And there are prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft whose games resemble those vital components of the Super Bowl 55 participants. This article provides those stars and their draft-class counterparts.
No, you won't see comparisons for Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes, not because I wouldn't compare any prospects to elite quarterbacks -- remember, all elite quarterbacks were once prospects -- it's just that I don't view any of the top passers in the 2021 class to Brady or Mahomes.
Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu
TCU S Ar'Darius Washington
Mathieu has been an impactful defender at every level of the defense since his rookie season in 2013. And the on-field brilliance of Mathieu has always been due to him playing bigger than his size and excelling in coverage, against the run, and as a blitzer because of his instincts and aggression. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2015 with the Cardinals and in 2019 with the Chiefs. He's had one heck of a resume for the 2020 season too with six picks in the regular season and one in the playoffs to go along with 10 total pass breakups and 75 total tackles.
At 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds, like Mathieu, Washington has the body type of a slot corner and can man up there but thrives playing robber over the middle, flying downhill on outside runs, and at times ranging from the deep middle. He had five interceptions in 2019 as a sophomore. While he didn't have a pick this past season, he knocked away four passes and rarely allowed receptions in his target area. Also similarly to Mathieu, Washington seemingly plays a step ahead of everyone on defense. He reads the offense in an instant and strikes.
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Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin
LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase
Godwin was a First-Team All-Pro in 2019, his true breakout campaign in his third NFL season. He caught 83 passes for 1,333 yards with nine touchdowns. Injuries pestered him more in 2020 than they did a year ago, and his yards-per-catch average dipped from 15.5 to 12.9, but Godwin still managed 840 yards and seven scores in 12 games. He has nine grabs for 119 yards and a touchdown in the first two Buccaneers playoff outings.
He wins with quality route-running, deceptive yards after the catch skills, and fantastic capabilities in contested-catch situations. Really, Godwin is one of the most well-rounded, hard-to-cover wideouts in the league regardless of the type of cornerback he's facing.
And all that applies to Chase's style on the field. He's a bully when there's a jump ball in his vicinity. Plus, he gets open with good regularity thanks to smooth athleticism and is a weapon after the catch.
Chiefs CB Bashaud Breeland
South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
Breeland has long been a man-coverage specialist who runs exceedingly hot and cold. He's grabby, a little overaggressive at times but possesses the difficult-to-find athletic talent and savvy to stay with receivers during their routes down the field. Recently having watched Horn, that's exactly the type of prospect he is.
He'll get his hands on you at the line, and ride that contact as far as he believes he should be able to -- at times, the refs won't agree with him -- but the twitch is impressive at around 6-foot-1, and he seemingly has a strong understanding of head and shoulder fakes receivers will use in an attempt to get open.
Buccaneers RT Tristan Wirfs
Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw
The easy comparison here would be Penei Sewell, but I don't think it's as apt as this one. Darrisaw had a phenomenal 2020 at Virginia Tech, and his film is as close to flawless as Wirfs was a year ago at Iowa.
Strength? Check. Darrisaw -- like Wirfs -- is gargantuan and plays to every single ounce of power in his body to routinely control defenders with seemingly very little effort, in both the run game and when protecting the quarterback. When he drops his anchor, it's over. Despite all the size and power, Darrisaw explodes out of his stance and glides in any direction, and he's equally as impactful in pass protection as he is paving lanes on running plays. He's very Wirfsian in many, many ways.
(All advanced statistics courtesy of TruMedia unless otherwise noted)