In 2018 the Buffalo Bills signed an undrafted free-agent cornerback out of Alabama by the name of Levi Wallace to a modest three-year contract—a savvy move that brought the team a starter at CB2. He finished his rookie season as the top-rated cornerback among his draft class. Things in 2019 proved a little more challenging for Wallace. While many in the media and fanbase challenged his role and considered him the weakest link in the defensive backfield, he still managed a fairly solid season while splitting time with Kevin Johnson. Skarecrow’s All-22 review on Wallace at the conclusion of the 2019 season helped to put some things in perspective.
It’s still fair to question if Buffalo might prefer finding someone new to mitigate the time-share they employed last season. As such, let’s take some time to discuss another Alabama CB who’ll be among the 2020 NFL Draft’s cornerback class, Trevon Diggs.
Trevon Diggs is a 6’2” 207-lb corner who played all four years at the University of Alabama. He, however, elected to forego the Senior Bowl despite being invited. Diggs was listed as a wide receiver prospect out of high school who transitioned into playing corner partway through his freshman year. He is the younger brother of star Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Scouting Report: What makes him stand out as a prospect?
Size: Diggs is a big, long prospect for the position. He has long arms to be able to jam wide receivers in press coverage and reach across receivers’ bodies to knock balls away. He has exactly the kind of size teams covet when looking for the “prototype” in a prospect.
Athleticism: Diggs is a better athlete than you would expect for what his size is. His hips are better than anticipated, making him more of a fluid athlete than what his size may indicate about him; he does come off a little bit stiff at times but that may be due to missteps in his pedal and lack of positional experience. His ability to run with receivers allows him to be an asset in man coverage and he fully utilizes his superior length for zone coverage.
What makes him special: Diggs is an elite press- and zone-coverage corner. His long arms consistently disrupt receivers off of their release and he did so against the best that the SEC has to offer. He has learned a lot of the nuances of the position for being so new as a full-time participant. He can bait quarterbacks and his length can really affect passes and force quarterbacks to make difficult throws into windows.
What he needs to work on: Diggs has some flaws in his game as any prospect does. His biggest issues align with his awareness. He has some major issues with knowing where the ball is and anticipating when he is face guarding the receiver over keeping eyes on the ball. When he doesn’t get his head around, he starts panicking, grabbing, and overrunning plays such as deep comeback routes. Another one of his issues lies in his overcompensation in press. He tends to jam in a very violent manner—which, at times, causes him to lose balance and foot discipline in press. While he appears to be an elite press corner, the undisciplined aspect gives some pause. He loses leverage and will get beaten badly down the field in these kinds of situations at times.
Why he makes sense for the Bills: Bills fans have been able to familiarize themselves with another long defensive back from Alabama in current corner Levi Wallace. Wallace has been serviceable as a CB2 opposite Tre’Davious White, but he saw his snaps cut into this year by fellow teammate and pending unrestricted free agent Kevin Johnson. Wallace was a seamless fit for the McDermott defense from Day 1. I see the same situation for Trevon Diggs. He is a more talented, while similar, player to Wallace from my vantage point. I think Diggs slots in perfectly opposite of White in a McDermott system that arguably values a zone-coverage system over man—something that would accommodate to Diggs’s strengths nicely. The Bills won’t need to spend their most premium pick of a first rounder on him. In all likelihood, Diggs looks to slot into the second or third round in April’s draft. With this in mind, the Bills should consider taking a good, hard look at the Crimson Tide product when Day 2 of the NFL Draft comes along.