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2020 NFL Draft Profile: LSU CB Kristian Fulton

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Should Elway nab an SEC shutdown corner?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU
Fulton is about as battle tested as it gets.
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

In the modern NFL, passing is king. That’s why average quarterbacks make $20 million or more and teams have little problem paying it. Successfully moving the ball is the surefire way to a winning season.

Stopping the pass is also the key to fielding a competent defense. Vic Fangio knows this. At the Combine he spoke about the desire to add cornerbacks in any way he could and how important it was with the way offenses have moved to featuring three receivers as their base offense.

While A.J. Bouye was a worthwhile move to shore up a hole for the departing Chris Harris Jr., questions remain. Bryce Callahan played as many regular season snaps for the Broncos as I did, while De’Vante Bausby landed on Injured Reserve with a scary neck injury.

If the season started today, there’s a pretty decent chance that Isaac Yiadom would start on the boundary in Denver’s nickel personnel. While he improved down the stretch, it’s worth noting that Fangio had so little faith in Yiadom, Duke Dawson, and Davontae Harris that he altered his defense to have Harris chase opposing number one receivers.

More talent is needed, which certainly helps explain the Broncos’ reported meeting with LSU’s Kristian Fulton.

The Tiger has all of the makings of a shutdown corner.

Scouting Report:

  • Good athlete with very good hip turn, good feet and body control. Toolsy.
  • Very good competitive toughness, played at a very high level through ankle injury in 2019.
  • Elite “instincts.” Shows the mental acuity and short memory to thrive at corner.
  • Solid play strength; he’s a pest when he presses opponents and will hold up in run defense.
  • Very good mirroring; he’s a shadow on the opponent in trail.
  • Solid ball skills; he’s going to fight you at the catch point.
  • Comfortable with back to ball and will play receivers eyes/hands.
  • Very good in soft press, comfortable and effective in tight quarters.
  • Solid in press, short arms place a ceiling but with refined technique should improve here.
  • Solid in run support, will squeeze to help and a capable tackler.
  • Will leverage the ball back to the defense and shows good angles in pursuit.
  • Good range, has the speed and fluidity to stick on his assignment deep downfield.
  • Will need to get less grabby at breaks as these will result in DPIs at next level.
  • Alpha receivers with size/length/strength could play bully ball with him due to shorter arms. This could present itself in red zone plays.
  • 2017 suspension needs to be investigated.
  • Ankle injuries in the past that need to be vetted.
Fulton’s physical tools are obvious.

What I’ve heard/read:

PFF Draft Guide - Mike Renner

The tape isn’t without some flaws, but you don’t dominate SEC competition the way Fulton has over the past two years without some serious talent. He’s plug and play into any scheme in the NFL.

Kristian Fulton CB LSU - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Jordan Reid

Because of so much turmoil during the earlier portions of his career, Kristian Fulton was a bit of a late bloomer, but he came into his own during the ladder portions while in Baton Rouge. Fulton is the prototypical press man corner in a heavy man-to-man scheme. He still has strides to make as far as playing the ball in the air and improving his play strength, but if he’s able to improve in those areas, he has the makings of being a high-end starter on the next level. Because of his upside and the tools that are already present, he will become a potential top-25 pick. All of Fulton’s flaw are correctable with proper coaching, but some patience must be shown in order to reap the benefits of what turns into the final product while his development continues its course.

Kristian Fulton CB LSU - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Kyle Crabbs

Player Summary - Kristian Fulton is a terrific cornerback prospect, primarily for press man or bump and run heavy coverage defenses. With Fulton’s long frame, he’s not at his best when leveraged over top of routes but if provided the chance to play in phase and attack targets from the hip, Fulton is a high end cover corner with excellent mirror skills, physicality, length and tackling. Fulton hasn’t found much in the way of ball production, but he’s also a blanket in man coverage who often won’t get tested.

Kristian Fulton CB LSU - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Benjamin Solak

Kristian Fulton is a quality Day 1 outside corner candidate who is scheme-transcendent at the NFL level. Fulton’s best deployment is in the press, where he played comfortably for multiple seasons in Dave Aranda’s LSU defense. Fulton is an impossibly balanced and controlled corner who wins with smooth transitions, quick-twitch athleticism in tight areas, and great timing closing space on routes to all three levels. Fulton has delightful ball skills with his back to the football and enough speed to squeeze top receivers down the field without losing phase, and has ideal reactionary quickness and play recognition to win in a Cover 3 zone responsibilitiy. Fulton’s biggest weakness are his average play strength and accordingly inconinstent tackling, but he projects as a Year 1 starter with Pro Bowl potential in his future.

5-Play Prospect: CB Kristian Fulton | The Draft Network

Ruggs is one of the fastest players in all of college football, and LSU asked Fulton to cover Ruggs for 10 seconds. I don’t think you all understand how hard that is. That’s Henry freaking Ruggs, and Fulton played man coverage on him for 10 seconds. It doesn’t matter if you win with speed, slickness or size, Fulton’s game can play you well. He has the skillset to match and stick with any receiver. Overall I was very impressed with Fulton. I still think Greedy Williams is the better prospect, but Fulton is a top cornerback in this class, and any team who plays their cornerbacks in man coverage will love this guy at the next level. He could be the Day 2 steal of the draft, depending on where he ends up getting drafted.

NFL Draft & Combine Profile - Kristian Fulton | NFL.com

Press-man cornerback whose 40 percent rate of completion as an LSU Tiger may not tell the entire story as an NFL prospect. Fulton has good size and is usually searching to make plays on the football. He plays with decent eye balance in off-coverage but can be a tad late with response time. Once he gets behind he tends to stay behind against multi-breaking routes and his long speed and recovery burst are below average. Fulton showed improvement throughout the year, but his confidence has been an issue at times. When the pros and cons are balanced, he appears to be a good backup with a chance to work up the ladder.

Kristian Fulton suspension: NCAA reportedly reinstates the LSU DB - SBNation.com

In 2017, Fulton tried to cheat an NCAA drug test. He got caught. In February of that year, Fulton took an NCAA-mandated test for performance-enhancing drugs. What happened then is not in dispute: Fulton admits he tried to cheat.

Why he fits

Even if you’re the most optimistic Broncos’ fan out there, it’s got to be pretty obvious that the roster could use a young shutdown corner to groom. Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell are two of the better DB coaches in the business and so now is the time to get the most out of a selection with upside at the position.

Well, that’s Fulton to a tee. He’s as battle-tested as you’ll find in this class after thriving for two seasons in the SEC against players like Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Jerry Jeudy. He’s versatile enough to play in press or off, and he has the kind of raw athleticism and instinctive play that suggests his best play is ahead of him.

With the Kansas City Chiefs’ aerial circus is a solid road block between Denver and AFC West titles, there is a need for corners who can cover players like Tyreek Hill. Fulton shows all the signs of being able to do that in short order.

Fulton could be the next great Broncos’ corner with Fangio’s guidance.

Final Thoughts

I’ve gone back and forth on Fulton and TCU’s Jeff Gladney for my CB2 in this class. I love both, and if the Broncos come away with either I’ll be ecstatic.

Poll

Should the Broncos draft Kristian Fulton?

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  • 80%
    Yes!
    (276 votes)
  • 20%
    Nope.
    (69 votes)
345 votes total Vote Now