Category: Uncategorized

DB Jaquan Johnson, Miami (FL)

5’10” – 191 lbs. – 4.69

Appeared in all thirteen games as a true freshman, then started five of thirteen games the following year before becoming a full-time starter as a junior, leading the team in tackles and intercepting four passes. Led the team in tackles again and added another two interceptions as a senior. Size is on the small size for a pro safety; looks more like a nickel defender. Lined up all over the field for the Hurricanes: as a single-high safety, lined up over opposing receivers on the outside, or closer to the line of scrimmage as more of a box player. Plays with an energetic, physical on-field temperament that should endear him to teams. Didn’t backpedal too much but has quick feet to get depth. Able to keep the play in front of him and diagnose in time to make an impact on the play. Capable of functioning as an enforcer over the middle of the field. Impressive ability to plant and drive on a spot; good burst to close and bring down opposing ballcarriers. Loves to come up and deliver big hits or support the run. Angles can be pretty aggressive but plays with strong instincts and is frequently around the ball, as his two seasons as the Hurricanes’ leading tackler would suggest. Compensates for his size with physicality and generally effective wrap-tackling technique, although he will sometimes resort to making hits without wrapping in congested areas. Does a good job of attacking blocks and generating force with his explosiveness; able to sniff out screens and put himself in position to make tackles. In coverage, would like to see him do a better job of getting his head around and locating the ball; intercepted six passes over the past two years but saw him targeted on throws in which he turned his back and didn’t locate. Lack of size/length may limit the amount of pro receivers he’ll be able to match up against. Ability to handle single-high is something of a question; was more of a downhill player during the games reviewed and has good, not great top-end speed. Well-suited temperamentally to a special-teams role early in his career. A prospect who’s easy to love because of his appealing combination of energy, instincts, and physicality, he may not have the type of size teams are looking for, but it’s hard to imagine someone who’s around the ball as much as he is being unable to find a role at the next level.

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DB Deionte Thompson, Alabama*

6’1” – 195 lbs. – N/A

Redshirted, then appeared in twenty-eight games over the following two seasons, starting two games as a sophomore; posted 25 tackles and intercepted one ball in 2017. Stepped into the starting lineup this past season and posted 78 tackles to go along with two interceptions, three passes defensed, and three forced fumbles. Tall, long-limbed, and somewhat lanky safety who was asked to do a little bit of everything at Alabama; would most often line up in single-high coverage, occasionally shading over opposing slot receivers. Very fast, aggressive, and energetic defender. Looks explosive when playing downhill; likes to come up and deliver hits in the run game. At this point, is more physical than fundamentally sound as a tackler; delivers a lot of big hits but doesn’t always wrap up opponents, leading to too many missed opportunities on arm tackles or attempts to go low. Should be able to take snaps in man coverage at the pro level; has the type of length and athleticism to stick with opponents through breaks and down the field. Knows how to get away with a little bit of contact at the stem. Able to get low and demonstrates impressive footwork in his backpedal. Has more than enough speed and length to make it to the sidelines and provide help over the top for cornerbacks; was asked to function as a single-high safety on a regular basis. Possesses a wide catch radius and exhibits very good ball skills and soft hands to make the interception when he’s in position to do so; explosive leaper with good timing to go for the deflection. Effective plant-and-drive, with good timing to break up passes on throws in front of him; makes the most of his length. However, teams have been able to pull him up with play fakes designed to take advantage of his aggressiveness, creating opportunities for downfield throws; will need to play with more discipline at the next level as the margin of error is reduced. Wasn’t able to get in-phase on as many sideline throws as his speed would suggest. A prospect whose highs are higher than many of the other prospects in this year’s class, but who needs to play with more discipline, breaking down and wrapping up opponents as a tackler and being more patient with his reads in deep zones. May have been able to return to school and clean up his technique to boost his stock further, but looks likely to be one of the first safeties picked this year anyway.

