NFL Draft Breakdown: Memphis’ Bobby McCain

Bobby McCain, Nickel Back, University of Memphis


Height: 5’9” (From Combine)
Weight: 195 lbs (From Combine)
Year: Sr

Trait Notes:
Instincts – B-
Ball Skills – C+
Short Area Q & A -B
Acceleration – B-
Top End Speed –C+
Technique – C
Discipline – C
Total Current Grade –  C+
Total Ceiling Grade – B+


Instincts and Ball Skills:

Bobby McCain was a surprise find for me as I was pointed in his direction by a close friend. McCain struggles in man coverage but that’s not why we’re looking at him, it’s his ability in the cover 2 that brings him to the forefront. McCain when allowed to play with his eyes on the QB and dropping into zones is a player with very good instincts. McCain reads eyes and jumps routes well. McCain shows very good anticipation in both zone and non-press man coverage.

McCain has shown good ball skills, in particular his previous two years where he’s totaled 11 interceptions including a 3 pick game against the home town South Florida Bulls. When dropping back in zone McCain does a very good job exploding out of his back pedal and breaking on the ball. As strictly a zone coverage guy, McCain shows everything you want when it comes to playing the ball in the air. With his back to the play in man coverage, you see a much different player, one that hesitates and at times is lost in space. McCain, like many of the corners in this draft class, shows very good scheme specific traits. Identifying that scheme is most important.

Short Area Q & A, Acceleration and Top End Speed:

McCain shows very good short area quickness and agility on the field and it was backed up with his performance at the combine where he was tops at his position in broad jump, 3-cone, 20 and 60 yard shuttle runs. McCain tested well and stated, it’s all backed up on the big stage. McCain shows the ability to change direction and burst out of his zones. McCain also displays these abilities on special teams as a return man, another important aspect in his game that adds value for potential suitors.

Acceleration is a big friend of McCain’s as his top end speed doesn’t put him in the “burner” territory. McCain relies on his change of direction and ability to get up to top gear in order to excel in coverage. McCain shows good recovery speed and more importantly, shows the ability to stick with a man when breaking up or to the sides. Again, when asked to turn his back McCain will struggle and it’s an area of focus for him to work on.

McCain doesn’t possess elite or great speed for that matter. McCain has adequate top end speed for lining up in the slot where his short area and acceleration can make up for lack of top end speed. McCain’s size will limit his versatility as an outside corner so top end speed should not be a troubling number for most teams who plan on using him inside.

Technique and Discipline:

McCain does need work on his technique, in particular when in man coverage. No team is exclusively running zone and all Bucs fans are well aware of this with how often they’ve seen the “Johnson” nameplate chasing down a streaking receiver on defense. McCain needs to get more comfortable here and it starts up front with his hand placement and ability to jam at the line. McCain doesn’t consistently jam and drop step correctly which puts him at an immediate disadvantage where he must recover at the line. In zone, McCain does show a hesitation in his back pedal and will often look around to survey his surrounding to ensure he’s in the proper space versus trusting his internal monitor. McCain shows the ability to transition coverage off to the safeties or “handing off” the receiver as some refer to it as. McCain in the slot does a much better of this than when he’s outside on an island.

Discipline for McCain is again relative to what he’s being asked to do. With his back to the ball he plays undisciplined with technique and his instincts suffer tremendously as he hesitates often. In zone coverage, particularly Tampa 2 in Memphis’ nickel package, McCain shows good discipline and reacts fast to the play. McCain plays the run well and takes good angles to the ball while being a very willing participant to wrap up and drop the ball carrier. McCain’s good self discipline allows him to make stops and break up passes immediately rather than having to resort to being a catch and chase tackler.

Where Bobby McCain needs to improve: 

McCain needs to improve his man technique and off-man/zone backpedal. McCain shows good instincts but needs to trust those instincts more often when not in zone. McCain shows very natural ball skills and instincts, he just needs to let those instincts take over more often. Don’t play scared, play fast and play sure minded.

Where Bobby McCain fits with the Buccaneers:

The Buccaneers brought in Sterling Moore from the Dallas Cowboys on a 1-year deal leaving the future of the position an uncertainty. McCain would be a day 3 draft pick that would be afforded the opportunity to play on special teams and learn behind Moore while being groomed to take over the position in 2016. McCain shows very good natural instincts and ball skills and while under-sized, plays a very big game. Turnovers are the name of the game on defense and McCain creates turnovers. In a defense that’s heavy with Cover 2 and zone looks, McCain is the perfect weapon in the slot.

Overall, Bobby McCain comes in at a  7.8 overall making him a top 3 slot corner on my board. McCain is not scheme diverse which hurts his league wide value but for the Buccaneers, he’s a very good fit in Lovie Smith’s defense.

Short term projection:

Special teams contributor as a returner and potential nickel corner in the Tampa 2 scheme.

Long term projection:

Starting nickel back in year two with long term starter potential at a sub-Pro Bowl level caliber.

Draft Prediction:

5th Round pick.

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