With their final pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected USC cornerback Kevon Seymour. Will he be able to make the team's final roster as a rookie? Here is our assessment.
Originally from Pasadena, California, Seymour was a four-star cornerback recruit who committed to USC. In high school, he played about five different positions, with 51 tackles, five interceptions, and three touchdowns on defense, and 33 receptions for 653 yards, nine receiving touchdowns, eight carries for 108 yards, and two rushing touchdowns as a senior.
Coming to USC, he began playing as a freshman, working on special teams and as a backup cornerback. He missed two games due to injury and appeared in eight. As a sophomore, Seymour started 11 of 14 games, and "did a solid job," according to the Trojans' player bio. His junior season saw him return as a starter, posting his best statistical season. In his senior year, Seymour suffered from knee and ankle injuries. He missed four games, and only made four starts on the year.
Seymour is a senior communications major at USC.
Seymour is on the smaller side as a cornerback at 5'11" and 186 pounds, with under 31-inch arms and nine-inch hands. His 12 bench press reps also reflect a general lack of bulk in his frame. As an athlete, he's pretty good for a cornerback. He ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and had a 10'4" broad jump, which were both great numbers. In addition, the 6.81-second three cone drill he turned in at his pro day is well above average.
Seymour mainly played in zone coverage in USC's defense, but also has experience playing off-man and press coverage. In zone, Seymour has a good rapport with his teammates, follows players through his area, and is smart about passing them off to the next player in the right spot. Seymour has quick footwork and good long speed down the sideline, which are traits that come in handy for him, because he often finds himself needing to recover from bad positioning.
Seymour has stiffer, jerkier movement than you'd expect from a player with his athleticism. He bites on a good amount of double moves, and often seemed unprepared for when receivers would cut inside or outside, giving up too large of a cushion. He needs to clean up his footwork and continue studying the route tree tendencies of his opponents to be more effective in man coverage.
Seymour also struggles against physical receivers, as you might expect given his size. He needs to perfect a one-armed jam technique at the line of scrimmage. This would make it more difficult for receivers to release off the line of scrimmage and help mitigate the issues with his short arms. Still, he will always have trouble being pushed around by bigger players, so his eventual home should probably be the slot.
Seymour has had opportunities to make plays on the football, but he rarely came away with a pick. In his best statistical season (2014), he had 13 passes broken up, but only a single interception. In total, he had three interceptions during his college career.
Part of the difficulty can be traced back to Seymour's smaller size. It's harder for him to play the ball when he has a small catching radius. If he wants to aim for a pass breakup, he either needs perfect positioning, or he has to gamble and leap for the ball, with the chance that he gives up a big play if he misses.
There isn't a lot of tape on Seymour's career available, but I was able to watch two of his interceptions. One was a smart zone coverage play where he read the receiver's comeback route and broke on the ball. He came away with the catch and a 27-yard return, but he caught the ball against his chest. His 2014 interception was of a pass deflected by his teammate. It was a situation where the ball happened to be floating towards his hands, he recognized it, and snagged it. All in all, I don't think Seymour becomes a ballhawk at the position.
Seymour is active in this area, and will try to fight through blockers to make tackles. In zone coverage, he is quick to recognize a running play and start working toward the player. His lack of size hurts him, however. He struggles to disengage from bigger receivers, and if he's making a tackle in space, he often has to lunge at the opponent in order to wrap him up with his shorter arms. It leads to broken tackles, and also puts Seymour in a position where he's tackling with bad form, something that has led to injuries for players like Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams.
By the end of the draft, a team isn't expecting that the players it drafts can make the roster. The team is hoping to find a player to fill a specialized role, an undervalued name who can add depth to a key area, or perhaps a project that might one day become something greater after spending time on the practice squad. Seymour fits into this group of flyers. Buffalo already has a solid depth chart at cornerback, with Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, and Nickell Robey entrenched as starters. Corey Graham can contribute in a pinch, Corey White and Sterling More were veteran signings, and Mario Butler and Javier Arenas will also be competing for spots. Seymour will join that crowded group at the back of the depth chart, and a solid training camp could propel him to a spot on the 53-man roster. It's more likely that he finds himself signing onto a taxi squad come September.