Category: 2020 NFL Draft

DB Xavier McKinney, Alabama*

6’1” – 200 lbs.

Was a reserve and special-teams contributor as a freshman, finishing with eight tackles, then took over a starting role the following season, a year in which he finished with 74-6.0-3.0, ten breakups, and two interceptions. Saw his stats improve to 95-5.5-3.0 with five breakups and three interceptions the following season. Two of his career interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and he also forced six fumbles and blocked a kick over the past two seasons. Has a solid build for a pro defensive back, with good size and length. Was asked to help make a lot of the defensive calls at Alabama and appears to be an effective pre-snap communicator. Defensive responsibilities were pretty varied; would play in zones or even spy opposing quarterbacks from closer to the line of scrimmage, but was usually working as a high safety in zone coverages. Can also drop down and pattern-match or play man coverage against opposing targets; able to turn and run downfield and does a good job of using his hands to feel routes developing. Has enough speed to carry opponents down the field or patrol in zone; probably best classified as a solid but not elite athlete. Looks comfortable backpedaling, with solid balance and pretty clean footwork. Demonstrates good awareness of his responsibilities when diagnosing route combinations. Manages to balance aggressiveness and conservatism effectively, playing within the defense and handling his responsibilities without giving up too many easy throws by playing far off of opposing receivers and tight ends. On-ball production was solid over the past two years, with good awareness and the length to break up passes when targeted. When defending against a throw or coming up to support the run, ability to plant and drive is pretty impressive. Takes sound angles to the ball, closes fast, and can generate plenty of pop on contact to help set the tone defensively; would like to see more consistent wrap technique, though. Loves to come up and deliver big hits on opposing ballcarriers, although it’s possible some teams may worry about the toll such a playing style may have on his long-term durability. May not be quite an elite athlete, but checks pretty much all the boxes as a responsible safety with a good feel for the game, polished technique, and a physical approach to the game. Looks like a pretty safe bet to be a starter sooner rather than later; consequently, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come off the board in the first round on draft day.

DB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson*

6’4” – 230 lbs.

Redshirted in 2016, spending time on the school’s track team as well (long jump). Rotated into the defense as a safety over 258 snaps the next season and ended up with 45-3.0-1.0 and six breakups. Started fourteen games at safety the following year and posted 97-9.5-1.5, with seven breakups and a pick-six. Listed at linebacker this past year and totaled 102-16.0-8.0 with seven breakups and three interceptions before declaring for the draft. Tall, lanky player who is a little bit thinner than you’d like in a linebacker, but who has ideal size for a safety. Despite being listed as a linebacker, is more of a swiss-army knife for the Tigers who can clearly handle a lot of varied responsibilities. Often lines up opposite slot receivers and will shade over bunches in zone looks, even taking some snaps as more of a cornerback; more like a nickel defender than a box linebacker, although he does play in that capacity at times as well. Looks smooth in coverage, with relaxed technique and good change-of-direction skills. Plays with a conservative temperament, keeping the play in front of him and limiting yards after the catch. Plant-and-drive skills are good; smoother than he is explosive, but times his approach well. Overall route recognition skills are adequate; doesn’t get caught out of position often. Looks comfortable carrying opposing targets down the field into deeper zones. Would like to see him clean up some elements of his technique a little bit; for example, will turn all the way around instead of into a receiver at the stem, and could be more consistent about using his hands to feel routes. Looks very smooth bending an arc to the passer when rushing in blitz packages. When defending against the run, demonstrates good patience to read keys and flow toward the ball, with solid angles in pursuit; many of his tackles for loss came by closing from more of a nickel look. Able to extend his arms and lock out opposing blockers, but tends to rely on his athleticism instead of physicality. Looks pretty physical when attacking opposing tackles from more of an outside linebacker look, although his anchor strength appears just adequate and wasn’t asked to set the edge very much. Length gives him an impressive tackling radius, although he can occasionally lapse into hitting opponents instead of using his technique to wrap. One of the smoothest, most productive, and most versatile prospects in this year’s draft class, he will enable a pro coordinator to get creative with their defense; being well-suited to the modern game, looks likely to come off the board within the top ten picks or so.

