Kendall Sheffield, the Falcons’ 2019 fourth-round draft pick, brings speed and athleticism to the secondary. Let’s diagnose the skill set of the former Ohio State Buckeye.
Imagine a collegiate career where you’re able to suit up for Nick Saban as well as Urban Meyer as your head coaches. It would mean the transfer from one university to another, of course. For cornerback Kendall Sheffield, it was his fate during his three collegiate seasons in the FBS ranks.
Starting out as the No. 3 cornerback in the class of 2015, Sheffield donned the Crimson and White during Alabama’s 2015 National Championship campaign. Unfortunately, Sheffield had to redshirt that season and was off to Blinn College the next. Once the 2017 season rolled around, Sheffield moved on to Ohio State, and from there, became the newest member of the Atlanta Falcons during the 2019 NFL Draft. Time to dissect the skill set of Sheffield and why the speedster is an intriguing addition.
Kendall Sheffield Scouting Report
Weight: 193 pounds
Career stats: 75 total tackles, 15 pass deflections, two INTs, two forced fumbles
Games watched: 2017 vs. Indiana, 2017 vs. Michigan State, 2017 vs. Wisconsin, 2018 vs. Maryland, 2019 vs. Washington
Strengths: Speed, speed, speed, athleticism, and speed. If I needed a quick synopsis of Sheffield’s game, that would be my summation. Sheffield, a two-sport athlete with track experience, broke Ohio State’s 60-meter dash record with a time of 6.6 seconds. So there is no question that Sheffield has the pure speed that can translate to the NFL.
On film, Sheffield displays fluidity in his change-of-direction and is able to accelerate out of breaks. In man coverage, Sheffield is able to mirror receivers without being hands-on thanks to being one of the best pure athletes on the field. He has shown notable improvement during his career with his footwork. When able to contest catches, Sheffield fights through the receivers hands in a textbook manner. Sheffield shows no signs of timidness when it comes to getting physical with receivers. Sheffield also earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors for his 2018 season.
Weaknesses: Overall technique shows plenty of rawness with only two seasons of FBS play under his belt. Ball skills are a combination of key elements and I am not enamored with his ball skills as of yet. Sheffield shows a tendency of not locating the football when in the air, which plays a part in his ball skills. Play recognition and instincts appear to be a tad slow at times, especially when in zone coverage. Did not test at the NFL Combine due to a torn pectoral muscle during his bench press reps.
Conclusion: This is purely an upside pick by the Falcons. Sheffield was the 111th overall prospect selected and the first of two fourth-round selections for Atlanta. There were a number of cornerbacks available at that spot who either had the Falcons’ eye during the pre-draft process (Isaiah Johnson, Jimmy Moreland) or would’ve been excellent value selections (Amani Oruwariye).
But I would be foolish if I did not say that Sheffield provides plenty of intrigue and promise. I see why some were scratching their heads with the pick. I also see why the Falcons see elite promise with Sheffield. It’s obvious that he needs plenty of seasoning and coaching from the Falcons defensive staff to reach his full potential.
Even at this very moment, without even playing a game, Sheffield is the best athlete at the corner spot for the Falcons and without a doubt the fastest. Those traits alone will get him on the field. If Sheffield is able to show refinement, the Falcons will have a future starter and possible Pro Bowler on their hands. He will likely see time on the boundary and occasionally in the slot. Sheffield has more than enough promise and with patience, could be a dynamic weapon in the secondary.