Defensive back Deandre Baker of the Georgia Bulldogs

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2019 NFL Draft: Cornerback scouting reports

April 19, 2019 - 12:21 pm
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THE NFL DRAFT REPORT PRESENTS

THE TOP CORNERBACKS

 

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

Byron Murphy-#1

University of Washington Huskies

5:10.6-190

Agility Tests...4.55 in the 40-yard dash…1.59 10-yard dash…36 1/2-inch vertical jump…10'-0" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times…30 1/8-inch arm length…8 7/8-inch hands…71 3/8-inch wingspan.

College Career...Through twenty games as the field and slot cornerback, Murphy posted 74 tackles (50 solos) with a 1-yard sack and seven stops for losses of 20 yards. He returned one interception 66 yards for a touchdown, gaining 95 yards from seven pass thefts. He also defended 27 tosses (twenty break-ups). On 1,238 snaps, the junior was targeted 84 times, allowing 43 receptions (51.19%) for 469 yards and four touchdowns.

Background...The Scottsdale, Arizona native attended Saguaro High School, where he excelled as a cornerback and wide receiver. Rated the 11th-best cornerback in the country, he was credited with 60 tackles, three picks and three forced fumbles while attending Marcos de Niza High School as a sophomore. As a junior, he had 65 receptions for 1,348 yards and 13 scores, as well as 53 tackles and seven interceptions, earning All-Arizona honors at wide receiver and all-Division III at defensive back.

In 2014, Murphy joined the Saguaro High Sabercats, where he earned Arizona Division II Player of the Year and All-Arizona first team from the Arizona Republic. Named to the MaxPreps.com Medium-Sized Schools All-America first team and All-America (all levels) second team as a wide receiver, he was one of four finalists for the Lockheed Martin Air Defender of the Year (top defensive back in the nation).

Rated the top prospect in Arizona by the Arizona Republic newspaper, he helped lead the Sabercats to a 12-2 overall record and the Division II state championship in 2015. That year, he caught 88 passes for 1,733 yards and 21 touchdowns, when he was also credited with seven interceptions and 52 total tackles. He closed out his prep career after he was invited to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He also lettered on the basketball team as a senior.

Murphy enrolled at the University of Washington in 2016, but spent his first season as a red-shirt. In 2017, he participated in 334 snaps, seeing action mostly as the slot corner. He was in on 16 tackles that included his lone career sack. He caused one fumble and intercepted three passes while breaking up ten others through six appearances that included three starts before a midseason foot injury sidelined him. He returned to post seven tackles, two for loss, a sack, and an interception against Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. For the year, he allowed 12 receptions via 22 targets for 149 yards and a score.

The 2018 campaign earned Murphy All-American and All-Pac 12 Conference honors. Bednarik Award semi-finalist won both the Earle T. Glant Tough Husky Award and the Chuck Niemi Big Hit Award. In fourteen starting assignments, he compiled 58 tackles (37 solos) with four stops-for-loss. He was named Game MVP of the league title clash after running back an interception 66 yards for a score vs. Utah and totaled four thefts, including one in the end zone to seal the Apple Cup win over in-state rivals, Washington State. He broke up seventeen passes and tied for 11th nationally with seventeen passes defended. On January 7th, 2019, Murphy announced that he would forgo his remaining two years of eligibility and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability... Murphy has a solidly built frame with well-defined upper and lower body structure, but possesses below average arm length (71 3/8-inch wing span). He has smooth, natural hands to field the ball cleanly and they are also one of his better assets, as he demonstrates the flexibility and grip to grab and jerk the receiver off the route’s progression without getting caught by the refs. He has good thickness in his thighs and calves, as the same holds true in the pectoral and trapezoid regions.

Murphy is a lot like the Chargers' Craig Hayward – a truly efficient player who effectively uses his quickness to make plays on the ball in flight, or when impacting his man coverage assignment with aggression and force to impede the route’s progress. He has that outstanding ability to change direction with no wasted steps and he also shows the body control and adjustment skills to easily combat the bigger receivers during “jump ball” situations.

His hand/eye coordination is above average and he can see things develop and react with no hesitation. He is very fluid and smooth in his movements and he can flip his hips and close on the ball with good urgency. His success in run support is because of his short area quickness and when having to run long distances, he does so with nice balance, demonstrating quickness in transition.

Key and Diagnostic Skills... Murphy is highly instinctive, evident by his 27 passes defended, as he excels at “doing his job” and coming off his man to help others. He’s a very alert player, especially in man coverage, using his press skills to reroute/jam receivers away from 41 of the 84 passes targeted into his area. The thing that you see on game film is the suddenness he displays in distinguishing between run and pass plays (see Washington State, Pac-12 title clash vs. Utah).

He is so quick to identify his keys and react to the play, that receivers barely have time to get out of their stance before he is all over them. He works hard to defend his responsibilities and has excellent vision when it comes to recognizing blocking schemes. You can count on one finger the times that Murphy “guesses some” in coverage, as he’s almost never fooled on the snap. He does a great job in reading the quarterback’s eyes and in the zone, he can instantly get a jump on the ball.

Man Coverage Ability... He is highly consistent when it comes to maintaining position on the receiver, and he has enough skills to play the trail, cover or cushion. He has the foot speed to run with any receiver stride for stride (see North Dakota, both Utah games, Stanford contest). He never seems to be out of position, especially when down field and he has the recovery speed to get back on the play on those rare times when a receiver gets behind him. He’s one of the best “press men” in college and has the hand usage to jam at the line, along with the turning ability to mirror in the short area or when playing off coverage. He is very good at maintaining leverage on posts and always seems to be quick in transition, especially when covering on a nine-route.

Zone Coverage Ability...You do not make seven touchdown-saving tackles out of your area if you do not have the field vision and range to close on a play – traits that Murphy displays often. He has outstanding anticipation and good comprehension of zone concepts, along with great range and suddenness in his movements to close on the receiver in a hurry when executing the switch-off. Once he gets a read on the quarterback, he is quick to react and impact the play. He demonstrates very quick plant-&-drive agility when driving forward to make plays on the ball. While he does win a lot of jump ball battles (20 break-ups and seven pass thefts in twenty games), he can also be very physical stepping into the box vs. the run. Still, he excels at looking up the receivers and anticipating the quarterback to jump the play.

Ball Reaction Skills...Murphy is a huge problem for a “lazy” quarterback, as he will never bite on misdirection or play action. He has that outstanding natural ability to break on the ball and when it comes to making the interception, he’s like a vacuum going after the sphere. He has superb foot quickness and body control to step in front of the receiver (see Stanford, Washington State, Utah Pac-12 title clash). He can transition on a time-&-burst to make the play and even vs. the bigger receivers or when working in a crowd, he has no problem tracking the ball in flight. He takes good angles and shows the quickness needed to accelerate when closing out of his breaks, keeping his feet clean in transition. He’s like a savvy veteran, as he often knows when to read the receiver’s eyes and hand movements to go for the ball and make the deflection down field.

Jumping Ability...Murphy is well known for getting great elevation to track the ball while it is in flight (36.5-inch vertical jump). Despite being a shade under six-feet, he has no problem challenging the much bigger receivers to get to the pigskin at its highest point. He just has great lift and plenty of courage, as he has gained a lot of success picking the ball off in tight areas. He attacks the ball as if it was his birthright. He takes clean angles to the ball coming out of his breaks and in pursuit, demonstrating the body control to adjust on the move and time his leaps to compete.

Hands...Murphy is a natural hands catcher and it is very puzzling that neither the current or former staff has ever used him as a return specialist, or on some offensive plays, considering his pedigree as a receiver coming out of high school. When it comes to pulling off the big interception, this kid ranks right up there with Casey Hayward and Marcus Peters. He looks very comfortable reaching and snatching the ball outside his frame and he knows how to contort his body to make the tough grab (see Pac-12 title Utah game).

His pursuit range and catch-up ability appear outstanding on any game tapes viewed. He easily maintains relationship with receivers on deep routes and I still have not found a player eligible for the 2019 draft with his exceptional football instincts (sees things quickly). 

Run Defense...Murphy will never hesitate to come up and support vs. the run. He has very quick hands and uses them well to fend off low blocks and utilizes his upper body strength to take on bigger blockers and shed. He’s a fearless open field hitter (see Utah regular season and BYU games). He is a better run stuffer than most college cornerbacks (has made seven stops-for-loss and taken down runners at the line of scrimmage for no gain on eleven other attempts). He is a valid factor vs. the run, as he always will get involved and leverage, doing so with little-to-no delay. He is quick to react and come downhill, as he has the hand usage needed to take on and play off blocks, showing strong angle concept to fit and make plays in traffic. He is very conscious of using his hands to protect himself or two-gap a blocker and for a defensive back, he really seems to like contact, knowing when to break down and play under control.

Tackling Ability... Murphy can be an explosive hitter, as he will consistently square up and “put his hat under the chin” of an opponent. He flashes power as a striker and will not hesitate to take on the big fullback to clog the rush lanes. He’s a solid wrap-up tackler who can hit and he can punish. He makes nice adjustments to break down and fit in the open field and has enough brute strength to explode into an opponent upon contact.

Unlike most sub-200-pound defensive backs, he’s not the type that will grab or just take a side, as he does a nice job of squaring up in tight quarters. He’s also very deft at avoiding blockers to find the ball carrier in the backfield (see BYU and Utah regular season games). Whatever it takes – whether going low, wrestling them down or knocking them out of bounds, Murphy will hit his opponents with a thud.

Compares To...Casey Hayward-Los Angeles Chargers...Like Hayward Murphy is not big, but both have great playmaking ability, with Murphy likely to add another “hat” at the NFL level, if some smart special teams coach requests to use him as the dangerous return specialist he was in high school. As a pass defender, he has the length and stride in his backpedal to easily stay on the receiver coming out of transition.

Murphy does not let his assignments break his cushion and gets on top of those receivers in an instant, evident by his success in rerouting opponents away from catch-able throws. He opens up laterally or vertically with ease and shows an outstanding burst to recover. He can plant-&-drive with little-to-no gather and displays the mirror ability to stay with any receiver he’s matched up against.

GIVING MURPHY A RUN FOR HIS MONEY

Deandre "Dre" Lamar Baker-#18

University of Georgia Bulldogs

5:11.0-193

Agility Tests...4.52 in the 40-yard dash…1.60 10-yard dash…2.65 20-yard dash…35-inch vertical jump…9'-10" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times…32-inch arm length…9-inch hands…77 1/8-inch wingspan.

College Career...Baker has started 34-of-51 games at the right-side cornerback position, as he delivered 116 tackles (83 solos) with a 10-yard sack and four stops behind the line of scrimmage. Among those tackles-for-loss, he caused two fumbles. He also recovered a pair of fumbles, posting 24 pass deflections and seven interceptions for 146 yards in return. His 31 total passes defended rank 25th among active FBS performers.

