Leon McFadden appears to have the skills to be a starter early in his career in the NFL.
Third Round, 68th Pick
Leon McFadden is a name you're going to want to remember heading into the 2013 NFL draft. He's got the makings of an NFL cornerback and the mentality to succeed in the league.
Here is a look at what makes this three-time All-Mountain West cornerback a potential steal in the middle rounds of the draft.
McFadden is a fluid athlete who possesses good speed, agility and strength. He's got great instincts and consistently makes a play on the ball, as evidenced by his 47 career passes defended. McFadden also shows the ability to play jump balls and constantly win in 50-50 situations.
His quick feet and fluid hips allow him to turn and run with receivers. He can plant his foot and drive on the ball to make plays in the passing game.
He's a physical cornerback who can make plays in both the run game and on screen passes.
At only 5'10" and 190 pounds, McFadden's size will give him some difficulty with bigger and more physical receivers. He also struggles to get separation from blockers in the open field.
When McFadden tries to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, he'll sometimes fail. This forces him to play catch-up when in coverage and can force him into mistakes.
McFadden isn't the most gifted athlete, but he has adequate speed and agility for his position. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, which was only a decent time for defensive backs.
His 34.5" vertical jump was also one of the lowest at the combine in February. However, when watching McFadden play, it's evident that he has the speed, agility and leaping ability to be an effective defender.
Was a three-time All-Mountain West cornerback for San Diego State, starting 45 games over the course of his college career.
He should be a high-character player in an NFL locker room.
McFadden has the ability to play either man or zone coverage. He has the speed and recovery when in man coverage and also does a great job of reading the quarterback's eyes when in a zone.
Should easily fit into any type of defensive system in the NFL.
Playing the Ball
This is one of McFadden's strongest aspects of his game. He recorded eight interceptions and 47 passes defended during his career at San Diego State.
He does a fantastic job at turning his head and tracking the ball in the air. His hands are active and his natural instincts seem to always know where the ball is going to end up.
Against the Run
McFadden is more physical than his size would suggest, but his smaller frame does work against him in the run game. At times he'll get pushed around by blockers and have difficulty disengaging to make a play on the ball.
He does show, however, the ability to locate the ball-carrier and make a play when given the opportunity.
Press coverage will be difficult for McFadden in the NFL because of his size and ineffectiveness in jamming receivers at times. However, he has the tenacity and willingness to play press coverage from time to time.
Where he really excels in man coverage is when he's playing off the receiver. This allows him to use his instincts to react to what the receiver is doing and make a play on the ball.
McFadden displays the ability to consistently read the quarterback's eyes when in zone coverage. He's quick enough to make plays on receivers underneath him, but he also has a good sense of when receivers are behind him in the zone.
He shows the instincts and feel to make a defensive coordinator comfortable with him in zone coverage.
This is one area of McFadden's game where he needs to improve. Too often will he attempt to simply make a cut tackle, which won't fly in the NFL.
He struggles to consistently wrap up opponents, but this is a fixable quality to his game with proper coaching.
McFadden shows fantastic balance and hip movement when in coverage. His feet are active and his body stays low throughout his backpedal.
He's aggressive in his play, but not so aggressive where he makes mistakes or jumps routes too early. His overall technique is very solid heading into the NFL.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Whoever ends up drafting McFadden will have a cornerback who is truly versatile to a number of NFL schemes. He'll be able to be successful in either zone or man coverage.
McFadden has the overall tools and skill set to be an NFL starter early in his career.