After declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft this week, Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon is a name to keep an eye on in the first round.
Iowa football has developed several draft picks over the years, but only 23 players have been selected in the first round in program history. With his combination of talent and on-field production this season, defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon has a great shot at being the 24th.
Nixon, a junior, declared for the 2021 NFL Draft on Wednesday after a breakout season this fall. Nixon was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American after leading the conference in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (13.5).
Nixon is just the 12th consensus All-American during Kirk Ferentz’s tenure as head coach of the Hawkeyes.
“I have had many great teachers and coaches along the path, especially here at Iowa. I would not be in the position to chase my NFL dreams without the leadership of Coach Kirk Ferentz,” Nixon wrote on Twitter.
“I am very happy for Daviyon and his family,” said Ferentz on Wednesday. “I know he put a lot of time into making the choice to take this step.”
So what makes Nixon a potential first-rounder?
For starters, his rare combination of size and athleticism is something that will immediately get NFL evaluators excited. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, Nixon can do more than stop the run. His ability to rush the passer was showcased all season long. Blocking him with double teams rarely worked.
Nixon has the tools to succeed right away in the league. It’s not every year that we see players his size with the ability to rush the quarterback. On top of his 5.5 sacks, Pro Football Focus charted him with 23 quarterback pressures this season.
Because of that, Nixon will be seen as a true three-down player. He won’t need to come off the field in obvious passing situations on 3rd-and-long. As a versatile interior lineman, it’s not a surprise Nixon is ranked inside ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s top 10 NFL prospects.
In fact, Nixon was recently ranked as the 10th overall prospect by Kiper. “Nixon has been one of the most dominant and disruptive players in the country in 2020,” Kiper wrote.
Kiper isn’t the only analyst that gave him recognition, either. In one of PFF’s latest mock drafts, Nixon was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. PFF’s Mike Renner called Nixon “a battering ram on the interior”.
Although he didn’t get a chance to play one last time for the Hawkeyes after the Music City Bowl was canceled due to covid concerns with the Missouri program, Nixon showed plenty in Iowa’s previous eight games to warrant consideration as a first-round selection this spring.
The Hawkeyes have had players selected in the first round in each of the previous two years (TJ Hockenson, Noah Fant and Tristan Wirfs). Can Nixon make it three years in a row?