Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #11 – Buffalo Bills – Leodis McKelvin

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Buffalo Bills are on the clock and they’ve obviously got quite a few needs.

They’re not wasting much time. They take Leodis McKelvin of Troy, the consensus best corner in the draft.

Scouts, Inc.: 9th

Strengths: Is a fluid, smooth and explosive athlete. Displays very quick feet and leverage in-and-out of pedal. Shows good technique and footwork in coverage. Explodes out of his pedal and typically gets a very good jump on the ball. He displays outstanding quick-twitch athleticism and change-of-direction skills. Can keep with quicker WR’s on double moves and also shows the hip-fluidity and closing burst to turn and run with faster receivers on vertical routes. Is one of the elite PR prospects in the 2008 class. One of his three touchdown returns in 2007 came versus Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State. The 74-yard scamper (14:10 remaining in the 2nd quarter) shows the type of vision and breakaway speed he possesses.

Weaknesses: Is a finesse cover corner. Does not like to support the run and will avoid contact if at all possible. Plays a lot of man-off coverage and needs to improve his ability to press WR’s at the line of scrimmage. Bigger WR’s usually can dictate their routes. Despite outstanding experience in the return game, he displays marginal ball skills. He knocks down too many passes he should pick off. Fights the ball too much as a PR, as well. Really needs to improve his hands in order to reach full potential on defense and in the return game in the NFL.

Overall: McKelvin arrived at Troy in 2004 and immediately contributed as a kick return specialist and reserve cornerback. He didn’t start in his first two seasons (2004-’05), but he played 23 games and had 47 tackles (including one sack), six pass breakups and an interception (which he returned 71 yards for a touchdown). Over his final two seasons (2006-’07), he started all 25 games at left cornerback for the Trojans, recording 126 tackles (3.5 for losses), five forced fumbles, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups. For his career, McKelvin also had 112 punt returns for 1,471 yards (13.1 average) and seven TDs, plus 99 kickoff returns for 2,346 yards (23.7 average) and another score. He suffered a left shoulder sprain during the offseason in 2005 and underwent surgery for a right ankle fracture in 2006, but he missed no games as a result of the injuries. McKelvin is still a work in progress at cornerback and he will never be an overly physical defender. In addition, he needs to improve his ball skills in order to maximize his enormous potential as a playmaker with the ball in his hand. However, McKelvin is one of the fastest and most fluid cornerbacks in the 2008 class. He’s also the second-most dangerous punt return specialist behind Cal’s DeSean Jackson, which should propel him into the top half of the first round.

Rick Gosselin: 11th

Mel Kiper: 19th

Once again, Kiper is the outlier. This looks like a solid pick to me.

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