Scouting TCU’s Jeff Gladney, one of the most talented cornerback prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
The wide receiver class in the 2020 NFL Draft has the potential to be one of the most prolific classes of all time. Teams will be drafting receivers early and often with the possibility of upwards to five taken in the first round alone. This influx of talent at the receiver position will force NFL front offices to take long looks at their current secondaries and to add impact players like TCU’s Jeff Gladney in this year’s draft.
Jeff Gladney is a four-year starter for TCU and has been praised throughout his college career for his physicality on the field and his head-turning athleticism. He’s a true leader in the locker room and it is clear he has gained the respect of his coaches and fellow teammates. The Associated Press awarded Gladney first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2019 as well as awarded him second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2018.
At 6-foot, 183 pounds, Gladney has a slender frame but that does not stop him from playing aggressively and maintaining his physicality with larger receivers downfield. There are times when he can be overpowered by taller receivers which can be frustrating, especially when he puts himself into the correct position to make a play because he knows what needs to be done but he doesn’t have the intangibles to make it happen.
It is noted, however, that even with his frame Gladney is a willing and effective tackler in both the run and passing game. He rarely misses in the open field and is excellent at taking away the sideline against ball carriers.
While Gladney lacks the ideal height and frame, he makes up for it with his techniques and ball skills. Gladney’s hips are smooth like butter and the way he mirrors his opponent’s routes downfield is a thing of beauty. Throughout his college career, Gladney had 37 pass break-ups and 5 interceptions in 44 games.
So many times while watching his film, you can see Gladney will tip the ball into the air for his teammates only for it to fall harmlessly to the ground. In the NFL, those tipped balls will lead to many more interceptions for the defense due to the higher levels of athleticism and I would not be shocked if he earns the connotation as a takeaway specialist as a pro.
Overall, I expect Gladney to thrive in man to man coverage due to his excellent athleticism and elite football IQ. However, that’s not to say he wouldn’t produce in a zone-based defensive scheme as well although that may diminish some of his best qualities as a player.
Gladney has a chance to step in a be high-quality corner from day one with an exceptional ceiling but might never be able to develop into a truly elite cornerback due to his smaller frame and height.
Draft Round Prediction: Late 1st/Early 2nd
Team Fits: Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs