Dylan’s Dimes will be a ten-step breakdown of three of the biggest draft-eligible players taking the field in some of the biggest matchups each week. I analyze the background, on-the-field performance, off-the-field traits, opinions around the NCAA, all leading up to the dropping the dime on how they could fit with the New York Jets.
Well, hopefully, this isn’t the beginning of a DD curse, as the Buckeyes and the Cyclones lost last weekend after featuring their playmakers prominently in the series opener. With that said, we’re back for another edition of Dylan’s Dimes.
The first prospect kicking off this week’s edition of Dylan’s Dimes is an absolute mountain of a man. He anchors the Crimson Tide, and as they head to Gainesville for a massive matchup with the Florida Gators, this player will be crucial to the team’s success. That player is Evan Neal, Tackle, Alabama.
On the opposing side of Neal and the Bama offense will be the Gators defense. A defense that is led by one of the top secondary prospects in the country. Florida has produced some talented corners in the past few years, but this one has the potential to be one of the best. The second player going under the microscope will be Kaiir Elam, Corner, Florida.
This weekend’s most anticipated game takes place far from the south, instead it takes place in the Northeast. One of the cornerstones of a defense that has played incredibly well the past two weeks will be the last player going through the ringer, and that will be Jaquan Brisker, Safety, Penn State.
-Weight: 351 lbs
-From: Okeechobee, FL
-Weight: 193 lbs
-From: Riviera Beach, FL
-From: Pittsburgh, PA
Neal was born and raised in Okeechobee, Florida before making the decision to transfer to the notorious IMG Academy. From there, Neal garnered more notoriety and landed himself in the 2019 Under Armour All America Game. Neal then landed himself at Alabama where he became a National Champion in 2021.
Elam was a three sport athlete in high school playing basketball and football, while also running track. He was named the Palm Beach 5A-1A defensive player of the year. He was ranked as one of the top 5 prospects in the country and received offers from some of the top schools in the nation before selecting Florida.
Brisker was a talented piece of the Gateway Senior High Football program, he landed All-Big East 5A all-section honors twice. He was named team MVP twice and was an all-section recipient for Basketball twice as well. He then attended Lackawana Community College where was ranked as one of the top 30 JUCO prospects in the country and an All-American recipient in 2018. That was before he transferred to Penn State for his remaining years.
2019 & 2020 Statistics:
2019: Helped aide the team’s 3.0% sack rate and 44% of the team’s rushing attempts resulting in gains of 5 or more yards.
2020: 1.5 sacks allowed, 4 QB hurries and 3 Pressures.
2019: 8 games, 10 tackles, 2 INTs and 4 pass deflections.
2020: 12 games, 39 tackles, 1.0 TFLs, 2 INTs, 11 pass deflections, 1 FR.
2019: 13 games, 31 tackles, 1.0 TFLs, 2 INTs and 4 pass deflections.
2020: 9 games, 57 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 1 INT and 5 pass deflections.
There is a lot of good in Evan Neal’s game. I have had the pleasure of evaluating some of the top linemen in the past two classes, but Neal immediately strikes me as one of the best. Neal is a superb run blocker who uses his weight in an efficient manner. Neal adds even more in the passing game, as he’s protected his Quarterbacks at an incredible rate. Pass rushers rarely get by Neal and his hand usage allows him to create enough space that even when the pocket collapses he can keep his man from capitalizing. Neal’s best trait is his strength, I genuinely believe this guy could move mountains.
Elam has excellent height for a corner, and this allows him to cover ground quickly with a large stride. Elam is versatile and can slot inside or outside. He’s fluid in coverage and can work well to catch back up to opposing receivers if he loses a step. He’s a good press corner and he uses his reach well to avoid falling behind in the first place. Overall, Elam is a very skilled corner, with room to grow, but lots of strong base skills to develop.
