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Film analysis: CorDale Flott, the next Giants’ nickel defensive back

Let’s look at what the third-round pick offers Wink Martindale

LSU v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The New York Giants selected LSU cornerback CorDale Flott with the 81st pick (tihrd round) in the 2022 NFL Draft. Flott was predominantly a slot cornerback for the LSU Tigers. He aligned 357 times in the slot, 178 times at outside cornerback, 42 times in the box, and 21 times at free safety during the 2021 season.

He has just less than 800 career snaps as a slot defender in the SEC; Flott is still 20 years old with good height but has a thin wiry frame at 175 pounds, and he’s a bit high-cut in the waist.

Flott has a respectable RAS score and shows good athletic traits on tape. Flott recorded 40 tackles, 16 STOPs, one tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, an interception, and five pass breakups in 2021. He finished his three-year LSU career with 98 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 13 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one pressure, with 33 total STOPs. Flott only recorded one interception during his college career.

The Athletic compiled a list of consensus big board rankings from the draft media landscape. New York deviated from consensus throughout Day 2 of the draft. According to the chart, Flott was the second-biggest reach behind San Francico’s selection of LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price at No. 93.

Joe Schoen’s opinion matters more than consensus big boards, and he commented on his excitement to select Flott.

“CorDale Flott is a guy we liked out of LSU, athletic kid, versatility, play inside, outside...I think position one, ideally, he’s inside, but he can play inside and outside. He has height, and he does have length. And again, the kid is 20 years old.

“So still young, still developing. Three-year guy at LSU that played in a really talented backfield and a good conference.

“We’re excited. He’s got really good movement skills to play inside, but with the size and length, can play outside as well.

It’s exceedingly apparent in Flott’s tape that he is uber-confident, which is a very desirable trait for a defensive back. Flott is First-Team All-Chirp; he has no problem scolding wide receivers who fall victim to his skills.

Flott accesses the receiver’s hip from an outside leveraged position and physically plays through the catch point. To be fair, the throw was behind and not great, but Flott still disrupts the catch, forces the interception, and then teeters the line of drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Flott is lean, but it’s realistic to believe he’ll add some weight with his young age. He’s an athletic and versatile secondary piece with upside and the necessary temperament. Let’s get into his film.

[CorDale Flott is No. 25]

Physical

Flott is underweight, but he plays with tenacity and grit, making him appear larger than his 175-pound frame suggests.

[Over inside WR, top of screen]

Flott engages the No. 2 wide receiver from a reduced offensive formation while moving laterally with an aggressive two-hand jam. He initially leans a bit but brings his feet quickly to match his hand engagement; Flott gets his hands into the receiver’s chest and flows laterally to expand the receiver’s release outside the numbers, showing physicality and confidence in his technique while keeping an eye on the quarterback.

Flott isn’t a player with a potent hit stick, but he can generate solid force with momentum coming downhill. This was his forced fumble in 2021; he takes a great angle downhill and stays square to his target while exploding into the receiver’s midsection. Flott gets his helmet on the football, and it comes loose. A physical, competitive, athletic play.

Flott displays a well-timed Charles “Peanut” Tillman punch against Missouri to force a fumble on this third-and-7. That is a confident move that requires precision. An excellent opportunistic play from a young player.

[Over No. 2 receiver, top of screen]

Flott is aligned over the No. 2 WR in the 3x1 set. He smoothly enters his backpedal in a two-high - middle of the field open - defense, with his eyes on the quarterback; he sees No. 83 drag underneath the clear out. Flott does a great job planting and driving downhill, taking an angle towards the receiver’s outside hip while delivering a big hit at his hips to bring him down easily. Flott throws his weight around and plays with more power than typical 175-pound players.

[On line of scrimmage, bottom of screen]

Flott is aligned up near the line of scrimmage against the stack look outside the hashes; he stays close to the hip of the out route from the wide receiver off the line of scrimmage, but the flat pass is completed; this prompts Flott to fly downhill and wrap the tight end low, below the waist. Flott is surrendering almost 70 pounds on this hit, and he still shows some stopping power here.

[Over inside WR, top of screen]

UCLA gets funky with a different approach and attempts to isolate Kyle Philips (2) - a very crafty WR - in space. Flott comes downhill and spills Philips outside towards the sideline, where Derek Stingley Jr. (7) was restricting space while engaged with a block. Flott goes underneath the block and undercuts Philips for a minimal gain.

[Free safety, middle of the field]

Flott is aligned at free safety on this fake quarterback power - running back seam - play designed by Dan Mullen’s staff. Dameon Pierce (27) was underused in Gainsville, but he was hit on three passes like this in 2021. Flott bites on the fake power, and Pierce is open up the seam. Flott does an excellent job cutting Pierce’s angle off and positioning himself upfield to slow Pierce down. Pierce goes for the juke, and Flott hits him low for a tackle.

[Cornerback, top of screen]

This play may not be as physical as some of the other hits, but it shows his aggressive, willing nature in run support. He is the last contain defender who is in the middle of the field, and he does a great job setting outside the wide receiver’s block. Other LSU defenders bounce the running back’s path towards Flott, who flies into the tackle point low and wraps the ball carrier up at the ankles for an impressive tackle for a loss.

