Stephan Denmark 6’ 3” 220 lbs CB #10
Valdosta State won the Division II college football championship this year in a nail biting defensive battle over Ferris State 49-47. It was the frouth overall football championship for the Blazers and their first since 2012. One of the reasons they won was because of a converted wide receiver named Stephan Denmark.
Denmark has only been playing as a corner for two years and is as raw as a prospect can be. He is a superior athlete, not just for Division II but for the NFL also. His pro day workout numbers were great except for the agility numbers which is about what you would expect from a 6’ 2 1/2” player. His broad jump would have been 7th best at the Combine, and his vertical would have tied Miles Boykins for best overall. Add to that his arms measured at 33 3/8” and a wingspan measured 79.0” which gives a huge tackling and catch radius.
His tape is like watching a man against boys and can get almost comical the way he just abuses some of the players he plays against. Here he is in two plays. In the first he is in coverage. The best way to cover a guy is to just push him off the face of the planet I guess. He literally pushes him almost through the sideline. To be honest I think that is the best press man coverage I have ever seen.
The second play he is mirroring in man coverage and comes off his man to make a wicked tackle. There are a number of tackles like this when you watch his games. Players come to a screeching halt when he hits them.
The second set of plays are nearly identical to the first set of plays. He pushes his man to the sidelines in coverage and makes a thunderous tackle.
I show you these to prove the first set were not a fluke.. and the receiver in the second play in the flat just gets crushed.
The next play is a corner blitz that he times pretty well. I like the fact that we comes in and makes a wrap tackle instead of just throwing his body at the RB.
Another nice thing is he didn’t get overanxious and jump offsides. The technique on the tackle is a new version of the wrap tackle that has been around for a few years. The player throws himself at the ball carrier, and as he grabs him he rolls his body over. By doing this he uses his momentum along with his body weight to make the tackle. As long as he holds on there is no way the RB can keep his feet.
I won’t even comment on the next play.
He feigns a blitz and again just pushes the guy out of bounds. I think it’s comical. The WR even falls down like some old comedy movie. It looks like he barely pushes him.
The next video has 3 plays on it. In the first he follows a WR from the numbers on one side of the field and makes the tackle past the hashes on the other side of the field.
The next two plays he is in coverage, sees the play in front of him, avoids the block of his WR and bulldozes the guy into the turf. The last play he is in coverage and comes up on a wide receiver screen. He gets there so fast he is by the blocker before he can make it out there. He tackles the WR for a 3 yard loss.
The next play is just good coverage from a guy who is just faster and stronger than anyone else on the field. He presses the WR down the sideline and maybe out of bounds. He is in the hip pocket of the receiver when the QB loses his mind and throws up a duck off his back leg that a child could have caught.
He makes a nice return and breaks two tackles in the progress. He just seems to me to be like a kid in the park who is playing with much younger kids and dominating them.
The second (night time) play is the (I don’t know) technique as he is in terrible position, but that is how confident he is against these teams. He will have to be much more sound technically in the NFL.
For a player who only played defense for two years he is a pretty sure tackler. Some of these tackles are just crushing blows. He still has a lot to learn as a CB though. In the first video he is in a pedal, but he needs to drop his chin down. He is too high although he does a nice job of “click and close” on the play.
This last video is his best play technically speaking. He is head up on his man but for some reason decides not to put a hand on him. He is able to take the inside path and continue to push his opponent to the sideline. This makes for a longer throw and the QB has to throw over him.
Now for some insane reason the QB looks up, sees his WR is covered like a blanket, and decides to throw the ball anyway. Denmark does a really nice job mirroring the receiver and gets his head around while keeping the receiver on his back. The catch is a little rough considering he is a former receiver, but he got the job done.
He seems like a smart kid in the interviews I have read, and he had a lot of teams at his pro day (no the Jets were not there). These are some excerpts from those interviews:
Asked if he had conversations with any teams at his pro day:
Asked if he had any team visits (one of 30 each team gets):
“I had top-30 visits with the Browns and Steelers. I worked out privately for the Saints, Titans, & Cardinals. I’ve had some discussions with the Dolphins, Redskins, Eagles and Colts. I might still make a top 30 visit to Indianapolis.”
Asked about the transition from WR to CB:
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition. It was challenging at first, but I just have to keep working at it. I have to continue to perfect my craft.”
Asked if his track and receiver backgrounds helped the transition:
“The receiver aspect helped me a lot. When I line up, I have a pretty good idea of what the receiver is doing based off my history as a wide receiver. Track helps with the speed of course. I’m running backwards now instead of forwards. I’ve always been a runner. It’s natural. Backpedaling was a bit of a transition but that background definitely sped up my learning process.”
Asked about the D-II experience:
“It’s not what people think it is. There’s a lot of good players at the D-II level. I had D-I offers coming out of high school. I went D-II because I felt it was better for me at the time. Most people look at it like a bad thing but I took it as an opportunity I can really focus on, especially going through a position change. I don’t think the gap is as large as some people think. Football is still football. I was still playing against some excellent athletes.”
Asked why a team should draft him:
A team should use one of their draft picks on me because they’re getting an excellent athlete. I can’t wait to come in and work hard. I’m gonna put my head down and get to work. I have great ball skills and my best football is still in front of me. I’m gonna be a great team player.
I have had this kid on my UDFA players to sign list for about 3 months, but there is no way Stephan Denmark is going undrafted. I think he will probably go in the mid 6th round if I had to guess, and he might make a team. He is the perfect practice squad guy you hone for a year or two then get him into a game. With his speed and tackling ability he will make for a great special teams guy while he learns his trade.
The possibility that this kid develops into a top two CB on any team is remote, but he does have skill. That in my opinion is the best use of 6th and 7th round picks. You get a guy with skills or athletic traits. Then you hand him over to your coaches and see what happens.
Some may think that a pick on a Division II kid is a waste, but one of my favorite non-Jets players of all time was Jessie Tuggle, a five time Pro Bowl LB for the Falcons. He is a Valdosta State alum and stayed in Georgia to play for the Falcons.
I like the kid Denmark and his film was a hoot to watch so I think he is worth a shot.
What do you think?