Raiders rookie scouting report: CB Keith McGill

Thearon W. Henderson

Keith McGill, CB, Utah (Round 4, pick 116)

Stats:

Keith McGill began his collegiate career as a free safety at Cerritos Community College. His freshman year, he recorded 24 tackles, one forced fumble and four interceptions. The following season he was named Southern California Football Association Northern Conference Defensive Player of the Year with 37 tackles, five pass breakups and seven interceptions.

The standout safety then transferred to Utah as the 11th overall player in the Rivals.com Juco Top 50 Players. After starting at free safety for the first five games, he suffered a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him the rest of the year. The shoulder required surgery thus causing him to miss the entire 2012 season in rehab. Last year, McGill switched to cornerback where he started all 12 games. Despite it being his first year at the position, he led led the PAC-12 with 12 pass breakups to go along with 37 tackles and one interception.

Size:

The 6'3" and 211-pound cornerback was tied with Stanley Jean-Baptiste as the tallest at the position in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has great length with long arms (33 1/4") and huge hands (10 1/4") that make his overall height even more impressive. That excellent size and length allows him to physically match up with most any wide receiver in the NFL. He fits the big mold that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have made so popular in the NFL of late.

Athleticism:

He ran a decent 4.51 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, but where he impressed most was his leaping ability, posting a 39-inch vertical jump (ranked third out of all cornerbacks) and a 10'9" broad jump that was second to only Pierre Desir.

Here is an interesting experiment that shows just how big and athletic McGill is. I will combine the height, arm length, hand size and vertical jump of Keith McGill, Richard Sherman and A.J. Green to see who can get higher up in the air on a jump ball.

Measurables Keith McGill Richard Sherman A.J. Green
Height: 6'3" 6'3" 6'4"
Arm Length: 33 1/4" 32" 34 3/8"
Hand Size: 10 1/4" 9 3/4" 9 1/4"
Vertical Jump: 39" 38" 34.5"
Total Elevation: 13.125 feet 12.895 feet 12.843 feet

Man Coverage:

He is very good in press as his strong hand punches throw off the timing between the receiver and quarterback. Because of his impressive combination of size and athleticism, not many receivers are going to beat McGill on a jump ball.

One of the most important traits a cornerback can have is loose hips. McGill has very stiff hips and does not turn easily. This was on display when he recorded the worst 3-cone time (7.29) of any cornerback at the combine. At Utah, McGill tried to make up for this by lining up at a 45 degree angle; this way, he could flip his hips faster. But that won't work in the NFL against extremely quick wide receivers.

Until he loosens up his hips, the talented corner will be limited to covering larger receivers because they are generally not as quick. Stick him against a shifty receiver like Brandin Cooks and McGill will be screwed.

Here is an excellent example of McGill covering a tall receiver. BYU receiver Cody Hoffman (#2) is 6'4" and signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent.

Zone Coverage:

McGill did not play much zone in college because he could get away with playing man. But in the NFL where cornerbacks don't get away with poor hips, he will have to quickly pick up zone.

"He needs to work in a over 2/3 scheme," said former SDSU Assistant Coach Alex Ramirez. "Cover 2 allows him to jam and work flat to curl. Cover 3 allows him to open up early and keep things in front of him. Bad hips won't be exposed as much."

While loose hips are the most important trait in man coverage, foot speed rules in zone coverage. By foot speed, I mean how quickly McGill can break on the ball. Luckily for him and the Raiders, he has pretty quick feet and fast reactions. He has the athletic ability to be effective in zone, now all he needs is the coaching.

Run Defense:

While McGill did have 37 tackles in 2013, most of them resulted from receivers that caught the ball and were immediately tackled after the catch. He struggles at open-field tackling (because of his hips) and often gets caught lunging. A good example of this is the second play in the UCLA game film. When he does make a tackle, he lacks physicality and rarely delivers a big hit.

That is a big reason why Utah switched him to cornerback in 2013. While not all good cornerbacks are effective against the run (Deion Sanders), it is certainly a benefit to have one that is.

Character:

The only off-field concern that has occured was when he was arrested with a DUI in 2012. Since then, McGill has stayed clean and currently has a one-year-old daughter. For more on his behavior, visit Levi Damien's article: Keith McGill "trying to stay clean"

Negatives:

I have already gone over most of these so I will make it quick. McGill is not a fluid athlete and has trouble quickly changing direction because of his stiff hips. He is not very physical against the run and struggles in space. Injuries are a concern, although he managed to stay healthy in 2013. While not a major concern, it is worth noting that McGill will be 25 in his rookie year.

Positives:

While I harped on the negatives throughout the scouting report, do not be discouraged Raider fans; McGill has a ton of upside. He has the best combination of size and athleticism of any cornerback taken in the draft. With the exception of Calvin Johnson, he will rarely be beat in a jump ball situation. If the Raiders teach him the basics of zone coverage, he could make an impact his first year. If McGill develops looser hips, I guarantee he will be a Pro Bowler because with loose hips, excellent size and great athleticism, he would be able cover almost any receiver in the NFL.

Pro Comparison:

Brandon Browner, CB, Patriots

"Think Brandon Browner of the Seahawks. He's a big kid, but with significant off-field issues," said NFL.com's Mike Mayock.

Both cornerbacks have excellent size and athleticism, even though they suffered from stiff hips coming out of college. Browner contributed to the Seahawks Super Bowl run as a member of the "Legion of Boom" (Seahawks secondary). While could improve his hips even more, he has loosened them up to the point where he is an effective cornerback. If McGill can do the same, he could become even better than Browner.

Final Verdict:

Keith McGill was a good value in the fourth round. While he is raw and needs improvement, he has the potential to be a stud. He will likely sit behind D.J. Hayden, Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers next year. But both Rogers and Brown are only signed to one-year contracts. If both leave the team, McGill could find himself starting opposite of Hayden in 2015. Hayden has great hips and could matchup against quicker receivers while McGill takes care of the giants.

Here are some highlights to get you excited Raider fans.

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