Through 2,043 snaps, Baker was targeted 132 times, allowing 58 receptions (43.94%) for 712 yards (12.27 ypc) and one touchdown (came during freshman year).

Background...During his time at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Baker was more known for his track exploits, as the All-American sprinter participated in the 4X400 relay race on the second leg. The All-State choice also competed in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. On the gridiron, the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection was named an ESPN.com three-star prospect, as that service rated him the 56th-best cornerback in the nation. In addition to breaking up eleven passes on defense in 2014, he also caught 32 passes as a split end.

Playing behind Aaron Davis at boundary corner during his true freshman season at Athens, he made just one solo tackle. In 2016, he moved into the starting lineup for six contests, responding with 31 tackles that included a sack that caused a touchdown-saving fumble vs. Tennessee. He also had a fumble recovery. He broke up seven passes and intercepted two others, including a 28-yard runback vs. Louisiana.

Baker earned All-Southeastern Conference second-team honors in 2017. Through 829 snaps, he allowed 32-of-62 targeted passes to be completed (37.1%) for 295 yards. He was in on 44 tackles through fifteen appearances, intercepting three tosses while batting away twelve others. He snagged Georgia’s first interception of the year vs. Mississippi State, returning it for 22 yards. He then had their final pass theft vs. Alabama in the national title clash.

Baker considered declaring for the 2018 NFL draft, but elected to return to school for his senior year.

In 2018, he received the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. The consensus All-American and unanimous All-SEC first-team pick started all fourteen games, as the boundary corner nailed 40 tackles (31 solos) with two stops for loss, causing a fumble that he recovered vs. Georgia Tech. The semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (nation's top defender), he saw 41 passes targeted into his area on 711 snaps, giving up twenty receptions (48.8%) for just 175 yards, an average of 4.27 yards per pass attempt.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability...Baker has a just average height and he could use some additional bulk to his frame. He has just adequate arm length, but a good wingspan, along with fluid hips, good foot quickness and exceptional leaping ability. He has a well-defined frame, with lean muscle tone, tapered thighs and calves, tight waist and hips.

Baker has good timed speed, but it is his quick feet and ability to change direction that has made him a quality cover cornerback. He is very fluid and smooth in his movements, but there are times where he will get too upright in his stance (much better when he maintains proper pad level), which sometimes leads to wasted motion coming out of his breaks. He has that natural ability to redirect and flip his hips to stay with receivers on deep routes and recover nicely when his opponent manages to get behind him.

When he gets too tall in his pass drops, he will struggle to keep his base under him. He is a short strider with the second gear and burst to close in an instant. He has an outstanding closing burst and accelerates quickly to close. He has the loose hips to redirect, doing a nice job of planting and driving out of his breaks. He maintains good balance on the move and uses his hands well to keep blockers off his feet. He also demonstrates good agility and range on the move, along with the sudden burst out of his backpedal.

Key and Diagnostic Skills...Baker is a smart, alert pass defender who makes quick reads and shows no hesitation closing on the ball. He is quick to diagnose the play, doing a good job of keeping the action in front of him. He won’t bite on play action or fakes and is very active in run support, despite his lack of ideal size to mix it up in the trenches.

He seems to have that “sixth sense” of understanding route progression concepts and mirrors the receiver tightly to prevent much separation after the catch. You can see how quick he is able to recognize the play, showing no hesitation to identify his keys and react to the play as it develops (see South Carolina, Middle Tennessee, Missouri games). His ability to distinguish between pass and run plays, along with rarely ever being fooled by play action or misdirection has led to his tremendous success in making plays in the deep secondary.

Man Coverage Ability...With his loose hips, suddenness to redirect and true explosion to close, you would think that Baker would get over-confident and give a big cushion to the receiver, but he prefers to play his man tight, knowing that he has the hand placement ability to impede the receiver’s route progression. He has the valid speed to stay with his assignment on deep patterns and does a nice job of getting his body in the way to prevent catches over the opponent’s outside shoulder. He can close in an instant and is very quick to react to the ball in flight, showing natural hands to make the interception or pass deflection.

He has the burst needed to accelerate and close on plays at the opposite end of the field and has the second gear to catch up on rare times that he is beaten. He has above average foot quickness which gives him the ability to adjust to the receiver’s movements, along with the ability to plant, redirect and flip his hips. However, when he gets too tall and upright in his pass drops, he will take wasted steps (needs to be more sure of himself playing on an island, at times).

Zone Coverage Ability...Baker does a very good job of anticipating the ball in flight. He understands zone concepts and is quick to handle the switch-off. He adjusts well to action in front of him, but there are times when he will lose relationship in the switch-off when he takes wasted motions in his pass drops. He is good at anticipating the quarterback’s moves and really gets an explosive jump on the ball once he locates the path of the pass. He is very effective in press coverage and plays the ball aggressively (has rerouted or jammed receivers on 43-of-132 passes targeted into his area, in addition to recording 24 pass deflections and seven interceptions). He simply has some of the best comprehension of zone concepts of any defensive back in the draft, and along with some experience at free safety, he could shift inside or perform as a nickel back at the NFL level. He demonstrates suddenness in his movements and reactions, demonstrating excellent overall awareness.

Ball Reaction Skills...Few cornerbacks show the feel for the ball in flight like Baker displays, especially during his senior year. He looks natural fielding the ball and does a nice job of tracking the pigskin in flight (see South Carolina, Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, LSU games). He has very good timing trying to leap and attack the ball in flight, showing excellent elevation to reach the pass at its highest point. He does not allow much cushion, but when he does, he is alert to blocking schemes and is quick to close, especially vs. plays in front of him.

Baker has good breakdown ability playing in space and plays the ball with good relationship on the receiver. What you can see on game film is his outstanding ability to break on the ball vs. plays in front of him, especially in run support. With his foot quickness, he shows consistency stepping in front of the receiver to “make the pick” or deflect the pass.

Jumping Ability...Baker is fearless attacking the ball in flight and will not hesitate to sell out in attempts to make the play. He times his jumps well and shows natural ball skills extending to catch outside his framework (see South Carolina, Middle Tennessee games). His vertical jump lets him get to most vertical balls and he shows good explosion and strength in his legs on attempts to leap. For a smaller defender, he gets more than his fair share of success competing for the ball in flight, as he consistently gets good elevation to vie with the receiver to attack the ball at its highest point.

Hands...Baker has natural hands to field and secure the ball before heading up field. He will extend to catch outside his frame and makes a concerted effort to get to the ball in flight. He plays much bigger than his size indicates due to his ball-hawking skills. It is rare to see him use his body to catch the ball and he excels making plays on the tip drill.

Baker has the speed to make plays at the opposite end of the field. He shows urgency closing on the ball and has the recovery burst to compensate when he’s beaten on the go route. His catch-up ability is due to his loose hips and explosive acceleration.

Run Defense...Baker might lack the “sand in his pants” to prevent from getting absorbed by the bigger blockers, but he is an efficient perimeter tackler with the speed to redirect the outside running game. He needs to generate more power behind his hand punch to play off blocks, especially in tight quarters. He does a good job of keeping his pads down, sinking his hips and lowering his shoulders while driving hard with his legs to make the play. He will not hesitate to take on blockers and is good to break down, but due to a lack of bulk, he is better taking good angles to the ball rather than trying to split blocks.

Tackling Ability...Baker has improved his strength and is more of an impact hitter as a senior than he was in the past, but still lacks that explosive power to suddenly stop the ball carrier in his tracks, as he is more of a low-cut, drag-down wrap-up tackler than one that will blow up his man on every play. He shows good courage taking on bigger blockers and will do an efficient job of breaking down, facing up and wrapping to tackle. He will not hesitate to go low, wrestle the opponent down and knock the receivers out of bounds with a decent thud and he is not intimidated taking on bigger blockers, but size and lack of bulk does prevent him from “blowing them up” and making lots of tackles in the open field.

Compares To...Darrelle Revis-ex-New York Jets...While smaller than the "Island," both possess a great feel for the ball in flight. Baker is a solid pass thief, thanks to outstanding timing, quickness and a good understanding for route progression. He has very good leaping ability to compensate for a lack of ideal size and wingspan combating receivers to get to the ball at its highest point. He makes good adjustments on the move and is an efficient cut tackler who knows how to lower and drive with his shoulder to take the blockers out of action. He will need to continue adding more bulk to his frame, but that should not impact his above average acceleration.

WILLIAMS RELUCTANCE TO TACKLE MAKES HIM A QUESTION MARK

Andreaz "Greedy" Williams-#29

Louisiana State University Tigers

6:01.7-185

Agility Tests...4.37 in the 40-yard dash…1.51 10-yard dash…2.56 20-yard dash…36-inch vertical jump...10'-04" broad jump...Bench pressed 225 pounds eight times…31 1/2-inch arm length…9 1/4-inch hands…74 1/2-inch wingspan.

College Career...Williams has started all 25 games that he appeared in for the Tigers, as the left cornerback recorded 71 tackles (49 solos) with 1.5 stops-for-loss. He returned eight interceptions for 52 yards and deflected nineteen other tosses.

Through 1,550 plays, Williams was targeted 130 times. He allowed 51 receptions (39.23%) for 701 yards and three touchdowns.

Background...Legend has it that Williams was nicknamed Greedy by his grandmother, but it was actually by his aunt, who called him "Greedy-Deedee" after babysitting him as an infant. His mother later took out the Deedee, and Williams adopted the name. In 2015, he told USA Today "I love the nickname. They say it’s a great DB name. It helps to be greedy as a defensive back." Williams and LSU linebacker Devin White have played football together since peewee ball. Actually, he is the second member of his family playing cornerback in college, as his older brother (by fifteen months), Rodarius, is a sophomore starter at Oklahoma State.

At Shreveport's Calvary Academy, Greedy helped his team win state titles in 2013 and 2014 and the four-star recruit received all-state honors as a senior. The All-USA Louisiana choice recorded 47 tackles with two interceptions during his final prep season and totaled 170 tackles, ten pass break-ups and five interceptions during his career.

Williams enrolled at Louisiana State, but the 20th-rated high school cornerback in the country was red-shirted in 2016. He started all thirteen games at left cornerback in 2017, becoming the third Tigers since 2008 to lead the Southeastern Conference in both interceptions (six for 32 yards in returns) and passes defended (sixteen, includes ten break-ups). He posted 38tackles (26 solos) that included 1.5 stops-for-loss through 754 downs. Targeted 63 times, he gave up 300 yards and one touchdown on 24 receptions (38.1%).

