FanPost

Decobie Durant draft profile

Special Delivery

Near the very end of the 4th round (slot 142 overall), the Rams drafted South Carolina State cornerback, Decobie Durant. The pick was surprising, considering that both Tariq Woolen (pick 153) and Zyon McCollum (157) were still on the board. Both of those 2 CBs had been commonly mocked as Day 2 selections. Daniel Jeremiah had McCollum ranked 78th and Woolen 79th overall. Jeff Legwold had Woolen 67th overall. I liked Durant as a Day 3 prospect going into the draft, but I was expecting him to be about a 6th round pick. Many draft boards had him as a 7th round to UDFA prospect. The pick feels like Brandon McGee (5th round 2013).

My NFL comp for Durant is a player taken just a few slots before McGee in that 2013 draft, Steve Williams from Cal. Williams was one of my favorite later round CB prospects in that draft class. He was 5'9'' tall, 181 pounds, ran 4.34 sec in the 40, jumped 40.5'' in the vert and had very good shuttle and 3 cone times. He had 3 INTs and 13 PD his final season at Cal.

Williams missed his entire rookie season due to a pec injury. He didn't make much impact in his pro career and twice was briefly on the Rams roster during the 2016 season.

Durant's draft stock seemly was substantially boosted by a single game in his career, when he made several plays against Clemson in 2021. If it weren't for that performance, I wonder if the Rams would have drafted him. Durant took a winding path to the NFL. Out of high school, Durant spent one year at a prep school, then was working for FedEx (4th & 26?) He eventually got a grey shirt opportunity at SCST and made the most of it.

Even though Durant is a short CB who played at a small school, he has the potential to be an even better player than Darious Williams, who was an UDFA. Durant has good pass coverage skills and is an explosive athlete. The more negative view would be that the Rams reached too early for Durant and either should have drafted a different CB or taken a player at a different position and come back to CB later in the draft.

Both ESPN and Lance Zierlein had Derion Kendrick, who the Rams drafted in the compensatory part of the 6th round, ranked higher than Durant. Jeff Legwold had Kendrick ranked among the top 130 prospects. Tariq Castro Fields, who was the very last pick in the 6th round, was another CB typically ranked higher than Durant. Daniel Jeremiah ranked Castro Fields as the 118th overall prospect. There were multiple other notable CBs (e.g. Josh Jobe) who weren't drafted at all and ended up being UDFAs.

Background

Shrine Bowl: 5'9 3/8'' tall, 174 pounds, 30 1/8'' arms, 8 5/8'' hands, 72'' wingspan

Combine: 5'9 5/8'' tall, 180 pounds, 30 3/4'' arms, 8 3/4'' hands, 72 3/4'' wingspan

4.38 sec (40 time)

Redshirt senior. 24 years old. Was a QB and FS in HS. 12 INTs in 37 games in college career, 1 career sack. Had 3 INTs in 2021, 2 of them coming against Clemson. 32 PBU in career. 38 tackles in 2021 in 12 games. Michael Hamlin (5th round 2009, Clemson, Dallas Cowboys) is his older cousin. I wasn't able to find any info about any major injuries with Durant.

ESPN 251st overall (late 7th round). Outstanding speed, oily hips, smooth turning and running, ball magnet, wraps up in run support.

PFF 246th overall (7th round)

Shane Hallam 325th (UDFA)

Brian Bosarge 273rd (priority UDFA)

Drafttek 264th (priority UDFA)

Lance Zierlein 5.86 grade (backup and special teams), 6th round projection. Good foot quickness, confidence, above-average ball skills. Grabby from trail, stuck on WR blocks. LZ had Durant graded higher than Martin Emerson, who was an early 3rd round pick.

Steelers Depot 3rd round grade.

PFN grabby in coverage, runs routes for the WR, smooth hips. 5th round projection. Compared to Mike Hilton (Bengals)

Strengths

Natural born ball hawk. Jumped under out route hunting for a pick. Suited to play matchup zone or zone coverage where he can look back at the QB, anticipate the route and try to jump in the passing lane.

