Big Board Showdown Defensive Draft Strategy

Welcome to the Big Board Showdown! Seven Rounds. One Champion. We’re going to opening up leagues to everyone soon, but in the meantime we need to get prepped for the 2021 NFL Draft!

This year is going to look a little different than last year. The 2021 version of Big Board Showdown will feature a salary cap. You will have 259 💰 to spend on creating your roster of 12 players - 2 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 OL and 4 DEF.

This season, unlike last year, you can pick ANY player you would like …… so long as you fit all 12 players into your budget.

The 2021 Draft is not the best defensive class we’ve seen as a whole. However, positions like linebacker and defensive line are very deep. 

So who should you be looking to pick with your four DEF spot? We’ve got you covered….

The First Round Locks

Patrick Surtain II — Alabama — Projected R1, P10

Surtain is the son of former NFL Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain and was a three year starter at Alabama. He has elite range and ball skills with the ability to play on either side of the field. He plays with a lot of strength for the position and will be a starter from day one in the NFL.

Kwity Paye — Michigan — Projected R1, P14

Paye is a unicorn. He is a twitchy athlete and is very fluid for his size. He has strong hands at the point of attack and will be a handful for NFL offensive lines. He needs to work on his pass rush skills and is a bit raw but could develop into a dynamic edge rusher.

Azeez Ojulari — Georgia — Projected R1, P15

Ojulari led the SEC in sacks, forced fumbles and tackles for loss in 2020. He is an instinctive and explosive edge rusher who can also play linebacker at times. He doesn’t have elite size for the position, but his skill set and athletic traits will make him dangerous as a pass rusher.

Jaycee Horn — South Carolina — Projected R1, P16

Horn, the son of former Saints WR Joe Horn, was a three year starter at South Carolina. He’s very long and athletic for a cornerback and has an aggressive style of play. He’s very instinctive with a high football IQ. He reminds some in the NFL of Aqib Talib.

Micah Parsons — Penn State — Projected R1, P17

Parsons is one of the most dynamic linebackers to come out of college in recent years. He played defensive end in high school and attacks the line of scrimmage in a similar manner. He is a bit inexperience having only stared one year in Happy Valley, but his upside is through the roof. He is one of the most dynamic athletes in the 2021 draft.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — Notre Dame — Projected R1, P18

Owusu-Koramoah won the Butkus Award in 2020 as the best linebacker in college football. He has a ton of speed and burst for a linebacker and can cover tight ends and wide receivers if needed. He needs to work on his tackling a bit but you can’t teach some of the skills he possesses. 

Caleb Farley — Virginia Tech — Projected R1, P20

Farley, if healthy, may be the top cornerback prospect in this class. However, he sat out the 2020 season due to COVID and is coming off of multiple surgeries. He is falling down the board in recent mock drafts due to his injury history. However, if he’s able to stay healthy he could be a Pro Bowl type of player. He has outstanding physical tools and is simply a playmaker.

Christian Barmore — Alabama — Projected R1, P22

Barmore only started one year at Alabama but made a huge mark. It was tough to watch a Crimson Tide game in 2020 and not be impressed by him. He is naturally powerful and dominated SEC offensive lines. He is a bit of a risky pick given his inexperience, but could end up being an All-Pro type of player.

Greg Newsome II — Northwestern — Projected R1, P23

Newsome spent three years as a starter for Northwestern and is known for his elite coverage skills and ability to break up passes. NFL teams are very high on him and he is someone that could end up being a top 20 pick. 

Trevon Moehrig — TCU — Projected R1, P25

Moehrig played free safety at TCY and was one of the most productive defensive backs in college football over the past two seasons. He has incredible ball skills and is known as a ballhawk. He has elite range and anticipation. 

Jamin Davis — Kentucky — Projected R1, P26

Davis is flying up NFL Draft boards due to his incredible tackling abilities and range. He needs to learn how to play a little quicker and trust his eyes but he could be a starting linebacker in the NFL for a decade.

Jaelan Phillips — Miami— Projected R1, P28

Phillips originally played at UCLA and briefly retired from football due to medical reasons. He studied music and was going to pursue that path before entering the transfer portal and going to Miami. At Miami Phillips turned into the player most people thought he would be after being the No. 1 recruit in the country when he was a senior. He is ridiculously athletic with a nose for the football. He also has great pass rush skills. If he medicals come back clean, he could be a riser on draft day.

The Next Wave

While the players above are likely to be first rounders, there’s a chance that the players on the list below could end up being taken on Night 1, as well. This a group full of elite player who are just a little bit cheaper in Big Board Showdown but could provide a ton of value.

  • Joseph Ossai — Texas — Projected Round 2
  • Gregory Rousseau — Miami — Projected Round 2
  • Tyson Campbell — Georgia — Projected Round 2
  • Zaven Collins — Tulsa — Projected Round 2
  • Joe Tryon — Washington — Projected Round 2
  • Daviyon Nixon — Iowa — Projected Round 2
  • Jayson Oweh — Penn State — Projected Round 2
  • Asante Samuel Jr. — Florida State — Projected Round 2
  • Jevon Holland — Oregon — Projected Round 2
  • Jordan Smith — UAB — Projected Round 2
  • Elijah Molden — Washington — Projected Round 2
  • Tommy Togiai — Ohio State — Projected Round 2
  • Carlos Basham Jr. —  Wake Forest — Projected Round 2
  • Levi Onwuzurike — Washington — Projected Round 2
  • Eric Stokes — Georgia — Projected Round 2

Mid Rounders

This list consists of players who are likely to be taken in the third round or later. Given that you only have 259💰to spend, these players will likely be rosters fillers for you.

  • Chazz Surratt — North Carolina — Projected Round 3
  • Jay Tufele — USC — Projected Round 3
  • Rashad Weaver — Pitt — Projected Round 3
  • Dylan Moses — Alabama — Projected Round 3
  • Nick Bolton — Missouri — Projected Round 3
  • Dayo Odeyingbo — Vanderbilt — Projected Round 3
  • Baron Browning — Ohio State — Projected Round 3
  • Alim McNeil — NC State — Projected Round 3
  • Quincy Roche — Miami — Projected Round 3
  • Josh Jobe — Alabama — Projected Round 3
  • Richie Grant — UCF — Projected Round 3
  • Talanoa Hufanga — USC — Projected Round 4
  • Jaylen Tywman — Pitt — Projected Round 4
  • Cam McGrone — Michigan — Projected Round 4
  • Jabril Cox— LSU — Projected Round 4
  • Pete Werner — Ohio State — Projected Round 4
  • Paulson Adebo — Stanford — Projected Round 4
  • Patrick Jones II — Pitt — Projected Round 4
  • Paris Ford — Pitt — Projected Round 4
  • Tyler Shelvin — LSU — Projected Round 4
  • Shaka Toney — Penn State — Projected Round 5
  • Joshuah Bledsoe — Missouri — Projected Round 5
  • Andre Cisco — Syracuse — Projected Round 5
  • Ronnie Perkins — Oklahoma — Projected Round 5


The best strategy for picking four defensive players in Big Board Showdown in my mind is to take one elite player, a likely first rounder, and then to fill the other 3 spots with cheap options that have some upside. Players like Levi Onwuzurike, Eric Stokes and Richie Grant could end up going earlier than their price would indicate. Focus on finding those gems and you may have a winning roster!

Enjoy Big Board Showdown and the 2021 NFL Draft. Make sure to finalize your picks before April 29th and good luck!