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A junior entry into the 2016 NFL draft—along with fellow defensive backs Mackensie Alexander, T.J. Green and Travis Blanks—Jayron Kearse has eye-popping size and length, and at times he looked like a Round 1 talent.
The nephew of Jevon "The Freak" Kearse, Jayron is impressive on the hoof with a solid, thick frame. He’s an ideal single-high safety given his size and range in the middle of the field. His play speed is better than his track speed, and Kearse has shown he can track and cover the ball in quarters or half coverage.
When asked to step up and press receivers or tight ends, Kearse can be a pest with his 34 ¼” arms and big frame. He has the quickness to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, and when he does fail to get home with a punch, he’s agile enough to turn and run to catch up. With a super-long stride, Kearse covers ground in a hurry.
An instinctive player, he has the skills to make the calls for a secondary. Kearse needs to be coached up in his effort and angles but has the tools to be a better pro than college player.
In the biggest game of his career, Kearse looked like he wanted nothing to do with tackling Derrick Henry or any of the Alabama skill players. Two weeks before, in a playoff game against Oklahoma, Kearse struggled to make an impact as a tackler, putting three missed attempts on film. Two big stages and two poor games from Kearse have scouts questioning his desire.
A long strider with a high-cut frame, Kearse can be stiff getting out of breaks and doesn’t appear to be too twitchy. His 40 time was average—even taking into account his size—and he could struggle to match speed with NFL receivers unless he times his hip turns perfectly. With a skill set suited best to zone coverage over the top, Kearse may be labeled as scheme-limited and valued less by teams wanting speed at safety.
Weight: 216 lbs.
40 Time: 4.62s
Short Shuttle: 4.60s
PRO COMPARISON: George Iloka, Cincinnati Bengals
FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)