Credit should be given to University of Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Since he took over the ACC program in 2016, there has been apparent improvement for Virgina. The Cavaliers were a 2 team when Mendenhall took over in 2016 but this past season, they pulled down 9 wins and an Orange Bowl berth.
During that time, player development has also been impressive, and especially on the defensive side of the ball, largely because of Mendenhall’s defensive background. The machine has produced another solid, well-rounded defensive prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft. Luckily for the Atlanta Falcons, he comes in the form of a polished cornerback.
Time to take a look at former All-American corner out of UVA, Bryce Hall.
Bryce Hall Scouting Report
Weight: 202 lbs
Career stats: 154 career tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 38 pass deflections, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four sacks
Games watched: 2018 vs. N.C. State, 2018 vs. Duke, 2018 vs. Miami, 2019 vs. Notre Dame, 2019 vs. Florida State, 2019 vs. Pittsburgh
Hall was a four-year starter at corner after entering the Cavaliers program as a two-star receiver out of Pennsylvania. Hall earned first-team All-ACC and second-team All-American honors after a stellar 2018 season in which he produced career-highs in tackles (62) and pass breakups (21). In terms of size for today’s NFL, he checks that box with a solid height-weight-length dimension. During his time at Virginia, Hall has displayed the capability of thriving in a variety of coverage schemes. Hall is a physical corner who is not afraid to mix it up with receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Because the Falcons often used Cover-3 scheme, his length and instincts allows him to be a natural fit. When observing the play while in off coverage, Hall instinctively reacts efficiently and prevents pass plays from being completed. You will also note on film his sharp footwork while in transition as a corner, which is a plus for big corners such as himself.
If you like a corner with ball skills, you will be very fond of Hall’s skillset. While he may not have sparkling interception numbers, Hall finds ways to make a play on the ball when he’s in ideal position to do so. Hall also sticks his nose in the opponent’s run game and has very good tackling efficiency. While at the University of Virginia, Hall was voted team captain and became a refined prospect on and off the field.
An ugly broken ankle in the middle of the 2019 season ended the year prematurely and prevented him from participating at the NFL Combine. Medical reports have recently surfaced and stated that Hall will be 100% by training camp but it is still wise to keep an eye on his rehab going forward. Hall is a bit of gambler at times and every once in a while will give up a big play. While possessing quality NFL size, Hall’s play strength has room to improve.
Long speed as a defender is still somewhat of a question mark. On film, Hall has shown the ability to cover deep routes and hold his own but in many cases, it’s due to getting enough press on a receiver which slightly reroutes the receiver. So recovery speed for him if he so happens to get beat needs to be diagnosed a bit, because it’d undoubtedly happen at times in Atlanta.
Quality cover corners in the NFL are pretty rare around the league and are known to be coveted commodities in the right circumstances. While it is noteworthy that the Falcons decided to move on from a former starter at the position this offseason, it is also noted of how important it is going forward to find the right piece to the puzzle.
Prior to his season-ending injury in 2019, Hall was considered one of the best defensive backs in all of college football. Preceding the 2019 season, Hall was also considered a first round lock. The injury has impacted his draft status but once healthy, Hall is more than able to develop and be a major player for the Falcons defense.
One of my favorite prospects in the entire draft, Hall’s talent is worthy enough of grabbing him in the mid-2nd round and allow him to take on the likes of Mike Evans and Michael Thomas within the NFC South. His potential is evident and his ceiling makes him a likely shutdown corner in the NFL.