Seahawks 2021 Draft Profile: Daviyon Nixon

The Seahawks are on a salary cap crunch and may need to use some of their limited draft picks to replace possible cap casualties. One Seahawk in question is defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who has one year remaining on his deal with a heavy cap hit and could be replaced by Nixon, one of the most athletic interior defenders in the 2021 class.
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Money is tight in Seattle at the moment. OvertheCap.com currently gives the Seahawks just under $4 million free cap space. Something has got to give. 

Unfortunately, that means a good player may be getting a pink slip. 

One candidate is defensive tackle Jarran Reed. He signed a two-year, $23 million contract ahead of the 2020 season and the ex-Alabama product had a solid 2020 campaign, with 6.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits. However, cutting him frees up nearly $9 million in cap space. 

Essentially, cutting or trading Reed almost quadruples the amount of free cap space for the 2021 season, which is hard to ignore. If the Seahawks do go through with that, obviously they will need to replenish the position. Poona Ford has the other interior slot locked up but after him, depth is thin. 

Consequently, the Seahawks should look long and hard at drafting an interior defensive lineman in April's draft. Iowa's Daviyon Nixon is a highly decorated college player that could possibly replace Reed at the 3-tech spot.

Strengths

Nixon has a strong anchor and center of gravity at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds. Despite his larger frame, Nixon is a great athlete for his size. With quickness and sudden change of direction skills, he has the tools to be a reliable pass rusher from the inside, as Reed was at times during his tenure in Seattle. 

He poses a lethal combination of athleticism with size and strength. The former Hawkeye racked up 8.5 sacks in two seasons at Iowa after coming in as a JUCO transfer, including 5.5 sacks in just eight games in the limited schedule of 2020. 

His athleticism was on display against Penn State when he took an interception 71 yards for a touchdown, something unheard of for an interior defensive lineman. 

For his performance in 2020, Nixon was named a consensus All-American and a finalist for the Outland Trophy, given to the finest interior lineman in college football. He was also named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. 

Weaknesses

Frankly, there isn't much to nitpick about Nixon's game. He may need some seasoning with run fit techniques, especially in Pete Carroll's system. However, with 14.5 tackles for loss in eight games in 2020, clearly he is a game-wrecker in the pass or run game. 

If he wants to further anchor himself along an NFL defensive line, he may want to gain a few more pounds. However, it should not be to the detriment of his athleticism, which is his best and most appealing trait.

Fit in Seattle

As mentioned, Jarran Reed's position in Seattle may be in peril. The team itself has not come out and said that but the math is adding up. Seattle needs more cap room, plain and simple, and it is not going to come without a cost.

Nixon would soften the blow of losing Reed. He possesses similar traits to Reed (Reed is the exact same height and weight as Nixon) and with proper coaching, could fit right into the scheme from day one. The former Hawkeye is the prototypical 3-tech defender in a 4-3 scheme. 

There is some debate on where Nixon lands in the draft. Some simulations have him going late in the third round. However, some pundits are giving him a second round grade, which means he could be taken long before Seattle has its first pick at No. 56. If he somehow makes it down to the Seahawks, they should make Nixon their newest weapon along the defensive line.