Last season, Williams was a Thorpe finalist, as the All-SEC and All-American started every regular season game before quitting on the team before the postseason, announcing that he would enter the 2019 draft. This continued a troubling trend of top players simply walking away from their commitment to teammates, as Central Florida nearly upset the Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl without their left cornerback.

Through 796 plays, Williams finished 2018 with 33 tackles (23 solos). He intercepted two passes and deflected nine others. He was charged with yielding 27 receptions on 67 passes targeted into his area (40.3%) that totaled 401 yards (14.85 ypc) and a pair of touchdowns.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability...Williams has a marginally developed body with almost no calf definition, adequate arm length and minimal bubble. He appears a bit knock-kneed and needs to add more bulk and muscle tone to his frame.

Williams is built for speed. He has an angular frame with very good quickness. He shows good hip snap and change of direction agility. He does not take wasted steps in transition and can close on the ball quickly when the play is in front of him. He shows smoothness with his feet in his pedal and has the range to make plays along the sidelines. He has good hand/eye coordination, but you’d like to see him generate a second gear in order to recover quicker on deep routes. He has valid feet for the position, but generates poor arm usage to stick it to receivers in press coverage.

Key and Diagnostic Skills...Williams is quick to gain position and sees plays in front of him well. He shows urgency getting to the ball in long pursuit. He is the type that likes to lock on to a receiver’s hip and run with him, rather than give cushion. In 2018, it looks like he is guessing a bit (Alabama and Miami games), but he has done a good job of blanketing the receiver. You only wish that he would make more plays, as he totaled only one tackle and one pass deflection in his last three contests (Miami. Mississippi State, Arkansas).He can react and recognize plays much better when they are in front of him, but has confidence in his speed to close on the ball in a hurry.

Man Coverage Ability...This is what he does best. Williams is active with his hands, but has no strength (eight reps in the 225-pound bench press) to press and reroute the receiver at the line. He stays tight on the receiver through their patterns and has the feet to break on the ball in a hurry, even when his man gets a step on him. Simply put, he is not the type who will deliver tackles that will take his man out of the game, but is effective at making plays on the ball in flight. He sticks to his man tight coming off the line, but when he gambles (Alabama, Texas A&M games), he pays for it by giving up the big play. Still, he generally gets the job done, but you want to see him keep his hands more active in attempts to redirect.

Zone Coverage Ability...This is where Williams gets into trouble mostly, as he seems to have mental hesitation in the deep zone. He will gamble too much and peek into the backfield too long, then, he has to rely on his speed to recover. When a receiver gets a step on him, he has the burst to recover, but sometimes will freeze up, allowing his assignment to break free. He has too much talent to take chances like he does and he will get “lazy eye” and stare at the quarterback too long, especially when he has to make the switch on combo routes. He is quick to jump routes and has the range, but just appears uncomfortable working in the zone than he does in man coverage assignments.

Ball Reaction Skills...His explosive push out of his pedal lets him get into position to make the plays. He is quick to get his hands up and around the receiver to deflect the pass. He times his leaps well and likes to compete in a crowd. Williams becomes an offensive player with the ball in the air, perhaps drawing on his past experience as a wide receiver. He has the burst needed to close on plays in front of him, but is not always quick to recover when a receiver gets by him on deep routes (has the acceleration, but does not show the sudden burst at times). He plants and drives well to break up slants and is best when allowed to cover, track and jump to play the ball in the air.

Jumping Ability...Williams has the loose hips and change of direction agility to close quickly when working along the perimeter. He has good catch-up speed and plays faster than his timed speed indicates, but will get lost at times on combo routes.

Hands...Williams really likes making plays on the ball in the air. That mentality shines through when doing so. He will not hesitate to combat for the jump ball and has the leaping ability and hands to reach for it at its high point. He is not threatened taking on the taller receivers and does a very good job of tracking the ball in flight when he times his jumps and utilizes his above average body control.

He needs to do a better job of switching off and even though he accelerates quickly, you’d like to see him play with better efficiency and not get exposed so much when attempting to stay with his man on deep routes.

Run Defense...Williams shows no determination to help in run force. He seems afraid to mix it up in the trenches (even worse when working along the perimeter), as he will get bounced around by the larger blockers trying to make in-line tackles. He needs to use his hands better to shed and will almost always revert to taking a side rather than squaring up before tackling though. He is hesitant to play the force concept and needs more brute strength in order to fill the rush lanes at the next level. Still, with no determination in attempts to turn plays back inside, this could limit his playing time at the next level.

Tackling Ability...Williams lacks classic wrap-up technique. He is not an ankle biter, but will take a side or arm tackle, causing for more than a few ball carriers to escape the initial hit. When attempting to take down the opponent in closed quarters, he tends to put his head down. He is not the type that will face up, wrap and explode into his opponent, nor can he stall them long enough for help to arrive. He is just not the type who will make many tackles, preferring to cover his man rather than initiate contact. This has led to several scouts questioning his coverage.

Compares To...Tanard Jackson-ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers...Like Jackson was for the Bucs, Williams is quite similar. He's recorded a ridiculous over forty percent (42.3) missed-tackle rate and just seems to play soft. Outside of sub packages, you risk having ten tacklers on the field if you play Williams for too long.

NOW THIS GUY WILL ROCK YA LIKE A HURRICANE

Abdurrahman Ibn "Rock" Ya-Sin-#6

Temple University Owls

5:11.6-192

Agility Tests....4.51 in the 40-yard dash…1.60 10-yard dash…2.65 20-yard dash…4.31 20-yard shuttle…7.31 three-cone drill…39 1/2-inch vertical jump…10'-00" broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times…32-inch arm length…9 7/8-inch hands…77 3/8-inch wingspan.

College Career...Through 46 games at two universities, Ya-Sin totaled 142 tackles (97 solos) with five stops behind the line of scrimmage. He intercepted seven passes for 44 yards and returns while breaking up 31 other tosses. His 36 passes defended rank 14th among active NCAA players. He gained 78 yards via three fumble recoveries, returning one 61 yards for a touchdown while at Presbyterian.

In his first three seasons, he started 24-of-33 games at Presbyterian, making 95 tackles (61 solos) with three stops-for-loss, three fumble recoveries and five pass thefts for 45 yards in returns, as he also deflected nineteen other throws.

Background...Ya-Sin is this draft's "feel good" story. He was not recruited coming out of Southwest DeKalb High School, so the Decatur, Georgia native joined the small school ranks by first enrolling at Presbyterian College. He was a two-time All-Region pick in football and three-time All-Region, three time county champion and two-time state champion wrestler (both 145- and 152-poun weight classes) at DeKalb High, where the cornerback/strong safety led the county in interceptions as a senior. He was also an Honor Roll student and made the Principal’s List.

“I came into high school as a wrestler," Ya-Sin said during his NFL Scouting Combine media day event. "I wrestled throughout high school. I started playing football in the 11th grade. So, I was a little under recruited."

"I ended up having three offers. Presbyterian College, Hampton University and Tennessee State. I ultimately went with Presbyterian College - played there for three years. They went to a non-scholarship conference, so, I transferred to Temple and I was immediately eligible. I just came in worked every day. I attacked everything that we were doing. Weight room, conditioning, mat drills or whatever we were doing, I attacked. I went hard and earned the respect of my teammates and my coaches. They voted for me to have a single digit.”

As a true freshman at Presbyterian in 2016, Ya-Sin started twice through fifteen appearances, making fifteen tackles while breaking up two passes. He took over left corner duties for the Blue Hose in 2016 and collected 31 tackles (26 solos) that included two stops-for-loss. He scored PC's only defensive points that year, returning a fumble recovery 61 yards to the end zone vs. South Alabama and added nine pass deflections through eleven contests.

Ya-Sin changed from jersey #18 to #2 prior to the 2017 season, as the All-American and All-Big South selection set the school season (five for 45 yards) and game (two vs. Monmouth) records for interceptions. He registered 49 tackles (34 solos), recovering two fumbles while breaking up nine throws. Only 10-of-46 passes targeted into his area were caught by the competition.

Arriving at Temple University, Ya-Sin was immediately embraced as a leader, as his teammates awarded him the coveted single-digit jersey (#6). He rewarded their faith in him by walking away with All-American and All-American Atlantic Conference accolades. He registered 47 tackles (36 solos), including two for losses and broke up twelve of 60 passes targeted into his area, limiting those receivers to 32 grabs for 264 yards (8.25 ypc) and a pair of scores.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability...Ya-Sin has adequate height, but shows good bone structure, a thick chest, broad shoulders, defined upper body with a good bubble, tight hips and waist, along with a strong defined thigh and calf area. His frame still has room for further growth without the bulk affecting his very impressive timed speed and acceleration.

Ya-Sin is an excellent athlete with the speed, quickness, agility and flexibility to become a “complete” player at the boundary position. He might lack bulk for someone you want to play in the box, but one look at his numbers vs. the running game (five stops for loss that resulted in three fumbles, including one returned for a touchdown), you can see that he has no problem sifting through trash and making plays in tight quarters. He has the quick feet and sure hands to be very disruptive when taking the receiver off the route’s progression (rerouted receivers on 42-of-106 passes targeted into his area the last two years).

Ya-Sin is a quick reactionary type of player, one that opposing offensive coordinator have been wise to stay away from him in man coverage. He is aware and alert to backfield activity and has proven to be a capable outside blitzer and backside pursuer. He runs with short, quick pitter-patter type of steps coming out of his pedal and shows more than enough acceleration and burst to redirect with no wasted motions. He has exceptional speed to run the field. He can shadow receivers underneath and also run with the speedy pass catchers on deep patterns, thanks to the footwork he shows in transition and the impressive balance when closing on the play.

Key and Diagnostic Skills...Ya-Sin’s success as a shutdown cornerback is his ability to make quick and proper reads, reacting in an instant to get to the ball, whether via the pass or run. He is a very good technique player, possibly the “most complete” boundary performer in the NCAA ranks. He is without question Temple’s best defensive player on the team and possibly the best they have had since the turn of the century (apologies to 2002 draftee Raheem Brock). He has had to come out of his territory often, thanks to playing with young and inexperienced teammates, but still finds ways to make plays that consistently impact the outcome of the game (see Villanova, Tulsa, Boston College games).

The best way to describe his key and diagnostic skills is highly consistent. He has that keen vision to read routes and seems to be in the receiver’s “head,” as he knows all the tendencies of his opponent, thanks to his ability to study and break down game films before his encounters. He plays with an air of confidence and with good control, especially in man coverage, but he will not hesitate to lend support when a teammate is beaten or misses on a tackle. He might be at a bit of a size disadvantage vs. taller receivers on deep routes, but with his leaping ability and good hands, he has no problem competing for the ball at its high point.

