The Broncos certainly went against the grain in selecting Kayvon Webster, but that doesn’t make it a bad selection. Part of the NFL draft process is identifying the perfect player to fill a particular role, and Denver did that with its third-round selection.
General manager John Elway wasn’t the only executive to have Webster on his radar, either. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Bill Belichick traveled to South Florida two weeks prior to the draft to get an in-person look at the cornerback:
Despite South Florida’s 3-9 record last season, Webster impressed with his mix of speed, athleticism and football instincts. The 5’10”, 195-pound corner recorded 82 tackles and two sacks and broke up six passes in 2012, and he made a name for himself in the process (via CFBStats.com).
Let’s break down what it is that made Webster so successful at USF and project what kind of player he could be in Denver.
What Makes Webster an NFL Player?
Webster is an extremely physical and aggressive cornerback with the closing speed and recognition skills to be a big asset in run support for the Broncos. He still needs to develop better ball skills and overall playmaking ability, but the foundation is certainly there for Webster to be a quality NFL defensive back.
At the combine, Webster didn’t exactly stand out in any particular area, but his overall workout numbers were impressive. The South Florida product ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, put up 14 reps on the bench press and recorded a 35” vertical—all respectable numbers for a cornerback prospect.
Simply put, there’s nothing to suggest Webster isn’t an NFL prospect. Here’s a cut-up look of his 2012 contest against Florida State.
Videos like the one above are especially helpful in understanding a prospect’s strengths and weaknesses. It isn’t a highlight film (filled with nothing but good plays), but there are some excellent examples of what Webster can do at the NFL level. And what he did in that game was against a future first-round pick in E.J. Manuel.
Webster may not see a lot of immediate playing time in Denver, however. The Broncos signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this offseason and still have Champ Bailey and Chris Harris under contract. Given the depth at the position, Webster may be used sparingly in 2013, but it will be a good opportunity for him to develop behind one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history.
The Bottom Line
The selection process is all about targeting the right man for the job. Elway believed Webster was that player in the third round and pulled the trigger:
It will take some time to evaluate the selection, but there’s no reason to believe Webster can’t be a quality NFL defensive back.
There are always players to come out of nowhere to earn a high draft selection, and this isn’t the first time a seemingly unknown prospect found a home in the third round. It’s far too early to form an opinion on this selection, however. Webster deserves his chance to prove he was worth the pick.