Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Please listen to “Spoonman” by Soundgarden while reading my hype piece on SPOOON!!!!!
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Howie Roseman drafts Devon Witherspoon with the #10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
No, we are not drafting a running back in round 1 (at least with the 10th pick), and Lukas Van Ness has never started a college game in his life, so he isn’t the pick either.
If the board fell this way come draft day, and Howie decided to stay at 10, we are selecting the best corner in the draft.
A real dog…
No, he isn’t the tallest at 5’11”.
No he isn’t the fastest (ran a 4.46 & 4.42 at his personal pro-day on April 5).
But Devon Witherspoon is the toughest pound for pound football player in the draft.
Witherspoon didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school, yet he was named the Pensacola Florida Press Player of the Year the following year during his senior season. The Spoon Man had to go to community college to help raise his grades, and he would later commit to the University of Illinois after not receiving any other offers from other Power 5 schools. Witherspoon played for Illinois for four seasons (starting 3 of them) including his final season where he tallied 41 total tackles and three interceptions. He was also a top three finalist for the Jim Thorpe award last season and won the Big Ten’s defensive back of the year award. This kid is the real deal. In 2019 as a freshman, Witherspoon saw a surprising amount of action playing in 12 games and on a total of 389 snaps at cornerback for the Fighting Illini. He recorded 16 tackles, 8 assists, while adding 6 stops. In coverage Witherspoon notched up 2 pass breakups, and a solid QB rating when targeted of 76.6. As a sophomore in 2020 he played in 7 games and logged 467 snaps for the Fighting Illini. he made 24 tackles, 12 assists, and had 5 stops. As you can see, the kid just gets better and better every year.
Yes, Howie managed to retain both James Bradberry and Darius Slay despite facing some salary cap-related difficulties. It wasn’t the expected outcome, but Howie pulled it off! He did well to keep our two starting corners in Philly. Slay and Bradberry are both short-term solutions that should keep us contending for a Super Bowl in 2023. But Howie must consider the position’s long-term outlook. We have the 10th overall pick (and 31st). Getting Witherspoon on a cost-controlled, four-year rookie contract with a team-friendly fifth-year option should appeal to our Eagles that must start preparing for the future.
Is he a scheme fit in Philly? We do not yet know what type of coverage new Eagles DC Sean Desai will run. When in Chicago, his scheme was like what Jonathan Gannon ran here. We know the Vic Fangio school prefers zone coverage. The issue is Witherspoon better fits a man coverage scheme than a zone scheme. Could he make the change? I think so. His instincts will certainly give him a great chance to read plays if he is facing the QB rather than following one WR like he would in man. What is good about him is even in man coverage, it is not like he was pressing on every play. Go back and watch Illinois on defense and you will see the CBs playing back in coverage very much like the Eagles do. It won’t be as big of a change to adapt to for Witherspoon as it might be for someone like Joey Porter Jr. who is constantly pressing with the WR off the snap.
HONORS & AWARDS
• 2022 - One of three finalists for the Thorpe Award
• 2022 - One of 20 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award
• Consensus All-American, the 21st in Illinois history
• 2022 - First ever defensive back to be named a Consensus All-American in Illinois history
• 2022 - Walter Camp All-American first team
• 2022 - AFCA All-American first team
• 2022 - FWAA All-American first team
• 2022 - AP All-American first team
• 2022 - Phil Steele All-American first team
• 2022 - CBS All-American first team
• 2022 - PFF All-American first team
• 2022 - USA Today All-American second team
• 2022 - Senior Bowl All-American
• 2022 - Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year
• All-Big Ten first team (coaches and media)
• Leads the nation in forced incompletions (16), according to PFF
• No. 2 graded CB in the country with an overall grade of 91.6, and a coverage grade of (92.0), via PFF
• Sixth nationally and second in the B1G with 1.4 passes defended per game
• Fourth in the nation in NFL passer rating against (24.3), according to PFF
• Sixth in the nation in passes defended (17)
SCOUTING REPORT: STRENGTHS
- Easily has enough foot speed and length to stay with slot receivers in four-wide sets on short patterns.
- Has both the length and speed to emerge as a starter
- Reads receivers’ routes and anticipates throws at the first down marker.
- Reads the quarterback’s eyes and sees the routes very quickly, then has straight-line speed to arrive with or just after the ball.
- Has been elite in man coverage especially in 2022, showing a great understanding of routes and the ability to close quickly.
- Statistically the best-graded press corner in 2022
- Has quick feet to mirror receivers underneath.
- Witherspoon also has the fluid hips and top-end speed to turn and run downfield.
- Shows good awareness when dropping into zone coverage, with good route recognition and the ability to break quickly and cover a lot of ground.
- Has the skills to excel as a zone defender because of his closing speed to wrap receivers after the catch.
- Ultra-competitive with a motor that never stops. Brian Dawkins like personality!!!!
- Confidence that never wavers
- Excellent quick area quickness and change of direction ability, good feel for complex route concepts
- Has the ability to use his length and physicality to re-route receivers, absurd ball skills and production, physicality that carries over to the run game
- Aggressive facing receivers at the line of scrimmage
Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon is a baller. Every game is just him flying around in coverage and as a tackler to make plays on the ball. My kind of DB. pic.twitter.com/FA9sQLPhpG— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 10, 2023
This HIT by Devon Witherspoon— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) February 8, 2023
The Illinois CB is undeniably one of the most physical corners in this upcoming NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/QpxmDjm7Hl
I’ve only watched two Devon Witherspoon games and this has already happened like five times pic.twitter.com/4QjPVyaudS— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) February 27, 2023
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington): OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles (Philly21): CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans (RachAttack)
12) Texans (Domonate)
13) Jets (JawnJam)
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion)
15) Packers (bdawk4ever)
16) Commanders (the dog did it)
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen)
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco)
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (dkays)
25) Giants (roberticus01)
26) Cowboys (EHyungNim)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Eagles draft at No. 10 overall?
This poll is closed
CB Devon Witherspoon
DE Nolan Smith
DE Lukas Van Ness
DE Myles Murphy
OT Broderick Jones
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
RB Bijan Robinson
1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears: OT Peter Skoronski