2020 NFL Draft: Alabama CB Trevon Diggs

  • Name (#): Trevon Diggs (#7)
  • Position: CB
  • College: Alabama 
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 205 lbs
  • 40-time: N/A
  • Length:  32 ¾” 
  • Career Statistics: 43 Solo Tackles, 25 Assisted Tackles, .5 TFL, 4 Int, 21 PD, 2 FF
  • Season Statistics: 20 Solo Tackles, 17 Assisted Tackles, .5 TFL, 3 Int, 11 PD
  • Games played: 46
  • Games started: 12 
  • Games watched: 2019 Ole Miss, Auburn, South Carolina, LSU, Duke
  • Prepared by: Nathan Papandrea

Trevon Diggs has officially stepped out of his older brother Stefon Diggs’s shadow. The long, lean corner who dabbled at receiver early in his career has ascended to the upper tier of corners in the 2020 NFL Draft class, thanks to some tremendous coaching and hard work. Stefon gets open using his quickness and route running, whereas his brother plays corner with strong hand technique at the line of scrimmage.

As you can see in the video above, his arms are long and he loves using them to set the tone as soon as the ball is snapped. While the punch placement isn’t quite on target, pay attention to the power behind it.

He relishes the chance to simply focus on the receiver in press coverage. While it ends up being a run, the corners aren’t a part of the run fit. The safeties take their spots, so Diggs (bottom) is super aggressive with his punch.

At the line of scrimmage, he’s an alpha. Look at him drive the receiver out of bounds on 4th down.

That sort of length used at the line of scrimmage can dictate and disrupt receiver’s releases. They may have a plan to release out wide, but Diggs shoots that inside hand while opening and shuffling to his left, a method otherwise known as an off-hand jam. This shuts down the receiver’s outside release while getting Diggs’s body in position to run. The receiver does a good job of wiping his frame clean, so Diggs spins around, gets a feel for the receiver with his left hand, then gets back into phase. As you can see, the receiver had to work incredibly hard to get back to his outside route stem.

If a receiver doesn’t have a plan, they make it incredibly easy for him to stick with them. The receiver wants to simply release wide; the threat of Diggs’s hands makes the release wide and deliberate, which makes the transition very easy on Diggs, and he is able to make a play at the catch-point down the field.

Even when receivers are given a clean release, Diggs still uses his length to affect the route. Here, the receiver jabs hard inside, steps on Diggs’s toes, and accelerates out wide. But just as he is trying to separate, Diggs shoots his inside hand and lands it perfectly. It doesn’t seem like much; it only gives him time to open and run, but it takes some speed off the receiver’s point of acceleration while slightly widening the route so that Diggs can squeeze it into the boundary.

He does the very same thing here, but from the slot position. As the receiver takes off, Diggs opens up, shoots his hand to take some mustard off the route, then immediately gets his head around to find the ball. His time as a receiver really shows on a play like this. He puts his body in position to stay over the top of the receiver while tracking the ball over his shoulder, then looks it in while taking a shot to the head. That’s not an easy play by any means.

Diggs, from time to time, will grab some cloth to give him a feel for the player as he progresses down field, but it’s not an issue. He’s usually pretty sneaky about it, but it’s inherent to his game. Everyone wins and recovers differently; Diggs chooses to use his length and hands to stay in-phase or to recover.

A defender with his physical skill-set and mental aptitude can make plays all over the field, especially at the NFL level against the quick game. Diggs recognizes the extra wide split by the receiver, typically signifying an in-breaking route. On the snap, he gets positional leverage inside, wedges his inside hand on the hip of the receiver, and bodies him up to the catch point, where he nearly makes the interception.

On the next play, Diggs once again jumps a slant route, one he knew was coming from film study. Diggs told me they “ran that a million times in previous games,” but only with that “specific wide receiver coming across the formation in motion.” Diggs added that the slot receiver told him everything.

That type of recognition can also be seen when Alabama went to their pattern-matching coverages, like this ‘Stubbie’ call. His intelligence shows pre- and post-snap. On this play, he has to line up his teammate as the offense settles into a 3×1 set.

