Devon Witherspoon – Cornerback – 22 ans – Senior – Illinois
Size : 1m83
Weight : 82 kg
Estimated draft position : 5-20
Stats 2022 : 33 tackles, 3 interceptions, 14 passes defended
NFL Comparison : Joe Haden
Among the finalists for the trophy for the best defensive back of the season, Devon Witherspoon has established himself as one of the best players in the country in his position. To the point of being the first cornerback called during the draft?
– Man-to-man defense
– Contribution against the race
A veritable pot of glue, the prospect from Illinois distinguished himself during his course by his ability to defend as a man to man. Madly aggressive from the start snap, the receiver leaves already almost beaten before the start of the action, which makes it almost unplayable. His intelligence, materialized by his understanding of the layouts, as well as the fluidity of his movements, allow him to always remain close to the opponent.
And this proximity allows him to counter receptions and punish the quarterback. By forcing 16 incomplete passes, and with 14 passes defended, he turned into playmaker destroying all attempts to pass. With an authorized rating of just 24.3, according to Pro Football Focus, Witherspoon has become an air deterrent.
As if that weren’t enough, the player from Illinois also showed great skills against the running game. Able to get rid of blocks, he is a reliable tackler who does not shy away from the task. Abilities that make him versatile, to the delight of his future NFL staff who will be able to align him on the outside as well as in the slot.
– Dragging hands
– Zone defense
The other side of the coin to his constant commitment is that he sometimes gets carried away with an excess of zeal and tends to drag his hands on his opponent. He has been penalized 11 times over the past two seasons, mostly for pass interference. A trend that could quickly be prohibitive in the NFL.
If he shines man-to-man, Witherspoon has plenty of room for improvement in zone coverage. Reading and his pursuit angles will be his areas of improvement if he wants to be able to evolve in all types of defenses. Rather light for his style of play, he could reach his limits against the ultra physical receivers of the big league. The challenge will be to know how to expand without losing the explosiveness of your game.
Las Vegas Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
Future indisputable holder on his arrival in the pros, Witherspoon has the qualities and the potential of a future All Pro cornerback. Assets that will not get him out of the top 20 of the draft. If some physical reserves can question, his sense of the game does not deceive.
Long in the hunt for a number one cornerback, the Raiders could get tempted early on, especially if they don’t take the lead from a quarterback. Similar situation in Washington. In this high-potential defense, the addition of a player with his qualities could propel the Commanders squad to the top.
If James Bradberry and Darius Slay return to Philly, the cornerback duo will be in their 30s when the regular season begins. Begin to prepare for the future while integrating a weapon to be used in the slot might make sense.