DB Grant Delpit, Louisiana St.*

6’3” – 203 lbs.

Has been a major contributor for the past three seasons. Posted 60 tackles, eight breakups, and an interception as a freshman, then saw his production explode the following year (74-9.5-5.0, nine breakups, five interceptions). Won the Thorpe Award this past season, posting 65-4.5-2.0 with seven breakups and two interceptions. Has excellent size and length for a pro defensive back; looks a little bit lanky but could definitely handle more weight on his frame. Played a lot of high safety in college, whether patrolling the back end of the defense with another player or in single-high coverage; would creep down into the box at times to defend against the run, or shade over and play off-coverage against an opposing receiver in the slot. Overall temperament in coverage is pretty conservative; can typically be found well off the line of scrimmage, keeping the play in front of him. Backpedals with good balance and relaxed footwork. Timed speed will be interesting, as he can often be slightly late to get to the sidelines and provide help from high coverage. Has a good feel for routes developing, with some burst when planting and driving on a spot; times his hits well to dislodge receivers from the ball at the catch point on routes over the middle of the field. Comfortable identifying his responsibilities when defending against route combinations. On-ball production is very good; didn’t see him intercept passes during the games reviewed, but seven picks over the past two seasons suggests he has solid hands. Makes quick tackles to limit yards after the catch when in position. Unfortunately, wasn’t asked to play a lot of man coverage, but has intriguing length for that type of role. Not afraid to stick his nose in and deliver hits on opposing running backs; rushing off the edge actually constitutes a fairly large portion of his snaps for a prospect who’s more of a deep safety on passing downs. Able to shuffle and find open lanes to the ball, but can also throw his body around a little bit at times and disrupt opposing blockers. Not the most reliable or technically-sound tackler and can be overpowered by some running backs. Can come in too hot and run himself out of some plays; would like to see a little bit more discipline. Susceptible to having his legs cut out when playing downhill. A vey productive three-year starter with the length and pattern recognition skills teams look for in a safety, but who may lack elite athleticism and who doesn’t always play under control in the run game. Looks likely to come off the board in the first round, but that may be a little bit risky.

CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama

6’2” – 207 lbs.

Played on offense, defense, and special teams as a freshman, catching eleven passes while returning kicks and punts, then served as a punt returner the following year while rotating sparingly into the defense. Stepped into a starting role as a junior but saw his season end after just six appearances, sustaining a foot injury. Rebounded to have an excellent senior season, intercepting three passes and breaking up another eight while scoring two defensive touchdowns. Possesses excellent size, bulk, and length for a pro cornerback. Usually lines up in either shuffle or press-man coverage, but will go into a zone look when no receiver is split out wide to the left side of the defense, or occasionally drop into the slot; didn’t really see him on the right side, so it will be interesting to see what his footwork looks like from there. Coordination is good for his size.  Has good footwork at the line of scrimmage to match a receiver’s release, although it would be nice to see him get physical with opposing receivers to jam their release, something he didn’t do often during the games reviewed. Looks comfortable sticking with inside releases or routes breaking over the middle of the field. Does a good job of using his length to pin opposing receivers to the boundaries; not the most physical corner at the line or elsewhere, but uses his hands to feel routes down the sideline. Able to get low and play with leverage despite being a taller cornerback, although his footwork can be a little bit relaxed. Has pretty good pattern-recognition skills and reaction times, playing with a conservative temperament. Can plant and drive quickly. Not an elite athlete, but has adequate deep speed and recovery speed to provide coverage further downfield. Quarterbacks didn’t look his way very often during the review, although he was successfully targeted on some confident throws into tight windows, allowing a touchdown on such a throw vs. Louisiana St; would like to see him be more aggressive at the catch point. Understands positioning in the run game. Gets physical with opposing receivers and positions himself to the outside of the ball carrier to funnel them back inside. Angles in pursuit are solid. A very solid shuffle/press-man corner who has excellent size and length to pin opponents to the sidelines, along with the quickness, recognition skills, and instincts to provide tight coverage on opposing split ends. Requires a little bit of projection because he didn’t jam opponents much, but looks like a legitimate first-round candidate coming off of an excellent senior season.

