After originally planning to play at the University of California no matter the upcoming situation with the PAC-12’s football season, Camryn Bynum announced on Sunday
that he will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. The redshirt senior has already started 38 games for the Cal Bears, and another year in school is another chance of serious injury and lost earning potential. So what exactly does this young man have to offer, and where should we expect him to go come April?
Camryn Bynum: NFL Draft potential
Fitting to his strengths
Bynum is a scheme-specific player. Although the lubrication in his hips is enough to adequately flip so as to mirror receivers crossing his face or going vertical, his functional athleticism is on the low end of the cornerback spectrum overall. He can become a bit overextended in his lower body which makes his change of direction suffer, particularly when coming from press.
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Even though he’s almost of ideal size at 6-feet tall and a solid 200 pounds, he struggles at the line of scrimmage for multiple reasons. Despite what seems to be a decent wingspan, his hands fire late when attempting to jam and get receivers off their red line at the snap. But the bigger issue with his play from press is his propensity to bail out early in the process, immediately putting him in an awkward position to change direction, which can end in poor results.
However, when he keeps things clean technically, he’s physical enough to guide receivers attempting outside vertical releases straight into the bench on the sideline. When watching Bynum, the first player that came to mind was Josh Norman. If used correctly, he will be an effective cornerback while in his prime.
One of the more impressive parts of Bynum’s game was his ability to midpoint high/low route concepts while playing as a cover two cornerback. His short-area agility when in a shuffle is immediate enough to drive downhill or he can flip to try and defend corner routes.
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He’s also quite adept at playing over the top of receivers in both traditional cover three looks and match concepts. His interception against Washington while playing over the top of Hunter Bryant was a work of art in terms of being able to leverage himself into the throwing window without initiating contact. And in terms of his long speed, he won’t be able to trail most receivers at the next level downfield, but it’s not so debilitating that he cannot stay over the top of receivers when allowed that freedom.
Bynum’s physicality doesn’t end while testing receivers at the line or in the contact window. This young man plays with that same physicality and attitude while defending the run. He’s aggressive coming off the edge as the last man on line defending the option and will stack and shed a receiver with a quickness.
Position change might facilitate career boom
I’m not one to throw around the “position change” card very often. Most of these players have stuck at one spot for their entire playing careers don’t a transition would mean a whole new learning curve. But Bynum is a special case. His plus traits are those that transition nicely to the safety position.
The biggest reason not to change cornerbacks to safeties is that the geometry of playing safety is so much different than playing cornerback. Guys playing at angles they’ve never seen before is a recipe for disaster. But as good a pure football player as Bynum is, his lack of athleticism will cause his stock to suffer all the way to day three of the draft. He’ll struggle to find the field as an outside cornerback early in his career outside of an injury or devastatingly poor starters.
This would allow whatever team drafts him the freedom to begin his integration to a full-time player on the back end instead of on the outside. His physicality should be used as a weapon to cover tight ends and use his instincts and ball skills to play forward instead of with his back to the ball. This also allows him to more freely be part of the run fit, and with his physicality and tackling prowess that is something that should easily transfer.
Bynum is a good football player and one you should want on your favorite team, but you also don’t want him to have to play on the line of scrimmage in man coverage for 20-plus snaps a game. However, teams that run a heavy dose of the Seahawks coverage tree should still consider playing Bynum at corner.