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2019 NFL Draft Prospect David Long CB Michigan

Strong Man to Man corner for Greg Wiliams

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

David Long CB 5’ 10 5/8” 196 lbs Michigan #22

Long played his high school ball in Calfornia and considered many West Coast schools to attend including USC, Stanford, and UCLA among others. He was recruited by Jim Harbaugh who pulled out all stops to reel in this 4-star recruit, climbing a tree.

Because this was 2016, Long, apparently quite tickled by the stunt, captured the moment on his Snapchat:

Jim Harbaugh climbed a tree tonight on his visit to elite 4-star CB David Long

— The Victors News (@TheVictorsNews) January 19, 2016

About 12 hours later, I’m still unsure why Harbaugh was climbing a tree. Initially I thought Long Jr. might have a treehouse up there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

For some reason this amused Long who is no dummy. He graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA but for whatever reason it worked, and Jim Harbaugh had his man.

Long is not a tall CB, but he uses his size wisely in press man coverage. He likes to get under the chin of taller WRs to stymie them on their release. Here is an example of his physical style of play.

He gets his hands on the receiver and rides him throughout the entire route. This receiver is 6’ 2” 217 lbs. Long manhandles him but lets him go at the 5 yard mark and still maintains control of the receiver. This is a ball that should have never been thrown as the receiver is blanketed, and there are three defenders in the area. Another look at the same play from a different angle gives a clear view of this play.

You can see the press coverage at the snap. This is something that Long excels at. Long stays in the hip pocket of the receiver all the way down the sideline and is in perfect position to make a play on the ball.

This next play is in a zone coverage look that Michigan disguises as press man coverage. Michigan was getting killed by Notre Dame on QB runs in this game as the receivers were running the CBs off the line, and the LBs were getting caught up on blocks.

Long plays this QB keeper really smart. There is an ILB forcing the play from the inside so Long doesn’t need to press the issue. He maintains great field leverage against the QB who is going laterally towards the sideline. Long keeps him moving that way until he runs out of room and knocks the QB out of bounds for a 12 yard gain. On this play you see Long moves quickly to outflank the QB, maintain great leverage and make a sure tackle.

This next play isn’t a wow moment but it shows great awareness by Long. This is a case where Long was in man coverage but had a safety over top in coverage as well. He could afford to be aggressive, and he was in this case.

Long reads the QB on this play and saw the receiver in his area. There was a miscommunication between receiver and QB, but that doesn’t take away from Long being smart enough to read the play and make a huge turnover for his team. Michigan had the #1 pass defense in 2017 and 2018. and much of that was because of Long and his counterpart Lavert Hill.

From another angle this play unfolds...

With over coverage this allows Long to watch the eyes of the QB, and he knows that the TE Mike Gesicki is one of the QB’s favorite targets. Long lets the WR Johnson go by him so he can concentrate on the TE who is filling the zone the WR is creating by going deep. Gesicki reads his coverage as a ILB sitting on his curl route so he broke his route off deep. The QB never sees Long. He throws the ball to a spot he felt Gesicki would be but was wrong.

This last clip is of Long against a 6’ 4” 220 lbs receiver who he dominated this entire game. The offense tried to throw over top of Long and also tried slants.

Long is just a great CB in this Draft who is getting no love at all. He is considered a small CB at 5’ 11 but he plays taller and anticipates very well. He is a tough kid who will bully receivers who are a 12 foot taller than him.

Long has elite physical traits and ran a 4.45/40 at the Combine. He also had the best time of all DB’s in the 3-cone drill and the 20 yard short shuttle. This means he has great short area quickness. He also bench pressed 225 lbs 15 times, which is more than good for a CB. He jumped 10’ in the broad jump.

Long played exclusively outside as a collegian but shows the short area quickness to play in the slot. He is not the greatest tackler, and playing outside gave him few opportunities to prove me wrong. He had a mere 39 tackles in his 24 games played in his two years at Ann Arbor. He is originally from California but has spent two years playing in the cold in Michigan so he should be acclimated to most winter environments in the NFL.

In 2017 he had the lowest catch rate 31% on catchable balls than any other CB in the nation, and his 11.9 passer rating when targeted was also #1 for returning players in 2018. He allowed a miniscule 0.17 yards per covered snap an odd stat) which was best in the nation. His 90.0 PFF grade was the best of any player in the power 5 conferences. He had 3 INTs and 12 passes broken up in 24 games at Michigan.

My Draft grade on him is a mid 2nd round

He gets top marks for coverage, speed, agility, intelligence and character.

He gets dinged slightly for his size (a little small for the NFL), his ball skills (only 3 INTs in 24 games), and being a little pensive (slow to react) in zone coverage. He played 24 college games at corner and will need NFL coaching to compete in the pros.

Although I have a relatively high grade on Long, he seems to be given very little love in the Draft community. Given the depth of defensive players and the need for offensive players I feel that some lower graded offensive players will be selected (because of need) ahead of Long. This might allow a player like Long to slide down in the Draft.

Bottom line on David Long is that he is a great talent who is underappreciated by the Draft community. He is a press corner who would be a steal as the Jets’ second third round selection. I think David Long is a stud as a press corner, and Greg Williams will like him too.

What do you think?