Nestled comfortably in southern California, San Diego State University has carved out a very respectable reputation around the NFL circles. While the school is not a household name amongst casual college football viewers, it has definitely manufactured some quality NFL talent over the years. From Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk to former All-Pro La’Roi Glover, the school has gradually built themselves as a reliable hub for many NFL teams, and that continues to this day.
This draft cycle, the Aztec program was only able to produce one NFL draftee. That draftee so happens to be a productive cornerback that will help enhance the ball production in the Atlanta Falcons secondary. Today, we will dive into what Darren Hall presents to the Falcons defense as the team’s 108th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Darren Hall Scouting Report
Weight: 188 pounds
Career stats: 134 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, six interceptions, 25 pass deflections, three forced fumbles
Games watched: 2019 vs. Central Michigan, 2020 vs. Nevada, 2020 vs. BYU, 2020 vs. Colorado State
Hall is an experienced corner with 32 total games played at SDSU and two years as a starter under his belt. Hall earned first team All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2019 after being tied for first in the FBS in passes defensed with 16. He offers plenty of versatility,psych as he has experience in the free safety spot as well as boundary corner.
During his time at corner, Hall has performed well in zone (Cover 2, 3) and man coverage with his best work coming in zone, where he can make plays thanks to his polished instincts. Hall shows very good route anticipation and a number of plays produced were made where he was able to make proper reads and jumped on an oncoming pass. Hall has very sharp footwork and is able to move effectively laterally and vertically.
At the catch point, Hall is quite often in position to fight through a receiver’s hands to attempt a pass breakup. When necessary, Hall is able to drive on the ball as it is in the air and has a mindset of “this ball is mine” when it is in his vicinity. He can be physical in run support and also shows quick instincts when diagnosing those play calls also, showing consistently solid effort in that phase. Of course, what he is best known for are his ball skills. Hall is a natural hands catcher and has a “ballhawk” tag that naturally fits also.
When discussing overall technique, Hall freelances more than is desired. Hall needs to find a little more discipline in that aspect at the professional level. His frame is okay, but there is a slight concern there as he will see a lot more 210-pound or larger receivers on a weekly basis. Hall will need to improve his overall play strength.
The tackling facet of his game must also show considerable improvement, more so consistency, as he has the ability to be a reliable tackler once he fully develops. Hall timed a 4.47 at the San Diego State Pro Day, but his film does not show that long speed, so that will be question mark until he is able to answer it on a consistent enough basis.
In my final mock prior to the draft, I predicted the Falcons, taking Hall although I had him selected a little later on in the fifth round. Seeing him taken at 108th overall in the fourth round was a small surprise, but knowing his ability as a defensive back, I understood his fit within the Falcons defense.
The art of creating turnovers has been lacking for the Falcons in recent seasons. Past secondaries have lacked having the presence of defensive backs that are able to make plays in the passing game and flip the game in their favor. The Falcons were 14th in the NFL in interceptions this past season, but one-third of those interceptions came from linebackers Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun.
With Hall on the roster, the Falcons now have a defensive back in their secondary that is known for having sticky hands and is able to get after the ball with his superb instincts. Simply put, he can be a playmaker for the Falcons secondary, one who is able to make a timely turnover or two or be a true puzzle piece for an improving unit.
Refinement and teaching can go a long way for a prospect like Hall. The Falcons made a solid choice with his selection and Hall makes the Falcons secondary a tad bit better with his presence. Now to see just how much he can offer.