CB Kristian Fulton, Louisiana St.

6’0” – 200 lbs.

Appeared in three games as a freshman, and none the following year. Started the first ten games of the season as a junior before missing the final three games with an injury; finished that year with 25 tackles, nine breakups, and an interception. Started all fourteen games as a senior and posted 32 tackles, 13 breakups, and one interception. Solidly-built for his position in terms of height, bulk, and length; pretty much what teams look for on the outside. Often lines up in press-man coverage, moving back and forth between the left and right sides of the defense; when opponents don’t split a receiver out to his side of the field, often slides back into more of a safety look. Solid athlete for his position, if a little bit lacking in explosiveness on tape. Willing to use his length to get physical with opponents at the line of scrimmage, disrupting their release. Can match outside releases with enough speed to carry opposing receivers downfield, using his size and length to pin them to the sideline. Does a good job of using his hands to feel routes developing, which allows him to provide pretty tight coverage through the route stem on those snaps; overall pattern recognition looks pretty solid. Can occasionally struggle to maintain balance while playing physical coverage. When playing off, is a little bit more susceptible to head-fakes and double moves; see touchdown allowed vs. Florida this past season. Would like to see him play with a little bit more urgency in coverage when targeted; doesn’t always plant and drive aggressively on a spot, and his closing burst doesn’t look outstanding. When in-phase, ball skills look good; capable of getting his head around to locate and make plays on the ball, although he intercepted just two passes over the past two years. Uses form technique when coming up to make tackles on opposing ballcarriers.  May not have the freakish size or athleticism of some of the other top cornerbacks in this year’s class, but offers a solid combination of size, length, and athleticism, with a physical temperament to mix things up at the line of scrimmage and a very good overall feel for the position; polished boundary defender with good pattern-recognition skills and pretty consistent play. Those traits make him a relatively safe option for teams seeking help in the secondary.

CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio St.*

6’1” – 200 lbs.

One of the top recruits in the country out of high school, he ended up making seventeen tackles and breaking up one pass as a true freshman. Became more of a major contributor the following season, finishing with 32 tackles and eight breakups. Enjoyed his most productive campaign as a junior, finishing with 35 tackles, nine breakups, and three interceptions before declaring for the draft. Tall, long-limbed defender with an excellent build for the position. Lined up on the left side of the defense this past season, playing a lot of shuffle technique and press-man; wasn’t asked to backpedal much. Would play zone out of a shuffle technique when no receiver lined up split out wide to his side of the field. Snap to snap consistency is very impressive. More of a pure cover cornerback who didn’t jam opponents at the line very often, but flashes the ability to mix things up from time to time; instead, used his excellent quickness and balance to match opposing releases at the line of scrimmage, appearing equally comfortable defending against inside and outside releases. Covers a lot of ground when shuffling and does a good job of keeping the play in front of him without being too conservative in his cushions. Quick-twitch player who has excellent hips and speed to stick with opponents in man coverage; looks comfortable running with opponents down the field, or even across it on shallow crosses, etc. Overall pattern recognition is very good; rarely caught out of position, and can provide tight coverage through the route stem. Can diagnose route combinations when working in zone coverage. Able to use his hands to feel routes developing. Able to locate the ball in the air, with the length, leaping ability, and timing to make plays when targeted. Because of his excellent pure cover skills, was rarely targeted during the games reviewed, with Clemson being the game where he was challenged most. Effective run defender who attacks blockers with aggression and can also use his quickness to slip past them. Understands the need to maintain outside position and uses wrap tackling technique to bring down ballcarriers. One of the cleanest prospects in this year’s draft class, checking every box as a man cover cornerback; has excellent size, speed, fluidity, recognition skills, and reaction times, making him about as safe a bet as a prospect can be. Looks like a lock for the top five or ten picks as a plug-and-play starter who can serve as a defensive cornerstone for years to come.

