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2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

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Can Gladney help improve the Giants’ pass coverage?

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have a lot of needs on the defensive side of the ball.

And despite investing heavily in the defensive secondary over the last two years, one of their needs is to improve their pass coverage. The Giants struggled to generate pressure with their front four, and when they were forced to blitz to create pressure, their secondary struggled to hold up and quarterbacks actually performed better.

TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney is both athletic and versatile, playing inside and outside, in man coverage and in zone schemes. But more importantly, he brings an aggressive “dog” attitude with him to the defensive secondary. But despite those traits, he could be a sleeper in a deceptively deep cornerback class.

Prospect: Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU)
Games Watched: vs. Purdue (2019), vs. Texas (2019), vs. Baylor (2019), vs. Oklahoma (2019)
Red Flags: Meniscus (2019)

Measurables

Stats

Games Played: 44

Tackles: 146
Tackles For a loss: 6
Sacks: 1.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Interceptions (passes defensed): 5 (37)

2019 Stats

Games Played: 12

Tackles: 31
Tackles For a loss: 1.5
Sacks: 0.5
Forced Fumbles: 0
Interceptions (passes defensed): 1 (14)

Quick Summary

Best: Feet, hips, coverage, competitive toughness, play speed, pass breakups
Worst: Size, interceptions
Projection: A starting cornerback with position and scheme versatility.

Game Tape

Full Report

TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney has good size, length, and athleticism to play both outside and slot cornerback at the NFL level. Gladney has experience outside and in the slot, as well as in man and zone coverage at the collegiate level. Gladney shows very quick feet, with good knee bend and pad level to stay balanced when backpedaling. He has fluid hips to unlock and change direction with ease, as well as quick feet transition from a backpedal to driving on the ball without the need for a T-step. Gladney is able to stay in tight coverage with most receivers through most routes, both quick breaking and down the field. He has good instincts for disrupting passes, using his good vertical and relatively long arms to make up for his lack of height and high point the ball or break up passes at the catch point.

Gladney is a good run defending cornerback, setting a firm edge on perimeter runs. He shows adequate play strength against most receivers and has the ability to play through blocks. Gladney is very physical in defending bubble screens, pushing blockers back to disrupt the screen and forced ball carriers back inside to his teammates. He shows great competitive toughness in all aspects of his game and never shies away from physical play or makes “business decisions.”

Gladney is relatively undersized for an NFL corner and can have issues with bigger receivers (Collin Johnson, vs. Texas - 2019). He can be bullied when in man coverage on big recievers, as well as when trying to take them on when they are blocking. Gladney can also play too aggressively at times and cross the line from playing fast to out of control. When that happens he can let his feet get out from under him, leading to balance issues or slipping when trying to transition or change directions suddenly. Finally, Gladney does not have great ball skills, and only accounts for six total turnovers in four seasons for TCU.

Overall Grade: 6.4 - Has the traits to be a dependable starter early in his career. Should be an instant contributor on any team which drafts him. An early Day 2 value. [Grading Scale]

Projection

Jeff Gladney projects as a starting corner at the NFL level, with the experience and traits to play both outside and in the slot. Size concerns could cause some teams to view him strictly as a slot corner, either out of concern for his play against bigger outside receivers in tight man coverage or due to strict adherence to size thresholds.

Gladney is a “dog” of a cornerback and doesn’t shy away from contact in pass coverage, tackling in space, or in run defense. He shows impressive competitive toughness in all areas of his game, particularly in playing through a meniscus injury throughout 2019 (and at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine).

He has very quick feet and the fluid hips to be able to play man coverage against most NFL wide receivers, with the instincts to disrupt at the catch point. Gladney also has the good football IQ to go with the awareness and discipline to play in zone coverage schemes as well. That scheme versatility will create value and open him up to a wide variety of defensive coordinators.

Gladney will need to learn to play with more consistent control at the NFL level. His tendency to play too fast, combined with his competitiveness and physicality, could lead to defensive pass interference calls at the NFL level, as well as savvy route runners using his aggressiveness against him. However, most coaches would likely rather have to rein in an aggressive corner.