The Tulane Green Wave has been one of the upstart teams in the American Athletic Conference and the program is in line for a rare postseason bowl berth. Under head coach Willie Fritz, they’re playing well on both sides of the ball and have one of the best kept secrets at cornerback – senior Thakarius Keyes. He’s a 2020 NFL Draft prospect set to be tested on Saturday against the SMU Mustangs.
Keyes isn’t mentioned outside of scouting circles all that much, but next level decision-makers are well aware of the athletic corner. Entering the season, Keyes was handed sixth-round grades from scouts off his junior campaign when he totaled 38 tackles, 1 INT and 12 PBU’s.
The ball production has been down slightly this year as Keyes has 1 INT and 6 PBU’s to go along with 42 tackles. But, part of the reason for the decrease is that opponents are just not throwing in his direction as quarterbacks purposely stay away from Keyes.
Keyes comes with outstanding size (6-feet, 190 pounds) and speed (upper 4.4’s). He’s a physical corner who battles opponents throughout the route and works hard to defend passes. He beats down opponents to strip the ball away and quickly comes up the field to voluntarily defend the run.
Keyes still has work to do on his game as he struggles to make plays with his back to the ball, but the ability and consistency shown the past two years earned him an invitation to the Shrine Game in January.
He’ll be facing off against another Shrine Game participant and 2020 NFL Draft prospect this Saturday, as Keyes will match-up against SMU receiver James Proche. The Mustangs leading wideout is in the middle of another incredible campaign with totals of 95 receptions, 1,068 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Physically, Keyes out-matches Proche in every area – height, size, and speed. With that said, Proche seems to be out-matched almost every week, but opponents still cannot stop him.
This is an important battle for a pair of day three picks, one who projects as a potential dime back and the other a fourth receiver/return specialist on an NFL depth chart.