Four players of the Virginia Tech secondary were selected in Pro Football Network’s seven-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
With the 2021 NFL Draft a mere eight months away, the time as come for the onslaught of mock drafts to start being published. Though the 2020 NCAA season will look drastically different this year, the goal of evaluating talent and projecting where players will go is one of the few normals left during these unforeseen times.
Throughout the seven-round mock draft, the goal of PFN was to select players that “either fill a major position need or select the best player available,” which saw four VT that fit that criteria to be selected.
Caleb Farley- Jacksonville Jaguars: P. 17
The first of the four to be selected, to no surprise, was cornerback Caleb Farely to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 17th pick of the draft.
For Jacksonville, this selection makes all the sense in the world as in 2019 the team’s top-performing cornerback was Tre Herdon who recorded only three interceptions and 14 defended passes. Farley on the other hand had himself quite a year with Virginia Tech. Recording 12 defended and four interceptions, his efforts saw his name near the top of many ACC categories. Though he has decided to sit out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, his prior showing has been enough for analysts to project him as a top-15 player in next year’s draft class.
Farley’s addition to the Jacksonville defense would be something that is much needed. Finding themselves near the bottom of the league in total points-against with 397 for 24.8 per game, Farley’s lock-down ability would be a warm welcome to a team that is trying to rekindle their identity.
Jermaine Waller- Atlanta Falcons: P. 107
With the 107th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Atlant Falcons selected another Virginia Tech cornerback. This time it was Jermaine Waller.
The Falcons were another team that lacked in secondary ability last season after giving up a total of 399 points (24.9/g). With their top-performing talent in the secondary being Desmond Trufant, the mock draft saw the Falcons select him a complementary corner.
During the 2019 season, Waller recorded three interceptions to tie with teammate, linebacker Dax Hollifield, for seventh in the ACC. Waller was also was tied for fifth in the ACC with 13 passes defended which earned him an All-ACC honourable mention.
With Farley’s opt-out of the 2020 season, it is assumed that Waller will have to take on a larger role with Virginia Tech this season and fill the shoes that are left vacant now. As the Hokies prepare for an all-ACC schedule, Waller and the Tech secondary will have to take on Trevor Lawrence and the Clemon Tigers in a critical final-season game at home.
Oakland Raiders- Divine Deablo- P. 201
Later in the draft, another deep secondary player was selected by the Oakland Raiders in safety Divine Deablo with the 201st pick.
When thinking of the Oakland Raiders, many think of a gritty, terrifying team that will be a force to play against. For many years that as true, but as of late, the team has started to slip and share the same lack of identity as the Jaguars and the Falcons. To correct that, the team selected a hard-hitting safety in Divine Deablo.
Deablo is one of the more interesting late-draft talents at the safety position due to the fact that he is essential, a battering ram with legs. During the 2019 season, Deablo finished second on the squad with a career-best 84 tackles, with 42 of those coming on his own. He also recorded an interception and a 98-yard scoop-and-score touchdown against Notre Dame while they were inches away from the Hokies endzone.
His addition to the Raiders secondary would add another level of physicality to their secondary, playing alongside another aggressive safety in Erik Harris, who recorded 74 total tackles in 2019.
Rayshard Ashby- Pittsburgh Steelers: P.221
Over the past season, the Pittsburgh Steeles have seemed to develop an affinity for Virginia Tech players, adding two 2019. History is projected to repeat itself again as they selected linebacker Rayshard Ashby to bolster their secondary. Though the Steelers defense is in good shape with T.J. Watt lining up as an outside linebacker and Devin Bush, adding Ashby to the mix would be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.
In his 2019 season, Ashby led the entire ACC with 120 total tackles (the most by a VT player since Vince Hall had 128 in 2006). Additionally, Ashby recorded a pass breakup, a defended pass and five quarterback hits.
His addition to an already dangerous defense that only gave up 18.9 points-per-game would make them an incredible challenge to run against.