Man Coverage Ability...This is one of Ya-Sin’s best assets. He is so good at mirroring and trailing receivers, that you might consider him to be a stalker! He gets his head turned around properly on deep routes and has that second gear and balance to quickly recover if a receiver has a rare chance to get behind him. He has outstanding leverage, body control and burst coming out of his pedal and the quick feet, along with loose hips to make turns with no wasted motion.

He is especially effective at mirroring underneath (see his battles with big receivers and tight ends in the Boston College and Tulsa games) and with his closing  speed, I doubt if even NFL types will be able to escape him, as he simply refuses to allow any separation through the route’s progression. Even though he “lacks sand in the pants” at 192 pounds, he shows just as efficient press/jam ability as he does when trailing and mirroring the receiver. He has that keen awareness that rarely sees him be fooled when a receiver makes his cuts. Simply put, he plays his man tighter than a vice-grip.

Zone Coverage Ability...Ya-Sin has that hip snap and reactionary skills to handle the switch-off in zone coverage. He is better in man coverage, due to size issues, but there was a reason he wears the "Rock" moniker well – as he hits with good authority and is not the type that will take a side, preferring to square up, wrap up and sacrifice his body to make the tackle. He can drop with a very fluid stride and does a very nice job of reading pattern development (see Boston College, Tulsa, Buffalo games). He has the hip snap to make adjustments when receivers come into his area and his eight interceptions show that he knows how to get a jump on the ball. The thing I like most is his ability to cover on slants and react to the action in front of him, as he is not the type that will eyeball the quarterback for too long.

Ball Reaction Skills...Ya-Sin might lose sight of the ball in a crowd, especially when he has his back turned on the quarterback, but he shows no hesitation taking on bigger receivers to elevate and attack the ball at its high point. You would like to see him secure the ball better, at times (two PBUs vs. Buffalo should have been pass thefts), but he has the large (9 7/8-inches), strong hands and reach to pluck for the ball outside his frame.

He takes full advantage of his speed and awareness to mirror receivers in man coverage and has the hand/eye coordination needed to make highlight-reel type of interceptions. He has that innate ability to get an instant jump on the ball in flight, as he also displays the suddenness and burst to close on the play when recovering on deep patterns. He will get a bit over-aggressive at times, leading to pass interference penalties, but before that game ends, he will find ways to make up for those miscues.

Jumping Ability...Ya-Sin will lose a few jump ball opportunities vs. bigger receivers, but it is not due to a lack of effort, just size issues. He has an impressive vertical leap (39 1/2-inches), but at 5:11.6, he knows his timing has to be perfect in order to get to the pass at its high point. He is fearless and shows little regard for his body fighting for the ball in a crowd). He has that body flexibility and adjustment skills to track the ball in flight and the athletic ability to extend and pluck the ball away from his frame. He has a very good understanding for taking proper angles out of his breaks, along with the skills to move and position to make plays on the pigskin.

Hands...Ya-Sin has strong, active hands that he uses as weapons when trying to jam or reroute receivers (44 reroutes on 106 balls thrown in his area the last two years). He makes plays outside his body, but there are times (see Buffalo, East Carolina games) where interceptions turn into pass deflections (tries to run before catching the ball securely), but with added patience, this will not be an issue at the next level. I really like his hand/eye coordination, along with his ability to reach and pick the ball with consistent ease (see Buffalo, Tulsa games). He just needs to secure the ball rather than try to make one-handed grabs.

Run Defense...Ya-Sin might lack the big frame you look for in a third level player making an impact in the box, but he has shown vast improvement in this area as a senior. In the past, he would lead with his shoulder too often, which allowed bigger backs to break his tackles. He keeps his head on a swivel now (used to dip it before impact, but ex-Temple coach Geoff Collins helped correct that) and is quick to react when he sees the play develop, as he is fast getting downhill to attack the ball carrier’s outside leg to impede forward progress until the “Calvary” arrives to assist on the play. He is very aggressive taking on lead blockers, showing little regard for his own safety. Even though he is not big enough to take on offensive linemen, he makes every effort to aggressively stick his head in the pile, especially when working to grab and drag down the ball carrier.

Tackling Ability... Ya-Sin needs to continue to work on his tackling technique, but he plays with a good pad level, along with the ability to stay in front of the opponent (not the type that will take a side). He is a solid open field tackler, but has to continue working on his wrap-up skills in space. He gives good effort on every play and has strived to be consistent making secure hits as a senior, but there will be times that he will simply cut-tackle instead. While his steady improvement this year is noted, he has to be conscious at not ducking his head on contact, nor revert to being a grab-&-drag down type.

Compares To...Bryce Callahan-Denver Broncos...Like the underrated slot corner, Ya-Sin is blessed with excellent speed and a fierce desire to make plays on action in front of him. He covers receivers like a blanket and don’t be fooled by his size, as he has those strong, active hands to consistently reroute and jam receivers. He is very alert to his surroundings and takes good angles to the ball in run force.

CORNERING THE MARKET DURING THE DRAFT'S DAY TWO ACTION

Justin Layne-#2

Michigan State University Spartans

6:01.6-192

Agility Tests...4.50 in the 40-yard dash…1.59 10-yard dash…2.65 20-yard dash…4.09 20-yard shuttle…6.90 three-cone drill…37 1/2-inch vertical jump…11'-02" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times…33-inch arm length…9 1/4-inch hands…80 1/8-inch wingspan.

College Career...Layne started 27-of 35 games on defense and also appeared as a wide receiver vs. Indiana before moving to field cornerback the fifth week of the 2016 season. He delivered 130 tackles (79 solos), assisting on a sack among his 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused one fumble, caught one pass for 11 yards (vs. Purdue), deflecting 27 tosses while returning three interceptions for 49 yards and one touchdown as a Spartan, Layne was targeted 156 times, as he allowed 78 receptions for 805 yards, including five grabs for touchdowns.

Background...Yet another one of those college athletes who went home after the regular season, rather than join the Spartans for the 2018 post-season, he was sorely missed in their loss to Oregon. Layne had joined the MSU program from Cleveland's Benedictine High School program, where he starred on both sides of the ball.

Layne was rated among the nation’s top prospects by PrepStar, earning All-American offensive honors, as that recruiting service ranked him 31st among the prep ranks receivers. The three-year starter was named to the Associated Press Division III All-Ohio first team as a senior, adding North-east Lakes All-District first-team accolades after he had a career-best 46 receptions for 790 yards and eleven touchdowns in 2015. He also returned three punts for for scores and set a school single-game record with 12 catches for 187 yards and two scores in the regional final vs. Toledo Central Catholic.

As a junior, Layne caught 36 passes for a career-high 866 yards (24.1 ypc) and twelve scores, in addition to recording seven interceptions in 2014. That year, he returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown in the 2014 Division IV Championship Game vs. Kettering Alter. He also lettered four times in basketball and was a member of the school's track and field team. He placed eighth in the long jump (22.5 feet) at the 2016 Ohio Division 1 state championships, and also advanced to the state final in the 400 meters.

The interdisciplinary studies/social science major made his college debut as a wide receiver in 2016, but the coaches shifted him to field cornerback the fifth game on the schedule. In nine games, he earned five starts, appearing in 380 snaps. He posted eighteen tackles with one interception and two pass break-ups to received All-Big Ten Conference Freshman Team honorable mention.

As a sophomore, Layne started nine times at field cornerback, attaining All-Big Ten honorable mention status. He recorded forty tackles through thirteen games, appearing in 701 plays. He deflected nine passes, intercepted another and caused one fumble. He allowed 27-of-57 targeted tosses to be completed, as the opposition gained 260 yards, scoring once.

The 2018 campaign saw Layne deliver a career-best 72 tackles, sharing a sack among 2.5 stops for loss. The All-Big Ten field corner was the recipient of MSU’s most outstanding underclass back award on defense after he recorded a career-high 15 pass break-ups, tied for eighth most in a season by a Spartan. He also picked off a pass and held his assignments to 42 catches on 81 targeted tosses through 869 snaps. Three of those receptions were good for touchdowns, yielding 364 yards.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability... Layne has a tall frame with long arms (33-inches), good bubble, thick thighs and calves. He has a tight abdomen, trimmed upper body and a frame that can carry additional bulk without it affecting his overall quickness. He has the large wing span (80 1/8-inches, second longest for cornerbacks at the Combine), soft hands that allows him to secure the ball properly and extend away from his frame when competing for the pass at its highest point or fielding. He has a slight pigeon-toed look, but nimble feet with very good balance and body control on the move.

Layne has very good speed and moves easily when mirroring a receiver through the route’s progression. He opens up suddenly and it is rare to see him lose any relationship with his opponent in transition. He has an outstanding recovery burst (see Central Michigan, Purdue games) to make up ground in a hurry when a receiver gets behind him and a smooth, fluid backpedal.

He shows no gather in the plant-&-drive phase of his game, especially when closing on the target. His range and fluid hips might see him earn instant playing time in the nickel/dime packages at the next level and he is strong enough to earn some snaps at free safety. He does a nice job of slipping through trash, but you would like to see him show more aggression when trying to make plays in run force.

Key and Diagnostic Skills...Layne has that quick reactionary ability to instantly make his initial read vs. the pass or run. He is very alert to play action and has a knack for reading routes, whether playing in the zone or when operating in zone coverage. When he sees the route develop, he has the sudden burst to close and prevent the big gain. Against plays in front of him, Layne is quick to react, taking good angles to close on the ball. He is very effective in press coverage (23 reroutes on 81 targets in 2018), but when he spends too much time attacking his man rather than going for the ball, he misses out on quality interception opportunities.

He makes quick decisions when working along the sidelines, but sometimes jumps the play before it develops, resulting in several costly penalties. When operating in the deep zone, he reacts well to the ball in flight, showing above average leaping ability (37 ½-inch vertical jump). When working on those long routes, he has the speed to recover when beaten. The thing you see constantly on film is his ability to identify his keys and react in an instant as the play develops (no need to digest).

Man Coverage Ability...For a weak-side cornerback, Layne does a very nice job of disrupting the receivers before they can get into their patterns. He has that strong hand placement to tie up his man for a long time at the line of scrimmage, evident by his performances in frustrating those that dared to beat him out of the blocks in the Ohio State clash (four pass deflections, one reception allowed on eleven targets). He uses his length well to reach around and compete for the ball in flight. He has the speed and burst to run on the receiver’s hip and recover when his man gets behind him. What Layne does better than most corners is to be very active and physical with his hands. He shows sharp plant and drive agility, but will sometimes get sloppy on deep routes and round his angles to the ball. Still, he has outstanding feet and balance when adjusting to the receiver’s moves and can flip his hips, redirect and plant sharply coming out of his breaks without needing to gather.