DB Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland

5’10” – 198 lbs. – 4.36

Started the last of ten games played as a freshman (eleven tackles on the year), then became a full-time starter the following year, posting 59 tackles, one interception, and four passes defensed. Followed that up with another 59-tackle campaign, this time with three interceptions and three breakups, then posted 52 tackles and four picks as a senior. Somewhat undersized free safety who moves around the field, lining up about ten yards off at times but also creeping up closer to play over bunch formations and defend screens. Overall usage and techniques he was asked to play were a little bit simpler than some of the other top safety prospects. Tended not to be used as a high safety too often; more frequently was in robber zones or coverage against opposing slot receivers. Wasn’t asked to backpedal too often, although he demonstrates good balance in limited snaps; overall range of ground he was asked to cover was also limited. At his best when he’s able to see an underneath route concept developing in front of him and come up to deliver a hit or break up the throw. Willing to get pretty physical at the route stem to disrupt opposing routes when working against opposing slot receivers, typically in zone; may lack the physical/athletic tools to be a desirable man-coverage matchup against too many pro receivers. Good on-ball production despite his frame; able to undercut throws. First instinct is to come up and support the run, and flashes speed when planting and driving on a spot. When he finds a direct path, closes well and can deliver some good hits on opposing runners despite his smaller frame. Able to get low and slip through congestion to get to the ball when defending screens; does a pretty good job of sniffing those out and making quick tackles. However, angles to the ball can be inefficient at times, and doesn’t have a wide margin of error because of his lack of length. The result are missed tackles. Will delegate to other players in the area at times. A three-year starter with some quickness, ball-skills, and ability to come up and make tackles from shallower zones, but who may need some seasoning before he’s able to contribute at the pro level, given the relatively simple assignments/techniques he was asked to play in college. Considerations of readiness, combined with a somewhat undersized frame, may relegate him to being more of a mid-round selection.

DB Darius West, Kentucky

5’11” – 208 – 4.39

Redshirted, then rotated into the defense and played on special-teams the following year, finishing with seventeen tackles. Missed the subsequent season with a knee injury, then stepped into a starting role in 2017, finishing with 85 tackles and an interception, followed by a senior campaign of 86 tackles, three interceptions, and six passes defensed. Thickly-built strong safety who lines up both deep in the secondary and closer to the line of scrimmage, playing opposite Mike Edwards; will also shade over bunches to provide additional zone coverage. Just an adequate athlete on tape; not one of the most gifted prospects in terms of his overall speed, explosiveness, and fluidity, seemingly lacking a second gear. Range is somewhat limited and tended to be used as more of a robber than a deep safety. When he shades over, tends to play well off the line of scrimmage in order to keep the play in front of him and avoid having to turn and run. Wasn’t asked to match up in man coverage often during the games reviewed but may be able to carry runners out of the backfield on passing routes. Good recognition and timing to see underneath patterns developing and come up to make the hit. Able to compensate for his lack of athleticism by playing with patience and taking solid angles to the ball; pretty conservative, reliable safety who knows his responsibility as the last line of defense. Likes to come up and defend the run; good key-reader who maximizes his athletic ability and shows a knack for hunting down ballcarriers. Able to sift through trash and get to the play when dealing with congestion. Good feel for screens developing, being quick to diagnose and using his hands well to slip blockers and make his way to the ball. Effective wrap tackler with some thump; brings a tough, lunch-pail type of approach and doesn’t miss many of the opportunities he’s in position to take advantage of, keeping his shoulders square and using technique. Good in the open field, with the ability to break down. A productive two-year starter who seems to have a good mental grasp for the position and who also offers reliable tackling ability; really helped answer questions about his athleticism with a blazing forty-time in Indianapolis. Projects as a special-teams contributor and potentially a box safety.

DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida*

5’11” – 210 – 4.48

Started the last three of thirteen games played as a true freshman, recording 32 tackles and intercepting three passes, then started all eleven games the following season (58 tackles, two interceptions). Became the team’s nickel defender as a junior (71 tackles, four interceptions), then declared for the draft. Big, thickly-built defender who comes with a pro-style body. Experienced player who has done a little bit of everything with the Gators. Tended to line up in the slot in 2018, but would regularly creep up to the edge of the line and blitz; prior to that, was more of a traditional high safety who did a lot of work in deep zones. Tough, competitive on-field temperament; was a player who came up big in big games, being named MVP of the Outback Bowl in 2017 and Peach Bowl in 2018. Plays with good instincts, keeping the play in front of him and diagnosing quickly to come up and support the run. Effective tackler who has a physical approach and who can work through blocks to get to the ball, with good extension, active hands, and the suddenness to slip past opponents and make tackles. Ability to defend screens and outside rushing attempts is one of the most impressive elements of his game. Top-end speed appears just average but exhibits a solid closing burst when playing downhill; also tested well in Indianapolis. Working in coverage against opposing receivers, was asked to play some different techniques. Backpedals with balance and pretty quick feet and was asked to do so on a regular basis. When playing press-man, is able to use his size and physicality to disrupt opposing receivers at the line. Able to place his hands at the route stem. However, struggles to keep up with faster receivers down the field in man coverage. Consequently, looks better when playing in shorter zones, where he’s able to keep the play in front of him and use his instincts and physicality to make plays. Played as a deep safety prior to 2018, so he has experience working in deeper zones and providing help over the top, but might struggle to get over to the sidelines at the pro level and looks better suited to more of a box/robber role. A pretty good player who has some coverage limitations but who also does enough things well to succeed if he’s given a role which lets him play within his skillset.

