2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Daviyon Nixon

January 23, 2021 1:00 AM EST

Daviyon Nixon Scouting Report picture

School: Iowa

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 305

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #54

Position: DT

Evaluated by: Brad Kelly
January 23, 2021

Prospect Overview

2019: 13 games played (1 start)
2020: 8 games played (8 starts)

After being named 1st Team All-State in Wisconsin, Daviyon Nixon opted to go to junior college out of high school. The two-time captain and four-year basketball player committed to Iowa Western, where he eventually earned a 3-star recruiting ranking after one season of junior college. After redshirted his initial year at Iowa, Nixon saw the field in a reserve role in 2019, finishing with 29 tackles and 3.0 sacks.

Daviyon Nixon Scouting Report image 1

Nixon became a full-time starter in 2020, a season that saw him produce 5.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, 45 total tackles and a 71-yard pick-six in 8 games. Nixon was named consensus All-American, Big 10 defensive player of the year, and was a finalist for the Outland and Nagurski awards.


Iowa's defense mostly tasked Nixon with aligning at the 3-technique (just outside of the guard) and as a tilted 1-technique. Nixon was often involved on stunts, shooting into gaps that he was not originally aligned in. This required quickness out of his stance, which is a strength of his. It also requires a defensive lineman to fend off blocks with a rip move and low pad level, which Nixon is able to do as he shoots gaps.

Daviyon Nixon Scouting Report image 2

With his first step quickness and natural leverage, Nixon is often able to play in the opposing backfield. Penetration is a strength of Nixon's, and he'll shoot out of his stance and fully extend underneath the pads of offensive lineman.

Nixon is able to fend off any reach blocks with explosiveness and balance, or jump one gap over while making the offensive lineman whiff at air. With active hands out of his stance, offensive lineman struggle to get into his pads and drive him off the line. He's quick in a phone booth, able to destruct blocks with hand swipes and pursue the ball carrier with a constant motor. His power and strength at the point of attack is a plus. Once he's able to close on the ball carrier, he's a consistent and strong tackler who brings pop behind his pads.

Areas for Improvement

Nixon currently has the flaws that you'd expect from an inexperienced defensive tackle prospect. He can get tripped up in his screen recognition, being late to retrace his steps towards the screen and getting caught in no-man's land. He will voluntarily stall his pass rush in order to attempt a bat-down. This happens too often and too early in his pass rushes, failing to collapse the pocket from the interior, giving the quarterback extra time and space to step into throws.

Nixon has yet to develop counters as a pass rusher, relying too heavily on the push-pull and rip moves. When he's initially stalled, he reverts directly into bat-down mode rather than work a counter. When he's able to clear his pads, there isn't much bend in his lower-half from the 3-technique spot. He needs to continue developing in how he handles double teams, changing his leverage to not give ground off the line of scrimmage or work to split the blocks. Late in games or against high-tempo offenses, Nixon seemed gassed. This isn't exclusive to Nixon as a first-year starter, and will hopefully improve as he gains more experience and snaps in the NFL.

Daviyon Nixon Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

Nixon entered the season having flashed a bit during the 2019 season, but his stock really took off throughout the 2020 year. He went from a complete unknown as a redshirt, to a reserve role with minimal production, to one of the best defensive players in the country this year. With the requisite size, quickness, and overall athleticism, Nixon projects as a starting interior defensive lineman. .

Nixon's best role in the NFL will be as a one-gap penetrating 3-technique, but he'll be able to take reps over the center or on the edge depending on personnel, opponent and game situation. Nixon will be an option for teams on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, as his projection may not fit every defense. He'll need to develop secondary pass rushing moves and operate better in true 1-on-1 reps before being relied on to be a full-time starter.

Daviyon Nixon Scouting Report image 4

Player Comparison

Sharrif Floyd was drafted 23rd overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, playing in four seasons until an unfortunate injury ended his playing career. Floyd was just under 300 pounds, but fit the mold of a penetrating one-gap defensive tackle who was explosiveness out of his stance. Floyd's best asset was his active hands to get rid of blockers. He hit his stride in his second season (4.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 42 total tackles), a reasonable expectation for the developing Daviyon Nixon.

Games Evaluated

  • Nebraska (2020)
  • Michigan State (2020)
  • Penn State (2020)
  • Wisconsin (2019)

Notes from Film

  • Will be effective on stunts that require a "clear-out", or a defensive lineman screening an offensive lineman that is attempting to block a looper
  • Difficult to reach from the 3-technique spot when performing a stunt, due to his explosiveness and extension
  • Better against double teams as a "tilted" 1-technique, has the pad level to split them
  • Enough juice to chase down runs as they cutback, or force the play to bounce
  • Basketball background shows up with his lateral movements or shiftiness side-to-side
  • His performance against Nebraska was his best of the 2020 season

Scouting Video Courtesy of Rob Donaldson

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