Zone Coverage Ability...The thing that is impressive about Layne is that he has that “safety’s” mentality (will not hesitate to make plays outside his area). He displays very good route awareness and quick reactions to the ball in flight. He can play the shuffle-&-bail at the X’s and it is rare to see him be late when acknowledging threats to the outside. He just has a knack for putting himself in position to make plays on the ball. You can see that from one game to the next, he does a better job of diagnosing routes.

He is best when playing off the line, as he takes good angles in pursuit. He shows good awareness looking up receivers and anticipating the quarterback to jump the play. He has good leaping ability, but needs to time his jumps, as he has left several sure interceptions behind. Some team might try to use him at free safety or as a slot cornerback earlier in his NFL career, as he has that keen comprehension of zone concepts, along with the range and suddenness in his movements to react instantly to the ball in flight.

Ball Reaction Skills...Layne does a nice job of reacting to the route’s progression and anticipating the throws. He has a very good burst to recover and make plays on the ball or making the big tackle in the open field. The thing you notice on film is his ability to break on the ball vs. plays in front of him. He has improved his ability to anticipate the quarterback when working the deep zone, but when he does get caught out of position, he tries to overpower and reroute the receiver rather than mirror his opponent and let the play develop. He shows urgency closing on the ball in man coverage and has natural hands, but you would like to see him use his leaping ability more in attempts to intercept the ball rather than deflect it.

Jumping Ability...Despite his ability to elevate and get to the ball at its high point, it was not until the 2018 season year that he took better advantage of interception opportunities. He shows the natural ability to adjust and track the ball in flight and he has the size to make plays on the ball vs. bigger receivers. He displays natural hands for the interception and the body control to make proper adjustments in attempts to get to the ball.

Hands...Layne shows the ability to extend and pluck outside his frame, as he is not the type to use his body as a crutch, but at least seven of his fifteen pass break-ups in 2018 should have been pass thefts. Right now, you can say he has good hands to reroute, jam, wrap and secure, but as a pass thief, they are not anything special.

Run Defense...Layne can hit with a thud and shows good anticipation getting to the outside running plays, but he will never be confused for being a “trained killer.” He is more of a patient sort who knows how to keep outside containment, but you do sense hesitation when he has to face up to the bigger ball carriers of combat lead blockers. He has the strength to come off blocks and shows the ability to make the wrap-up tackle, whether in the open field or playing in the box, but it is not a role that he prefers to play.

Tackling Ability...Because Layne plays mostly in man coverage, he has had just limited opportunities to make plays in the box until last year, but I doubt if he will ever be a physical tackler in closed areas. He can put a “big hit” on a receiver competing for the ball, but seems to take a side or make passive arm tackles when facing up to a ball carrier. He has effective drag-down strength and can get guys to the ground, but is not regarded as an explosive tackler. He knows how to make adjustments to break down and fit when playing in the open and shows good desire to make the play on the ball (just not on the man).

Compares To...William Jackson-Cincinnati Bengals...Like Jackson, Layne can get physical with his off-hand to jam in press coverage. He needs to get under control and gather better, as he will miss in space, but he has a fluid backpedal with good turn-&-run speed. He transitions with very little wasted movement and shows a closing burst on his break and drive.

Julian Love-#27

University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish

5:10.6-195

Agility Tests...4.54 in the 40-yard dash…1.62 10-yard dash…2.65 20-yard dash…4.10 20-yard shuttle…6.72 three-cone drill…36-inch vertical jump…10'01" broad jump…33-inch arm length…9 1/4-inch hands…80 1/8-inch wingspan.

College Career...The boundary cornerback started his last 34-of-38 games for the Fighting Irish, recording 176 tackles (126 solos) that includes six stops for losses of nine yards. He scored twice via five interceptions for 159 yards in return and deflected 39 other passes, as only Tulane's Donnie Lewis (49) had more total passes defended that Love's 44 among active FBS performers.

On 2,269 defensive plays, Love was targeted 203 times, allowing 103 receptions (50.7%) for 1,189 yards and eleven touchdowns.

Background...Love was regarded as the best defensive back in the Chicago area during his playing days at Nazareth Academy. During his last two years, the team compiled a 26-2 record in capturing both the 2014 and 2015 Illinois High School Association Class 5A Championships. The MaxPreps first-team Medium Schools All-American was named Champaign News Gazette All-Illinois, Chicago Tribune All-Illinois and Illinois High School Coaches Association Class 5A All-Illinois first-team as a senior. That year, he registered 92 tackles, 19 stops for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for 54 yards.

Love also excelled on offense, as he rushed for 1,067 yards and 18 touchdowns on 104 carries (10.3 ypc) and caught 29 passes for 662 yards (22.8 ypc) and seven scores as a senior. The previous year, he posted 41 tackles, one stop for loss and a 93-yard interception return for score, as he also rushed for 541 yards and eight touchdowns on 46 carries (11.8 ypc), including a pair of 100-yard rushing games and a career-long run of 74 yards. He caught 14 passes for 375 yards and averaged 22.0 yards as a punt returner and 21.7 yards as a kickoff returner in 2014.

It was a no-brainer that the Chicago native was going to enroll at Notre Dame after high school. After all, ever since he first learned to hold his hand, his father regularly took his son to Fighting Irish football games. In 2016, he was one of ten true freshman to letter, starting the final eight contests.

He registered 45 tackles, including 32 solo stops and a pair of hits behind the line of scrimmage. He broke up four passes and picked off another.

His 45 tackles rank 11th on the school season-record chart for freshman. Love then put a cap on his rookie season by recording a career-best nine tackles, including seven solo stops, at USC. In 572 snaps, he allowed 353 yards and three touchdowns while seeing his opponent catch 25-of-41 targeted passes (61.0%)

Love's 2017 season was sort of taking the good with the bad. In thirteen starts, he registered 68 tackles (45 solos), fifth-best on the team. He led the Irish in passes defended (23), pass deflections (20), interceptions (three) and interception-return yards (153). His 20 break-ups not only set a school season-record (previous mark was 13 by Clarence Ellis in 1969), but that total alone would have ranked tied for ninth in career Irish history.

Love became the eighth player in school history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a season. His 153 interception-return yards ranks second in single-season school history and he finished second in the FBS in pass breakups (20), passes defended (23) and passes defended/gm (1.77), becoming the first FBS underclassmen (freshman or sophomore) to average more than 1.77 passes defended/game since Aqib Talib of Kansas in 2006 (2.8).

The bad news? On 863 snaps, Love was often challenged. He allowed seven touchdowns as opponents completed 36-of-83 passes (43.4%) for 423 yards. The rest of the Irish defense were charged with yielding sixteen aerial touchdowns.

Love bounced back in a big way in 2018. The All-American recorded 63 tackles (49 solos) with three stops-for-loss. In addition to deflecting seventeen passes and intercepting another, he set the school career-records with 44 passes defended and 39 pass break-ups. On 843 plays, he allowed 42-of-79 targets to be caught (53.2%) that totaled 413 yards, but just one touchdown.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability…Love has a compact frame with average muscle development, arms and hands, but shows good training room habits and decent playing strength. He has a lean upper body frame with room to add more bulk and an adequate bubble and calf thickness. The Irish corner has very good recovery quickness and lateral range. He shows above average leaping ability that he uses effectively to win most jump ball battles. He has loose hips to come out of his backpedal smoothly and does a very good job of flipping his hips to maintain relationship with the receiver throughout the routes.

Love is smooth to turn and has excellent speed in deep coverage situations, showing fluid movement when changing direction. His agility and flexibility lets him stick tight with the receiver and despite his short arms, he is very capable of riding up his opponent to get to the ball at its high point. He shows good hand/eye coordination in attempts to track the ball in flight and the body control to break down and make plays in space. 

Key and Diagnostic Skills…Love excels at staying tight on the hip of the receiver. He is quick to recognize the play developing and unlike most young cornerbacks, he will not eye the quarterback long, rather using his hand/eye coordination to mirror his coverage assignment throughout the route. He has that sudden burst to recover when a receiver manages to slip past him on crossing routes.

You might be surprised at how effective he is playing the press due to his size, and you will also never see that he rarely got burned or caught out of position in 2018 (compared to 2017) due to his closing burst, acceleration and good feel for the ball in flight. It is very rare to see him get lost in coverage because he does too good of a job of breaking down the play and closing on the ball. He has more than enough quickness to close or cover. He makes plays due to his ability to take proper angles to the ball. The thing you see on film is that he knows how to use his leaping ability to stick his hand in the crowd to break up the pass at its high point (see Ball State, Vanderbilt games).

Man Coverage Ability…This is one of his best assets, despite the "blip" with seven touchdowns allowed in 2017. Love has the closing burst and deep acceleration to recover when beaten. He demonstrates the loose hips to come out of his breaks cleanly (6.90 three-cone drill) and has that quick change of direction agility to maintain his timed speed without having to throttle down. He sometimes gets too aggressive in attempts to jam and reroute, needing to do a better job of taking arm swipes to prevent from getting knocked off-balance or losing a step when trying to get back into the play. Still, I really like the way he maintains position on the receiver.

Love has the speed and quick reactions to run with any receiver in the game, college or pro. He has that natural, smooth turn and burst of speed that lets him catch up and close with good urgency. His ability to stay on the hip of the receiver will see him gain instant playing time in nickel and dime packages at the pro level. He also shows a good feel and anticipation ability to know when the receiver is going to break off the route. He is certainly equally effective in man coverage and in generating the press.

Zone Coverage Ability…When playing deep in the zone, where he can keep the plays in front of him, Love has a good feel for his zone assignment. He will get a little sloppy handling the switch-off, and has to compensate by using his burst to recover. He is adequate with special awareness when he has to switch off, but did show better ability during his 2018 season. When he plays too loose, he tries to use his speed to recover, but is sometimes late to get back into the play. He shows good hip snap to get depth in his drops into the zone, but must be quicker to anticipate when the receiver will switch off on the route. He has the eyes to see the play develop, but does need to react quicker at times.

Ball Reaction Skills…Love is a master at reading the receiver’s eyes and hips to maintain relationship in the route. He has excellent leaping ability and timing to know when to go vertical and beat the taller receiver for the ball at its high point. He rarely allows the receiver separate from him after the catch and even when that happens, he has the second gear and ability to take proper angles to shorten the field and close. His anticipation skills and ability to break on the ball generally keeps him right in the play.

His leaping ability lets him go up and swat away quite a few passes at the last moment. He is just too explosive in his closing burst and too athletic attacking the ball in flight for any taller receiver to think that he can dominate Love. Even when he is late to locate the ball, he is quick to close once he recognizes the play, once he is pointed in the right direction.

