Devon Witherspoon NFL Draft
Devon Witherspoon

Devon Witherspoon

  • CB Illinois
  • Junior
  • #8
  • 6'
  • 180lbs
  • Prospect
  • Big Ten

Prospect Summary

Devon Witherspoon NFL Draft Scouting Report

CB, Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon is an aggressive, physical cornerback with man coverage skills and ball production, making him a mighty fine NFL draft prospect who can serve in a high-impact role. Witherspoon is very combative at the catch point and is eager to transition into a tackler’s role, offering an NFL team a viable inside or outside option at the next level. 

Originally committed to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, Witherspoon experienced a late flurry of offers ahead of the start of his freshman year after he elevated his grades and avoided being academically ineligible. He ultimately settled on signing with the Illini, joining the team his freshman year after missing the start of summer camp. He went on to become the only member of Illinois’ 2019 recruiting class to start a game as a freshman and led the team in special teams tackles that season. By 2020, he was a starter at corner and he hasn’t looked back—making him a three-year starter at a premier NFL position with special teams success also lingering on his resume; a healthy mix. 

Witherspoon has an impressive nose for the football in every way. He does well to find the football in man coverage and play the hands of receivers, and he has excellent rally skills from depth to step up and find the football in run support on the perimeter. He’s developed a reputation this season as a big hitter thanks to some instinctive plays to flash and react to the football on quick-hitting plays outside—he brings excellent confidence in his tackling form through contact to generate big hits and collision ball carriers. I have been impressed with his timing as a defender to sync his challenges of the football in the air with the arrival of the ball, allowing him to rake the hands of receivers and break up passes. These instincts are impressive when you consider that he’s only been playing football since his junior year of high school, leaving room for even more upward growth in his play as he continues to immerse himself in the game. 

I do think he’s a better man defender than he is in zone, although he was effective at both during this past season with Illinois. But eyes in the backfield take away his rarest quality as a man corner and open the door for him to be manipulated and moved by savvy quarterbacks. The hitting power Witherspoon offers in spite of his stature is a testament to his form and confidence, but he is a player who will have some size questions about playing in the NFL—ideally, your man defender can press up in the face of receivers and disrupt the timing of the route early at the line of scrimmage. Witherspoon’s ability to do so was present in college but is a bit of a projection to the NFL if he’s going to play around his current listed weight. If not, he may be destined to play the nickel. The good news? Nickel defenders have never been more valuable in the NFL—especially ones who can tackle and fit the run like Witherspoon. But there is always a stigma on positional value for a “third” corner, so the question will be which NFL teams have conviction that he can stay and thrive outside. 

Witherspoon should have little issue appealing to NFL teams with his play style, physical skills, and versatility. The question will be whether or not teams grant him the chance to play outside or if they feel his frame limits him to only be effective in the slot. I believe he has a chance to be a winning player on the perimeter and therefore would offer him the opportunity to play there first. With more refinement, he could thrive in a man-heavy system and be an impact starter. 

Top Reasons to Buy In:

  • Experience and success in man coverage
  • Tremendous ball skills
  • Tone-setting personality
  • Good tackler
  • Special teams resume

Top Reasons For Concern:

  • Lean frame offers questions against powerful perimeter WRs
  • Can be over-eager to make a play at times
  • Will teams try to box him into playing the slot? 

Size (NFL Combine):

Height: 5′ 11 1/2”

Weight: 181 lbs

Arm Length: 31 1/4”

Hand Size: 8 7/8”

Athletic Testing (TBD):

40-yard Dash: TBD

Vertical Jump: TBD

Broad Jump: TBD

Short-Shuttle: TBD

Three-Cone: TBD

Bench Reps: TBD 

Ideal Role: Perimeter cornerback

Scheme Fit: Man heavy

Prospect Comparison: TBD

TDN Consensus Grade: 86.50/100 (First-Round Value)

  • Crabbs Grade: 86.50/100

Written By: Kyle Crabbs

Exposures: Indiana (2022), Virginia (2022), Iowa (2022), Purdue (2022), Michigan (2022)

Devon Witherspoon NFL Draft Scouting Report. Add him to your big board here.