Continuing our series on NFL draft prospects for the Green Bay Packers, today we’ll highlight Iowa IDL Daviyon Nixon.
Daviyon Nixon – IDL, Iowa – 6’3” 305 lbs
Nixon is the latest in a long line of excellent trench players to come out of Iowa. His credentials are undeniable: Nixon was this season’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after leading that conference in tackles for loss and tied for the conference lead in sacks. He was also the only player in the nation who was a finalist for both the Outland and Nagurski awards.
In a weaker class of interior defensive linemen, Nixon stands out not just for his production this past season but also because of his athleticism. He has plus quickness, which was evident by how often he successfully executed games the Hawkeyes ran up front. That speed and explosion off the snap allows him to beat blockers and shoot gaps effectively.
Watch the burst Nixon shows on this play, exploding past his blocker with an inside move and attacking the quarterback.
Nixon holds up the guard, makes a quick move and wins the rep. It’s an impressive snap for such a large body, and his tape is chock-full of similar moments.
Nixon’s got plenty of demonstrable strength as well. Speed is one of his major assets, but he’s got positive strength that helped him beat some physical Big Ten blockers. On this next play, watch Nixon overpower the right guard and penetrate the pocket, finishing the play with a sack.
The quick first step helps him gain the upper hand position-wise, and his strength allows him to power through the lineman and finish off the play.
The accolades and gaudy stats weren’t racked up by accident. Nixon has a lot of physical traits that are impressive and undoubtedly sought after. Without many other elite IDL prospects, a team in the middle portion of the first round could reasonably fall in love with his traits and make a move for him.
For all of the honors and tantalizing highlights, Nixon is still effectively a one-year wonder. He started all eight regular-season games for Iowa in 2020, but started just once in 13 games in 2019 (he did play in each of those games, though). That doesn’t guarantee he’s a high-risk prospect, but a smaller sample size and smaller body of work invites understandable questions about whether or not he can do it with regularity over a longer timeframe.
Another question that must be asked is whether or not Nixon can perform at a similar level in the NFL when his athleticism isn’t head and shoulders above everyone else. Again, not a guaranteed strike against him, but it needs to be asked. Nixon was a superior athlete to everyone on the field in college, but that gap is far smaller in the NFL.
There’s far more to like about Nixon’s game than to dislike. He’s a phenomenal athlete for his size, and his skill set is an asset both against the pass and against the run. His combination of speed, burst and strength gives him an edge in almost any one-on-one matchup. That athleticism will be countered by more athletic offensive lineman in the NFL, however, and we still don’t have a large enough sample size to know exactly what he can be as a finished product.
As it applies to the Packers, he would certainly be an asset to Joe Berry’s defense. He played in an even front at Iowa, but any reasonably decent defense should be able make his athletic and skill profile fit in any scheme. After years of players around Kenny Clark getting pushed around, Daviyon Nixon is the type of athlete who could factor into a genuine 1-2 punch on the Green Bay defensive line.
He and Alabama’s Christian Barmore should be in the running to be the first IDL off the board this year.