2018 draft eligible
This kid was impressive to watch! He is everything I would want in a shutdown corner on my defense. He does need the safety blanket of a safety playing behind him. It’s rare for me to be wowed by a corner, but I just couldn’t get enough of watching him play. A throwback mentality of “in your face” style of play. Won the Jack Tatum Award (Best CB) and was elected to the All-ACC First Team.
What I Like
He is able to dominate WRs and make it look easy at times. Put him on an island and let him go! That’s a major boost to any defense. When you can remove a team’s top WR and game plan for the rest of the offense you’re striking gold. Taking over for Jalen Ramsey who was drafted by Jacksonville last season, he took advantage and proved to be one of the nation’s best defenders. He has an excellent understanding of where the ball is, and he can close quickly to make plays. If he does get turned around, he can quickly recover and stays in the play. I really liked seeing him use his hands to feel where the WR is going, which let him keep his head up. Keeping your head up allows you to see what’s going on and that’s a boost to your awareness. When I played, this was one way I could feel where the WR was moving, and between that and looking at the QB, I was able to figure out where the ball might be going. It’s the same for him; only he is a much better athlete than I was. If he is lined up close to the sideline he has the smarts to let the WR get outside against the sideline and use the sideline to his advantage. This shortens the field and gives the defense an advantage. Instead of having to defend the outside of the field, he is only covering inside, and he will use his jumps to make a play on anything coming over the top.
Another aspect of his game I like is how he uses his height and can bait a QB into a fade route, and then leap and take the ball out of the air like you would expect from a WR. Being 6’2″ and able to jump and be in control is not something to take for granted. Did I mention he led the nation last season in interceptions? No? Well, he took eight possessions away last year.
While playing in a zone, he also maintains great awareness of where he needs to be, and what options the WR has around him. This allows him to tease QBs into thinking they have a window open, but instead Travarus McFadden is there to make a play. Brilliant knowledge on the roles of both defense, and where the offensive players are moving, make him elite. Capable of playing cover 2, 3 and 4, he would be able to play on any defensive call.
Speed is one of my most coveted traits for a CB. Showing well in this department will allow him recovery when and if he jumps a route, and lets him become a playmaker on the field. When you add in his technique, you’re getting a complete player.
He occasionally took awful angles on an RB, but he also made some good plays. When he’s on the move and attacking he can bring an RB down behind the line. If he’s stuck in traffic, he has an issue at times closing for a tackle. This will be one area I will be focusing on in the 2017 season.
I expect him to continue to dominate WRs this season. From bump and run to playing off-coverage, he can be a weapon for the defense. His tackling should continue to get better, and if he plays like he did in 2016, he will be in the top tier of DBs for the NFL Draft. It’s early in my look at 2018, but for now, he is cemented as a top 10 DB. My rankings will grow and change during the season as I watch more players. Check back often here.
Cornerbacks are just not a major position in fantasy. That’s another topic for another day. I prefer slot type cornerbacks as they tend to be around the ball a little more. The elite corners don’t get thrown at enough. Points come from tackles, pass deflections and interceptions, so the more passes that come your way, the more opportunity you’ll have to get points. When you are a shutdown corner, you will not get as many chances to get those points. Fantasy is just not as kind to corners. This kid was fun to watch, and he will bring the heat into the NFL.
You can find me on twitter @DFF_JohnIDP where I enjoy discussing IDP.