Welcome to the 2020 draft class coverage here on Full 10 Yards College Football.
You may have seen or read some of our draft coverage over on the Daddy pages but after our recent expansion, you will now find all college football and NFL Draft content here, in the college football section of our website or under the name of the writers.
We are really excited to bring you dedicated CFB coverage and this is our first series, Draft Déjà Vu.
Everyone has had that déjà vu feeling before; seeing something you feel like you have already seen. In this series, we are looking at players who almost declared for the 2019 draft but returned for another year of college football. We’ll take you through their strengths and highlight some areas for improvement for the coming year, as these players are expected to be near the top of their respective positions throughout the coming CFB season and therefore should be pretty high draft picks – should everything go to plan.
That statement definitely applies to the player we’re looking at today, Virginia Cavaliers cornerback, Bryce Hall.
I loved Bryce Hall last year and in a fairly thin corner class in 2019, I had him down as going in the late first round and potentially being my CB1 going into the draft.
One of Hall’s biggest strengths is his coverage ability. He is almost exclusively used in off coverage by the Cavaliers and plays both zone and man techniques well. I have been particularly impressed by his man coverage technique and the clips below will show you exactly what I mean.
First up; Pass Break Up on 3rd Down vs. Duke, 2018
Hall (#34 bottom of the screen), covers his man for 3 seconds as Daniel Jones scans the field. Jones isn’t staring down a receiver or giving any clues with his eyes as to where he’s going to go with the football.
The Duke receiver runs a comeback route with Hall beginning the play in off-man coverage, the Virginia defense is playing Cover-2 Man on a 3rd & 8.
As you’ll see (more so on the replay) that Hall sticks to his man, breaks on the route perfectly and gets his hand in to break up the pass and give the ball back to the Cavaliers offense.
Nice job! And It’s worth remembering that this is against a now NFL quarterback.
So how about Hall vs. an NFL receiver?
This clip is from the N.C State game from 2018 where Hall had a great battle with Kelvin Harmon. I’m not going to lie, this one didn’t go all Hall’s way but then again, I had Harmon down as a top 5 wide receiver in the 2019 class. It’s also worth remembering that Harmon has an inch or so in height and about 20 pounds of weight worth of advantage to play with… Not to mention the rules which as we all know, as skewed in the favor of offensive players.
We can see, once again, that Hall plays perfect technique… or we do once he appears on the screen (damn you bad camera angles). He has Harmon on his hip and is in perfect position to rip the football away. This competitive fire is one part of Byrce Hall that I just can’t get enough of! I need to see this in my cornerbacks.
Ryan Finley even tried to loft the ball up to give his receiver a better chance at the ball but Hall’s explosive leaping ability more than make up for the discrepancy in height and weight and very nearly comes down with an INT.
I could show you multiple instances, from multiple games of Hall playing perfect technique in this way which often lead to pass break ups. Especially in the Duke game since Hall allowed a 0.0 passer rating on passes that came his way (erm… I think that’s good?).
Hall had 21 pass break ups in 2018 and 2 interceptions; for reference, Denzel Ward had 24 his whole college career and 15 in his final season at Ohio State before going 4th overall in the 2018 draft.
Food for thought.
One thing I would like to see an improvement on is turning some of those PBU’s into INT’s because Hall is often in position and does have the ball skills, which are in evidence in this next clip. This is also from the Duke game in 2018.
By now you’ll be noticing a pattern; Bryce Hall knows how to cover your receivers from off man and play trail technique. Hall is stride for stride with his receiver, he also uses the sideline to squeeze the space – this means that even if the ball was better placed by Jones, Hall would have been in position to a) challenge for the ball and b) push his man man out of bounds, forcing an incompletion.
Again, excellent work by the young man. More of the same in 2019 please.
I want to move away from Hall’s coverage skills now and focus on other areas of his game.
I mentioned Hall’s explosive leaping ability on the Kelvin Harmon clip. He also, clearly has good agility in order to stick with receivers in coverage, but what about long speed and his willing to do the dirty work?
We go to the Miami game from last year and Hall is at the top of the screen.
Travis Homer, now of the Seattle Seahawks, breaks to the outside and has nothing but green grass ahead of him and it’s looking like a touchdown to bring Miami level… Not so fast.
Hall is alert, keeps his eye on the ball and doesn’t just write the play off because he’s too far away, ohhhh no… He turns and runs about 60 yards to save the touchdown. No mean feat when you consider that Homer ran a 4.48, 40 yard dash at the combine this past spring (78th %ile for running backs) and Hall had ground to make up.
I think we have completely checked the athleticism box with Bryce Hall now.
Lastly, we’ll come to a point that can be used as a stick to beat a lot of corners, both in the pros and college football – tackling. This past draft season, we saw Greedy Williams fall from potential CB1 and first round pick to the middle of the second, in large part to the perception that he took plays off and isn’t physical.
Both of these next clips are from the N.C State game that I featured earlier.
This is the good side. Hall is savvy enough to keep his eyes in the backfield and shimmy past a receiver, wait for the pitch and make a nice open field tackle for a loss of a couple of yards. Really nice play!
This one, not so much. Again Hall shows good awareness and comes off his man, spotting the swing pass to the receiver. However this time, his ankle biting technique doesn’t pay off and he whiffs. Luckily the covering linebacker was able to clean up otherwise this could have been a big gain for the Wolfpack.
This is definitely an area that I want to see improvement in the coming season. Hall has the size at 6’1 and around 200lbs, I want to see him put his body and shoulder into tackles, not just going low.
In summary, I think Bryce Hall is in position to cement himself as one of the top prospects in the 2020 draft class, overall, not just at the cornerback position. As mentioned, I feel like I want to see an improvement in tackling and also in splash plays. Although, given that Hall is going to be a known commodity, offenses and quarterbacks may game plan for him and essentially not throw at him, so we may have to wait and see on that score.
Hall is also going to be a prominent figure on the Virginia defense and in the locker room as a whole, given that he’s a Senior now. It’ll be interesting to see how he assumes a bigger role in terms of leadership and copes with that. Hall isn’t known as a particularly vocal guy on or off the field, so will he blossom in that sense or just allow his play to do the talking for him?
I, for one, can’t wait to find out.
Keep your eyes peeled next Tuesday for the next installment of Draft Déjà Vu
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