The 2021 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 29 and runs though Saturday, May 1, and Mizzou is expecting to have multiple players hear their names called at some point throughout the extended weekend. The list of Tigers expected to be selected at some point in the draft includes: linebacker Nick Bolton, offensive lineman Larry Borom, running back Larry Rountree III, safety Tyree Gillespie and defensive back Joshuah Bledsoe. Wide receivers Damon Hazelton, Johnathon Johnson and Jonathan Nance could also find their way into an NFL Training camp.
Rock M Nation is taking a deep dive into each player’s NFL Draft stock breaking down strengths, weaknesses and potential team fit.
Today we’re breaking down Mizzou wide receiver Damon Hazelton Jr.
Name: Damon Hazelton Jr.
Position: Wide R
Age: 22 (12/30/1998)
Weight: 205 pounds
Arm Length: 30 3⁄4“
Hand Length: 9 5/8”
Wing Span: 74”
Draft Projection: Day Three pick — Likely round 5-7
Pro Day Measurables:
40-yard dash: 4.63
Bench press (225 pounds): N/A
Vertical jump: 37.5”
Broad jump: 10’0”
Three-cone drill: 7.11
20-yard shuffle: 4.32
Player Comparison: Eagles wide receiver Travis Fulgham
College Statistics (via Sports Reference):
Games Played: 40
Receiving Yards: 2,231
Receiving Touchdowns: 21
- First-team All ACC (Phil Steele) in 2019
- Led Virginia Tech with eight TD receptions in 2019
- Second-team All ACC in 2018
- Led Virginia Tech with 51 receptions, 802 yards and eight TD receptions in 2018
- Caught a TD pass in 5-straight games to begin his career to tie a Virginia Tech program record
- Won Ball State’s Freshman of the Year award in 2016 after leading the team with four receiving touchdowns and finishing second on the team with 51 receptions for 505 yards.
Damon Hazelton signed with Ball State as a 2-star wide receiver out of the Baltimore area in the 2016 recruiting class. He decided to transfer closer to home at Virginia Tech after being named Ball State’s top freshman in 2016. He had to sit out the 2017 due to the NCAA’s transfer rules, then posted back-to-back All-ACC seasons for the Hokies. Hazelton decided to go to Missouri as a graduate transfer for the 2020 season where he started four of nine games and finished the year with 30 receptions, nearly 400 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Hazelton is a big bodied receiver who knows how to go up and get it, especially in the red zone. He took some time to adjust at Missouri, but he never complained and he had some massive moments down the stretch. Hazelton had consistency issues throughout his career with drops, and he doesn’t possess the blazing speed you would like to see from a deep ball specialist.
What scouts and analysts are saying about Hazelton:
PROS (+): He’s got a massive catch radius at his disposal and has thrived in the past few years at Virginia Tech courtesy of back shoulder throws and vertical shots that drop into the bucket over the shoulder. He’s got nifty ball skills and concentration to extend and snag a ball away from his frame. Strong hands to win receptions away from his frame make it difficult to play through his body and when he pairs it with working back to the football, he becomes a big headache to try to combat at the catch point. He’s a slippery dude after the catch, too — he’s capable of stopping on a dime and breaking pursuit angles to cut into open space and illustrates good field vision to find soft spaces to work. Has notable stride length at his disposal in the open field and has awareness of his releases to stutter release and force a false step.
CONS (—): He’s transferred twice now, first from Ball State and then again from Virginia Tech as a graduate transfer in 2020 — what has prevented him from sticking in a single place for an extended period of time? He, despite his length, isn’t overly physical and wins despite of contact instead of creating added distance on defenders with physical play. Product tailed off significantly in 2019 as passing offense tailed off — he’s generally been a big play target but not a high volume receiver. Had several touches manufactured with motion and screens, especially in 2018 when he posted his career best numbers (51 receptions & 802 yards). Often took free releases and he’s definitely got more slow-burn speed than immediate burst at his disposal.
Hazelton has the size and wingspan that will immediately garner attention from evaluators. His Missouri tape wasn’t necessarily bad, but he didn’t look like the same guy who played at Virginia Tech. He can win jump balls with his catch radius and leaping ability but also has the strength and length to help create separation in the red zone or in tight quarters. He’s not sudden or fast, so he’ll have to get used to wearing man coverage, but he has some skill in moving past press to get himself into the route with decent timing. He has a shot to make a team if he can improve his consistency.