Leaping Ability…Love not only gets very good elevation, but he times his leaps to get to the ball at its highest point (44 passes defended). He has no concerns about getting a piece of the ball when matching up against the taller receivers, sort of relishing the challenge of taking the vertical route to make the play while giving up considerable inches in height in the process. He does a good job of adjusting his body in the air. Some might think that due to his average strength that he might have problems adjusting to ball carriers in run support, but he has proven to be very capable of lending a hand and making big tackles along the perimeters (four touchdown-saving tackles last year). He’s the type of player who makes good use of his elevation and hands to deflect or pick off a pass that most defensive backs will not be able to get to.

Hands…Love has just average-sized hands, but does a good job of fielding and securing the ball on interceptions or returns. He is able to catch with his hands away from his framework and doesn’t fight the ball, showing the hand/eye coordination to look the ball in.

Love has the lateral range and closing burst to make plays on the ball in flight. He is surprisingly effective playing the press, even though he has adequate hand size and arms, as even the bigger receivers are not able to get a push off him. He has no problems combating the receiver’s arm-over action and Love makes a determined effort to prevent his assignments from getting into their routes cleanly by executing a physical jam.

Run Defense…If an opponent latches onto Love at the line of scrimmage, he will struggle to disengage and get off blocks quick enough to make plays vs. the run inside the box. He is not timid and will not hesitate to come up and support vs. the run, but he just lacks the size and “oomph” to take on the bigger blockers. He stays low in his pads and while he can redirect well to the ball in flight, he will have problems adjusting vs. runners that are coming right at him (does not have the leg drive to maintain position). He shows a good burst when working downhill, but will struggle to play off blocks and needs room where he can slip and avoid blocks with his quickness rather than engaging blockers. 

Tackling Ability…Love will hit with good force. He is more of a drag-down tackler than one who can drive hard into a runner, but has had good success latching on and stalling until bigger help can arrive. In run support, he will make every effort to square up and put his hat on the opponent. Yes, he is much better making plays in space, where he can take angles to close. In the open field, he shows good explosion behind his hits, but can also impact in isolated hits when playing in tight quarters. When taking on receivers, he will produce better pop than when having to square up at the line of scrimmage, but with his success playing inside the box, he could see immediate time in nickel situations while waiting for a starting opportunity at the next level.

Compares To...A.J. Bouye-Jacksonville Jaguars...Like Bouye, Love demonstrates very good balance and body control in his pedal. He is quick and smooth through transition and does a good job of distributing his weight to turn and run on the ball. He takes a quick pitter-patter approach in his pedal with very good heel pivot motion. It is very rare to see him take a false step, as he does a great job of turning and running to the play while maintaining his speed throughout. His hip turn action is very fluid. He can also be very effective when utilizing the shuffle-and-bail technique.

SCOUTS LOVE THIS WILDCAT, BUT JOHNSON LACKS BALL SKILLS

Lionel "Lonnie" "Lotto" Johnson Jr.-#6

University of Kentucky Wildcats

6:01.7-213

Agility Tests...4.52 in the 40-yard dash…1.55 10-yard dash…2.64 20-yard dash…4.10 20-yard shuttle…7.01 three-cone drill…38-inch vertical jump…10'09" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times…32 5/8-inch arm length…9 1/8-inch hands…77 1/2-inch wingspan.

College Career...Johnson started the last 18-of-26 games at Kentucky, where he recorded 64 tackles (52 solos), a 10-yard sack and three stops for losses of 13 yards. His lone interception was returned 24 yards and he deflected eight other passes.

In 2015, Johnson started 5-of-11 appearances for Coffeyville Community College, posting 36 tackles (29 solos) with three stops for minus 17 yards. He gained 59 yards via five interceptions and 41 yards via three kickoff returns, in addition to breaking up one pass.

Background...The Gary, Indiana native attended Gary West Side High School, where he excelled in both football and track. On the gridiron, he delivered 66 tackles, two interceptions, two blocked field goals and a blocked punt, while catching 40 passes for 772 yards and 14 touchdowns at West Side, adding 253 rushing yards on 22 carries with five scores as a senior. He helped the school win the 2014 state championship with individual titles in the long jump and 4x100 relay.

Rated by 247Sports as a four-star prospect and the second-best safety, academics saw Johnson first enroll at Coffeyville CC in 2015. He started his last five games, making 36 tackles with five interceptions, but sat out the 2016 season to concentrate on academics. He would later enroll at Kentucky for the 2017 campaign.

That year, Johnson again earned first unit playing time through the last five games on the schedule. He tallied 41 tackles (35 solos), adding a sack to go with five pass deflection. Through 499 snaps, he was targeted 51 times, as opponents snared 35 passes (68.6%) for 470 yards and four touchdowns.

Johnson graduated in December, 2018, with a degree in community and leadership development, but before he played in the Senior Bowl, he recorded 23 tackles (17 solos) through thirteen starts, causing one fumble while picking off one pass and deflecting three others. He was charged with allowing three touchdowns and 226 yards on 18-of-35 targeted passes (51.4%).

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability... Johnson is a rare-sized athlete with long arms and legs, good bubble and good muscle mass and definition throughout. He possesses good chest thickness, broad shoulders, tight waist and hips, tapered thighs and calves. He is a rangy type with tight skin and good biceps development. Even though he is tight skinned, he has room to add more bulk without the additional weight impacting his overall quickness, if some team decides to utilize him more inside as a safety.

Johnson shows suddenness attacking the ball in front of him and quick feet to come up quick to plug the rush lanes. He has above average acceleration on deep routes and the ability to stay on the hip of receivers. He shows excellent body control and balance working in the box, doing a good job of using his hands to prevent blockers from attacking his body. For a player of his size, he runs with a very quick stride.

He can be explosive in and out of his breaks and looks very fluid changing direction. He has the range and catch-up speed to recover when beaten and has the flexibility and movement skills to slip through and avoid blocks in run support and is quick to redirect in backside pursuit. Simply put, this is a big defensive back that plays fast and has the ability to recover quickly when beaten.

Key and Diagnostic Skills...Johnson is quick to locate the ball in front of him, but when he eyeballs the quarterback for too long, he can get caught out of position. He plays the man well in press situations, but he needs to show better ability to work through the receiver to bat the ball away (just nine pass break-ups through 37 total college games). He knows how to recognize blocking schemes, but there are times where he will just guess in deep coverage. With his size and still developing ball skills, he seems destined to shift inside to safety at the next level (not utilizing his instincts and field vision to its fullest).

Man Coverage Ability...The Wildcats system allows Johnson to utilize his strength to jam and press the receiver, but he's allowed 53-of-86 passes to be completed vs. him, including seven for touchdowns. He does a good job of using his upper body strength and hands to jam and reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage. He can also play off his man and gamble with a cushion, as he has the acceleration to quickly recover if beaten. His size makes him very capable of handling the larger receivers and most tight ends on the underneath routes. When given the opportunity to press, he knows how to use his size to his advantage, as receivers struggle to shield the ball from him.

Zone Coverage Ability...The thing you notice on film is Johnson’s ability to keep the plays in front of him. He is alert playing the zone, quickly handling the switch-off assignment. He has a sudden burst to make plays underneath and could eventually grow into a safety. He gets good depth in his pass drops and when reacting to the ball, he usually takes good angles. He is just not good at reading and reacting to the quarterback when the ball is in flight.

Ball Reaction Skills...Johnson is quick to come up in the box and fill the rush lanes. He excels at closing on the ball, showing the burst to make plays in front of him and the lateral movement to string plays wide, thus seeing him as a better fit at safety. He has a very good short area burst and closes with urgency. Still, when he plays the ball in flight, he seems to hesitate to compete for it, as I don't think he has great ability at timing his leaps well to make the effort to get the interception or deflection.

Jumping Ability...Johnson has a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10'09" broad jump, yet his deflections and thefts are very low. On top of it, he often loses contain on the receiver after his opponent comes down with the pigskin (of the 696 receiving yards he's allowed, 429 came after the catch). The puzzling aspect is he is not good at finishing plays when going vertical and jumping, despite doing a fine job of adjusting and contorting his body to get to the ball in flight.

Hands...Don't be fooled by Johnson's prep receiving skills and five interceptions as a freshman in junior college. He is never going to be confused for being a natural hands catcher, not with his “brick” hands, as he seems to knock down more than he will catch and even then, eight deflections in 26 games is not inspiring. He is very flexible and knows how to extend and snatch away from the frame, but he just can't seem to make the big plays attacking the ball.

Now, Johnson is effective at using his hands to jam and reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage. His hand strength and activeness also come into play when he uses them to stave off and slip past blocks when working near trash, again leading to a possible switch to safety.

Run Defense...Johnson hits like a linebacker and seems to relish playing inside the box. He stays low in his pads, extends his arms properly and keeps his base wide to wrap and secure. He takes very good angles to the ball, especially along the corners. He will leverage and come to the line with little delay, knowing how and when to take angles to the ball. With his size and strength, he can easily be a factor supporting vs. the run at the NFL level as a safety.

Tackling Ability...When Johnson keeps his base wide, pad level low and arms extended, he excels as a wrap-up tackler. He has enough functional strength to drive back the ball carriers and receivers on initial contact. He is very good at making the open field tackler, showing little regard for his own body in order to make the play. He is very dependable working in the box, showing good aggression to take on and shed blocks working through trash.

Compares To...Malcolm Jenkins-Philadelphia Eagles...like Jenkins, Johnson seems more like a corner who is better served moving inside to safety or slot corner. He has good timed speed and is blessed with very good leaping ability, but eight break-ups, one interception and teams completing over 61% of their passes and yielding seven touchdowns through eighteen starts does not spell success in man-on-man deep coverage.

THIS DEAN COULD TEACH A FEW IN THE SPEED DEPARTMENT

Jamel Dean-#12

Auburn University Tigers

6:01.0-206

Agility Tests...4.30 in the 40-yard dash…1.53 10-yard dash…2.54 20-yard dash…4.19 20-yard shuttle…7.02 three-cone drill…41-inch vertical jump…10'10" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times…31 3/4-inch arm length…9-inch hands…75 3/8-inch wingspan.

College Career...Dean has started his last 21 games at field cornerback, appearing in 26 contests for the Tigers. He tallied 73 tackles (44 solos) during his two seasons with the varsity, adding a 3-yard sack among 4.5 stops for losses of 12 yards. He recovered a fumble and while he failed to return any of two interceptions, he did deflect seventeen other tosses.

On 1,339 plays, Dean was targeted 92 times, allowing just 37 receptions (40.2%) for 545 yards and six touchdowns.

Background...Dean's college career almost ended before it began. He first enrolled at Ohio State, but failed his entry physical due to multiple knee injuries while attending Cocoa High School. The Florida native was a two-time first-team Class 4A all-state pick, as he totaled 975 offensive yards, including 22 receptions and 15 touchdowns in 2014 to earn all-state honors as a receiver. He made 38 tackles, two pass break-ups and one interception on defense, scoring seven times on offense as a junior.

