Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon 2023 NFL Draft scouting report
Devon Witherspoon finished the 2022 season in elite company and truly showed why many teams will be looking to draft him in the first round. Witherspoon had an historic season for the Illini just like Chase Brown and it is no wonder they had such a successful start to the season. Now a senior and declaring for the NFL Draft we will look into why NFL scouts are so high on Devon Witherspoon.
Playing all 12 games this past season Witherspoon was elite as it gets at cornerback. He played over 700 snaps where he had 41 total tackles, 14 pass break ups, 3 interceptions and only allowed an incredible QB rating of 24.6 when throw at. The Big 10 always produces some really talented and athletic wide receivers over the years and this year is no different. Witherspoon was lockdown in coverage and allowing an average QB rating of 24.6 when thrown at is special.
Devon Witherspoon was also nominated for the Thorpe award. The Thorpe award is given to the best defensive back in the country. Devon was one of the 3 finalists for that award and he is the first finalist for the Thorpe award in Illinois history. Devon Witherspoon was also a semifinalist for the Bednarik award which is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. He was then voted consensus All-American which again is the first time in Illinois football history a defensive back was voted consensus All-American.
The Chicago Bears don’t immediately need another cornerback and maybe for the long term. At least not in the first round. Jaylon Johnson, who has certainly come into his own this past season and Kyler Gordon, the rookie who found his game after a sluggish start have both shown that cornerback is looking good. Also both Johnson and Gordon were second round picks. Plenty of times the Bears looked horrible in coverage but it is hard to blame defensive backs when the opposing quarterback has all day to throw the football. Maybe Witherspoon wouldn’t be worth a high pick for the Bears but having depth at corner is truly never a bad thing.
Let’s get into the scouting report for Devon Witherspoon where we will look at strengths, weaknesses and if he will fit in the Chicago Bears plans for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Height/Weight: 6 foot, 180 pounds
Career Stats: 41 games played, 148 total tackles, 22 total PBU’s, 5 total interceptions (3 in 2022), and only surrendered a 24.6 QBR in 2022.
- Has the length and speed to become a starter quickly.
- Reads routes and anticipates throws at the first down marker well. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry and reads the Quarterback’s eyes to determine routes and break on throws fast.
- Has been elite in man coverage in 2022 with route anticipation and closing speed.
- Can excel in zone coverage because of his closing speed and wrapping up receivers post catch technique.
- If he gets the jump correct or lines someone up he can hit hard.
- Needs to tighten angles in pursuit and needs to consistently tackle better.
- Undersized and underpowered when lining up in press coverage.
No need for concern because while Devon Witherspoon is listed at 6-0, 180 lbs … it turns out that, well, he does not care. https://t.co/aZXZhQds0q pic.twitter.com/CuHgioEhlc
— ryan wilson (@ryanwilsonCBS) January 13, 2023
Devon Witherspoon is a DAWG 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/QokrFSMTQE
— Saivion Mixson (@MixsonS_NFL) January 8, 2023
How does Devon Witherspoon fit with the Chicago Bears?
I alluded to this earlier that Chicago doesn’t seem to need cornerbacks for a little while. Johnson and Gordon are both young and pretty good already. Having depth at corner is always great but adding a third cornerback with a first round pick would be boneheaded. Witherspoon is elite in my opinion. I think he will be a good cornerback for someone.
The cool thing about the Bears having this coveted number 1 pick is that with the supposed heavy draft capital the Bears will receive in return for the pick, they could find themselves with a late first round pick or another early second rounder. If Witherspoon ends up falling it wouldn’t be a bonehead move at that point in my opinion. Again it depends on how much draft capital Chicago will receive. I don’t see Witherspoon being a Bear but Illinois football had some studs this year that needed to be mentioned.
CBS Mock Draft (No. 17 overall)
Pro Football Focus (No. 14 overall)
The Draft Network (No. 18 overall)
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