New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman drafted cornerback James Bradberry in the second round back in 2016. He then made signing Bradberry a major priority for the Giants at the start of 2020 Free Agency.
With that in mind, our ears should probably perk up with Lance Zierlein compared University of Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall to Bradberry.
A senior, Hall was one of the best cornerbacks in the country in 2018, with 62 tackles, 2 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 21 passes defensed. Impressively, Hall is as highly regarded for his character and leadership as he is for his ability on the field, and while his 2019 season was cut short after just 6 games due to an ankle injury, he remains an intriguing prospect.
Prospect: Bryce Hall (CB, Virginia)
Games Watched: vs. NC State (2018), vs. Miami (2018), vs. Pittsburgh (2019), vs. Notre Dame (2019)
Red Flags: Ankle (2019)
Games Played: 42
Tackles For a loss: 9.5
Passes Defensed: 38
Forced Fumbles: 3
Best: Size, length, football IQ, leadership, awareness, ball skills
Projection: A starting corner in a zone-heavy coverage scheme.
Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall has good size and length to go with very good football IQ and leadership qualities. Hall is an active communicator before and after the snap, helping to execute more complex coverage schemes. Virginia’s defense typically played him five to ten yards off the line of scrimmage in off or zone coverage. Hall shows very good awareness, patience, and discipline in coverage, staying in phase well while not biting on double moves. He also shows a good understanding of route concepts to pick up and pass off receivers when in zone coverage. He has very strong ball skills, tracking the ball and using his length and closing burst to disrupt receivers at the catch point. His junior season he broke up 21 passes. Hall also shows a good, quick trigger when recognizing underneath plays.
Hall is a willing run defender who shows good competitive toughness in taking on blockers, as well as good technique to establish and play with leverage. He generally does a good job of positioning his hands and using leverage to maximize his size and play strength. Hall shows the ability to set a firm edge as well as shed blocks to make tackles. He also shows a very high motor in pursuit while also taking safe angles to minimize yards given up.
Virginia’s defense rarely played their cornerbacks in tight man coverage, so Hall’s ability in that area is a bit of a question mark. He is a long-legged, high-hipped corner and that will likely limit his ability to play man coverage against more athletic receivers. Hall has acceptable long speed, but lacks the elite acceleration to provide recovery speed if he is beaten early in the rep. Likewise, he would likely need to disrupt the route at the line of scrimmage to account for a lack of lower-body fluidity which limits his ability to backpedal smoothly or flip his hips and transition from a backpedal to running with a receiver.
Hall suffered a bad ankle injury while covering a punt which required season-ending surgery to repair.
Overall Grade: 6.5 - Has the traits to be a good starter, but limitations will impact his scheme fit. An early Day 2 value [Grading Scale]
Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall projects as a starter in a zone-heavy scheme. His size, physicality, and intelligence might allow him to play in man coverage shells, but athletic limitations could leave him vulnerable to some receivers.
Hall is highly regarded as a leader both on and off the field at the University of Virginia. He has been called a “culture builder” inside the Virginia locker room and is active in the community at large. On the field he shows great competitive toughness, football IQ, and is an active communicator.
Hall was a highly productive wide receiver in high school, and that shows in his ball skills as a defensive back. He shows great anticipation and instincts for disrupting at the catch point, using his length and good short-area quickness to break up passes. Hall also uses his size and instincts well as a run defender, taking on blocks on the play-side, pursuing on the back side, and triggering downhill quickly to disrupt quick screen passes.
Teams will likely be concerned over the ankle injury he suffered half-way through the 2019 season. Considering his already-limited athleticism, his prognosis could be important for his draft stock.
Hall’s character, competitiveness, football IQ, versatility, and ball skills will be attractive to every team, but his greatest value will be for teams that run a variety of zone concepts. Hall should quickly become a starter and a defensive leader for the right team.