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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CB Greg Newsome II

  • The Draft Network
  • January 2, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY

Greg Newsome II is an exciting cornerback prospect who will offer an NFL franchise plenty of appeal as a potential starter on the perimeter. Newsome II has showcased strong ball skills and length to pair with high-end levels of flexibility and functional athleticism—that’s a blend that is going to get Newsome II drafted sooner rather than later. This young cornerback prospect did miss a golden showcase opportunity against Ohio State in the 2020 Big Ten Championship Game to put an exclamation point on his resume, but nevertheless, this is a prospect who saved his best football for last. Newsome II is instinctual and offers suddenness in split decisions in coverage; frequently driving to the target and attacking the football in the air. He brings the right kind of attitude to perimeter play both in collision routes and in run support and tackling at the line of scrimmage, but his aggressive angles will need a little work to ensure he’s secured tackles at the catch point before attempting to attack the football and undercut throws. Durability will be a big missing link for those on the outside—Newsome II is yet to play a full season of college ball. Now, he’ll look to sell a pro team that he can play 16 games (or more) in a year. If he can, this is a very gifted player. 

Ideal Role: Starting perimeter CB.

Scheme Fit: Zone-based secondary with C-3 principles.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games Watched: Nebraska (2020), Wisconsin (2020), Michigan State (2020), Illinois (2020), Ohio State - INJ (2020)

Best Game Studied: Nebraska (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Ohio State - INJ (2020)

Man Coverage: He’s fluid enough to play turn and run coverage and physical in his efforts to re-route within the contact window. I appreciate his functional athleticism to mirror in leveraged positions early in snaps. His transitional quickness will allow him to react and flash from the trail position and he’s got the required length to squeeze throwing windows on the perimeter. More often than not opposing quarterbacks passed on testing him at all in 2020 in coverage.

Zone Coverage: He played really well in half-turn and bail technique to drop off the LOS to help him disguise coverages on a snap to snap basis. On the perimeter, he shows good click and close versus quick game underneath his drop to work into the throw and challenge receivers. His awareness of route combinations led him into several contested throws by picking up a route and driving through to the catch point downfield. Intelligence is a big plus and he sees the field well. 

Ball Skills: He’s logged just one interception in his career but he has the length and appears to have the hands to make the most of future opportunities. Has found a ton of ball production (21 PBUs) over his last 15 contests—a testament to his work to stay sticky at the catch point. He’s done well on limited targets over the top to not lose track of the receiver while eyes are flipped back to the ball and he has shown the ability to navigate around the body of the receiver, timing up his challenge with the arrival of the football. 

Tackling: Physically, he’s plenty stout and showed effective drive into point of contact—he wasn’t lazy or haphazard with his tackle challenges. He’s better sticking his foot in the ground and driving to the line of scrimmage for head-up tackles—he’s ambitious at times closing in coverage and can make some risky catch point challenges. That said, his tackle radius is significant thanks to his length and he’ll do well to make fringe finishes and really force hard angles near the sideline. 

Versatility: He should have little issue with man or zone responsibilities at the next level so feel free to hit him with any combination of coverage assignments. That said, he’s an outside cornerback; playing him in the nickel would challenge his ability to drive and attack the D-gap and move him away from some key strengths. Newsome II has aligned on both sides of the defense, so there’s no need to worry about reteaching footwork or techniques to mirror what he’s accustomed to in application.

Competitive Toughness: Newsome II plays hot and with plenty of toughness, but durability is something to flag here — he missed time in each of his three seasons at Northwestern (eight games in 2018, three games in 2019, and the majority of Big Ten Championship and bowl game in 2020). On the field, he’s a physical catch point defender—that’s where he shines the most. You’ll see him stack and collapse receivers outside too, so you’ll get integrity on the perimeter in the run game as well. 

Functional Athleticism: He has fluid hips and smooth feet, a really nice combination for a player with his height at the position. He’s shown ample flexibility through his frame to contort and lengthen for the football or to play with suddenness and create steep angles to react to the play. Long speed wasn’t problematic in any of the games I studied but I don’t know that he’s a blazer in application—he’s more explosive in short spaces. 

Football IQ: He’s a sharp dude. Graduated in three years from Northwestern and you can tell that intelligence carries over to the field of play as well. There’s no panic and he trusts his technique. Route awareness and anticipation are plus qualities that have borne fruit in coverage. He processes quickly in real time—there are not a lot of instances of hesitation on where the ball is going. Allows his athleticism to take over once he’s picked up the flight of the ball. 

Run Defense: He’s willing and able. That’s the most important piece of the puzzle—and then you add in that he’s got the length and twitch to really knock around would-be blockers. He sees it develop well when playing in his half-turn and transitions to step up and enforce the perimeter. He’s an effective tackler in head-up scenarios and if he’s challenging laterally he’s got the reach to force a steep edge to the outside. 

Length: Newsome II offers terrific length for the perimeter. With his shoulders dropped down in his stance, he’s got a clear reach that will allow him to derail lethargic or sloppy route-runners on the perimeter and throw off timing. His length flashes with his challenges of throws—he’s undercut balls vertically and extended to beat receivers to the ball. Capable of playing through the body of receivers as a result as well. 

Prospect Comparison: Sean Murphy-Bunting (2019 NFL Draft, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 83.13 / 100

Joe Marino: 84.50/100

Jordan Reid: 84.00/100

Drae Harris: 81.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 83.00/100

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The Draft Network