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Cal Football Scouting Report: Joshua Drayden

Cornering the market on corners

Now we'll have guys who can do this
Now we'll have guys who can do this
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After losing a couple of commitments in this 2016 class for one reason or another, Sonny and company pulled a new defensive back commit. Joshua Drayden, a cornerback from Dallas, is the first out of state commitment of this class. Drayden joins 2015 commit Carlos Strickland in coming to Berkeley from Dallas. Making inroads in Texas is always important in recruiting, as the state is a hotbed of talent waiting for the opportunity to play at the Division I level. Cal has had their fair share of success in Texas in the past, with Justin Forsett, Kendrick Payne, Daniel Lasco, and Steve Williams being the standouts over the years. Drayden will most likely be the last corner taken in 2016 by Cal, and he will add another piece to the depth created with the 2015 class.

Some thoughts:

  • Right off the bat, Drayden shows that he has good hips. With cornerbacks, much like Shakira, the hips don't lie, and Drayden turns his immediately while still tracking the ball and the defender. He has some excellent technique in making a play on the ball, coming down with an interception during the first play of the tape. Drayden is 5'10", so his positioning is going to be crucial against bigger receivers. He looks to have the speed to keep himself in that good position.
  • I like how Drayden plays the pass, keeping square to the line while keeping his peripherals on the receiver. An issue with a lot of our corner play is not seeing the ball when it goes up, leading to face-guarding, which leads to pass-interference penalties. Drayden doesn't get turned around which makes for a good defender at the position.
  • Drayden stays disciplined in his zone, especially in the cover 2. Playing up on the outside receiver and looking for flat routes is something that is absolutely necessary in the Pac-12. UCLA repeatedly killed the Bears on those little swing routes, and other teams will run similar plays until the defense can prove that they can stop it. Having guys who can play up in that cover 2/flat zone defense will help give us a passable defense.
  • This guy has a lot of interceptions in his film at this level. That's nice to see, especially for a junior who is going to improve. I'm not sure of the last time that our secondary could consistently produce turnovers like that. 2008 may be the last time
  • Drayden looks pretty solid in his returns off of interceptions. He has the potential to be a punt returner, but I doubt that will be his first priority. Whoever is the light blue quarterback in his tape is almost throwing him the ball directly on some of these and Drayden is going after the ball like a padded Labrador retriever.
  • Drayden's reaction time is pretty striking from this film. The change of direction from seeing the ball to making the play is pretty close to instantaneous. The play starting at 1:19 showcases this, where he jumps a quick slant route and knocks it way up for an easy interception. The instincts for a talented cornerback are definitely there.
  • There's some good press skills from Drayden shown in here, with plays where he isn't afraid to turn and run with the receiver. His positioning is excellent on the fade routes, to the point where it takes the receiver out of the play. He uses his hands well without holding, forcing the receiver to take extra steps in order to get by him. This throws off the quarterback's timing with the receiver, usually forcing a bad pass.
  • Drayden does have some solid skills in shedding blocks to make tackles on the outside. He hits low and moves his feet, both solid fundamentals. I don't think he's as solid of a tackler as Traveon Beck, but still, a solid fundamental player. Tim Duncan would be proud.
  • Long story short, Cal is getting a cover corner. This guy has a nose for the ball, and has the instincts to put himself in the right place at the right time in order to make a play. He can just let the athleticism take over from there. Good pick up.