Brisker reminds me of (don’t hate me Jets fans) a little bit of a Jamal Adams lite. Brisker is a refined tackler, leader and overall warrior. Brisker fights through pain, fights through adversity and has come back from injuries and even attending a JUCO school. Brisker is an excellent tackler, but above all else, he’s a leader who’s capable of being a core fixture of a defense.
For me, Neal grades out as a nearly flawless prospect at times. The minimal issues with Neal stem from a lack of quickness and athleticism. Understandably, a lineman with as big of a frame as Neal is going to be weighed down, but Neal could stand to improve his fast twitch muscles and general athleticism.
Elam has a lot of strong base skills and fundamentals as I noted before. He can stand to improve, but Elam needs to react more efficiently and quickly. He’s a decent tackler, nothing exceptional, but productive. He does need to react quicker to plays 10-15 yards and in, as he can struggle to keep his head on a swivel at times, specifically in that zone.
The doubts with Brisker were never that he was a good tackler, as I noted before, he’s one of the best in the class. For Brisker though, heading into the season, the questions surrounded his range in coverage and playmaking ability. Although I’ve seen flashes of growth in that area this season, he has a big test against Auburn tonight, and a few other games on the schedule where he can demonstrate potential growth in coverage.
7/10-The Focus of Improvement:
Range in Coverage
Neal is a franchise left tackle. There’s no deep elaboration needed about how he can grow moving forward. I am a little nervous that his frame could be a threat for injuries, but his skill set is so advanced that he can still overcome those doubts. Neal will make a quarterback very happy, and potentially extend a quarterback’s career.
C.J. Henderson was a quality cornerback for the Florida Gators, and he’s struggled to transition to the pros at times. I am sure the comparison will be made between the two, but they are very different players. Elam has the press ability and adaptiveness to be a number one corner at the next level. His short yardage coverage is worrisome, but if he can improve his reactions, he will be a top tier corner at the next level.
Brisker is a little harder to gauge when it comes to potential. Brisker is a very strong prospect with good character and tackling abilities. If he doesn’t show significant coverage and durability strides, he will likely be a late first rounder or early second. I do expect Brisker to do well at the next level, but of the three players, fit will be most imperative for Brisker moving forward.
9/10-The Outside Opinion:
“Neal has some blemishes, but it’s hard to find players who possess his combination of size, length and quickness. He plays with a nasty temperament and solid overall awareness. I believe there’s a happy medium where he can maintain his violent play style while demonstrating a little more body control to avoid falling off blocks. He has the skill set of a 10-year starting right tackle.”- Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Kaiir Elam might just be the best cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft. I know that may sound brash in a class that boasts LSU star Derek Stingley Jr. and Cincinnati clamp machine Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. But the Florida CB is right there with them, and he has the amalgamation of physical and mental traits to take his game to the next level in 2021.”- Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network
“Brisker is an excellent run defending safety. He reads developing plays well and shoots gaps quickly. Has straight-line speed to fill the hole fast. He recognizes plays quickly and has a ton of feel for the game.”-Sports Illustrated NFL Draft Fan Nation
The Jets invested their future in Mekhi Becton when they selected him two years ago. Becton is a mammoth of a man, just as is Evan Neal. Neal is a superb blocker, but Becton and him both have that big frame that concerns me. Moving forward the Jets could be in the market for another addition to the offensive line, and he could be of value, especially if they kicked him inside. Neal would be a massive edition, and Gang Green would happily welcome another protector for Zach Wilson.
Elam may be the best fit of the three for the Jets. Elam would give the Jets a legitimate number one cornerback. Although I have concerns about some portions of his game, Elam can be a star in the NFL and having him in the green and white would give the Jets their first legitimate star corner since the Revis Island days.
The Jets need a safety for the future, and if Brisker falls to the second or third round of the draft, he would be a great piece. However, safety is not a place the Jets need to target with their first rounder. I think Brisker would be best fit in a situation like Pittsburgh where he could be a running mate to someone like Minkah Fitzpatrick and learn from a veteran.
This Week On TOJ Live