CB Jeff Gladney, Texas Christian

6’0” – 183 lbs.

One of the most experienced cornerback prospects in this year’s class. Redshirted, then started eight of twelve games played the following year, ending up with 46 tackles and six breakups. Has been starting almost every game ever since, posting 28 tackles, five breakups, and two interceptions the following year. Finished his junior year with 41 tackles, thirteen breakups, and two interceptions. Senior season ended with 31 tackles, 14 breakups, and one interception. Lanky boundary corner with solid height and excellent length but a slightly thin build. Very good athlete who looks comfortable working in press man coverage from the left side of the defense, where he usually lines up. Also plays some off coverage. Has solid speed to carry opponents down or across the field. Hips look fluid, and is a very flexible player overall. More likely to use his footwork to match releases at the line rather than jamming opponents, but does a good job of using his hands to feel routes as they develop, allowing him to stick with opponents through the route stem. Does do a little bit of backpedaling but footwork looks better when he’s turning and running out of press man; backpedals with balance but needs to clean up his technique in the lower body. Pattern recognition skills are polished, as you’d expect from someone who’s essentially a four-year starter. When playing in zone, adopts a conservative approach, keeping the play in front of him and taking the top receiver on high-low route concepts. Ball skills are a plus, as his 27 breakups over the past two years would suggest. Excellent length allows him to make plays on the ball when targeted; appears to have good technique to slap balls free before the catch has been completed as well. Attacks blocks with aggression in the run game, although his thin frame impacts his anchor strength. Capable of sniffing out screens and has enough short-area quickness to slip by blockers and make tackles. However, he may need to add some additional strength in order to hold up against the physicality he’s going to be exposed to at the next level. One of the most flexible cornerbacks in this year’s class, with the diagnostic ability, ball skills, and athleticism to provide tight man coverage. Coming with four years of starting experience, he should be ready sooner rather than later from a mental and technical perspective, although he may need some time in a pro strength program.

CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah*

6’0” – 195 lbs.

Started two of twelve games as a freshman, finishing with 25 tackles, six breakups, and an interception, then stepped into a full-time starting role the following year and totaled 41 tackles, four breakups, and four interceptions. Posted 36 tackles, eleven breakups, and two interceptions this past season before declaring. Well-built for a pro boundary cornerback, with height, weight, and length in line with what teams look for. Lines up on both sides of the field, playing different techniques but predominantly off-man, zone, and press-man. Was at one of the college football programs which asked its cornerbacks to backpedal fairly regularly, and shows quick feet and good balance, although he could stand to clean up his footwork a little bit. More often is playing off or shuffling, where his footwork also has some minor issues. That said, has solid athleticism for the outside, with good flexibility. At his best when playing off in zone coverage. Appears to have pretty solid diagnostic skills when working in zone; has a good feel for underneath throws developing, with solid plant-and-drive skills. Does a good job of keeping the action in front of him, and times his approach well to break up passes without drawing penalties. Has a good sense of when to break off of his man and provide help. A little bit less impressive in man coverage. Working from press-man, has the length and physicality to mix things up with receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt their release. However, when he’s not playing bump-and-run, doesn’t provide the tightest coverage, either in terms of matching footwork on the initial release or through the route stem. Balance issues crop up too frequently; looks like he’s losing control at times. Overall speed appeared at least adequate, but can be beat over the top when he gets caught peeking, as he doesn’t have elite recovery speed to compensate. Wasn’t able to get a great feel for his ball skills during the games reviewed, but had pretty solid on-ball production over the past couple of seasons. Physical when attacking blockers in the run game, although he has some balance issues which crop up on contact; can be put on skates by more physical receivers. Not the strongest tackler. While there is a lot to like about his ability to keep the play in front of him and diagnose when playing in off-coverage/zone, there are better options in this class when it comes to playing press-man, which could somewhat limit the range of teams that rank him among the top cornerbacks in the class.

