Games Watched: vs Alabama, North Carolina & Marshall
Size: Kyle Fuller measures in at 6 foot tall and is currently listed by Virginia Tech at 194 pounds. This is the ideal size for the modern NFL cornerback. Whilst Fuller is shorter than the likes of Richard Sherman, he is perfect for the way the cornerback position is moving in the NFL, with the focus being on big physical players. 8/10
Tackling: A lot of cornerbacks in the NFL are averse to contact and are not particularly willing tacklers. This is not Kyle Fuller. Fuller is a very physical player who likes to hit receivers. On the majority of plays, Fuller will engage the oncoming ball carrier with good technique and wrap them up, however on occasion he can focus on the big hit. This type of thing can be the death knell of players in the NFL as coaches will see them as unreliable. Thankfully this is a rare occurrence in Fuller’s game. 7.5/10
Agility: Fuller is an agile corner who has the ability to flip his hips and change direction when tracking his receiver. As a bigger cornerback, Fuller can at times be caught out by a smaller receivers ability to change direction very quickly. In general though Fuller’s body enables him to change direction smoothly and maintain his coverage of a receiver. An area of Fuller’s game where he excels is coming out of his backpedal and accelerating towards the ball, this is particularly evident in the run game and when he is utilised in zone coverage. This kind of urgent athleticism is a huge plus point for him. 8/10
Ball Skills: Fuller has solid ball skills and has registered two interceptions so far in his senior season. He also had two picks as a junior. During the games of Fuller’s that I’ve studied, he has the ability to make plays on the ball when given the opportunity. This is further evidenced by the ten pass deflections Fuller made in seven games as a senior. 7/10
Completion Rate: Fuller doesn’t give up many passes due to his aggressive style of play. When a ball is completed on Fuller it is typically a smash route when he is in off man coverage or on a deep ball. Fuller is comfortable taking his receiver over the middle of the field and staying with him. When playing in a zone coverage scheme, Fuller’s quick snap from his backpedal means he doesn’t give up much. 7/10
Coverage: At Virginia Tech, the Hokies ask a lot of Fuller in coverage, they use him in both man and zone regularly and in all honesty, Fuller is more than comfortable in both. Fuller has the ability to mirror his receiver’s moves in man coverage, either from a press position or playing off his receiver. In the games of Fullers that I have studied, he rarely is beaten by his man on anything other than a simple go route and this is down more to speed rather than his ability as a cover corner. 8/10
Awareness: Fuller’s awareness is one of his best qualities. He is very quick to diagnose what the offense is doing and is then able to act upon this and make the correct decision. An area where Fullers awareness and football IQ really shines is in zone coverage, he is able to patrol his particular zone and attacks any passes thrown his direction. Fuller also is very intelligent in how he navigates traffic when attacking the ball carrier on running plays, often this is a criticism of many corners in how they play the run. 8/10
Range; Fuller has the ability to close on the ball very quickly and covers a lot of space when moving laterally or forwards. In the games I’ve watched there are several times where the ball is in the air and Fuller locates the ball, closes on the intended receiver and makes a play on the ball to stop the completion. By being able to locate the ball in the air, Fuller is allowed to move without hesitancy and stop the completion. 8/10
Run Defense: Fuller is a very willing run defender; this is something that separates him from a lot of other corners, both in this class and in the NFL. Having a cornerback who is willing to set the edge on a run play is a big advantage at the next level as it gives defensive coordinators the freedom to use pass rushers from a variety of levels without compromising defending the run. Fuller generally takes the correct angle when face to face with a runner in the open field. This is an underrated aspect of his game and one that makes me believe if teams don’t believe in his long speed as a corner, he could potentially transition safety at the next level. The only real knock on Fuller is that he sometimes struggles to shed blocks from bigger receivers. 7.5/10
Speed: Long speed is my one issue with Fuller when he transitions to the pro’s. The one route he struggles with in particular is the 9 route, if he cannot jam his man at the line of scrimmage, he does struggles to stay with them down the field. When the ball is in the air, he does display good recovery speed and closes on the ball quickly. That said, when moving with receivers on crossing routes or slants, Fuller sticks to his man and doesn’t display a lack of speed. The 40 yard dash at the combine will do a lot to dispel this notion that Fuller doesn’t have the long speed to play corner in the NFL. 6.5/10
The main concern with Kyle Fuller is that he will be starting the draft process with an injury, battling to be fit for the Senior Bowl.
One extra thing that Fuller brings to the table is his value as a special teamer, at Va Tech he played on punt coverage teams and on field goal blocking units. In the game I watched against Marshall, Fuller blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown and got his fingertips on a field goal attempt that ended up going wide.
Bloodlines are something that NFL GM’s certainly take into account and Fuller comes from a family that has had a lot of sporting success. He has two brothers who have played in the NFL and another brother who currently plays in the same defensive backfield at Va Tech.
75.5/100 = Late First/ Early Second
In conclusion Fuller is one of my favourite prospects in this year’s draft, mainly due to his propensity to be around the ball and make plays that really impact the game. Fuller is a very impressive physical specimen with long arms and an aggressive style of play. My main concern with Fuller is his propensity to being beaten deep due perhaps to a lack of long speed. There are however just too many things that I love about his game, like his physical style of man coverage and his willingness to play solid run defence. I think come draft season, Fuller will likely end up as an early second round pick with the potential for one of the smart teams drafting in the late first to fall in love with him.