[Over No. 2, top of screen]

I love how Flott sheds and evades the block from Philips, who is an excellent blocking wide receiver. Flott lands his inside hand on Philips’ inside shoulder pad and then uses his outside hand to discard Philips’ block. Flott then explodes downhill and just misses the tackle on the ball carrier. Flott missed six tackles in 2021 - this being one of them; that was a 12.2 percent mark. He averaged a 12.3 percent missed tackle rate throughout his college career.

Coverage

Tackling is important, but coverage is a more essential attribute of a cornerback’s play. Flott only allowed a 51.1 percent catch rate in 2021 and a 54.8 percent rate during his college career. Flott’s 2021 catch percentage ranked 22nd among draft-eligible cornerbacks.

Flott is a fluid athlete with good hip mobility; he’s a bit high cut and can get high in his transitions, but he does a good job harassing opposing wide receivers and providing them little space to operate.

[On line of scrimmage, middle of the field]

Flott is in trail technique on this play. He does a good job jamming the tight end with his inside arm and forcing him outside while maintaining positive body position inside. LSU is in a two-high shell, so Flott rides the inside hip of the tight end, giving the quarterback little space to throw the football since he has help over the top. Good positioning by Flott.

Flott is a bit behind Philips on this inside release; he gets caught leaning into a two-hand jam and not bringing his feet with him. This wasn’t a glaring issue in his film, but one I wanted to note here. Flott does a great job recovering and riding the inside hip of Philips until another LSU defender undercuts the route for the interception. He stays right on Philips’ hip after the wide receiver’s break out of his initial stem - great ability to stay in phase.

Flott does a great job reading the quick game concept against Texas A&M. He drives downhill and plays through the catch point with violence while showing discipline in coverage to force the incomplete pass.

[Over No. 2 receiver, top of screen]

Flott does a good job quickly deciphering the offensive mesh concept from the 3x1 side. The No. 3 and No. 2 receivers head inside, so Flott matches them initially before flashing his eyes to backside threats to locate the drag route by tight end Greg Dulcich (No. 85). Flott would have blown Dulcich up if the quarterback released the football in that direction; Flott aggressively flew downhill on the backside route and then did a solid overall job repositioning himself as Dulcich angled his route upfield.

[Over No. 2 receiver, bottom of screen]

Here is another quick game concept with Flott. With a good pre-snap stance, Flott is disciplined in his slight backpedal while inching laterally to match the receiver’s release. The receiver does a good job pivoting off his inside foot to create separation, and Flott clicks and closes downhill quickly, but the catch is made.

Flott reads the quarterback’s eyes on this play. The receiver he was aligned over ran an in route, and Flott shades in that direction, but he keeps his eyes on the quarterback. Flott sinks underneath the out route and does an excellent job high pointing the football.

[Over No. 2 WR, bottom of screen]

Flott initially falls for Philips’ hard outside foot jab. Flott’s hips orient outside, but he smoothly transitions inside off his outside foot to get to the outer hip of Philips. The throw and break of Philips weren’t in-sync, but Flott was still able to position himself advantageously to disrupt the catch.

Flott carries the No. 2 receiver (bottom of screen) horizontally in Cover-1. Flott does a solid job closing inside on the receiver’s stem angled in that direction. The receiver does a very good job subtly angling upfield before breaking out across the middle; this rises Flott’s center of gravity and forces him to transition to depth rather than to match the wide receiver laterally. The move creates more separation for the receiver, but the ball isn’t thrown in his direction.

[CB, bottom of screen]

Wan’Dale Robinson (1) gets the best of Flott on this play, but it’s not entirely Flott’s fault. Flott is aligned in outside leverage against Robinson. He backpedals and turns to influence Robinson towards the LSU safety (31). Robinson explodes out of his break and creates good separation against Flott, but the young defensive back expected inside help from the safety. The safety was in position - had a little bit too much depth - but Robinson still found a way to find space and score the touchdown.

Robinson makes this catch against Flott in the slot (what do I win?!). Robinson is quick to turn into his slant and creates good separation against Flott, who - to his credit - does a good job recovering and closing to Robinson’s near hip while spinning him down to the ground.

Flott surrenders a touchdown against Texas A&M but is in a solid position to make a play at the catch point despite the receiver having significant inside leverage just after the snap. The number two receiver scored the touchdown after the motion from the outside; Flott attempts to squeeze his hand into the catch point, but the receiver does a great job protecting the ball and securing the pass through contact for a score.

Final thoughts

CorDale Flott is an athletic slot defender with the developmental upside to play outside or in deep middle responsibilities in certain situations. Flott is underweight, but he plays with a chip on his shoulder and is a tough competitor. He never shies away from contact and is a solid overall wrap and drag tackler.

Flott has the coverage skills and body control to hold up in man. He is solid at the line of scrimmage in press, and he shows enough route recognition to not fall to tunnel vision in zone coverage while doing a good job effectively executing on quick game concepts in front of him. He played with physicality through the catch point but has little tape to substantiate ball skills. Flott only had one career interception.

He fits the Wink Martindale system and is still only 20 years old. There’s a ton of potential with Flott. I am curious to see how Martindale uses him.