The Philadelphia Eagles got something for nothing when they dealt WR Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers for CB Daryl Worley and the move was widely lauded. Smith was sure to be a cap casualty and the opportunity to bring in a young, cost effective piece to compete with the current defensive backfield was net positive. The question remains though, what does Worley bring to the team?
Worley is entering his third year in the NFL after being drafted by the Panthers in the 3rd round with the 77th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He’s started 25 of 31 games at outside cornerback and recorded 111 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 interceptions during his time in the league.
Wanting to know more about the player beyond the stat sheet, I put on the scout cap and went to the film. I was excited to see that in the first quarter of watching Worley that not only did he start out outside corner, but he was also used as a single high safety against heavy personnel and contributed as a “vice” player on punt returns (blocking gunners). This boded well for the rumblings that he could serve as a depth piece at cornerback while contending for the third safety role occupied by safety Corey Graham in 2017.
Still, a deeper look was necessary to get the full picture. When evaluating players, first you want to determine their physical and athletic profile. Worley’s 6’1” 204 pound frame is impressive and his long 33 3/8” arms with massive 10 1/4” hands make him quite the specimen. That’s a physical profile that will have defensive coach backs drooling.
The athletic profile is not so astounding. From Mockdraftable:
His 4.64 40-yard dash and sloth-like 1.64 10-yard split barely register on the spider web. They register a hair faster than Florida State’s CB Tarvarus McFadden, who by all accounts lit his draft stock on fire at the NFL Combine. Less troubling, yet still foreboding, is the 6.98 3-Cone, which for a cornerback would indicate issues with hip fluidity.
The physical and athletic profile mean little if the tape doesn’t match. In Worley’s case, it does. He used his length well, disrupting routes at the line and throughout the stem, but it’s when Worley had to turn and run where issues arose.
When I read that Worley had a QB Rating of 0.0 when targeted on double moves, I’ll admit, I was excited, but still wary of the lack of context statistics offer. The New York Giants tested the Eagles corners time and time again during their Week 15 tilt with sluggos. The Oakland Raiders followed suit the next week, hooking up with WR Amari Cooper on a sluggo for a 66-yard touchdown.
Against New Orleans Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr., the gulf in speed between the two was noticeable, only made worse by Worley’s disjointed, stiff hips. While doing well in press on “man turns”, when he’s asked to flip his hips on zone and speed turns, the turns often required multi-part movements which scrubbed speed out of the break and allowed separation.
Where Worley wins is his ability to click, clack, and come downhill. He’s much more comfortable moving forward and typically does well to keep the action in front of him and limit yards after catch by closing quickly.
Another area where he wins is when he is able to read the quarterbacks. He does well to diagnose routes by the depth of the quarterback’s drop. This showed up against five step drops when reading through the wide receiver and on three step drops when in press bail.
The problem comes in off coverage, where he has a tendency to give too much cushion, likely due to his inability to carry long speed. This left space underneath for receivers to exploit. There were examples of where that worked and he was able to use that space to stack vertical routes, but he can also get turned around in that space by more savvy receivers if he’s unable to get his hands on them.
So dependent on his length and physicality is Worley, that he often seems unable to react in zone coverage, limiting his value. This also manifested in press coverage when he didn’t get a jam, like on this rep with Saints WR Michael Thomas.
The Carolina Panthers place an emphasis on run support when selecting their cornerbacks. This is where Worley shows his most value. He is unafraid of taking on pulling lineman, engaging them with his length and play strength. He diagnoses well and will fire his gun, shooting into the backfield to make impact plays.
Overall, Worley is a press corner relying on his length and strength who has fatal flaws in his technique that only exacerbate his sluggish athleticism. His struggles in zone and technique when turning and moving backwards call in to question his ability to win the third safety role.
The Eagles coaching staff will have their hands full molding this lump of clay into a refined product capable of contributing in a meaningful way. But look on the bright side, it’s not like they haven’t come out winning on other reclamation projects, right?