B.W. Webb Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for William and Mary CB
Fourth Round, 114th Pick
B.W. Webb may have played on an FCS team that went 2-10 last season, but don’t be fooled by the team he played for. The William and Mary cornerback is one of the top small-school prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft, making him a likely day two draft selection.
For a player who is yet to be a big name, Webb has a big game. While questions remain about whether Webb will have the same success he did in his collegiate career when going up against considerably better talent in NFL wideouts, there is a lot to like about this cornerback’s play.
Webb has the skill set to come in and be an immediate playmaker in the NFL. He is an explosive athlete with great ball skills. If an NFL team puts him out in their secondary, chances are good he will use his recovery speed, leaping ability and ability to track the ball to defend passes.
Having played against a lower level of competition in college, flaws that may not have been exposed on a regular basis at that level could easily become major problems for Webb at the next level.
In pass coverage, Webb does not have a particularly fluid backpedal and has low experience in man-on coverage. Against the run, Webb is more of a willing than a natural tackler, and is not an aggressive run-support player.
Webb’s size is adequate but subpar at 5’10” and 184 pounds, making him a better size fit to play inside as a nickel/dime cornerback than on the outside. He also has subpar length, with short arms of only 30 1/4”.
He makes up for his lack of size with his athleticism, especially his vertical athleticism. His vertical leap of 40 1/2” enables him to make plays in the air against taller wideouts. He has good closing speed on the field (he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine) and has great foot quickness, which he proved at the combine with a 3.84 20-yard shuttle and 11.06 60-yard shuttle.
(Combine stats via NFL.com.)
Webb has no known instances of character issues on or off the field, and according to a November article in the Daily Press, he has no shortage of confidence or good nature.
William and Mary head coach Jimmye Laycock told the Daily Press that Webb is “extremely competitive” and “very confident in himself.” Off the field, Tribe defensive coordinator Scott Boone told the newspaper that Webb has “developed into a really good kid.”
“He's where he needs to be and doing what he's supposed to be doing,” Boone told the Daily Press. “You never have to worry about B.W. when he's not here in the building with us."
Webb displays good coverage instincts on the football field, and has a great deal of experience as a four-year starter for the Tribe.
Webb played in a scheme that uses primarily zone coverage at William and Mary. He is used to lining up five to 10 yards away from the line of scrimmage. He does a good job reading plays in zone coverage and picking up receivers to shut them down, but he remains unpolished and inexperienced in man coverage as a result of his scheme.
Playing the Ball
Webb’s greatest strength may be his ball skills. He does a great job using his closing speed to break quickly on thrown passes, has the leaping ability to tip throws away from receivers and is very active with his hands. He makes up for his lack of length with his timing on making plays on the ball.
Against the Run
Webb is a willing tackler in the open field who wraps up consistently and takes decent angles to the ball-carrier.
He is not, however, a difference-maker or aggressive playmaker in run support. Against the run, he tends to let the play come to him rather than pursuing plays up to the line of scrimmage or into the backfield.
Webb is an inconsistent performer who needs better technique in man coverage, in large part due to a lack of experience as a man-on corner.
To succeed in a man cover scheme, he needs to become more fluid in his backpedal and diagnose double moves more effectively. He also needs to become more physical with his hands in press coverage, though he has shown the ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage when he does get his hands on his opponent.
Webb excelled in zone coverage at William and Mary and is best suited to play in a zone scheme at the next level.
He has the instincts to know where receivers will be coming into his zone, and the speed to get to where he needs to go on the field. He does a good job of reading the quarterback’s eyes, has good playmaking range and effectively gets himself into position to make tackles on the back end.
Hip fluidity and competition against bigger, faster receivers remain questions for him even in zone coverage at the next level, but he is better suited to make an immediate contribution in a zone scheme.
Webb is a solid but not great tackler. He does a good job wrapping his hands around the ball-carrier, takes decent angles and is willing to take on runners within his zone. He is not a striking hitter and does not drive runners backwards with his tackles. Although he tends to allow plays to come to him, he holds up well as a tackler given his lack of size.
Webb did not backpedal consistently at William and Mary, and will need to develop that area of his game at the next level.
Instead, he tends to turn and run in deep coverage, which can keep him blind from the play, make him more susceptible to penalties by face-guarding and allow receivers to come back to the football.
In this example versus Maryland, Webb overran a play deep in zone coverage, which left the receiver in his zone going up the right sideline open underneath him for a reception of more than 20 yards:
Webb’s coverage also has a shortage of hand use and physicality, which he will want to incorporate more into his game at the next level.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Webb has the potential to play in either a man or zone scheme, but his best chance to make as a top two outside cornerback is in a zone scheme.
Given his athleticism and ball skills but lack of size and physicality, his best fit as an early contributor would be as a nickel slot cornerback, but he may limited to that position in man coverage until he becomes better at his backpedal and hand usage.
Webb certainly projects to have an active role on defense, but should also be a contributor on special teams. He is an explosive and quick athlete who was successful returning both punts and kickoffs at William and Mary, but he should also be able to contribute productively on special teams.
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