Demetrius McCray to Jaguars: How Will Cornerback Fit with Jacksonville?

Brad HillContributor IApril 27, 2013

Feb 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Appalachian State defensive back Demetrius McCray makes a catch during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Demetrius McCray is a player I had at least heard of before the draft started, unlike fellow seventh-round pick Jeremy Harris. Going to Jacksonville Saturday with the 210th overall pick, McCray is the fifth secondary player selected by the Jaguars in this year's draft out of eight total picks. It's safe to say Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley weren't very happy with their secondary.

McCray and Harris should be facing similar circumstances to make the roster this season. Both will have to prove they belong quickly because the Jaguars' cornerback battle should be extremely competitive.

You can see how I graded the McCray pick in the Draft Tracker. How will McCray fit in Jacksonville?



Similar to Harris, McCray's expected role is that of a backup cornerback and special teamer. He should see time on the punt coverage unit and also the punt and kick block units.

On defense, McCray will back up fellow rookie Dwayne Gratz, veteran Alan Ball, and likely one or two of the cornerbacks already on the roster (Kevin Rutland? Antwaun Molden?) for playing time. He is a better fit as an outside cornerback as opposed to in the slot.

McCray is a fairly tall corner as well, measuring 6' 1" at the combine. He is also a player that needs to add strength, similar to Jeremy Harris, in order to be effective against the physicality of NFL wide receivers.

The Jaguars likely see McCray developing into an effective press-man cornerback with the ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and mirror them downfield, but he will need a year or two in an NFL strength program before having the strength to be that type of player.


Roster Fit

Like Harris, McCray is no lock to make the roster. I expect the Jaguars to carry five or six cornerbacks, and Dwayne Gratz, Mike Harris and Alan Ball likely already have roster spots locked up.

Between the two seventh-round cornerbacks and whatever corners the Jaguars add in undrafted free agency, the competition will be fierce in the secondary. McCray and Harris face a similar battle in beating out incumbents Kevin Rutland, Antwaun Molden, and Antwon Blake for space on the 53-man roster.

If Harris doesn't make the roster, the Jaguars should be able to sneak him through waivers and onto their practice squad. There's a chance he gets swiped if he's released, but most seventh-round picks are seventh-rounders for a reason.


Early Projections

I don't expect to see McCray on the field much his rookie year when the special teams units are not on the field. When the Jaguars are punting, however, I expect him to be out there in coverage.

McCray should play maybe a handful of snaps defensively, possibly in dime or quarters packages. If he's on the field in the base defense the Jaguars have likely had a lot of injuries in the secondary.

If pressed into extensive action, I would expect McCray to struggle mightily. The AFC South has plenty of great receivers like Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Kenny Britt that opposing coaches would love to line up across from an untested seventh-round rookie corner.

I'd be surprised if McCray is on the field enough to intercept any passes, but I see him making some special teams tackles. If he makes the roster, he should look at 2013 as an opportunity to learn, get stronger and try to work his way up the depth chart.

Similar to the Jeremy Harris pick, Demetrius McCray was drafted with an eye on the future, not 2013. He's a lottery ticket that has some of the attributes Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks, and the Jaguars hope he can develop the others and contribute in the future.