Played primarily outside CB, but also was sometimes in slot and occasionally in replacement coverage as safety. Played on both left and right side of the defense.

Can play press man, off coverage and zone.

Instinctive playmaker. Carrying outside WR vertically, he reads a wheel route coming and comes off of the WR to make an INT. Attacked and blew up WR screen. From inside leverage takes aggressive angles to challenge catch point on slant routes.

Balanced in stance. Smooth transition from pedal to drive forward, good click and close athleticism. Doesn't fall for release fakes at the line.

Explosive recovery speed, able to turn and run if he is slightly leaning the wrong way or half a step late against release at the LOS. Stays in the hip pocket of WRs.

Speed is useful coming around the edge to try to block FGs. Has potential ST value on a variety of units.

Speed to be surprise blitzer, screaming off edge to crash the pocket.

Great ball production in college with high number if INTs and PBUs.

Feisty demeanor, yaps at opponents on the field, swagger in his personality, very confident in himself.

Came up from nothing, wasn't one of those blue chip recruits who were coddled and underachieved. He earned his spot and doesn't take the opportunity to play football for granted.

Weaknesses

2 years older than a normal prospect.

Handsy against a double move. Will draw pass interference penalties. Attempted to grab the arm of the WR on a backshoulder throw. Handsy on WRs as they come off of the LOS.

Punch trying to jam at the line isn't strong or disruptive.

Manipulated by mediocre fakes and can get turned around by eagerly falling for bait at top of the route. Gives up separation downfield when QB leaves the pocket. Baited towards post and beaten badly on corner route. Late timing his challenge one play, swipe was late in relation to arrival of the ball.

Not a fundamentally sound tackler. Doesn't wrap up. Frequently dives low at legs of runner with his shoulder or dives low and tries to make an ankle tackle with his arms. Retreated in open field, then dove at ankle of runner. Dove and missed tackle against WR. Ducked helmet into tackle and nearly got ejected for targeting.

Passive against the run. Retreats and gives up ground instead of taking on WR blockers. Doesn't attack downhill against the run if he is unblocked. Weak tackler who doesn't willingly jump into the fray, shies away from contact. Dances around WR block instead of trying to stack and shed it. Pathetic effort against WR block allows walk in TD. Bows out of contact, allows other defenders to make the tackle while he just watches and doesn't help. Too small and not effective setting the edge against the run.

Projects as a slot CB in the NFL, but played outside in college. Too much cushion playing from slot resulted in TD reception.

Short with limited length, doesn't find ball and time jump optimally, bigger WRs can go up high over the top of him to make catches.

Failed to read formation and basic route combination after pre-snap motion, resulting in the TE being open. Overreacts to potential WR screen and got out of position to contain RB run. Busted coverage, leaving WR wide open. Late getting off field in substitution. Communication problems on back end with teammates resulted in coverage errors. Doesn't hustle to get into his position before the snap. Hesitated reacting to stop route.

Fights the ball trying to catch INTs. Had opportunity for very easy INT, but misjudges his jump and the ball goes right over his hands.

Stats inflated by low level of competition and reputation skewed by a single game against a Clemson offense that struggled in 2021, but still blew out SCST in that game 49-3.

Rams Outlook

Durant's versatility makes him a good candidate to be a backup CB for the Rams in 2022.

Durant has very good athleticism for the position, but he needs to become more consistent and detailed with his technique and sharpen his on field awareness. The NFL is a much more complicated game mentally compared to what he faced at his level of competition in college.

If forced into action too early, I think that Durant would be an inconsistent player. He might have some nice pass break ups and even INTs, but would also be liable to get burned by better NFL route runners and be a weaker run defender.

Long term, I think Durant has a high ceiling, but a low floor. He could be a very good slot CB and even might be able to stay as an outside CB. If he doesn't improve, he also could bust and wash out of the NFL fairly quickly. Steve Williams was 25 years old when he last played in the NFL and bounced on and off of the Rams roster, which is only one year older than Durant's current age. Williams later was in the AAF and the XFL.