DB Amani Hooker, Iowa*

5’11” – 210 lbs. – 4.48

Appeared in a special-teams capacity as a freshman, then became a starter the following season, posting 56 tackles, two interceptions, and two passes defensed. Picked up another 65 tackles, four interceptions, and seven breakups in 2018 before declaring for the draft. Thickly-built safety who often drops down into the box or shades over a slot receiver; not many snaps in which he’s lined up in high zones well off the line of scrimmage. Aggressive safety who loves to deliver hits as a downhill player; hard-nosed football player who has the sense of urgency teams look for. Has a pretty good nose for the ball, being able to sniff out screens and play developments and flow toward runners. Physical player who can disrupt opposing receivers at the line or fight through blockers to make tackles on screens; plays with a low center of gravity and impressive functional strength to attack blocks. Able to help set the tone defensively with big hits, generating pop on contact and using effective wrap tackling technique. However, can sometimes let his aggression get the best of him, causing him to take narrow angles to the ball which leave him unable to make tackles; would like to see him try to go around the outside shoulder of blockers instead of slipping under them. In off-coverage, played a lot of shuffle technique against opposing receivers, demonstrating the quick feet to carry route-runners down the seams and passing them off to defenders in deeper zones; may not have the top-end speed to go stride-for-stride down the field in man coverage. Put himself in position to make plays on the ball in coverage when targeted and exhibits solid ball skills to break up passes or secure interceptions. Good at anticipating and undercutting throws for the interception. Ultimately requires some projection to a traditional safety role because he wasn’t asked to handle single-high or cover-2 looks from well off the line of scrimmage, and may not really have the speed or length to get over to the sideline consistently and provide help over the top on downfield throws. Looks like a solid candidate to carry runners out of the backfield on pass routes or match up against flex tight ends, but wasn’t able to get a good feel for that during the games reviewed. A tough, instinctive football player who may project as more of a box safety, rover, or nickel defender, but who offers a high floor in any of those roles and looks like a solid second-day candidate.

CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson*

6’2” – 199 lbs. – 4.46

Appeared in thirteen games as a true freshman, including in a special-teams capacity, then took over a starting role in 2017 and intercepted three passes on the year, breaking up another seven throws. Decided to declare after a junior campaign in which he broke up four passes and intercepted one ball. Tall, long-limbed cornerback who plays in a scheme which calls for him to line up on the short side of the field. Most common techniques are press-man when there’s a receiver opposite him, and zone coverage when no one is split out wide to his side of the field; also plays zone at times against receivers aligned tight to the formation. Frequently lines up close to the line and blitzes when there’s no one to his side of the field. Looks best when he’s using his length and physicality to disrupt releases at the line of scrimmage; good temperament. Able to use his length to blanket receivers near the sidelines. Has enough straight-line speed to carry opponents down the sidelines, and can use his length to challenge throws even if his coverage isn’t the tightest. Doesn’t provide the most seamless coverage through the route stem; not the twitchiest or most fluid defensive back, creating windows for timing throws and relies heavily on his physicality to take those types of passes away. Some balance issues crop up when receivers run double-moves against him. Technique needs polishing; turns all the way around instead of in, wasting motion. Susceptible to shorter throws when playing off-coverage, with adequate but not great plant-and-drive ability. Tends to get too grabby during the route and too physical when the ball is in the air and might be a penalty-prone cornerback at the next level. Likes to come up and make tackles in the run game; is able to get low and uses pretty sound technique to bring down ballcarriers, with a wide tackling radius and good speed to plant and drive. One of the more impressive physical specimens in this year’s draft, but still in need of polish with regard to his pattern recognition and technique; was able to get by with his size, speed, length, and physicality at the college level but will probably have to sit on the bench to begin his pro career. Still might end up coming off the board on the second day as a prospect with a high ceiling, but may have benefited from a return to school.

CB Saivion Smith, Alabama*

6’1” – 199 lbs.

