Background: A three-sport athlete at New Boston High School (TX), Gladney was also a standout player in basketball and track. Playing both wide receiver and cornerback, he was a catalyst for the teams offense. Gladney was a relatively unknown prior to his junior season. His status remained the same until he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash time at a TCU summer camp in 2013. The Horned Frogs quickly offered him a scholarship after seeing his fast time.
Gladney wasted little time with committing as he gave the program his pledge only a few days after receiving the offer. Off to a fast start during his senior season, he suffered a torn ACL during the first-round of the teams playoff run. Labeled as a three-star athlete upon his arrival to campus, he was forced to redshirt during his first season to strictly rehab and recover from knee surgery (2015).
In his first season of action, Gladney returned even better than his prior form. Starting in eight of the 12 games that he participated in, he recorded 46 tackles and six pass breakups. As a sophomore (2017), Gladney started iin 11 of the13 games that he saw playing time in. In those contests, he totaled 28 tackles and two interceptions. An impressive first two years, he would experience a breakout season as a junior.
Starting in all 13 games, he tallied 41 tackles and a team-leading two interceptions. A 2018 second-team All-Big 12 selection, his 13 pass breakups were the second-best mark in the conference. As a senior, teams were cautious about throwing his way. Starting all 12 games, he finished his final season with 31 tackles, one interception, and 15 passes defensed for the second consecutive season. Following the NFL Scouting Combine, Gladney had surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus after playing through it as a senior.
Scheme Fit: Man
Round Projection: Late 1st-Round
Patient Feet/Coverage Comfort: While in his technique, Gladney’s body from the waist up, displays a slow tempo. His feet always remain active and running to react to the movements from opposing matchups. The former Horned Frog star is supremely reliable in man coverage. Gladney is hardly ever fooled or caught out of position due to overreactions. He’s able to remain aware with allowing the receiver to run the route for him and guide him into proper positions in order to stay alongside them. A rare mixed breed of having the same amount of comfort no matter the type of coverage or area that he’s located in. Gladney has plenty of experience with traveling in the slot as a nickel defender and he’s played both spots on the outside. He’s also shown to be comfortable in zone coverage while also having a good feel for route concepts. His technique and patience are well advanced.
Press to Exit Phase Transitions: Gladney’s track background shows up often as he has the speed to run for days. He displays smooth hips and there’s little wasted motion when forced to turn and run down field. He’s highly aware and understands how to use his off-hand to get hands on targets while still exiting his phase and entering the beginning stages of turning to run down the field. His smooth hips enable him to alter in any directions and maintain arms length distances from targets.
Ball Skills/Arm Length: Gladney possesses the length on his frame in order to put optimal amounts of stress on throwing windows. Those areas open and quickly shut soon thereafter because of it. They serve their purpose when he attacks the ball out of the air. Gladney Isn’t a natural hands catcher when attacking the apex, but his length enables him to impede lots of throwing areas as a result.
Plant and Drive At the Top: In the underneath areas, Gladney can be a bit reserved with what his eyes see in front of him. This results in him being hesitant at the top of his pedal when forced to drive back downhill in order to effect throws or when attempting to make tackles. His read steps are a tick slow and learning to trust exactly what he’s seeing may come over time, but for now, his processing remains delayed.
Off-Coverage Physicality: When not allowed to press at the line of scrimmage, he displays a technique of where he remains patient, but won’t attempt to get a feel of the receivers location until five or more yards down the field. He’s very giving of inside leverage, which is where most of his losses have come from.
Route/Tackling Physicality: Big bodied and physical targets can present some issues when fighting through route stems, when competing at the catch point, and when fighting to get off of blocks. Although having long arms, they shrink when battling with those types of targets. His competitive desire is clearly there, but he must become much more consistent when matched up against those types. He absolutely loves the physical portions of playing the position and flies downhill when forced to make tackles. He has high levels of ”want to” when becoming a tackler, but those levels go to the extremes of desperate measures to make too many big hits. Because of this type of execution, many of his tackle attempts involve recklessness that can result in blatant misses or whiffs.
Starting since he stepped foot on campus, Gladney is one of the most competitive cornerback prospects that you will see in this class. Not just in coverage, but also as a run defender. He’s scrappy, tough, and physical. Projecting best in a press man scheme, Gladney has the physical attributes and vertical speed necessary to quickly become a starter. Possessing high-end athleticism and recovery skills, Gladney could prove to be one of the better defensive backs of this entire crop. There’s not much to dislike about his game overall and he has the talent to become a top-40 pick.