2021 NFL draft prospects: Oregon S Jevon Holland

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Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Oregon S Jevon Holland

6-foot-1, 195 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.85 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Talented safety with terrific nose for the ball who opted out in 2020 after great sophomore season

Games watched: Auburn (2019), Cal (2019), Nevada (2019), Wisconsin (2019)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit, Holland intercepted five passes (tied for 10th in FBS) as a freshman, made 44 tackles and defended 11 passes in 13 games (two starts). In 2019, Holland had 66 tackles (4.5 for losses), four interceptions (one pick-six), and eight passes defended and returned 16 punts for 244 yards (15.5-yard average). He opted out of the 2020 season and declared early for the 2021 NFL draft.

Upside: Outstanding production as freshman and sophomore — nine picks and 19 PBUs in 27 games. Terrific ball skills — locates the ball beautifully and gets in good body position to make a play. Prep experience at wide receiver with soft hands.

Good height and length to play multiple spots in a secondary. High-cut physique. Great body control and burst. Showed some real playmaking ability with the ball in his hands.

Ideal versatility to be a hybrid safety. Has played the post, can be a factor up in the box and routinely lined up in the slot against receivers, running backs and tight ends. Sources say he’s worked on his CB skills during his opt-out year and believes he can play it at the NFL level.

Smart football player despite only two years of college ball. Able to step in as a big contributor right away as a true freshman . Handled a variety of roles and rarely looked out of place. Deft in multiple coverages and alignments. Assignment-sound football player who earned the staff’s trust quickly.

Able to process well from multiple levels of the field — plays with his head and eyes up and looks through his man to the ball. Closes quickly, especially as an overhang/curl defender and patrolling the middle of the field.

Great run-defending instincts and effort. Physical for his size — comes crashing down to send a message at the point of impact. Has some blitzing potential to invest in — looked comfortable the more he did it by the end of his sophomore season. Manned special-teams units for more than a dozen snaps a game despite playing defense extensively.

Downside: Bit of a narrow, leaner frame — might not be able to survive full time in the box. Needs to be well-shielded to play up tight. Had a few of his blitzed stoned by blocking tight ends and linemen.

Athletic skills good but hardly elite — some questions about his long speed in coverage (although he appeared quite fast on the 81-yard punt return vs. Auburn).

Inexperienced — not quite two full years of starting experience (1,500 snaps). Opted out of the 2020 season, leaving scouts to wonder how much momentum he missed out on in his development. Still showed some greenness in coverage his first two seasons — guilty of guessing and freelancing at times. A bit of a gambler who needs to know when to hold and when to fold.

Tackling needs continued work — 18 missed tackles charted by PFF in 27 career games. Can overrun plays, make arm-tackle attempts and take suspect angles to the ball the longer the distance he must travel.

Slot-coverage skills might not be finely tuned enough vs. quicker and faster slot receivers and well-built backs and tight ends. Can give too big a cushion and lose ground at the break point in man coverage. Has let receivers get behind him a bit too often.

Best-suited destination: Holland profiles as a do-it-all safety — perhaps in the “big nickel” role that has become the soup du jour in the NFL. He has the ability to carry tight ends down the seam, spy athletic quarterbacks, cover the slot, play the flat/curl area in zone and also man the deep halves at safety. There’s some wonder if he’s more of a jack of all trades and master of none.

Did you know: His father, John “Robert” Holland, was on the roster of the San Francisco 49ers but made his mark as a defensive back in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe. He won a Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1993, and later played with the B.C. Lions.

The Hollands stayed in British Columbia, where Jevon was born, before the family moved to California. Jevon played in high school for former NFL running back Napoleon Kaufman.

Player comp: There are a lot of similarities to Justin Simmons, even though that’s admittedly a big comp.

Expected draft range: Round 2