(Photo of Dez Fitzpatrick: Rob Kinnan – USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The nine former University of Louisville football players who have declared for the 2021 NFL Draft don’t have to wait much longer to learn who or if they will be selected, as the draft is set to begin in roughly three weeks.
As most know by now, the three former Cardinals who are most likely to be drafted out of that group are wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick, as well as running back Javian Hawkins.
With the draft just around the corner, The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler has released his annual NFL Draft Guide, nicknamed ‘The Beast’ as it includes comprehensive scouting reports for over 600 prospects – including Atwell, Fitzpatrick and Hawkins.
Like most draft experts, Brugler is highest on Atwell, as he not only ranked him as the No. 15 wide receiver in the draft class, but the No. 95 overall prospect – projecting him as a 3rd Round selection. Unsurprisingly, he is enamored by his speed and home run play ability, but is also weary of his frame and his route running.
“Atwell has a skill set very similar to Marquise Brown: vastly undersized with more drops than ideal, but his speed stresses every level of the defense,” Brugler wrote. “He projects as a homerun hitting option outside or in the slot.”
Brugler does not have Hawkins among his Top 100 draft prospects, but he is still very high on him compared to other backs in the class – ranking him as the No. 13 running back in the class and projecting him as 5th-6th Round pick. Like with Atwell, Brugler loves his speed and agility, but is taken aback by his frame.
“Hawkins lacks ideal size/power and relies more on a clear point of entry rather than creativity, but he has the speed, toughness and shifty feet to stack cuts on cuts on cuts,” Brugler wrote “He projects as a change-of-pace option in the NFL, especially if he earns trust as a receiver/blocker.”
Finally, with Fitzpatrick, Brugler ranks him as the No. 34 wide receiver in the class and projects him as a 6th-7th Round pick. Brugler likes his overall body of work and considers him of ‘jack-of-all-trades’, but also believes the ‘master of none’ part of the idiom applies as well.
“Fitzpatrick doesn’t offer any difference-making traits, but he doesn’t have any fatal flaws either,” Brugler wrote. “He displays average-level pass-catching skills to be a reliable target in the KeySean Johnson mold.”
While several other Louisville prospects were not given full-on evaluations, Brugler still ranked them on his positional big boards. Ean Pfeifer was ranked the No. 39 tight end, Dorian Etheridge was the No. 38 linebacker, Rodjay Burns was the No. 55 linebacker, Marlon Character was the No. 58 cornerback and Isaiah Hayes was the No. 50 safety. The only former Cardinal to not be ranked was defensive lineman Jared Goldwire.
You can view his 2021 NFL Draft Guide, complete with full evaluations of Atwell, Hawkins and Fitzpatrick, here.
The 2021 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, Apr. 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPN and the NFL Network. Louisville will kickoff the 2021 season against Ole Miss in the annual Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Monday, Sept. 6.
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