2023 NFL Draft Player Preview: Devon Witherspoon

  • Devon Witherspoon, 5-11/183

  • Cornerback

  • Illinois

  • Devon Witherspoon 2023 Preview
    By Charlie Campbell

    Career Recap: Witherspoon was a steady cover corner for the Illini over the past three seasons. He made his way onto the field as a freshman recording 33 tackles and two passes defended. In 2020. he had 33 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, but zero passes broken up. As a junior, he recorded 52 tackles, nine passes broken up, but again, zero interceptions.

    2022 Season Outlook: Unfortunately, Illinois does not play Ohio State this year, so we won't get to see Witherspoon match up against Jaxon Smith-Njigba or the other talented Buckeyes receivers. The best wideout on Witherspoon's schedule could be Virginia's Dontayvion Wicks in Week 2. He is a speed receiver and big-play threat to test Witherspoon. In conference play, the best receivers Witherspoon might face in 2022 are Michigan State's Jayden Reed and Michigan's Ronnie Bell in November games.

    Skill-Set Summary: Cornerback is one of the premium positions in the NFL, and good cover corners are essential to fielding an effective defense. Witherspoon should be in demand bceause he has serious coverage ability and an intense style of play that is extremely gritty and physical.

    In man coverage, Witherspoon is a talented corner who is fast and fluid. He is a smooth cover corner capable of running the route to prevent separation and who possesses loose hips and agility to stay with wideouts. Witherspoon doesn't take false steps and is sound in terms of his eye discipline. Thanks to his serious quickness, Witherspoon can carry vertical routes and is capable of running with speed receivers. Witherspoon is excellent in zone coverage, utilizing his speed to eat up ground and break hard on the ball.

    While Witherspoon shows some nice ability to play the ball to break up passes, he notched zero interceptions in two of his three seasons, so a lack of ball skills is a serous concern among NFL evaluators entering the 2022 season.

    Withersoon's tenacity shows up in run defense, as he will spring across the field and deliver some physical tackles on ball-carriers. His ability to come downhill in zone coverage and deliver a hard hit is impressive for a corner who is a touch undersized. When his teammates allow a long pass or run, Witherspoon shows good effort not to quit on plays and displays how fast he is by chasing down the ball-carrier to make the touchdown-saving tackle. Witherspoon plays hard and looks like a real competitor.

    Witherspoon impressed preseason evaluators by having serious speed to go along with adequate size. Advance scouts like his cover ability, as they say he is fast and athletic to run the route to prevent separation. However, team sources don't like the lack of ball skills and ball production. Witherspoon looks like a future NFL starter who might end up being a phenomenal No. 2 corner. He may not have the size or ball skills to be a true No. 1 corner.

    2023 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2022 season, Witherspoon looks like an early-round prospect who could end up being graded on the first or second day of the 2023 NFL Draft.



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