An interesting prospect was interviewed by the Denver Broncos last Saturday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The fact that it was another in the long list of Cornerbacks wasn’t unusual, but the fact that they are considering a Nickel Back specifically is a bit unexpected. Here is what Andrew Mason Tweeted:
San Diego State CB Leon McFadden said he met w/ the #Broncos last night. Says most teams are asking him about playing nickel corner.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 24, 2013
Of course, "Most Teams" may or may not include the Broncos, but it could mean a few things. Chris Harris jr. has proven himself as the Right side Cornerback opposite the legendary Champ Bailey and they need a replacement for him to man the slot, or McFadden is being considered for the right side and Harris will return to his role in the slot. Either way, here are the goods on Leon McFadden.
A 5’10", 193 lb. 3 year Letterman for the Aztecs, Leon is ranked 15th out of 255 Cornerback prospects and 117th overall for the 2013 NFL Draft. He participated in the Combine and set a
40 Time of 4.54 seconds. He is projected as a 3rd to 4th round draft pick in April.
#2 Leon McFadden
Born: October 26, 1990 (22)
Arm Length-32 3/8"
20 YD Shuttle-4.27
Originally signed as a Wide Receiver, Leon converted to Defensive Back full time during 2009 fall camp. He has played in all 51 games since arriving on campus as a true freshman in 2009 and is tied for the most pass breakups in program history. A three-time 1st-team All-Mountain West selection, McFadden has good cover skills. So good that opposing Offenses routinely stayed away from his side of the field. A 2009 and 2010 MWC all-academic selection, Leon also contributed on Special Teams, returning punts.
McFadden is tied for the most Passes Defensed in Aztec history. All told, he made 188 Tackles, 13 TFL’s, 3 Sacks, 47 Pass Breakups, 8 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns, a Forced Fumble and two Blocked Extra Points in 4 seasons.
As a Senior, McFadden notched 61 Tackles, 3 Interceptions (2 for a Touchdown), and 15 passes defended.
In 2011, Leon ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West for the 2nd consecutive year and 12th nationally in Pass Breakups with 17, six more than any other player in the league. He started all 13 outings, amassing 46 Tackles, 3 Tackles For a Loss, and 2 Interceptions.
During his sophomore campaign (2010), McFadden started every game at Cornerback and also served as a Punt Returner. He led the league and tied for 17th nationally in Pass Breakups per game (1.08). Leon finished 3rd on the team in Tackles with 55 and in TFL’s with 7. He was one of three Aztecs with two Interceptions in 2010.
The only true freshman to play in all 12 contests for the Aztecs, Leon started six games, including each of the first five. Named to the MWC all-freshman squad by Rivals.com, McFadden logged 26 Tackles, including at least one in every outing. He also added a Sack, an Interception and blocked a pair of extra points.
NFL.COM DRAFT GRADE-80.7
STRENGTHS: McFadden possesses quick feet, fluid hips and joints to rapidly change directions and stick with receivers all over the field. He also has the natural speed and can recover after a few false steps. He shows good awareness as a zone defender and will jump the underneath routes, but he also keeps an eye on the Quarterback, adjusting to make plays on receivers running behind him.
Leon is very competitive in 50-50 situations and won’t concede anything thrown his way.He'll use his hands to make it tough on receivers to complete the catch.
He shows good containment skills on his side of the field and has the closing speed to track down runners before they reach the sideline. McFadden has some thickness to his build and cuts down backs in space with authority and is always willing to stick a shoulder into an unsuspecting receiver.
An adept Special Teams player on coverage and block units, Leon has the hands and quickness to contribute as a Punt Returner.He has a strong resume with excellent experience and production, displaying strong practice habits and a pro demeanor.
WEAKNESSES: McFadden needs to work on his consistency and technique as a tackler to hit through the ballcarrier and wrap. Often times he attempts to make a cut tackle, which won't cut it in the Pros. He can be out-muscled by bigger receivers and his lack of size will show at times. A bit gun shy in handling blocks from lineman in the screen game. Leon is inconsistent in press coverage and struggles to always get a good jam at the line of scrimmage. Looks more natural in off-man or in space.
NFL COMPARISON: Brent Grimes (Falcons)
BOTTOM LINE: McFadden’s a tenacious three-time All-Mountain West selection possessing the strength, quickness, attitude, and ball skills required of NFL starters, even if his size is not ideal to handle the physicality of veteran wideouts.
Leon McFadden Highlights
Leon Mcfadden vs BYU 2012
There is a lot to like about Leon McFadden. He’s a fearless competitor who has a record of mixing it up with Wide Receivers. 47 Pass Breakups in 4 years just about proves that he has "shut down" capabilities. Of course he’ll need to improve his Tackling technique, but that is a coachable issue that can be resolved. Other than that and the typical need for a college prospect to "grow" into his "Pro" physique (with the help of the Strength and Conditioning coaches), he has all the things NFL teams like to see in a prospect. His 3rd-4th round projection is only because of the depth of the Cornerback position in this year’s draft. If he lasts into the 4th round, Leon would be a solid pickup for Denver.
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