Everyone knows the Chargers need a Corner in the upcoming draft. There's more to just "getting a guy that can play the position." The Chargers need a playmaker, they need someone who is aggressive, and can make plays on the ball. From a pure football standpoint, there's no better corner, at least in my opinion, better than Kyle Fuller.
The biggest knock on him is his health. Fuller dealt with a sports hernia throughout his Senior Year at Virginia Tech, and finally aggravated that injury in November. He had surgery to fix a core muscle injury and that caused him to miss the Senior Bowl. He also dealt with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss time as a junior.
Back to the field and what makes him the top corner in the draft.
Where He Excels
The biggest area where Fuller excels is his route recognition and instincts. When you watch him, it seems like he knows what routes are coming. He's very aggressive. He's constantly sitting on routes. He understands the depth of the drops the Quarterback takes, or where the sticks are, and uses it to his advantage. His instincts don't just show in the passing game, Fuller is one of the top corners in the draft in run support. He does a good job of sniffing out reverses and reacting quickly to screens. Fuller is an ideal secondary run defender.
Some corners are limited to playing press coverage, some are limited to off man. Some corners can't play man, others aren't aware enough to play zone. Fuller is scheme diverse. There are no limitations to what scheme he can excel in. Fuller can play on the outside on an island, or line up in the box and guard tight ends 5 yards off the ball. Fuller is a very "easy" mover, he's a good, not great, athlete who has no issues flipping his hips and turning and running either way. In zone coverage, his ability to read the Quarterback is above average, he's very aware, and does a good job of finding work.
Above is a good example of Fuller flipping his hips, showing the acceleration to recover, and using his long arms(32 7/8") to make a play on the ball.
In man coverage, Fuller shines, for many reasons listed above, as well as his ability to stay patient at the line of scrimmage in press coverage. You see a lot of guys lunge, and over extend. From there they are beat instantaneously. Fuller is patient, he doesn't try to kill you, he mirrors your route, stays in your hip pocket, and is able to break up the pass, due to his long arms and ball skills. Fuller plays with pretty sound technique for the most part. By in large his footwork is very good, occasionally it gets him in trouble.
Above is a good example of Fuller sitting on the route, flipping his hips, and finishing the play.
Both plays above where Fullers outstanding route recognition. The 1st showed his ability to click and close. The second showed his ability to read routes. The receiver subtly widened his route, that showed his hand by telling Fuller it's a comeback route. Fuller's route recognition is outstanding.
What Might Hold Him Back
The aggression will get Fuller in trouble at times, sometimes he'll guess wrong, and he'll be a few steps behind the receiver, whether vertical or in/out breaking routes. That's the only real issue, is sitting on routes, but that's also his strength. You can scheme around these, and that's why he fits in San Diego. The biggest issue is on the injury front. Is he worth a 1st round pick? Will you be able to get a full season out of him? That's the risk, it's a ton of talent to pass up.
|Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10||8.5 – 9.0|
|Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round||8.0 – 8.4|
|Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round||7.8 – 7.9|
|Reliable Starter, 2nd Round||7.5 – 7.7|
|Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round||7.0 – 7.4|
|Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round||6.5 – 6.9|
|Productive Backup, 5th Round||6.0 – 6.4|
|Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round||5.5 – 5.9|
|Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round||5.0 – 5.4|
|Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round||4.5 – 4.9|
|Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations||4.0 – 4.4|
|Change of direction/Feet||3||2.8|
Fuller grades out to an 8.32, or a very good player at the next level. He has every skill you look for in a corner, and best of all, he doesn't make mental mistakes. While injuries are certainly a concern, he's arguably the best corner in the draft. At the combine he ran a 4.40 twice, unofficially, putting any speed questions to rest. If he falls out of the 1st round any team getting him is getting a steal.
How He Fits with the Chargers
I mentioned his habit of jumping routes. The Chargers don't play a lot of Cover 0, with no safety help over top. In fact, there's a lot of 2 high safety looks, making Fuller as good a fit as you can ask considering the chances he likes to take. Because Pagano likes to mix up coverages, Fuller would be in a position to excel in San Diego. His ability in the run game would certainly benefit San Diego as well. Fuller would be the best corner on the Chargers in a matter of games.
Thanks to draftbreakdown.com for providing the videos.