo was rumored to be a future top-10 pick after his strong 2018 campaign in which he led college football in pass breakups. His 2019 tape exposed some hip tightness in man coverage; nonetheless, he has above-average size and ball skills at one of the game’s most coveted positions.
Adebo’s length and production should make him a day-two target for most teams in the league; after all, you can never have enough corners as a team in today’s pass-happy NFL. Look for the Texas native to be picked in the middle-to-late second round of the draft by a team hoping to fill a hole in its defensive backfield at the second outside corner slot.
Potential fits: New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints
WR Simi Fehoko
Junior wideout Simi Fehoko likely bumped himself up a round or so after running an impressive 4.39 40-yard dash at the Stanford Pro Day last month. At 6’4″ and 222 pounds, Fehoko’s athletic testing numbers are certainly eye-catching, as was his production this season, posting 574 receiving yards and three touchdowns en route to First-Team All-Pac-12 honors.
Fehoko looks to be a rotational X receiver for an offense with a creative coordinator; think of big, lean, fast wideouts like free agent Quincy Enunwa, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Demarcus Robinson or the Green Bay Packers’ Equanimeous St. Brown as potential comparisons.
Potential fits: Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
IOL Drew Dalman
Redshirt junior center Drew Dalman is likely to be the last Cardinal to be selected in this year’s NFL draft. The son of a former NFL lineman and coach, Dalman boasts strong technique and consistency, but lacks some of the requisite size and power to be a plus-starter at the position at the next level. Nonetheless, there have been a handful of smaller centers that have been able to carve out a role in the NFL over the past few years — see the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jason Kelce and Los Angeles Rams’ Brian Allen as examples.
Dalman will likely be able to find a role as a backup center for a zone-scheme team looking to add some depth.
Potential fits: Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos
WR Connor Wedington
A team captain at Stanford who tested well, redshirt junior wideout Connor Wedington is unlikely to be picked higher than Round 7. He could see action at the next level as a return man after earning Stanford’s Most Outstanding Special Teams player in 2019.
Potential fits: Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets
OL Foster Sarell
A team could take on a late-round flier in senior offensive tackle Foster Sarell, who started in 17 games at right tackle over the past two seasons for the Cardinal. He has good size but lacks the fluidity and movement skills to make it early on as a starter at the next level. He will compete in camp for a backup right tackle spot, and has a decent chance to hear his name called in the last 50 picks of the draft.
Potential fits: Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots
Though they likely won’t hear their names called come Draft Day, look out for senior edge Gabe Reid, fifth year linebacker Jordan Fox, fifth year defensive lineman Thomas Schaffer, fifth year linebacker Curtis Robinson and fifth year tight end Scooter Harrington to compete for rosters this summer.