The 2020 NFL Draft takes place from Thursday, April 23 though Saturday, April 25 — albeit in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and the Michigan State Spartans look to extend the school’s draft streak to 80-straight years (third longest in the NCAA, behind only USC and Michigan).
In my opinion, MSU has three surefire selections in this year’s Draft: cornerback Josiah Scott, defensive end Kenny Willekes and linebacker Joe Bachie. Defensive tackle Raequan Williams is the next likeliest to hear his name called, while guys like Cody White, Darrell Stewart, Jr., Brian Lewerke and others have a shot, too.
So, we are going to create some NFL Draft profiles for a few of these prospects, starting with Scott. Scott chose to forgo his senior season, and declared early as a junior. Let’s take a look at what Scott has to offer NFL franchises.
Name: Josiah Scott
Weight: 185 pounds
Draft Projection: Between the third and fifth rounds
NFL Scouting Combine Measurables:
40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds (fifth among DBs)
Bench press: 17 reps (seventh among DBs)
*Did not participate in vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill or 20-yard shuttle
Scott didn’t participate in every drill, but he ran a great time in the 40-yard dash, as his 4.42-second time was tied for the fifth-fastest time among cornerbacks — a position known for speed. It was also easily the fastest time of any Michigan State player who participated in the event. While there are concerns about Scott’s strength and durability, he ranked seventh amongst all cornerbacks on the bench press, with 17 reps. Scott also looked fluid in positional drills with good footwork and hips. He most likely helped his draft stock at the NFL Combine and may be the first Spartan selected, so long as size concerns don’t push him down NFL teams’ draft boards.
Overall, Scott put together an impressive Relative Athletic Score (RAS), of 8.19 which quantifies player measurements and metrics and puts them on a 0 to 10 scale compared to their position group. That number essentially puts Scott in the 82 percentile range for the cornerback position.
Statistics and Accolades
Games Played: 30 (three-year starter, missed eight games in 2018)
Total Tackles: 98 (two tackles for loss)
Passes Defended: 32 (ranks 12th in Michigan State history)
Forced Fumbles: Two
Fumble Recoveries: One
- Second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2019 by the media
- All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2019 by the coaches
- Third-team All-Big Ten selection in 2019 by Pro Football Focus
- Won Michigan State’s Jim Adams Award (unsung hero on defense) in 2019
- Redbox Bowl Defensive MVP in 2018
- Named to the Freshman All-American team by ESPN in 2017
- Named to the Big Ten Network All-Freshman team in 2017
- Third team All-Big Ten selection by the media and All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches as a freshman in 2017
- Won Michigan State’s Outstanding Underclass Back Award on defense as a freshman in 2017
- Member of the team’s Eagles leadership council in 2019
Scott came to East Lansing as an under-the-radar recruit (No. 104-ranked cornerback in the 247Sports Composite in 2017) and earned a starting role right away as a freshman. He is lauded for his impressive ball skills and tight coverage ability. Scouts also like the fact that he can play a variety of coverage techniques, and this makes him a fit for several NFL teams. The only issue NFL teams will have with Scott is his small stature and durability. At under 5-foot-10, he may be forced to play inside as a slot/nickelback, even though he thrived as an outside, boundary cornerback for Michigan State. Teams may also be scared off by his injury history, as Scott missed eight games in 2018 with a significant knee injury. Scott did start all 13 games in 2019, however he was knocked out of a couple of those contests. Despite his size, he is a willing tackler.
As of right now, Scott will likely be an early Day Three target at the NFL Draft, but it is certainly possibly he has worked his way up to a late Day Two selection (Day Two consists of the second and third rounds). Given the fact that Pro Days, individual workouts and face-to-face meetings with NFL teams were canceled amidst COVID-19, it’s hard to predict the exact trajectory of how this year’s Draft is going to shake out. However with strong tape and an impressive Combine performance, it would be surprising to see Scott last past the fifth round.
What scouts, analysts and coaches are saying about Scott:
-“He’s one of my favorite cornerbacks I’ve watched except for how small he is. A lot of these guys get used to guarding the same routes in college but don’t have the feet and hips to stay with a pro route. I think this kid does.” — Defensive backs coach for NFC team
“I like the tape. I like what I saw of him. I like the way he turns, I like the way he flips his hips, I like his feet. I think Josiah Scott has a chance. He’s going to help the secondary, whether he’s a starter, nickel, fourth corner, he’s going to be a guy that plays in the league for a long time I think, as I’d say a third- to fifth-round pick.” — ESPN Draft expert Mel Kiper
“I think the (Michigan State) player that I like in terms of grade the best is Josiah Scott, the corner. He’s aggressive, he’s a willing tackler, he’s got good awareness, he was a really good recruit coming out, played right away, he’s got pretty good ball skills, seven career interceptions.” ESPN Draft expert Mel Kiper.
“Affectionately nicknamed “The Gnat” by teammates for his pesky, persistent coverage talent and playing style. He has no issues checking athletic boxes with quick feet, smooth hips and explosive speed. He has above average recovery burst and athleticism, so he should be able to make the move to the slot despite limited reps there. He lacks play strength for matchups against size and will go ankle-biting in run support in order to avoid heavy collisions. He has ballhawking traits and coverage talent is not an issue. His ability to stay healthy and overcome his size/strength limitations could be the difference between being a starting nickel or solid backup.” NFL.com Draft analyst Lance Zierlein
“He plays outside, I think he’s going to be a nickel, he’s got makeup speed, he can pattern read, he’s really fluid, he can find the ball. He just got outsized a little bit on the outside losing some of those 50-50 balls. He’s somebody that I have as (Michigan State’s) top guy. He’s probably in that fourth-round range for me.” — NFL Network Draft Analyst, Daniel Jeremiah
“I’m a huge Josiah Scott fan,” Jeremiah said last week. “I have him as the highest-rated player from the school this year. … I think he’s going to be a day one starting nickel. He’s very instinctive, you see him pattern read, he’s fluid, he can find the ball down the field. He just lost some 50-50 balls due to size on the outside, but I think he’s going to be a really good nickel.” Also NFL Network Draft Analyst, Daniel Jeremiah
Cold heart Never get cold feet when the pressure come pic.twitter.com/ciGoIkMKGn— Josiah Scott (@JosiahScott7) December 10, 2019
Note some of these above highlights above are not exclusively of Scott. You can also check out this video of Scott’s MVP performance in the 2018 Red Box Bowl, via the New England Patriots.