2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Roger McCrearyby Charlie Parent January 7, 2022 0 comments
There are at least four cornerbacks projected to go within the top 20 picks of this year’s NFL Draft. With that, teams are searching for a guy they can get in the early rounds but not for that steep of a price. Auburn’s Roger McCreary could be one of these guys. McCreary has been floated around in the late first round in several mock drafts and is a corner getting a good amount of hype. McCreary is a player who’s fought up the ranks. He came into Auburn as a three-star recruit and now sees a potentially great NFL path ahead of him. Let’s see if he can live up to the hype he’s gotten so far.
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Name: Roger McCreary
Jersey: No. 23
Weight: 190 lbs
Games Watched: Ole Miss (2021), Alabama (2021), Penn State (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Man Coverage (13.5/15)
Sit tight, there’s a ton to unpack here. In the Ole Miss game, McCreary looked really good in off-man coverage and wasn’t often tasked with working in the receiver’s face. You can see a natural ability to mirror routes, especially the deeper he gets downfield and it’s that ability that puts his ranking so high. The Penn State game was similar and he had himself multiple solid reps against guys like Jahan Dotson in deep areas.
In the Alabama game, we have a bit of a different story. McCreary was tasked with covering both Jameson Williams and John Metchie. Here, we saw some excellent reps and some pretty poor ones. In this game, McCreary played a lot more in on-man coverage and let up inside leverage way too many times, allowing several short and intermediate receptions. We did see some great flashes, however, and fantastic composure out of McCreary. For example, Williams beat him on a slant route for a solid gain and McCreary came back the next play and dominated Metchie’s attempt at a drag route. Overall, McCreary has superb potential to be a standout man coverage corner but the inconsistencies against the nation’s best are a little scary for now.
Zone Coverage (13/15)
Coming into this evaluation of McCreary, the thought process was that we were looking at a shutdown man corner. This could not be more different. McCreary is just as good, and experienced, in zone as he is in man. We again saw a lot of it in the Ole Miss game, In comparison to the other two where he was in man a bit more. The clear zone McCreary is best in is deep zones. The only times he gets bit here is when he drops too far back, allowing the receiver to sit in and get a shallower target. If he cleans this up a tad, we are looking at a dual-threat coverage corner.
This is a bit of a weird area. McCreary is just a little inconsistent here and not very good at reacting to the run. Through the air, though, we’ve seen some great plays. On one against Ole Miss, McCreary was playing a 10-yard flat, filtered out his zone perfectly, and attacked the check-down receiver as soon as Matt Corral put the pass in the air. It is plays like these that give McCreary such high potential in every area of his play but you’d like to see it more on the tape.
Ball Skills (9/10)
Ball skills could be McCreary’s best trait but then there are the inconsistencies. One thing McCreary is great at is knocking the ball out of the receiver’s hands. He’s not afraid to get physical at the point of catch and either lay a huge hit, forcing the ball out or deflecting the ball. Where the weakness is can be tracking. McCreary has struggled at times to track the ball all the way but has also gotten lucky here. One rep against Alabama, McCreary was completely turned around, a clear pass interference, but got away with it. These plays show the weakness but his toughness to disrupt the ball at the point of catch show stardom as well.
Another really strange trait to grade in McCreary’s case. McCreary rarely gets his hands on the receiver in press coverage and often just relies on his route-mirroring ability, instead of a jam to win the rep. Besides at the line of scrimmage, he’s solid mid-rep but not great. We just mentioned how physical McCreary can be at the point of catch and that’s great but other parts are scary.
McCreary is handsy on almost every man-coverage rep, which sometimes is great but sometimes turns into him being grabby. We like how he gets physical and it often works in McCreary’s favor. There have been times, however, like against Williams, where he just had a blatant grab that should’ve been called for interference. With the naked eye, you’d think McCreary had a near stellar game against the Tide but there were a lot of missed calls on plays like these. All in all, he needs to use his hands more at the line, and be just a bit less grabby during routes.
Long Speed (10/10)
McCreary has elite long speed. It could simply be the best long speed in the class as well. No college receiver beat this guy deep and it’s what makes McCreary so intriguing. This trait just blows you away and McCreary’s opposing receiver often isn’t sent deep because they know he’s going to get locked up. The best play was on a simple go route verse Dotson, one of the fastest receivers in this draft. McCreary was a step in front of him by the time the rep finished and the pass (targeted to Dotson) was not even close to a completion. Long speed is why McCreary will be drafted high and for good reason.
Tackling/Run Support (7/10)
The first time McCreary got involved in tackling/ run support verse Ole Miss was in the second quarter. Besides the initial inability to get engaged, he was very solid after that. We saw a nice filtration of the triple-option where he stayed patient to make the tackle, as well as a hit stick to force an incompletion. Another thing McCreary does very well here is he doesn’t allow RAC too much. Sure, it does happen, but he’s typically right on the receiver’s hip after the catch that he can wrangle them down fast enough.
You’d expect McCreary to receive a very high grade here and he does. It’s not just the speed, though. McCreary has shown on tape a very nice jumping ability. Add on the change of direction and overall fluidity and we’ve got a superb athlete. While we don’t have official measurements yet, he could be a big-time combine warrior, which would naturally see McCreary shoot up draft boards.
Change of Direction (4.75/5)
A great mover, McCreary knows how to sink and flip his hips very well. The best hips in the class belong to Florida’s Kaiir Elam but McCreary isn’t far behind. Part of McCreary’s elite ability to cover deep routes comes from his hip movements but it also helps him tremendously in the intermediate and shorter areas. For example, Williams beat him off the line with inside leverage on a 10-15 yard in route but McCreary was able to flip his hips so well on Williams’ cut to catch up to him and disrupt the pass. As we’ve said time and time again, the potential is there for McCreary to be great and change of direction adds to it.
At 6’0″, McCreary isn’t the tallest corner in the world but he makes it work. This will be the quickest section yet but let’s just say that length won’t hurt McCreary in the NFL. At the same time, it won’t necessarily help him either. Expect his arm measurements at the combine to come in as relatively average in comparison to the other corners in this class.
There is a lot to sift through when watching McCreary’s film. Some of it’s good, some bad. What you see most, however, is the upside. McCreary is a pretty raw corner as of now but has massive potential. Especially because he has that elite long speed. A big combine will go a long way for McCreary. Do not be surprised at all if he is selected in the first round by a team that has the time to develop him.
Rookie Projection: Rotational Outside Cornerback
Third-year Projection: First-String Outside Cornerback
Final Grade (85.25/100): Early Second-Round Grade
Pro Comparison: William Jackson
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