Drafted: ROUND: 1 - Pick Number: 5 (SEA)
Draft Profile: BioFollowing high school, Witherspoon opted to join Illinois after not being heavily recruited.
In 2019 as a freshman Witherspoon saw a surprising amount of action playing in12 games and on a total of 389 snaps at cornerback for the Fighting Illini. He recorded 16 tackles, 8 assists, while adding 6 stops. In coverage Witherspoon notched up 2 pass breakups, and a solid QB rating when targetted of 76.6.
In 2021 as a junior Witherspoon played in 10 games and contributed on 740 snaps. He chalked up 46 tackles, 3 assists, and added 19 stops. Witherspoon forced 6 pass breakups and gave up an improved QB rating when targetted of 86.9.
In 2022 as a senior Witherspoon had an elite year seeing action in 12 games while playing 738 snaps. He logged 32 tackles, 7 assists, and made 16 stops. In coverage, Witherspoon had 14 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and surrendered an outstanding QB rating when targetted of just 24.6.
Honors & awards
- 2022 - One of three finalists for the Thorpe Award
- 2022 - One of 20 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award
- Consensus All-American, the 21st in Illinois history
- 2022 - First ever defensive back to be named a Consensus All-American in Illinois history
- 2022 - Walter Camp All-American first team
- 2022 - AFCA All-American first team
- 2022 - FWAA All-American first team
- 2022 - AP All-American first team
- 2022 - Phil Steele All-American first team
- 2022 - CBS All-American first team
- 2022 - PFF All-American first team
- 2022 - USA Today All-American second team
- 2022 - Senior Bowl All-American
- 2022 - Big Ten's Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year
- All-Big Ten first team (coaches and media)
- Leads the nation in forced incompletions (16), according to PFF
- No. 2 graded CB in the country with an overall grade of 91.6, and a coverage grade of (92.0), via PFF
- Sixth nationally and second in the B1G with 1.4 passes defended per game
- Fourth in the nation in NFL passer rating against (24.3), according to PFF
- Sixth in the nation in passes defended (17)
Scouting Report: Strengths
- Easily enough foot speed and length to stay with slot receivers in four-wide sets on short patterns.
- Has both the length and speed to emerge as a starter quickly
- Reads receivers' routes and anticipates throws at the first down marker. Reads the quarterback's eyes and sees the routes very quickly, then has straight-line speed to arrive with or just after the ball.
- Has been elite in man coverage especially in 2022, showing a great understanding of routes and the ability to close quickly.
- Statistically our best-graded press corner in 2022
- Has the quick feet to mirror receivers underneath. Witherspoon also has the fluid hips and top-end speed to turn and run downfield. He shows good awareness when dropping into zone coverage, with good route recognition and the ability to break quickly and cover a lot of ground.
- May still have the skills to excel as a zone defender because of his closing speed to wrap receivers after the catch.
- Ultra-competitive with a motor that never stops
- Confidence that never wavers
- Excellent quick area quickness and change of direction ability, good feel for complex route concepts
- Has the ability to use his length and physicality to re-route receivers, absurd ball skills and production, physicality that carries over to the run game
- Aggressive facing receivers at the line of scrimmage
Scouting Report: Weaknesses
- Needs to tighten his angles in pursuit. Needs to show better tackling technique to consistently finish.
- Is undersized and underpowered when lining up in press coverage. Witherspoon lacks some power in his punch
- He is thin with an extremely slight frame, weighing sub-180 pounds - may need to put some weight on to stand up at the next level
- Overly aggressively leading to him jumping routes looking for the big play
- Doesn't always play up to his timed speed
- Witherspoon is a much better man-defender than in zone and maybe a waste in a zone system
- Was elite in 2022, but was merely good for the rest of his college career
Scouting Report: SummaryWitherspoon is an outstanding pro corner, he's super aggressive without being particularly handsy, has the speed that allows him to stay with all but the fastest receivers, and most importantly the coverage instincts to blanket the best college players. In 2022 he had a similar graded season to that of the Jet's pro bowler Sauce Gardner had in 2021 which is no easy feat.
The only criticism of Witherspoon is his somewhat frail frame and whether he'll be able to hold up for a full 17-game season in the pros, despite this we expect him to be a guaranteed first-round selection and the best natural cover corner in the 2023 Draft.
Devon Witherspoon percentiles vs other Cornerback's (NFL Combine historically - higher value represents better perfomance)
How other scouting services rate Devon Witherspoon (Overall Rank)
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