Virginia Tech Football: Should Jayron Hosley Declare for NFL Draft?

Ryan McCartCorrespondent IIIDecember 17, 2011

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 1: Cornerback Jayron Hosley #20 of the Virginia Tech University Hokies returns the ball after an interception against the Clemson University Tigers on October 1, 2011 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/Getty Images

Last week I wrote a piece about whether or not running back David Wilson should forgo his senior year at Virginia Tech and enter the NFL draft. Now a similar question needs to be asked about cornerback Jayron Hosley. Wilson’s decision is still be up in the air, but Hosley appears to be ready to enter the NFL in 2012.

All indications from Hosley are that the All-State Sugar Bowl will be the star corner’s last game in the Maroon and Orange. It is his decision but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the correct one.

Hosley was an All-American in 2010 and appeared to be the next Brandon Flowers. In 2010, Hosley led the nation with nine interceptions, but a year can make a huge difference and the budding defensive star took a step back in 2011. His season was hampered by injuries and a position change.

The injury bug hit the entire Hokies defense and Jayron Hosley was one of the bigger losses of the season. Hosley injured his hamstring during Virginia Tech’s Week 6 matchup with the Miami Hurricanes. He made it worse the next week against Wake Forest (he didn’t finish the game). The hamstring injury held him out against Boston College in Week 8.

Hosley returned after the Boston College game, but it wasn’t the end of his injuries. During the ACC championship game he suffered what was originally reported as a stinger, but later changed to a concussion. He should be ready for the Sugar Bowl, but if he doesn’t play then he should rethink his draft decision.

The injuries were a large reason for Hosley’s struggles in 2011, but it was not the only reason. Many people have overlooked the fact that Hosley was moved from a field corner to the boundary corner in 2011.

The boundary corner is the “it” position in Virginia Tech’s defense. The position has been filled by names like Brandon Flowers, Macho Harris, Jimmy Williams and DeAngelo Hall. What many people don’t realize is that there is a big difference between the field and boundary corners. It isn’t simply just playing on different sides of the field—it is a completely different defensive concept.

The field corner is in all essence a zone corner. The player’s job is to drop back into the zone and read the play and quarterback. The boundary corner is the man-to-man corner. His job is to read the receiver and react. Hosley, however, didn’t excel during his first year playing a lot of man-to-man. This is important because the pass-heavy NFL is a largely man-to-man league.

The 2011 season alone is proof that Hosley could benefit from another year of playing the boundary corner under Bud Foster.

Hosley had 59 tackles in 2011. That total is larger than his 2010 total, but that has a lot to do with the fact that quarterbacks were scared to throw in Hosley’s general direction the previous season.

The most interesting statistic from Hosley during last season is his interception total. The cornerback was a vacuum in 2010; his nine interceptions led the FBS and were a big reason why he was voted an AP All-American.

That number severely dropped in 2011, with three. And those three interceptions came in two games. He had two picks against East Carolina in Week 2 and his third interception came against Clemson in Week 5. Hosley hasn’t had an interception in the Hokies' last eight games.

A lot of the blame for the lack of interceptions has been placed on Hosley’s injuries, but again, the real culprit is the position change.

Jayron Hosley doesn’t appear to be ready for the NFL. His man-to-man defense needs work and his production in 2011 has hurt his draft stock. If he produced in 2011 like he did during the 2010 campaign, then he would be a first-round lock, but now he is looking good for the middle rounds.

Hosley might end up being an immediate playmaker in the NFL, but I think the junior could gain a lot from staying his senior year. He has the talent, but he still needs time to learn the position.