Yahoo Sports' top 2020 NFL draft prospects, No. 42: Missouri DT Jordan Elliott

Yahoo Sports

Leading up to the 2020 NFL draft, which starts April 23, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five and 10 at a time, followed by in-depth reports on our top 50 players. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-8180-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz

Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports
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42. Missouri DT Jordan Elliott

6-foot-4, 302 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.96

TL;DR scouting report: One-year flash player who projects as a better pro than college player with nice blend of pass-rush potential and athletic traits.

The skinny: Elliott was a 3-star Rivals recruit and Army All-American who initially committed to Michigan. But the Missouri, Texas, native, who started his college career at Texas, ended up at … Missouri. In his first season with the Longhorns, Elliott played six games as a backup before missing the remainder of the season with an MCL injury.

Elliott transferred to Mizzou, sitting out the 2017 season. In 2018, Elliott came on strong down the stretch with dominant performances against Tennessee and Arkansas. And in 2019, Elliott became one of the best interior rushers in the country with 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Interestingly, he was named second-team AP All-America last season but was not named to the SEC coaches’ first or second team.

Elliott, who turns 23 years old in November, declared early for the 2020 NFL draft. He attended the NFL scouting combine and participated in all of the testing events except for the 3-cone drill and the broad jump.

Upside: Nicely sculpted frame with upper-body strength to lock out and dispatch blockers. Big meathooks for hands. Nice punch — can shock offensive linemen initially. Country-strong with ragdoll ability — flat out embarrassed some linemen in one-on-one situations last season with both strength and quickness. Combo of twitchiness and length plus violence is a problem.

Gets off the ball very well most snaps. Springy athleticism — can bounce into gaps, drop into short  coverage and work down the line with ease. Track background (shot put and discus) shows up in explosive movement. Notched a 1.70-second 10-yard split in the combine 40-yard dash, which is comparable to the Chiefs’ Chris Jones (1.69) and higher than many first-round defensive tackles in recent years.

Nice short-area quickness and slippery movement skills for a big man. Quick-shed ability shows up time and time again — disengages well when single blocked. Watch as Elliott hesitates, clubs the Florida guard’s arm, works around his outside shoulder, executes the arm-over move and flattens quickly for an impressive sack:

This is a terrific pass-rush move by Jordan Elliott.
This is a terrific pass-rush move by Jordan Elliott.

Had some strong reps against Tennessee OG Trey Smith, a possible top-50 pick in 2021. (Also blocked a kick in that game and came close to blocking other FG and XP attempts in 2019.) On this rep, Smith stymies Elliott’s initial rush, but he sticks with the play and closes in on athletic QB Jarrett Guarantano for the sack:

Good pursuit and finish by Elliott vs. Tennessee.
Good pursuit and finish by Elliott vs. Tennessee.

Ranked first in Pro Football Focus’ rankings among all FBS interior defensive linemen (minimum 100 snaps) in 2019 with a superior 92.4 rating. Faced elite competition in conference play vs. SEC offensive linemen. Used up and down the line on both sides in multiple techniques. Not surrounded by typical Mizzou DL talent — drew plenty of double teams last season and clearly was game-planned for.

Downside: Fair amount of his production (pressures and sacks) came against lesser foes. Georgia’s offensive line, loaded with NFL talent, kept Elliott in check. Upside and flash player to date with limited college production — 5.5 sacks, 16.5 TFLs, one forced fumble past two seasons combined. Didn’t show much prior to final two regular-season games in 2018.

Still developing as a run defender — bounces out of his gap and tries to do too much. Will turn perpendicular to the line of scrimmage and let guards bully him. Gap shooter who needs technique work vs. double teams. Will lose balance and get too upright. 

Was crumpled a few times in short-yardage and goal-line situations — teams found ways to run right at him in these situations. Lets some tackles get through his arms (see Florida game). Below-average arm length. Pad level needs work — will get too high and undercut his natural gifts. 

Athletic testing numbers at combine were hot and cold, plus incomplete athletic profile with missing tests. Disappeared for stretches — wasn’t heard from for final three quarters vs. Wyoming after two early flash plays.

Can be seen barking at referees, looking for holding flags. Needs to control his fury better at times and play with a little more poise. Football awareness is sometimes questionable — had pair of back-breaking offsides penalties on game-sealing drive in stunning loss to Vanderbilt. Maturity must be vetted.

Missouri DT Jordan Elliott was virtually unblockable in some games in 2019. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Missouri DT Jordan Elliott was virtually unblockable in some games in 2019. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Best-suited destination: Elliott was best as a shaded nose tackle and 3-technique at Mizzou, and we could see the latter being his best home in the NFL, especially in a one-gap front. Could he learn to be a 5-technique in an odd front? Perhaps, even if the shorter arms give us a little pause. 

Among the teams that could be most interested in Elliott’s services include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.

Did you know: Elliott weighed as much as 343 pounds as a freshman at Texas, was 325 when he arrived at Mizzou in 2017 and finished the 2018 season in the 318-pound range. Prior to the 2019 spring game, Elliott looked like a new man. In addition to shedding his former No. 95 jersey (changing to No. 1), he also showed up at 292 pounds.

Elliott dropped the weight with a newfound commitment to the weight room and by forgoing all the pork, beef and chicken from his diet, instead getting his protein in the form of fish and turkey. He showed up to the combine at 302 pounds.

They said it: “I am a balanced defensive lineman that has above-average speed. But I am really aggressive.” 

— Elliott at the combine, describing his play style

Player comp: Elliott projects to be the kind of interior rusher that Leonard Williams has become — good enough to start but not the type of game-wrecker he was projected to be as a top-10 pick. But for where Elliott likely will be selected, it should be a good investment.

Expected draft range: Mid-Round 2 to Round 3

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