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Breaking down potential Titans' target Xavien Howard

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The Baylor product is set to visit the Titans.

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Position: Cornerback

School: Baylor

Size: 6-0, 201 pounds

Production: 10 interceptions in 2 years as a starter

Positives

  • Good size and length for the position.
  • Physical at the line of scrimmage.
  • Strong enough to re-route receivers, throwing off timing.
  • Outstanding production, snaring 10 picks and 20+ pass break ups in 2 seasons.
  • Always trying to find the ball. Great ball skills and awareness in coverage.
Negatives
  • Below average deep speed (clocked at 4.58 in the 40).
  • Tends to get grabby downfield.
  • Average change of direction ability.
  • Susceptible to the deep ball when he doesn't win with the press. Lags behind receivers with no chance of recovery.
Examples

Howard plays this route really well. The ball is thrown to the wrong side of White's body and he pounces. Howard flips his hips and stays in White's hip pocket through the route, in perfect position to make a play.


Here's my main gripe with Howard. He started this rep ten yards off the receiver and he still ate him up downfield. Howard didn't catch up with the receiver until the endzone, where he had already made the catch. I could post more reps just like this one, but you get the idea.


Here's a look at both the positive and negative side of being aggressive downfield.  Howard makes the play, but is holding White's right arm down in the process.  This was one of several flags thrown on Howard. It looked like White was just a little too much for him to handle downfield.


Overview

Xavien Howard is an intriguing and frustrating player to evaluate. You see the flashes of ability -- the feet, strength, size -- then you see the lack of long speed and downfield flags. He's backed up his 4.58 40 time on tape for me, which isn't a good thing. I could post plenty more examples of Howard getting beat downfield, but you get the point. He's a player that needs to stay ahead to have any success. His lack of recovery speed is a big red flag for me.

I thought his change of direction ability was better than his 3-cone time (7.18) suggested. He showed decent short area ability, especially against Kevin White. However, the flags down the field killed his game.  When I flipped on the North Carolina game he was routinely tested down the field. He was beaten downfield a couple time in that game as well.  I wouldn't be comfortable spending any more than a 4th round pick on him as a backup corner that need some refinement.

Round grade: 4th round
Draft slot projection: 2nd-3rd round