The last line of defense is here to wrap up our scouting combine series at Full press coverage. The defensive backs are an intriguing group this year. We could see a few players selected in the first round (Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy, Nasir Adderley). Let’s dive into the defenders that could hear their name called this weekend.
Rock Ya Sin
Let us introduce you to his full name: Abdurrahman “Rock” Ya Sin. Rock Ya Sin finished school last year at Presbyterian College with the most interceptions in school history. He decided that he wasn’t done with football, and became a graduate transfer to Temple University. Once he arrived on campus, Rock layed down the foundation and asserted himself as a leader on the Owl’s defense. He finished with 47 tackles and 12 pass defensed, earning 1st team ALL AAC honors. According to Pro Football Focus, opposing receivers were 0/9 when targets traveled at least 20 yards downfield.
The fact that Rock Ya Sin didn’t start playing football until 11th grade, and is now a NFL prospect is very impressive. He’s a naturally talented corner back with excellent length and size, standing 6’0 tall. Rock brings a physical prowess to the position, and won’t be afraid to initiate contact. He excels in press coverage, and has mostly experience in man coverage throughout his career. A few areas of attention include his footwork and change of direction. Rock Ya Sin has tremendous upside to be an elite corner in the NFL. Fine tuning some mechanics with NFL coaches will turn Rock into a key contributor for years to come in the league.
Jamel Dean has fought a long battle to stand where he is today as a NFL draft prospect. He suffered 3 significant knee injuries in a 3 year span, one in which cost him a scholarship with Ohio State University. He later transferred to Auburn to play corner back, but didn’t see the playing field until 2017. Once Jamel Dean stepped onto the field for the tigers, he displayed the talent that once made him highly recruited in high school. Dean finished the 2018 campaign with 30 tackles, 9 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions. He finished his Auburn career with back to back seasons of at least 8 passes defensed in coverage.
The injury history for Jamel Dean was a topic of discussion at the combine. The questions arose: Can he compete at a high level despite all of the injuries? Can he remain durable over a long term career in the NFL? Well, Jamel did everything in his power to leave a lasting impression in the minds of each scout in attendance. He finished with the second fastest 40 yard dash time (4.30), and 3rd in the vertical jump (41). Dean finished in the top 10 among corner backs in every category. The scouts love his size/length, and has exceptional speed. Jamel needs to improve his reactionary time and anticipate better on the field. It’s difficult to predict where Dean will be taken in the draft, but feel as though his ceiling is the 3rd round, and the floor is around the 5th round.
Zero Division 1 offers. 0 star recruit. Zero respect. That’s what Sean Bunting dealt with during his recruiting process. He signed as a grayshirt recruit in 2015, which doesn’t make him eligible until the following year. Once Bunting hit that field, he never looked back. He played in each game, and earned himself a spot in the Chippewa defense. Per Pro Football Focus, Sean Bunting registered the 4th best snaps per reception. On average, it took 20.6 snaps before he allowed a reception. In 2018, he compiled 37 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles earning him a spot on the 1st team All MAC squad.
The red shirt Junior is attempting to become only the 3rd Central Michigan defensive back drafted EVER into the NFL. Sean Bunting needed to put on an impressive showing at the combine to show prospects that this kid from a small school was legit. He didn’t disappoint! He registered impressive numbers in the 40 yard dash (4.42), and finished with the 2nd best vertical jump (41.5). Bunting brings with him good size for a NFL caliber corner. He also put his speed on display in the 40 yard dash. He flourishes in press coverage defensively, and is a student of the game. Bunting understands the value of film study, and spends quality time breaking down the offense. It’ll be intriguing to see where he lands during the draft this weekend. The team making the call to Sean will receive a smart young man who’s ready to make an impact in the NFL.
Let’s focus on the small school prospect of the safety class, Nasir Adderley. He didn’t test at the combine this year, but felt the need to cover him considering the talent he possesses on the field. Adderley played 4 years at the University of Delaware, where he brought home many awards including 2nd team AP FCS All- American honors. He finished the 2018 season with 87 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 7 passes defensed. Nasir brings to the NFL some versatility as he can play box safety, in coverage, and even has dipped into helping out the special teams as a returner.
Nasir Adderley is the type of impact player that teams covet at the next level. He’s a very physical player with a good reactionary technique. Adderley plays with a high motor, and presents a competitive toughness that teams love at the next level. The hip fluidity is loose as he moves downfield, and displays exceptional footwork. The few areas of improvement include better tackling in the open field, and he tends to lock onto the quarterback’s eyes biting on the first move. The only other knock on Adderley is the competition level in which he competed. We all know he didn’t play in the SEC, but the tape suggests that he’ll be an elite talent at the next level. Considering the defensive back bloodline in his family (Cousin Herb Adderley is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame), there’s no question Nasir Adderley is ready to take the NFL by storm!
Juan Thorhill is a 6’0, 205lb senior from the University of Virginia. He finished a stellar 2018 season in which he recorded 98 tackles, with 4.5 tackles coming in the backfield. He swiped 6 interceptions on the year, which was good for 3rd overall in the FBS. Considering that he made the switch to safety in just his senior season is very impressive.
Juan Thorhill can be classified as a natural ball hawk, and has an ability to show his vision in the defensive backfield. He uses the talents of his previous position, corner back, to be one of the most versatile players in his draft class. Thorhill rise his draft stock at the combine. He finished just shy of the combine record in the vertical jump, and had an excellent showing in the broad jump. Teams will keep a close eye on the name Juan Thorhill, and can expect to see him drafted no later than early on Friday evening.
The explosive defensive back from the University of Florida is coming off a tremendous junior season. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a 5’11, 210lb versatile defender that can be tasked with playing anywhere in the defensive backfield. Gardner-Johnson finished the 2018 campaign with 71 tackles, 3 sacks, and 4 interceptions. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns. He’s definitely a playmaker!
The one thing about Chauncey is that he shows up on the big stage. He received the MVP award in both the Outback Bowl and Peach bowl. He credits the hard work to the countless amount of time spent on film study. Gardner-Johnson has an exceptional football IQ, as is witnessed on his game tape. The areas of improvement in his game focus on his footwork. He needs to work on his reaction time. Those are minor tweaks that’ll only enhance his already stellar game. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson can expect to hear his name called on day 2 of the draft, but has an opportunity to receive a jersey on stage Thursday evening.
The 2019 defensive backfield class may not have a “can’t miss” prospect going in the top 10 of the draft, but will have plenty of names called throughout the first two days in Nashville. The DB’s should start to takeover draft boards towards the end of round 1, and will likely flood the 2nd round of the draft. Thank you for following along throughout this series covering the 2019 draft prospects, and hope you enjoy the draft. The draft will have first round coverage Thursday evening at 8pm. Rounds 2 and 3 will be on Friday evening at 7pm. The draft concludes on Saturday starting at 12pm airing the final 3 rounds in Nashville. Enjoy!