The NFL draft is just days away, and by this point each player has been analyzed, scrutinized, and romanticized by every NFL guru from Kalamazoo to Calcutta. We here at pigskinpress.com turn once again to our director of scouting Nathan Cooper to help us look deeper into the draft at some guys from the group of five that may be a real steal on draft day!
Ran track in high school and ran 10.63 in the 100 meters and 22.07 in the 200 meters
Character – A
Medical – B
2016 – Sustained a concussion against Cincinnati
2017 – Sustained a concussion during the Tulane game
2017 – Got the wind knocked out of him against Houston
2017 – Suffered a minor back injury against Tulsa
Missed most of his senior season in high school due to injury
Good recovery speed
Solid contributor in zone and press-man
Good reactive athleticism
Average transition skills
Struggles to shed blocks of better-blocking and larger receivers
Nichols projects best as a slot corner in a zone and press-man scheme. He also shows some skills and experience to be able to play safety at times and in certain situations. At USF, he has played both corner and safety. He played a lot of slot corner in off-man coverage this season, but also mixed in on the outside and at safety from game-to-game. Against Central Florida, he shadowed Tre’Quan Smith on the outside and in press for a good majority of the game. Nichols is a natural athlete with good reactive athleticism. He is small in size, but he competes and shows good toughness on every play. He shows decent run support and isn’t afraid to be physical and put his body on the line to make a tackle. Unfortunately, most times that he comes in to make a tackle, he drops his head at the POA, which has led to a few concussions during his career. He’s a good tackler, but will occasionally slip off of some due to him not always seeing what he is hitting. He fits best as a slot corner in a scheme that plays primarily press-man and zone. He played a lot of off-man, but struggles to transition and break out of his back pedal. Receivers are able to create a large amount of separation at the top of their routes due to that fact. He has a smooth, fluid back pedal and has good play speed. If he is beat off of the line, he has the recovery speed to at least get in-phase with receivers. When pressing, he doesn’t get his hands on at the LOS and usually grants receivers a clean release. He also doesn’t re-route receivers and will open up and try to follow them. He shows good ball skills at the POA, but will sometimes get boxed out pretty easily due to his size. He plays smart and with good eyes, so he is able to fall off his receiver to help out on another and make a play. That also allows him to play well in zone and at safety. He has the range to play deep and the physicality to play in the box. He should bring some toughness to special teams early on, while also competing as depth corner and eventually finding himself in the slot in dime packages.
NFL Comparison: Tavon Young, Ravens (4th Round, 2016) Nichols and Young are both small corners that play a bit bigger than they really are. Both have solid ball skills, but struggle to consistently get off blocks and transition out of their back pedal.
Grade: 5.9 (Early-Mid 5th Round)
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