+Lean, elite build
+Phenomenal ball skills
+Quarterback of his defense
+Crazy long arms
+Above average instincts against the run
-Takes unbelievable gambles in coverage, and gets away with it more often than he should
-Average power and toughness (though has improved here)
-Could do a better job of fighting off blocks
-Mediocre change of direction skills
-Although much better compared to junior year, strength is still only average
Tulsa safety Dexter McCoil is one of the most underrated prospects of the draft. He has tons of athleticism and potential, and could very well be a late round steal in this year’s draft.
McCoil has ideal measurables. He has unusual height for a safety at 6’4, ideal bulk at 222lbs, and good speed with a 4.52 40 yard dash. It doesn’t look like he’s moving that fast on film, but he is a long-strider who covers much more ground than you would expect, plus he has elite recovery speed and quickness. He also has a great build and clearly has a high muscle mass.
McCoil has phenomenal stats. He has 17 career interceptions (gotta be in the FBS top five among active players), and has had 3 80+ tackle seasons at Tulsa to date. He also deflects tons of passes thanks to his freakishly long arms and terrific recovery speed. He is very productive statistically.
McCoil is solid in coverage. Whenever he is targeted in coverage, Tulsa fans hold their breath. One of two things will happen: he will come out of nowhere and make a spectacular interception or play on the ball, or he will allow a touchdown. To be frank, he gambles a lot in coverage, and there is absolutely no way he should get away with it as much as he does. I’ve seen him take one insane risk twice. Cover 2 zone. He is (or at least supposed to be) in a deep zone, while the corner is in an curl zone. The wide receiver runs an out, while the slot receiver runs a go/skinny post. Each time, the corner wasn’t in great position to cover the route (bad jump on the route). Both times, McCoil noticed that the quarterback had his eyes locked onto the receiver running an out route. He decides to jump the route and help his corner. He jumps the route with miraculously good timing, right as the quarterback throws the ball. Each time, if the quarterback had used a simple pump fake or waited half a second to make the throw, he could have hit slot receiver for a 60-80 yard touchdown. I don’t really know how he gets away with this stuff (no one is that good at reading the quarterback’s eyes), but he needs to learn to be more careful. He’s just playing with fire. Beyond being too aggressive, he is marvelous in coverage. As a junior, he was easily the most impressive combination of range and size I had ever seen, even among NFL players. A guy who is 6’4 shouldn’t have been able to accelerate the way he did, plus with his incredibly long arms and amazing flexibility, he could defy logic with the plays he made in coverage. As a junior, he could recover from mistakes unlike any safety I have ever seen. He added 20lbs of bulk senior year (he needed it, and it was well worth it), so he’s back down to earth from an athleticism standpoint, but still, he is a terrific athlete with awesome range in coverage. He also has phenomenal ball skills. He has not nor will he ever drop a pass, and his shocking quickness and deceptive recovery speed give him an awesome ability to simply emerge from nowhere and make a pick. It doesn’t even matter if the quarterback sees him if he underestimates him. He is a sight to behold in pursuit of the ball and is guaranteed to force many turnovers if given playing time in the NFL. He is also very good at reading the quarterbacks eyes. He also is really good at breaking up passes, constantly ripping the ball out of the hands of receivers (major plus), and I haven’t seen him commit a pass interference penalty, yet his is still pretty physical in coverage. Plus, his instincts are pretty ridiculous, because he needs to be able to predict the future to consistently get away with the overaggressive decisions he makes. I swear, his decisions almost never have bad results. I don’t know how he does it, but, at the college level, he is a huge difference maker in coverage (also a good fit to cover the Jimmy Graham’s of the world), and, if he can reign himself in, he could do the same thing in the NFL.
McCoil is good against the run. You know how I said that he was an off the charts athlete as a junior? That’s because he probably wasn’t 200lbs. He looked like a twig. A fast twig, but a twig. He bulked up, and for good reason. As a junior, he looked scared when he had to tackle someone, and he had no strength, but he has made tremendous strides in this area since getting to 222lbs. He appears to have more toughness than before, as well as solid strength, and he uses ideal tackling fundamentals (namely, his long arms) to bring guys to the turf. He can make tackles in traffic too. Still, his strength isn’t elite by any stretch of the imagination (he’ll miss a tackle here and there), he occasionally doesn’t play until the whistle, and he needs to improve his fundamentals for getting off blocks. But his instincts against the run are very good, he takes effective angles to the ball, and he has terrific range against the run. Overall, he is an asset in this area.
I really do like McCoil. I think he is one of the most underrated prospects of this draft class (John Boyett and David Bass are up there too), thanks to his combination of size, length, instincts, and ball skills. He could be the steal of the draft, a late round pick with pro bowl potential. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
NFL Comparison: Thomas Decoud, but more of a gambler in coverage. Dashon Goldson makes sense too.
Grade: 80 (worthy of a late second to early third round pick)
Projection: 42 (will be a late sixth round pick)