The 2023 NFL Draft may not have a lot of blue chip talent at the top, but the cornerback position is very deep with several projected starters. Tyrique Stevenson has the upside to be a starting cornerback with some positional versatility.
Stevenson was a four-star recruit out of Miami Southridge High School in Homestead, Florida, where he was the third-ranked cornerback and the fourth Floridian in the 2019 recruiting cycle. He took his talents to Athens, Georgia.
He played the Star position in Kirby Smart’s defense at Georgia; the Star is a hybrid nickel/safety spot, but Stevenson wanted to play outside cornerback. Stevenson earned the Co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year award in 2019. However, the disagreement on his employment, along with Stevenson missing home, prompted a transfer to Miami.
Red Flags: Missed one game in 2022 with concussion. Missed one game in 2021 with a right shoulder injury. Shoulder injury led to right shoulder off-season surgery to repair a torn labrum and ligaments. Was also arrested and charged with disorderly conduct while at Georgia.
Games Played: 46, started 26
Tackles for a loss: 6.0
Forced fumbles: 0
Passes defensed: 24
Games Played: 11, started 11
Tackles for a loss: 1.5
Forced fumbles: 0
Passes defensed: 9
Best: Length/size, man coverage, zone eyes on intermediate and deep concepts, recovery speed, disruption at catch point, physicality as tackler, Not grabby in man
Worst: Feet at LOS, some hip stiffness, transitions from off-leverage, overall discipline
Projection: Stevenson is a press-man coverage cornerback with upside if he becomes a more disciplined overall player
Stevenson is a long physical press-man cornerback with good overall athletic traits. He’s a long strider who quickly accelerates to cover grown once his gait his open. Despite false-steps at the line of scrimmage in press, he does a good overall job to disrupting receiver’s releases with his jam. Heavy handed with solid placement; does well to quickly turn and stick to receivers hips vs. inside releases, and uses good positioning (off/inside) to squeeze receivers who release outside closer to the sideline.
A Clemson wide receiver attempted to get physical with Stevenson in press, and he quickly found his way on the ground (Q2, 13:07, first-and-10). Stevenson is a non-nonsense corner when he employs his jam - he’s looking to dictate the terms to the wide receiver with authority. When his jam isn’t timely or is off-target, he does a solid job recovering to get back into phase in man coverage.
Stevenson is a good man coverage defender; he could iron out his mirror-match ability at the line of scrimmage, but he’s still effective in that area. However, his off-man isn’t as crisp. Despite his 1.49 10-yard-split, his burst out of breaks is only adequate, and he leaves a decent amount of space between him and the receiver when outside. His transitions out of zone technique (butt to sideline) are similar; they’re not a huge issue with his profile, but they’re not the smoothest.
In press-bail, Stevenson waits till the snap before executing his leverage, giving him a heads-start on mid-pointing the No. 2 receiver if he is executing a match-principled defense. He uses his eyes well in those situations.
I do appreciate Stevenson’s processing against two-man route concepts in the intermediate and deep parts of the field. He narrowly missed an interception against Pitt (Q2, 12:55, third-and-2) when he was a cover-2 zone flat defender reading a smash concept; he undercut the seven route and just missed the pick. He intercepted Georgia Tech on a post-wheel where the wheel was wide open; he diagnosed the play, and undercut the wheel fifteen yards down field for the turnover.
I had some issues with Stevenson’s processing and eyes in the Clemson game near the line of scrimmage on two screen plays, but overall he’s a smart defender who leveraged his processing and length to disrupt the offense in critical situations.
Speaking of disruption, he’s excellent and getting his off-hand into the catch point - maximizing his length - to bat balls down. Stevenson is a nuisance at the catch point. He’s tough, harassing, and brings the boom to unsuspecting receivers. He could have had more interceptions if his hands were slightly better.
I love how physical Stevenson is when he’s squared up to a target for a tackle. He uses his tackle radius well and brings the necessary level of physicality to the tackle point, but he doesn’t always come to balance, which is one reason why he had a 17.1% missed tackle rate in college. However, when his technique is dialed in, he has some very impressive tape in run support.
Stevenson played significant snaps outside, in the nickel, and as a safety when he was with Georgia. Some may believe he’s better off as safety, but his first attempt at an NFL career should be at cornerback. He does a good job handling man coverage responsibilities from a press-man alignment, and there are plenty of NFL teams who still value that skill-set. He’s not polished yet on the outside, but he only played two collegiate seasons there.
Overall Grade: 7.5
Stevenson has some positional versatility to move around if he’s open to the idea. He has the upside to start year-one in a press-man system where he can utilize his physicality and coverage skills to harass and blanket receivers off the line of scrimmage. Stevenson gives receivers little room to operate, and his press-technique can still be refined.
He’s not as smooth as other corners in the class, but his transitions are sufficient for an NFL cornerback. He could operate in sub-packages early in a hybrid-role if he does not earn a starting spot outside. However, I think he would eventually earn the role of a starting outside cornerback.The Giants should be interested in a player with Stevenson’s skill-set, and defensive backs’ coach Jerome Henderson would help some of the issues that were on his tape.