‘Stubbie’ is a trips coverage where the outside defender is in pure man-to-man coverage with Diggs, while the linebacker and safety are pattern-matching the other two receivers to their side. Diggs is keying the #3 receiver. His route will likely determine the route combination. If that route is out or to the corner, he has him, but if that receiver runs a route inside or to the post, he will pass it to the linebacker or safety, respectively.

The #3 runs a dig, so the linebacker takes him, with the #2 running to the post. So Diggs is the trail defender with the deep safety, Xavier Mckinney, responsible for the inside leverage of the post. Diggs plays the low side of the defender to keep him in position to deter or undercut a corner route. While he almost bites on the ‘Pin’ concept (Post-in route combination), McKinney recovers, as does Diggs. Diggs shows off his recovery speed as he goes directly for the man while his teammate goes for the ball. That’s good teamwork between the two talented defenders.

Diggs had three interceptions in 2019, and on this one he made a house call. Arkansas attempts to confuse the defense by using two different motions, and anyone that knows the Crimson Tide defense understands they have an array of coverage checks. The Razorbacks settle into a common “R – Z game” between the running back and X-receiver, with the defense running man to man into the boundary. Prior to the snap, Diggs told his teammate linebacker Markail Becton that if the X-receiver tried picking Becton, he would “peel” off and take his man, the RB.

So, on the snap, Diggs escorts the receiver to his teammate then sinks and undercuts the wheel route to the running back.

There’s no way the quarterback thought that Diggs would be sinking over the top. That’s why he actually led him up the field. Just an incredible play by Diggs.

In zone coverages, his recognition of how offenses want to attack the three levels of the defense is evident. You see him remain patient as he gains depth, waiting for a receiver to run the out route on this flood concept. When that receiver breaks, Diggs is right there and the quarterback takes the under route.

Diggs is very good at protecting the seam, something that Cover 3 teams will absolutely love. He routinely sinks deep and squeezes the seam when in zone coverage.

Many have Diggs labeled a press-cover corner, but that’s selling him short in off coverage, in my opinion. He may not have the click-and-close that TCU corner Jeff Gladney has when in off coverage, but he baits the quarterback a little better. On this interception, Diggs stated the Tide were playing a form of Cover 3. Diggs told me that he “baited the quarterback to make him think that he was covering the lower route.” Diggs gets his hands on the receiver but keeps his eyes on the QB, and once Joe Burrow prepares to throw, Diggs sinks and high-points the ball for the interception.

Quarterbacks had very little success against Diggs, cumulatively registering a 16.3 QB rating when targeting the Maryland native. His body control, tracking, and ball skills are receiver-like.

Diggs needs to improve his angles to the ball against the run and overall tackling process.

He is all over the place with his technique, sometimes tackling too high against the run, sometimes diving at receivers’ legs in the open field without wrapping. You just can’t have your corner tackling this high and going for the rip when you are late in the 4th quarter and down five points.

His physicality is phenomenal, but when matched up against someone just as talented as him and/or stronger, the upper hand in that department wasn’t as big.

LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, possibly the best receiver in the country in 2019 and likely top-15 pick next year, took it to Diggs. Chase met Diggs’s force with force and threw him around a couple of times. The disruption skills of Diggs were neutralized by the talented receiver. But to be fair, this touchdown by Chase was the only touchdown surrendered by Diggs all of last season.

Diggs can pitch in on special teams as a returner but defensively is fit in either a zone-heavy or a press scheme. His length and hand usage when in press dictates and disrupts routes early in the play, which will appeal to press teams that play the Seattle system. But his length and mental processing will be coveted by zone teams who like to play quarters, Cover 2, or Cover 3, like the Colts and Bills. His skillset and physical profile are very similar to James Bradberry and Josh Norman.

His arrow still points up, having only started 12 out of 46 games, which included time at receiver the first couple of years in Tuscaloosa. That potential will likely get his name called on day one or early on day two of the 2020 NFL Draft.