The Iowa Hawkeyes had their first defensive lineman taken in the 2021 NFL Draft when defensive end Chauncey Golston was selected 84th overall by the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night. Now, a day three rounds later, the Hawkeyes have their second lineman off the board.
With the 158th pick overall in the fifth round, the Carolina Panthers selected superstar defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon.
Nixon, the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year in 2020, becomes the first Hawkeye off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Kenosha, Wisconsin native left Iowa City as a decorated defender after being named the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten and a unanimous All-American.
The big fella led a stifling Hawkeye defense last season with 45 total tackles and a team-high 5.5 sacks to go with a forced fumble and the most beautiful 71-yard interception return for a touchdown you’ve ever seen.
DAVIYON NIXON UNREAL BIG MAN PICK 6 WITH MOVES! pic.twitter.com/leUAEmWWOn— Heavens! (@HeavensFX) November 21, 2020
After such a dominant junior season, Nixon saw his draft stock skyrocket as high as 10th overall in some early mock drafts. But after a more earthly pro day outing he began to see his name slide down projections.
The first round came and went on Thursday night without Nixon coming off the board. Then the same happened on Friday night as the second and third rounds came and went. But the slide stopped on Saturday afternoon, as the Panthers stepped in to add the athletic defensive tackle—the pick came directly behind the Vikings grabbing Ihmir Smith-Marsette, too.
So, what are the Panthers getting?
Wt: 305 lbs
Hometown: Kenosha, Wisconsin
Team: Carolina Panthers
Full Draft Profile
According to the DraftNetwork.com “Nixon has very good spring and burst out of his stance to shoot gaps and create havoc in the backfield... Nixon has good length, violent and urgent hands, and the athletic ability to parlay his strong season into a starting role at the NFL level; although he may require some patience to reach that same level of impact as he’s only now starting to put it all together in the college ranks. This is a high ceiling prospect, but I wouldn’t consider him anything close to a finished product yet.”
Nixon used that explosion and athletic ability to leverage a late start at Iowa into 19 tackles for loss and 8.5 career sacks. Our own draft analyst, Rob Donaldson, had this to say about Iowa’s big man in the middle:
Nixon has all the makings of being the next big Iowa football success story on the defensive line, as he’s a big, disruptive playmaker with excellent technical skills who excels in both the run game and as a pass rusher. In addition, Nixon’s length and power make him versatile scheme fit for most NFL teams, which has become an invaluable trait in today’s NFL given how often defensive coordinators like to switch up their looks on defense to attempt to mitigate the offenses that are taking over the league.
With the Panthers, Nixon will look to leverage that versatility, athleticism and explosion into an immediate impact. Carolina has Derrick Brown and Brian Burns starting on its two deeps, can Nixon crack that nut?
Congratulations Daviyon Nixon and best of luck with the Panthers!