Five-star recruit who originally attended Louisiana St., playing sparingly before transferring to Alabama, which required him to sit out the 2017 season. Stepped into a full-time starting role with the Tide, picking up 60 tackles, intercepting three passes, and breaking up another five before declaring for the draft. Tall, very long-limbed cornerback (33.25” arms) who played on both sides of the defense, playing out of a lot of press alignments but sometimes bailing into a shuffle technique; goes into zone when opponents don’t line up a receiver to his side of the formation. Able to play on the short or long side of the field. Defensive scheme does not call for its players to backpedal much, so that will be a necessary adjustment at the pro level in all likelihood. Pretty fluid mover who uses his length to get his arms on opponents at the line, has the footwork to mirror releases at the line of scrimmage. Provides tight, flat coverage on routes over the middle. Quick feet to shuffle or use the sideline to pin opponents. More flexible than explosive, lacking an elite closing burst to recover when out of phase; could be a problem given his aggressiveness in sitting on the first break. Top-end speed looks good but not great. However, compensates for it somewhat with his impressive length and solid ball skills; appears to have good timing to go for the breakup and soft hands to come down with interceptions when he’s in-phase. Can sometimes get opened up by double-moves; see Missouri game. Not the most physical player in run support, but is willing to come up and wrap up ballcarriers low. Can be put on skates at times, but does a good job of getting extension when taking on blocks and staying to the outside of the play; plays a little bit lighter than anticipated and can struggle to handle the initial contact. A player who has a lot of the physical and athletic tools teams look for, but who could stand to take a slightly more conservative approach to coverage and develop his functional strength in order to hold up better in the run game. Nonetheless, comes from a program with an excellent reputation for preparing its players for the pro game, and his encouraging 2018 campaign as a first-year starter could earn him some second-day consideration.

CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple

6’0” – 192 lbs. – 4.52

Originally attended Presbyterian College, where he contributed in his first year before putting together two starting seasons before he transferred to Temple this past season, recording 47 tackles, two interceptions, and twelve passes defensed. Has solid height and good length (32” arms) but came in just below 6’0”, two inches shorter than he was listed. Coaches kept things simple for the first-year Owl by letting him line up almost exclusively on the left side of the defense, playing press-man coverage. Does a good job of using his arms to disrupt receivers near the line, and to pin them to the sidelines as he sticks with them down the field; physical corner who knows what his strengths are and plays to them. Top-end speed looks adequate to carry opponents deep. However, overall movements can look a little bit clumsy at times and can be too grabby at the stem to maintain tight coverage, something which may cause him to be flagged at the next level. Struggled to a poor 7.31 in the cone. A little bit stilted in his footwork when he’s playing off-coverage techniques. Looks more comfortable using the sideline to provide coverage on downfield routes than defending receivers who make inside releases and cross over the middle of the formation. Gets opened up and put on his heels instead of cutting off the inside; could play a little flatter, with loose coverage providing opportunities for receivers to get the ball with space to work with. There’s some wasted movement when he’s breaking on the ball, creating windows for quarterbacks to target him on timing-based throws. Also tends to turn around instead of into receivers. When he’s in position, is able to use his length to make plays on the ball, breaking up twelve passes this past year, although he squandered an opportunity to make an interception during one of the games reviewed (Maryland). Very good leaper. Ability to defend the run is inhibited by his struggles to locate the football and play off of blocks/position himself. Not one of the most fluid or polished cornerback prospects in this year’s class, but has an impressive combination of size, length, and physicality which should interest teams looking for a developmental press-man cornerback to groom. Those traits should earn him consideration around the middle of the draft, especially when considering his development trajectory, having been able to make a leap up in the level of competition he was facing and immediately take over top cornerback duties there.

CB Montre Hartage, Northwestern

5’11” – 190 lbs. – 4.68

Appeared in thirteen games in a reserve/special teams capacity as a freshman, then intercepted five passes and broke up another nine as a full-time starter the following year. Started the past two seasons as well, totaling four interceptions and seventeen passes defended over that span. Has solid height and bulk and a strong build. Lined up on the short side of the field and was asked to play a lot of shuffle and press-man. Would also rotate over into a high zone when there wasn’t a receiver on his side of the field. Plays with the type of polish and smarts you’d expect in a three-year starter. Uses his size and length to his advantage in press-man, getting his arms on his opponent both at the line of scrimmage and in order to and stick with them through the route stem. Good footwork to match releases. Relies on that length to help him compensate for borderline speed; may have to roll a safety over the top in order to provide help against deep threats. Can also be a little bit slow to get his head around to locate, with a tendency to make a little too much contact on deep targets. That said, clearly had the trust of his coaching staff, which often left him alone on islands and brought their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage. Does a good job of reading the quarterback’s eyes when shuffling, with good reaction times to undercut routes and make plays on the ball; clean footwork and long strides to get depth. Looks pretty good planting and driving on spots. Made a lot of plays on the ball over the past three years, a testament to his pattern recognition, consequent tendency to be in-phase, and length. Willing to get physical in the run game but has an appropriately conservative approach to positioning, locking out blockers and staying to the outside of his receiver in order to push runners back toward his teammates. Patient when left unblocked on the end of the defense. When he does stick his nose in, has the closing burst, length, and physicality to bring down ballcarriers. May not be the fastest or most fluid cornerback in the draft, but plays with the type of sound instincts and technique to contribute at the next level. Pro-ready frame and polished game should smooth his learning curve, but stock is probably no higher than the mid-to-late rounds after barely clearing 4.7 in the forty.