09 April 2012
We will be continuing to take a closer look at players in the draft that the Panthers might be targeting and our next feature is on Virginia Tech corner back Jayron Hosley. The Panthers need for a #2 corner has been well documented and Hosely could very well fill that void as he has established himself as one of the ACC's top corners during his three seasons at VT. Most scouts have him listed as the fifth best corner in the draft and see him being picked in no later than the second round. Is he the right fit for Carolina, though? We will explore that and take a closer look at Hosley's game after the jump.
Hosley had a very successful college career at VT with 12 interceptions in his last two seasons and 32 passes defended. He showed solid coverage ability in the Hokies' zone scheme and was known as a "ball-hawk" for his ability to jump routes and create turnovers. His stats in college are impressive but he won over a lot of fans at the NFL Combine, too.
It was there that Hosley showed his great speed, flexibility and agility, which are all great assets to have to be a good corner. At 5'10" and 179 lbs., Hosley is not the biggest guy out there, so his coverage skills have to be top notch, which is why it is nice that he has these other attributes. He also has an impressive vertical leap and a long reach for a guy his size, which gives him the ability to not get abused by bigger wideouts. We saw some of this in his college career, and the biggest example is probably during Virginia Tech's game against North Carolina.
Hosley was put up against Dwight Jones, one of the best wide receivers in the ACC, and while he gave up a lot of yards against him, Hosley managed to limit big plays and not let Jones abuse him. Hosley did allow a few catches, but he managed to stay with Jones and bring him down before he could pick up the first down a few times and he also showed solid man-to-man coverage abilities in this game too. He managed to blanket Jones a good few times in coverage and force Bryn Renner to make a couple bad throws or simply throw the ball away. He seemed to play it safe this game when it came to gambling for an interception, which I thought was nice to see.
Hosley also played well in coverage for most of the game against Miami as their QB, Jacory Harris, avoided throwing the ball in his direction and when he did, Hosley managed to prevent a big gain from happening. I did see some of his flaws in the Miami game, though. The first of which is obviously his size preventing him from being as effective as he could be in short yardage situations.
Miami had a goal line situation and Hosley was matched up against Tommy Streeter, who is 6'5", and Harris was easily able to take advantage of this mismatch by throwing a TD to Streeter. He basically threw the ball as high as he could and it was way out of Hosley's reach while Streeter didn't have to make much effort to make the TD catch. Hosley might have to deal with this kind of matchup a few times in the NFL.
The other issue with Hosley's size is that he has a lot of trouble with bringing down ball-carriers. He has the speed to close the gap on them but his tackling technique is very poor. Whenever he gets close to a ball-carrier, he usually tries some kind of arm weak arm tackle and ends up giving up a lot more yards than he should. He was especially bad in run support at times, as he either struggled to take down bigger running backs, or they just bulldozed over him. I saw this a lot of times against both Miami and Clemson, but it is something that can be corrected after he spends some time with an NFL coaching staff.
The biggest thing that I notice with Hosley is that he has the tools to play more than one position on defense. If he were to stay at corner in the NFL, he would likely be a nickel back because of his size, especially in a man-to-man scheme. However, I think he might be able to make the transition to free safety because of how well he can play zone coverage. He will need to improve his tackling skills and his physical play, but he has great awareness and speed which makes me think that he can possibly play safety at some point in his career. Hosley also returned punts at Virginia Tech and if he can do that in Carolina then that would be a nice addition.
So, is Hosley the right fit for the Panthers? This is where we run into the same problem that we had with Stephon Gilmore; he has more experience playing zone than man-to-man and making that transition will be tough. Hosley has shown the ability to play man-to-man style coverage at times, but not at a consistent basis. Also, we have an undersized corner on the team in Captain Munnerlyn and I don't know if Hosley is worth taking in the second round if there are better players available. If Hosley and Gilmore are still available when the Panthers make their second round pick, it could possibly come down to the two of them. Although, I am still not sure if either are the right pick for this team right now.
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