Could Pierre Desir be the Answer at Cornerback?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Breaking down the final big upside player of the day, small school CB Pierre Desir

One of the better stories, and better people in the draft, Pierre Desir is a very intriguing player if you're in need of a corner. At the Senior Bowl, I was able to catch up with him for a few minutes. Desir is a very soft spoken, yet confident guy. Here's how he stacked up compared to other corners at the combine. I've used his vertical and 40 yard dash from his pro day.

Measurable Desir Average CB at the Combine
Height 6'1 5'11.2
Weight 198 192.47
Arm Length 33 31.51"
10 yard Split N/A 1.53
40 Yard Dash 4.52 4.5
Bench Press 11 14.5
Vertical Jump 38" 36"
Broad Jump 133"(!) 121"
3 Cone 6.86 6.89
20 yard Short Shuttle 4.3 4.16
60 Yard Shuttle 11.6 11.43

It should be noted that these are average numbers over the years, as Desir's 60 yard shuttle was the 5th fastest time among corners this year. No question he has the lower body explosiveness. Desir came within 2 inches of having the longest broad jump of any corner in the history of the combine.

Because he was rarely tested in 2013, for obvious reasons, Desir is a guy that I really paid attention to at both all star games. At the all star games, he was no far and away the best player on the field. So I combined that with the limted games he has available, and that's how I formed my grade for Desir.

Where He Excels

  • Ball Skills
  • Awareness
  • Short Area Quickness/Closing Speed
  • Very Fluid, especially at his size
One thing that stood out in Desir's 2013 tape, was his ability to attack the ball in the air. You wondered if he was the receiver at times. He has about 5 whole minutes of him showcasing impressive ball skills in this highlight film. Highlights certainly don't tell the whole story. But in the 4 games I viewed, his ball skills were very impressive, whether he was playing press man coverage, or off zone coverage.

His awareness was another trait that stood out. Understand route concepts and breaking on the ball was something Desir excelled at. He also showed he could diagnose screen plays and quick passes well.

Desir improved his back pedal dramatically from the last game of the season, to the all star games. He mirrors well, and stays low in his pedal. Having relied on his athleticism, it's clear that Desir has some technique issues to work out. But the fact that he was able to clean some of them up in a couple of months is a credit to how hard he works and how the arrow is pointing up. As the week went on in Mobile, Desir got more confident, and his talent started to surface.

These are a 1-on-1 drills, against one of the best route runners in the country, in Jared Abbederis. It's not flashy, but highlights Desirs ability to mirror, as well break at the stem of the route. Any time you get a contest catch in a 1-on-1 drill, it's a win for the defense.

Desir_medium

Desir is a fluid athlete. He's very fluid for a player his size. This allows him to get in and out of breaks, turn and run both horizontally and vertically without losing any speed. Along with his length and quickness, he's able to hide some of his deficiencies.

Desir2_medium

The length is evident, and Desir usually does a good job of initiating contact, allowing him to be disruptive at the line. There was a play during practice I remember, when Desir jammed tight end Marcel Jensen into the ground.

Where He Can Improve

  • Run Fits
  • Eye Discipline
  • Clean up His Footwork
Desir isn't what you'd call a primary run defender. There were occasions when he was asked to funnel the run play inside, and didn't get the job done. With his size, you'd like to see him become more physical and aggressive in the run game. He just didn't seem very interested in mixing it up on running downs.

During both all star practices, Desir was victim of double-moves a handful of times. These were by guys that quite frankly shouldn't be beating him. This is where he'll have to clean up his footwork, and not rely so much on athleticsim. It didn't work at the all star games, and surely won't work in the NFL.

His issues to me are pretty clear in his footwork. He can get flat footed in his back pedal, this causes him to take extra steps in and out of his breaks. It's a fixable issue, but something that needs to be addressed. He showed that he's cleaned up this issue, but still has a ways to go before you'd say he has quick feet.

Grade/Final Thought

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
Non-Draftable < 4.0
Skill Weight Grade
Long Speed 2 1.7
Closing Speed/Acceleration 2 1.7
Ball Skills 3 2.9
Eye Discipline 2 1.4
Strength 2 1.6
Athletcism 2 1.8
Route Recognition/Instincts 3 2.6
Tackling/Run Fits 2 1.3
Cover Skills 4 3.7
Change of direction/Feet 3 2.6
Desir grades out to a 7.67, which makes him a reliable starter. Likely just outside a top 50 talent. There's no question he has the ceiling to be a 1st round talent. It's just a matter of how quick he can fix the hiccups in his game, like cleaning up his footwork and technique. He has the ball skills, awareness, and length to be very disruptive. He's also scheme diverse, which you can't say about most players his size.

How He Fits as a Charger

Desir is comfortable playing off man/zone coverage. His awareness allows him to play faster than his actual time, and he is good at breaking on plays in front of him. In 4 games that have been made available, Desir was targeted 19 times, and allowed only 5 completions. In those 19 targets, he had 3 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups. This came from playing predominantly off coverage. I initially had issues with Desir riding receivers too far and out of his zone, but he's cleaned up this issue to where it's not as big a concern.

He's likely best suited in press coverage, where he can use his length to be disruptive, but the same can be said in off coverage about his length, making Desir a good fit for what the Chargers do on defense. It's tough to imagine how high he will go. Not cracking the 4.4's likely keeps him out of the 1st round, but anywhere from the mid 2nd to the 3rd is where I see Desir going. Will Telesco take the "risk" on a higher ceiling guy who needs developing? We shall soon find out.


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