2020 NFL Draft | Prospect film session with Texas WR Devin Duvernay


In today’s Prospect Film Session, I sat down with Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay to talk about his breakout game against LSU during his senior season. He wasn’t the most productive wide receiver at Texas leading up to his senior season but that all changed after he hit career highs — up to that point — in receptions (12), yards (154) and touchdowns (two). He went on to catch 106 passes for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019.

To start today’s interview, I wanted to find out what led to his breakout season in 2019. I asked him what he did differently going into his senior year that led to this massive breakout in production:

“I just continued to get better at my game and continued to sell the coaches that I am someone who can be counted on. I just worked hard and showed the coaches that I can be a threat that can get out there and help us win games”

His own preparation and work to show coaches that he belongs out there is only half the equation though. The Texas coaching staff moved Duvernay into the slot prior to the year and wanted to get him on the field more as a senior. I asked him why they made that position change for him and why they had the urge to get him involved in the offense and how those preseason conversations went with the coaches:

“Yeah they moved me to the slot position in the Fall camp and I gained the coaches’ trust. They saw what I was doing all Fall camp and they saw that they could do some things with me in the slot with the match-ups that I would have. Credit to the coaches and them seeing what I could do that led to the big season for me last year.”

My final question before we get the film was about how well rounded he is as a prospect. He had the production but he also was a team captain and an academic all-American in college. I asked how important it was for him to be great not only on the field but also in the locker room and in the classroom:

“I was just handling my business like a grown man would. Coach always told us how you do one thing should be how you do all things. Taking care of business in the classroom would lead to taking business on the field. As a son and as a parent — one day — I just took that lesson to heart and made sure to take care of my business in all aspects of my life. If you mess up in class then you are probably going to mess up on the field and not be reliable.”

So before we jumped into this film against LSU, I had to ask Duvernay specifically about the preparation for the game. LSU has a ton of talent on their defense and I was curious as to what they saw on film in prep for the week and how they were able to put up the high point total that they did in that game:

“We knew they were good athletes and we knew they would play a lot of man and they were confident in themselves. Knowing that, we knew that we would have to be prepared for that and win our match-ups to take advantage. Watching film, we saw what we were good at and saw what we could do to expose them and just worked those plays to perfection in practice. We watched a lot of film on personnel and were confident in what we could do to put up points and move the ball against a good defense. We had a good game and I wish we got the win but the preparation was pretty good going into that game.”

Clip 1

This first clip is actually a compilation of three plays from this game where Texas got the ball quick to Duvernay in the quick screen/slant game. I asked him if a point of emphasis to attack LSU’s aggressive man coverage with the quick game was part of their film study leading up to the week:

“Yeah for sure. We knew they played a lot of man so if we got that look we would run a quick screen or something to get one on one blocking on the edge to get me a one on one with a defender. We knew those would be good plays for us against their type of defense. With the slants, it was just about beating the man quickly, getting across his face, and knifing up field to get what you can get. We knew those would be quick easy plays to get about 10 yards and keep our offense in rhythm.”

I had one more question about these plays and that was whether these quick hitters were the call coming out of the huddle or if they were hot reads based on what they saw from the defense as they got to the line:

“A lot of these were RPO’s so it was just Sam (Ehlinger) reading the defense. We have a good rushing attack so we had the threat of running but if we had good numbers on the outside, we were getting the ball out there and letting the receivers do what they do best.”

Clip 2

This next clip was probably my favorite one of the season for Duvernay as he leveled eventual Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit in the open field. I asked him how it felt looking back to see him make a play against such a good defender and also if this was the play that sparked his breakout game so to speak:

“It was real cool. These are the types of games where you want to show up and impress against big time teams. You want to show off your best so yeah that was a pretty exciting moment. Just to play against such a good team, you want to perform well and do everything to help your team win. In regards to the play though, it’s just making a play out there and playing football. I try to do that every game either juking defenders or running them over.”

The best part about this play is that this isn’t a rare siting for him on his film. Duvernay levels defensive backs as he is an absolute tank to bring down in the open field. I asked him about that ability and if he particularly looks to run over defenders in open space:

“Yeah I know most defensive backs are going to be lighter than me frame wise so I know I can take advantage of them. When I see a guy in front of me, I’m just trying to make a play. It can be from juking or running them over, I’m just trying to make people miss and create yards in whatever way possible.”

Clip 3

This next clip isn’t the most traditional route run. I asked Duvernay what exactly this route was called and what landmark he is trying to hit down the field on this play:

“We called it a spread route. It is kind of an inside over route to get across the field and find the window and for the quarterback to hit you. It is more of a feel route rather than hitting a landmark. It’s all about getting downfield, getting into that window, and making yourself available to the quarterback.”

With this being more of a zone-beater play and not a traditional route, I wanted to know what his eyes were like on this play. I asked him what he was reading on this play to find that perfect window:

“It’s all about seeing the coverage as a whole and seeing what that backer is doing. If he tries to overplay me, just slip underneath and work back vertical. If he stays inside like he does on this video, get behind him and around 10-12 just end it and try to come flat across and make a play in that window.”

With his move to the slot, he faced a lot of different coverages than he faced the years prior. On the outside, it is more man versus man and winning against press while the slot is more finding areas in the zone and beating off man. I asked him what is the most essential part of being a good route runner from the slot:

“It’s all about seeing coverage. In the slot, you are going to work more windows. You see more linebackers and safeties compared to the outside where you are seeing corners all game. It is all about seeing that coverage, making sure you know what is going on on the defense, and finding windows to make a play.”

Clip 4

This next clip, I thought I saw a hot read before the play that had Duvernay come under the inside slot receiver on a quick rub route that led to this big play. I asked him if this was the case and also if this is a type of play they liked to use against man blitzes:

“This was the play-call going in. It is one of our man plays though. We ran this play quite a bit and it was great against man and even better against man blitzes.”

On quick hitters like this or any route that requires timing, the connection with the quarterback is so vital. I asked Duvernay how his connection was with Ehlinger last year and why that connection is so important between the quarterback and the slot receiver:

“First off, our connection was great. I could rely on him and he could rely on me and that’s the type of connection you need to have with your QB especially in the slot. You have to have that connection and be on the same page and see the same thing. If someone is blitzing and he wants to check and hit a hot route, it is very important we are on the same page there or it can be a shit show out there.”

Clip 5

The last clip we looked at here was another spread route but this time it was in the red zone rather than in the middle of the field. I asked Duvernay if this route changes up much according to where you are on the field or if the concept generally stays the same:

“It is still more of a feel it out type of play where you get behind the linebacker and in front of the safety. It is all about being friendly to the quarterback really. Find that window, get your head back to the quarterback, and let the quarterback get the ball into that window.”

I had one final question for Duvernay before I let him go for the day. We know he is a well rounded player on and off the field and he had insane production as a senior. I wanted him to tell me though exactly what my team is getting if they spend a draft pick on him in this loaded 2020 WR class:

“Just a tough, dedicated, and reliable player that is going to hold himself and others accountable to get wins and bring intensity every game and practice. A big part of football is bringing intensity and aggression and also love what you are doing. You just have to bring it day in and day out and that is what a team would be getting if they draft me in this class.”