The 2014 Brevard County player of the year and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s District 12 MVP, Dean played on back-to-back 11-2 state playoff teams. One of the top cornerback prospects in the nation, he ranked 32nd by 247Sports and was invited to the Semper Fidelis All-American game. He also ran track and possesses “breakaway” speed. He also excelled in the classroom, as he graduated with a 3.8 grade point average.

After spending the 2015 spent a semester at Ohio State, Dean enrolled at Auburn, but he suffered yet another knee injury during preseason camp and sat out the 2016 campaign. He emerged early in the 2017 season, starting the final eight games at field cornerback. He produced 43 tackles (23 solos) with 2.5 stops-for-loss while breaking up eight passes through 750 snaps. Perhaps due to the two-year layoff, he allowed four big touchdowns, but on 42 targets into his area, only 16 were completed (38.1%), good for 230 yards.

Dean would earn Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll recognition for the second-straight year in 2018. Playing for a staff that put together what most scouts called a dysfunctional game plan, Dean still collected 30 tackles with a sack and two stops-for-loss. He had his first two interceptions as a collegiate and broke up nine other passes. Just two of 50 passes targeted into his area produced touchdowns, as he allowed 21 catches (42.0%) for 315 yards through 589 snaps.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability...Dean has defined upper body tone, tight waist and hips, good bubble, strong thighs, knotted calves and minimal body fat. His frame has room for additional growth without it affecting his very good timed speed. He has a large wingspan (77-inches) that he uses effectively to wrap and secure and the large, natural hands to make the interception. He possesses nice chest thickness and is a rangy type with tight skin and good biceps development, along with defined knot in his calves.

Dean displays incredible athleticism and shows above average body control. It is evident that he is blessed with a load of athletic talent (just set back by early career knee issues). He has exceptional quickness and speed, in addition to doing a fine job of keeping his feet on the move. He shows the agility and balance to redirect and the change of direction skills to work his way quickly to the perimeter. He has smooth hips and shows explosion out of his plant. He is smooth in his movements and runs with ease staying on the hip of the receiver working up field. He also has that strong hand punch to consistently reroute his opponent.

While not asked to step inside the box often, Dean does display that rare combination of power and quickness needed to excel in run force (made 27 tackles vs. the run during his career, posting five touchdown-saving stops). He shows suddenness attacking the ball in front of him and quick feet to come up quick to plug the rush lanes or give a forceful shove on receivers trying to hug the sidelines. He has above average acceleration on deep routes and the ability to stay on the hip of receivers.

Key and Diagnostic Skills...Dean has developed good timing and a feel to make plays on the ball. He shows excellent zone instincts and is quick to read and react to plays in front of him. He has solid ball anticipation on combo routes, but there are times he will rely more on technique than his athleticism to make the play. He is more alert in man coverage, breaking well on the ball, but when he plays in control and does not try to gamble so much, he is alert to pocket movement and does a good job of reading the quarterback. He has improved his timing and hand/eye coordination to get his hand up for the pass deflection, showing the potential to develop into a standout ball thief. He hits with a thud and is one of the better run defenders in the draft at his position.

Some teams prefer Dean as a boundary corner, reasoning that his hitting style and range operating in the deep secondary might be suited for that position. But, it also has to deal with his excellence in zone coverage. He has a good feel for the quarterback and plays the center of the field with excellent range and vision. His field intelligence is evident in his ability to lend support vs. the run and understand the assignments of all of his teammates.

Man Coverage Ability...Dean has outstanding closing speed and excellent hip flip to mirror the receiver throughout the route. He is very aggressive closing on the ball and has the hand punch and jolt to easily jam even tight ends at the line. He times his hits well and shows fluid turning motion to keep relationship and ride the hip of the receiver coming out of his breaks. He plays tight on his assignment coming off the line of scrimmage. He is consistent in his technique when backing off and even when he falls off his man on his bump technique, he is quick to recover. He is becoming very effective playing the trail, cover or cushion, showing good plant and drive ability to mirror the receiver. He is very smooth in his movements and has the speed to stay on his opponent. He has very good closing ability and is very active with his hands in order to press (18 reroutes on 50 targeted passes).

Zone Coverage Ability...Dean shows good ball anticipation skills and can easily read the quarterback. He gets a good break on the ball, and this season, he has impressed scouts with his ability to demonstrate great anticipation on combo routes. He will sometimes get too aggressive, causing him to lose relationship with his coverage assignment. He has the ability to sink under deep throws and plays like a veteran with good patience, as it is very rare to see him commit too early.

He gets good depth in his pass drops and when reacting to the ball, he has a good concept for taking proper angles. He is good at reading and reacting to the quarterback and won’t bit on play action fakes. He is alert and sees threats, doing a nice job of quickly planting and driving on the ball.

Ball Reaction Skills...Dean can break and make plays on the ball in front of him. He is also very effective handling his assignments on combo routes. He has a very quick plant-and-drive step closing on the receiver and can be explosive doing this. He has made good strides improving his timing, and has a good feel for receivers before they can attack the coverage. He is very quick at reading deep routes, enough that he is confident to gamble and jump on the receiver’s double move. He has the valid speed and closing burst needed to get to the reception point on deep throws.

Jumping Ability...Dean has very good body control to run, jump and adjust to the ball in the air. He seems to have natural hands for the interception – just not enough picks to fully evaluate. He times his leaps well (41-inch vertical jump) and gets good elevation going up for the ball, but will use his body more than try to extend for the ball outside his frame. He shows good ability to track the ball and adjust to it accordingly while in flight. He does this with a competitive attitude and knowing that if he will not make the interception, he can compensate by knocking the ball away at its high point.

Hands...Do not be fooled by his only two interceptions - while Dean will extend and snatch away from the frame, it is his natural hands and timing that could see him develop into a quality pass thief. If he gets his hands on the ball, it is usually caught by the cornerback. He is also very effective at using his hands to jam and reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage. His hand strength and activeness also come into play when he uses them to stave off and slip past blocks when working near trash.

Run Defense...Dean stays low in his pads, extends his arms properly and keeps his base wide to wrap and secure. He has good body control in space and uses his size well to collide with the ball carrier. He also demonstrates the ability to keep his hands active in attempts to shed. He takes good angles to the ball, especially along the corners. He is better than most other college cornerbacks at getting involved vs. the run, as he will leverage and come to the line with little delay.

Tackling Ability...Dean plays with good knee bend and has enough strength to take on the lead blocker and clog the rush lane. He is not afraid to face up to offensive linemen and will do anything he can to get the ball carrier to the ground. He is a good striker who will not hesitate to square up and “put his hat” on the opponent. When he gets too upright, he does revert to arm- and grab-tackling, though.

Compares To...Prince Amukamara-Chicago Bears...Like the Chicago veteran, Dean has the athletic ability to play both off and press man zone coverage. He displays very good foot quickness and change of direction and is generally loose-hipped. He demonstrates fluidity in his movement and turns, along with explosive short area quickness. He will get too aggressive and confident in press coverage, but he drives quickly towards plays in front of him.

 

THE STAFF'S FAVORITE SMALL COLLEGE PERFORMER

Jordan Brown-#2

South Dakota State University Jackrabbits

6:00.3-201

Agility Tests...4.50 in the 40-yard dash…1.61 10-yard dash…2.57 20-yard dash…4.04 20-yard shuttle…11.14 60-yard shuttle…6.78 three-cone drill…39 1/2-inch vertical jump…10'-08" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 13 times…30 1/2-inch arm length…9 5/8-inch hands…73 3/8-inch wingspan.

College Career... Brown has started 41-of-51 games at South Dakota State, boasting a string of 40 consecutive starts with the first unit. He registered 148 tackles (107 solos) with six stops for losses of ten yards, in addition to causing four fumbles. He deflected 28 passes and intercepted eight others for 33 yards in returns, giving him a combined total of 36 passes defended.

NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Active Leader Board...Among current FCS active players, Brown's nine interceptions rank 19th in the division. The FCS leader is North Dakota State's Robbie Grimsley (17), with Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois (nine) and James Hendricks of North Dakota State (nine) ahead of Brown on the Missouri Valley Football Conference's active chart.

Brown's 28 pass deflections tied Darius Mouton of Sam Houston State for 14th in the Football Championship Subdivision ranks that are led by Maine's Manny Patterson (49). The only players in the MVFC with more break-ups are Jalen Allison of North Dakota State (30) and Western Illinois' Xavier Rowe (30).

Brown's total of 36 passes defended (28 break-ups, eight interceptions) rank 13th in the FCS (Manny Patterson of Maine leads the nation with 52) and placed fourth in the conference behind the 38 that were recorded by each of North Dakota State's Jalen Allison (in 55 games) and Robbie Grimsley (in 59 games), and Western Illinois' Xavier Rowe.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Brown saw 169 passes targeted into his area. He recorded six interceptions and 32 pass deflections during those 27 contests. He posted solo tackles on 50 receptions that netted opponents 641 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to assisting in stopping three other receivers on catches totaling 11 yards.

Opponents registered a pass completion percentage of .3136 vs. Brown, averaging 12.30 yards per pass completion and 3.72 yards per pass attempt vs. the South Dakota State cornerback. Brown has been penalized for pass interference just three times during his last two campaigns.

Brown has either rerouted or jammed his coverage assignments away from 49.70% of the passes targeted into his area (84-of-169), as he's recorded 56 third-downs and two fourth-down stops vs. the aerial game, taking one receiver down for a loss and three others at the line of scrimmage for no gains. He also came out of his area after missed stops by teammates to record eleven touchdown-saving tackles in pass coverage.

Background...Prior to arriving at South Dakota State University, Brown was a standout wide receiver who also played cornerback at Paradise Valley High School. The Arizona native played for a team that also featured his younger brother, Jason, currently a teammate with the Jackrabbits as a wide receiver.

In three seasons on offense, the All-Section VII and All-Division II first-team selection set the school career-record with 161 receptions for 2,286 yards and 26 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he tallied 37 grabs for 459 yards (12.4 ypc) and three touchdowns in nine appearances, adding six tackles (5 solos) in brief action on defense.

He was a second-team All-State choice after he pulled in 56 passes for 862 yards and eight touch-owns as a junior, in addition to registering 1,129 all-purpose yards that included 240 yards with a 96-yard touchdown on fourteen punt returns and 27 yards on two kickoff runbacks. On defense, he posted thirteen tackles with an interception and assisted sack in ten games.

Brown elevated to All-State first-team status with 68 catches for 965 yards (14.2 ypc) and fourteen touchdowns, including an 81-yarder as a senior. He recorded 39 tackles, two for losses, as he snared four interceptions with two pass deflections, in addition to blocking a field goal.