CB Damon Arnette, Ohio St.

6’0” – 195 lbs.

Four-star recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas. Redshirted in 2015, then picked up 21 tackles and an interception the following year. Ended up finishing his career with thirty-eight starts, making 44 tackles, breaking up eight passes, and intercepting two as a sophomore. Finished with 40 tackles, six breakups, and an interception the next year, then ended up with 35 tackles, eight breakups, and a pick-six in his senior year. Adequately built for the outside, with solid size and bulk for the position. Lined up opposite Jeff Okudah, usually in press-man coverage on the right side of the defense, which is probably the technique he’s best-suited for at the pro level as well. Pretty physical cornerback who can play bump and run on the outside, but who also has pretty good footwork to match releases at the line of scrimmage without using his arms. Does a nice job of using his hands to feel routes developing and provide coverage through the route stem. When defending against outside releases, does a good job of using his size to pin opponents to the sideline. Able to get his head around and locate the ball in order to make plays when in-phase, although he can be a little bit physical at the catch point, which may cause him to pick up some penalties for pass interference at the next level. However, is not the twitchiest cornerback, and when he’s not using his hands, can be a little bit late to react, making him susceptible to timing-based throws. Will occasionally play a little bit further off, and looks conservative in that capacity, giving pretty generous cushions which create opportunities for teams to complete shorter passes underneath, particularly because his ability to plant and drive is just adequate; not one of the most explosive cornerbacks in this year’s class. Willing to get physical in the run game, although his awareness and positioning leave a little bit to be desired; would like to see him do a better job of locating the ball, staying square, and maintaining outside positioning. Is one of the most experienced of the top cornerbacks in this year’s draft class, and has a pretty good feel for the position, particularly when he’s playing press-man or bump-and-run on the outside. Might not blow anyone away with his athletic ability but has the look of a potential number-two option and will probably get some second-day consideration as a result.

CB C.J. Henderson, Florida*

6’1” – 202 lbs.

Started five of eleven games played as a freshman, finishing with 22 tackles, four interceptions, four breakups, and two defensive touchdowns. Started all thirteen games the following year and finished with 38-5.0-3.0 with two interceptions and seven breakups. Was limited to nine games this past year, and finished with 33 tackles and eleven breakups. Listed size is very solid for a pro cornerback, but looks a little bit smaller on tape, so official measurements will be important. Plays various different techniques on both sides of the field; tends to line up on the short side. Typically lines up in man coverage and shuffle coverage, often a few yards off the line of scrimmage, but sometimes in off-man as well. Has quick, smooth footwork to match releases at the line of scrimmage; didn’t backpedal too much, but does so with good balance. Does a good job of using his hands; willing to mix things up a little bit near the line, and uses his hands through breaks in order to feel routes developing. Has enough speed and explosiveness to carry opponents downfield. Has fluid hips to change directions, and can provide pretty tight coverage on inside breaking routes. Was not targeted often during the games reviewed. Plays a little bit conservative despite his speed, burst, and quickness; makes quick tackles to limit yards after the catch, but wasn’t always in a position to make plays on the ball when targeted during the games reviewed. That’s surprising, as his on-ball production was actually pretty impressive over the past two years. Can look a little bit tentative when diagnosing route combinations from zone coverage. Gets good extension with his arms when playing off of blocks, doing a good job of locating the ball, although his contract strength can sometimes be a little bit lacking for a bigger cornerback. Short-area quickness allows him to navigate through traffic on his way to the ball. Willing to come up and support the run, although he’s not the most physical or reliable tackler. Injury sustained this past season will require further medical evaluation at the Combine. A cornerback who can play too conservatively in coverage at times but who also possesses most of the tools teams look for in a man-coverage cornerback; he is tall, fast, and quick, with good footwork and hand use, traits which allow him to stick with opposing receivers.