Prospect: Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
Grade: 7.2 (Grading Scale)
McFadden is a shorter corner who possesses an athletic frame. During Senior Bowl weigh-in he presented a well-proportioned body with good muscle tone throughout. Small hands, but longer arms than usual for his frame. McFadden is a fluid athlete showing quick-twitch ability. Plays from a really athletic stance, plays low, knees bent and fluid/easy change of direction. Can start and stop his feet quickly. Good explosion out of his back pedal. Looks natural opening up his hips and running laterally. Good combination of speed and quickness, vertical/straight line speed is fine, but also shows the quickness to cover slot.
McFadden’s lacks ideal height for an NFL corner, might be best suited to play slot corner.
McFadden has outstanding coverage instincts. In zone coverage he reads route combinations well, watches the QB and makes quick, decisive breaks on the ball. Anticipates throws, can break out of his zone and undercut the throw quickly. Has the closing speed and instincts to tip/bat down many passes. Exhibits a smoothness in coverage, trusts his eyes and his ability to get to the ball. McFadden has tremendous hips, he can open them quickly and run laterally with quick slot receivers and he can also open them almost 180 degrees to run vertically. Shows the ability to mirror receivers his size and can play in trail technique across the middle, undercutting the throw after delivery. He maintains tight coverage downfield and keeps himself with range to make a play on the ball.
McFadden isn’t suited to play press coverage, struggles to limit free release and loses his technique when trying to jam. Gives up inside leverage too easy when jamming, lets receiver cross his face, although he has shown ability to recover. Height will obviously be an issue vs. bigger receivers.
McFadden has a natural ability to find the ball–play-maker. Has 27 passes defensed over the last two seasons and 5 interceptions. Displays solid hands, can make the tough interception and can leave his feet and come down with the ball. Does a good job of reading where the ball is going to be, takes smart angles and closes on the ball quickly. Ability to close in zone coverage allows him to make plays on the ball.
Won’t be able to win battle for the ball against bigger receivers,
Vs. The Run
McFadden can make plays as a run defender, although he isn’t great at it. He can be swallowed up by stronger blockers, struggling to free himself. McFadden will attack the line and the play, attempting to go low and make a tackle. Has a number of tackles broken, as running backs are able to run out of his arm tackles. Doesn’t play with great leverage in run support, pops up and tries to out-muscle blocker. McFadden can make tackles 1 on 1 in the open field, quick decisive strike usually going at the legs. Wasn’t asked to do it much, but I think McFadden would make a good blitzer out of the slot corner spot due to his ability to come out of this stance quick and close on the target.
Played in every single game while at SDSU and has started every game since midway through freshman season. Has been recognized as a SDSU scholar athlete and MWC All-Academic for his performance in the classroom. Will be a special teams standout for an NFL team. Former WR, has experience returning punts and can be the gunner on coverage units. McFadden offers scheme versatility as he can play outside corner or in the slot. Was the best cornerback in early Senior Bowl practices before pulling out early in the week. Plays with intensity and passion, seems to be a leader on the field. No off the field red flags that I know of.
Leon McFadden possesses some of the most important skills to be a successful NFL cover cornerback. He shows very good instincts and awareness in coverage. He reads the Quarterback well and has a good sense of where the ball will be thrown. McFadden has a very fluid midsection and good flexibility lower body. This allows him to match up vs. quick receivers and mirror their movements. Almost all of his actions in coverage look natural and easy. He has an explosive closing burst, coming out of his peddle with quick feet and speed. Vertically, McFadden keeps himself in position to make the play and can run with most receivers. His lack of height will always be a question, as will his weakness at the line of scrimmage.
While he might be best suited to play slot corner, that is certainly not a knock on his ability. Overall, McFadden possesses a package of quickness, fluidity, ball-skills and play-making ability that will make him a ball-hawking corner at the next level. Not the biggest or fastest, but has some of the best instincts. Leon McFadden won’t go in the first round and might not go in the second round. However, anytime after that he could be considered one of the steals of the draft in a few years.