For a kid from the warmest of warm states - Arizona - it was bit of a recruiting coup when the Jackrabbits somehow convinced Brown to leave home and venture to South Dakota State. He quickly acclimated to the weather and despite lots of snow during his five seasons at the university, you will never see him "bundle up" on the sidelines, as he is also known for shunning any weather-protected outfits on the field, preferring to compete with no sleeves under his jersey.

When Brown arrived in Brookings he weighed 168 pounds and ran a 4.7 40-yard dash. Today he weighs 200 pounds and keeps his 40-yard dash times consistently in the 4.4s. When he ran a 4.39 at his junior pro day last year, NFL scouts were so surprised they made Brown run it again. He timed a 4.43.

Brown red-shirted in 2014, as the South Dakota State coaches tried to decide if he would be a better fit on offense or defense. He appeared in the team's final eleven games as a cornerback in 2015, making seven tackles to go with three pass deflections. He emerged as a starter in the secondary in 2016, delivering forty tackles with two interceptions and three pass deflections.

In 2017, the junior entered the "NFL Draft radar" in a big way. The red-shirt junior finished second on the team with a career-high 72 tackles (54 solos) that included three stops behind the line of scrimmage for losses of five yards, starting all fourteen contests. He also finished second on the squad with three interceptions for 22 yards in returns, pacing the defensive unit with three forced fumbles and nine pass deflections.

That year, Brown saw 95 passes targeted into his area, as he made solo tackles on 35 passes that generated 367 yards with two touchdowns, averages of 10.19 yards per pass completion and 3.86 yards per attempt. He also posted five assisted tackles on pass plays that netted 45 yards. Nineteen of those grabs gained at least ten yards, including four for twenty yards or longer, as he yielded 24 first downs.

Brown posted 34 third-down plays, as he either rerouted or jammed his coverage assignments away from 42 throws. In addition to tackling one receiver for a loss that caused a fumble which SDSU recovered, he stopped two other receivers at the line of scrimmage for no gain after the catch. He came out of his area after missed tackles by teammates to register eight touchdown-saving stops.

In 2018, the Jackrabbits played with all new starters, except for Brown, in the secondary - which has given the Scottsdale, Arizona, native the responsibility of leading. "Last year, the group was led by a couple of seniors who helped put us in the right position and coverage every play — and I want to be that kind of help for the new guys," explained Brown. "It's one of my personal goals to help lead this defense and be that leader that people can look up to. And I want to pass down that kind of leadership as others have down to me."

The fifth-year senior accepted an invitation to play in the prestigious 2019 Senior Bowl. Since the inception of that all-star game in 1950, just two other South Dakota State players have been invited, with Brown being the first defensive player to head to Mobile, Alabama from Brookings, South Dakota. The first Jackrabbit to attend Senior Bowl workouts was wide receiver Jeff Tiefenthaler in 1987. Tight end Dallas Goedert attended the 2018 Senior Bowl, but an injury during practices prevented him from participating in the contest.

Brown not only earned first-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report, that scouting information service and the NFL Scouting Combine rated him the best cornerback in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision ranks. Additionally, Brown was named first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, Phil Steele's Publications and HERO Sports, adding second-team accolades by STATS and third-team recognition from the Associated Press.

Through thirteen starting assignments, Brown recorded 29 tackles (22 solos) with one stop for a 3-yard loss. The left cornerback intercepted three passes and deflected thirteen others, including one that resulted in an interception by a teammate off the deflection. He was also credited with one forced fumble.

Brown was targeted 74 times, as he posted thirteen solo tackles on receptions allowed that gained 240 yards with eight first downs and one touchdown, limiting his opponents to a pass completion percentage of .1757, along with average gains of 18.46 yards per pass completion and a miniscule 3.00 yards per attempt. He delivered three touchdown-saving tackles after receivers eluded other teammates (121 yards total) and assisted in taking down a receiver after a 3-yard catch. His opponents' pass completion percentage (.1757) is the lowest figure for any starting cornerback in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision ranks.

The Scouting Report

Athletic Ability…Brown has a muscular physique with defined upper body tone, tight waist and hips, good bubble, strong thighs, knotted calves and minimal body fat. His frame has room for additional growth without it affecting his very good timed speed. He has a large wingspan that he uses effectively to wrap and secure and the large, natural hands to make the interception.

The Jackrabbit can be explosive in and out of his breaks and looks very fluid changing direction, doing a nice job with his hip flip to accelerate and close on the play or mirror the receiver throughout the route (see Illinois State, Missouri State, South Illinois, games) He has the range and catch-up speed to recover when beaten and also shows very good jumping ability going after the contested pass. He has the flexibility and movement skills to slip through and avoid blocks in run support and is quick to redirect in backside pursuit.

Key and Diagnostic Skills... The first thing you notice about Brown running the field is his body control, as he is so flexible, he could probably do “back flips” and still maintain his recovery quickness to get back on the play. He has excellent agility and footwork in his back-pedal, showing the balance and outstanding change of direction agility, along with the range to make plays at the opposite side of the field. With his burst and acceleration, he easily comes up to plug rush lanes or make tackles in backside pursuit.

To call Brown a “quick reader” on the football field would be an understatement. Rival quarterbacks have little success getting him to bite on play action or misdirection. His .1757 pass completion percentage vs. him was the lowest figure for any starting cornerback in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision ranks in 2018.

He comes up quickly to lend run support and you will not see him guess any when in deep coverage - few opposing quarterbacks have ever fooled him after the snap. Whether in man or zone coverage, he stays on the hip of the receiver and all of those touchdown-saving tackles out of his area were enough to convince scouts that he is very capable of coming off his assignment to help others.

He gets to the ball in a hurry and is not fooled by action in the backfield to have him break off his assignment. He likes to use his hands and body to play tight on the receiver and is especially effective in press coverage, as he can easily reroute his man (see Illinois State, Southern Illinois, South Dakota, Duquesne games). He can flip and run with no wasted steps in transition and you won’t see him guessing any when aligned in off coverage, as he plays strictly with intent.

Man Coverage Ability... Brown has no problem maintaining inside position when challenging a receiver, especially when working along the sidelines. He has the speed, closing burst and ball reaction skills to stay tight with any opponent, whether they are quick and fast or tall and physical. He needs to improve his strength base, so not to get backed off by the bigger receivers at the next level, but has the frame to add the power needed. He has become a solid press man, as he uses his hands very well to jam and run with his opponent down the field.

He can mirror the underneath receivers in the short area, but does struggle a bit changing direction when having to play off. He can get a little inconsistent in his technique when backing off, but has worked on his bump technique, showing the ability to quickly recover. He is becoming effective playing the trail, cover or cushion, showing good plant and drive ability to mirror the receiver. Brown is smooth in his movements and has the speed to stay on his opponent’s hip, when he does not get too upright coming out of his pedal. He has very good closing ability and is very good at staying active with his hands in order to press.

Zone Coverage Ability... Brown has the range, size and experience to make plays in zone coverage, as he is very quick to react to action in front of him. It is rare to see him stay in his backpedal for too long, as he breaks instantly to close on the ball with intent and aggression. He has very good awareness handling switch-offs and good eyes reading the quarterback and is alert to threats. He will come off his assigned area with no hesitation to attack the ball when ball carriers and receivers manage to get by SDSU defenders at the opposite side of the field. He has suddenness and quickness in his plant-&-drive moving forward to make plays on the pigskin. He can drop with fluid hip moves and an effortless pedal, and his ability to read pattern development and react to the play could see him earn considerable playing time during his rookie year.

Ball Reaction Skills...Brown demonstrates very good closing speed, especially when playing vs. the run. He has above average breakdown in space and does a nice job at reading the receiver’s eyes and hand movements going for the ball down field, whether to deflect or pick off the pass (see Missouri State, Southern Illinois, South Dakota games). He is consistent with his elevation going for the ball in flight, showing natural hands that he uses to secure the ball, whether on picks or returns. He has very good timing coming out of his breaks and the hand/eye coordination, along with the timing to get to the ball at its high point.

Jumping Ability... Brown can really “sky” going up for the ball, as he not only shows excellent leaping ability, but does a nice job of catching outside his framework. He has the timing and ball- hawking skills to make plays on the thrown ball at its high point (see Montana State, North Dakota State, Missouri State games). He seems to never be out of position and with his superb jump-test numbers, along with good timing and quick reactions to make the plays, he has the talent to be an effective ball thief at the next level.

Brown gets good elevation going up for the ball and shows the ability to track the ball and adjust to it accordingly while in flight. He does this with a competitive attitude and knowing that he even when he will not make the interception, he compensates by knocking the ball away at its high point.

Hands...The former prep offensive standout has displayed efficient hands as a pass thief. He excels executing the tip drill and has natural ball skills that have been hidden a bit lately, as offensive coordinators are becoming wise to keeping the ball away from his area, limiting those opportunities. He has that natural feel for the ball in flight and smooth hips to easily adjust to the ball in the air. He does demonstrate above average hand placement playing off receivers’ cut blocks and has the receiver experience from his prep days to reach and pluck the ball away from his framework.

Run Defense...Brown shows great range and no fear taking on bigger blockers, making seven touch-down-saving tackles chasing down ball carriers on long runs at the opposite side of the field during his career. He is a physical tackler who is not afraid to come up and hit bigger guys at the line of scrimmage. You will never see him “take a side” in run force, and is extremely fast going downhill to the ball carrier, as he is quick to see the play develop. The thing I like is that he will often leverage and get involved in the pile. He has become a factor for the defense supporting vs. the run, as he comes to the ball with little or no delay. He supports with no hesitation, uses his hands well to protect himself from the blocker or two-gaps and seems to really like contact. While he does hit with aggression, he knows when to break down and play under control.

Tackling Ability...Brown can generate good pop on contact and has developed steady wrap-up skills, as he plays like a Cover-2 linebacker when challenging ball carriers. He flashes good force as a striker and relishes his role of taking on bigger lead blockers and runners when facing up in the holes. He uses his hands like weapons in attempts to shed and willingly wraps when in tight quarters. His tackle totals are not eye openers, but he’s had to make more than 30% of his tackles out of his assigned area, as offenses tend to shy away from his territory, and for good reason. Few cornerbacks show the savvy and desire like Brown does, as he has become an explosive hitter who will square up and “put his hat” under the chin of any opponent he faces.

Compares To...Isaiah Oliver-Atlanta Falcons...Like Oliver, Brown is a solid press corner that can be physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage. His fluid hips, explosion and rhythm in transition allow him to mirror the receiver’s movements. He can stop, redirect or plant and drive back on the ball with a quick closing burst to get to the reception point.

He has developed the anticipation and instincts to gain position and knock down the ball in flight. In run force, he does a good job of squaring up and will hit with a thud when attacking ball carriers along the perimeter. He still needs a little refinement in his backpedaling techniques, but he shows enough explosion to turn and head up field.

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