Cory Durden, NC State DT | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Cory Durden scouting report -- can the new NC State DT overcome a difficult 2020 season to emerge as a top prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Former Florida State defensive tackle Cory Durden could have headed to the NFL Draft after last season. Instead, after an injury-impacted campaign, he has a new home and an opportunity to elevate his stock. Could the NC State DT be one of the top players at his position by next April? Let’s dive into Durden’s scouting report to uncover his upside while examining the areas for improvement.

Cory Durden NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Defensive Tackle
  • School: NC State
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 312 pounds

Cory Durden Scouting Report

Although Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal appears to be head and shoulders above the rest of the 2022 NFL Draft class, Durden is in a gaggle of prospects who will be trying to emerge as the best of the rest during the 2021 college football season. 

Let’s start his scouting report with the areas where Durden excels as an NFL Draft prospect.

With versatility being increasingly valuable to the NFL, the ability to play from multiple alignments is a feather in the cap of any draft prospect. Well, Durden will have a hat full of them by the time Roger Goodell opens the 2022 NFL Draft next April.

During his career, Durden has lined up at every conceivable position along the defensive line. As a result, he projects to be incredibly scheme-versatile for an NFL team. 

At 6’5″ and 312 pounds, Durden also possesses impressive size for the position. He couples that with above-average length to pose a menacing threat at the line of scrimmage. His size ensures that he attracts double-team blocks, while his length allows him to be disruptive at the point of attack. 

In addition to his size, Durden displays exceptional play strength. His bull rush is a terrifying prospect for offensive linemen to face, and he can be found routinely forcing his man backward, collapsing the pocket in the process. Furthermore, his initial punch can be devastating. 

Although his bull rush will probably be defined as his calling card, Durden does have a range of pass-rush moves in his repertoire. As a result, he is more of a pass-rush threat than you would expect from a man of his size. 

Areas for improvement

While there is a clear upside from Durden’s scouting report, there are areas for improvement for the NC State DT. 

Consistency will be the key to a potential elevation in his NFL Draft stock. Despite demonstrating impressive pass-rush performance at times, there’s a feeling that his motor doesn’t always run as hot as you’d like. If he can consistently finish plays this fall, that should help him elevate his stock. 

Finishing will involve him having to improve his tackling technique. Durden routinely fails to wrap up as a tackler, allowing his man to escape. He’s proven that he can provide pressure, but he needs to translate that into production. 

Durden is impressive as a pass rusher, but there is work to do in run defense. He holds his own against single blocks but appears easily displaced when tasked with overcoming double teams. 

Cory Durden Player Profile

An athletic, long, and versatile high school prospect, Durden was a highly sought-after commodity coming out of Newberry High School. The three-star recruit was ranked as a top-50 player in Florida, an impressive accomplishment given the deep pool of talent in the state.

College programs and analysts alike were enamored with his “big body” and his ability to “eat up space, push the pocket, and make plays.” As a result, Durden was inundated with in-state offers, while his appeal spread nationally with offers from Oklahoma, Alabama, and NC State.

However, home was where the heart was for the Newberry native. In February 2016, months before his senior season — he committed to Florida State — revealing his reasoning to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“My whole family went to FSU, and the whole program is built around loyalty and brotherhood. That’s what I want to be a part of.”

Additionally, his commitment allowed him to continue his football journey alongside Newberry teammate Ja’len Parks.

“We’ve been playing side to side since we were little, since we were five years old.”

With his college football future secured, Durden dominated as a high school DT in his final campaign. The senior savaged opposing offenses with 52 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Moreover, he flashed athletic versatility with 22 receptions for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns from the tight end position.

Unsurprisingly, Durden earned first-team Florida Class 1A All-State honors while crowning his high school career as the Florida Athletic Coaches Association District 7 Player of the Year.

Durden’s college football career

Despite the productive performances for Newberry as a senior, Durden followed the often furrowed freshman route of redshirting. However, it wasn’t a completely lost season for the former high school standout. He got valuable work on the scout team, preparing him for his second year as a Seminole.

The preparation paid off. In his college debut against Virginia Tech, Durden secured 2 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a sack. It was the first of 12 appearances in 2018 that included a start against Notre Dame. Against the Fighting Irish, he flashed his disruptive ability with a blocked PAT.

Durden compiled a tasty stat sheet in his redshirt freshman season. The Florida State DT amassed 22 tackles (6 in one game against NC State), 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and the blocked kick.

That was just the appetizer to a breakout campaign in 2019

For a 312-pound defensive tackle who had been lauded for his ability to eat up space, Durden flexed impressive pass-rush capability in his redshirt sophomore season. Although 5 sacks don’t sound that impressive, he tied for most on the team. Furthermore, the Florida product generated a sack in three consecutive games in the early part of the season.

After registering 39 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and a first career forced fumble in 2019, there was a sense of expectation for the Florida State DT heading into 2020. Marvin Wilson may have drawn most of the attention from NFL Draft analysts, but Durden led all returning defensive tackles in pressures.

Durden’s redshirt junior campaign was disrupted beyond the impact of the global situation that caused college football chaos. Having played through a shoulder injury in 2019, offseason surgery impeded him throughout the 2020 campaign. As a result, he registered just 7 tackles, 0.5 of which were for loss, and a forced fumble against Miami.

A sorry swan song as a Seminole but a new opportunity at NC State

In November, he opted out of the season, with rumors swirling that his appearance against North Carolina would be his last as a Seminole.

The rumors were confirmed in December. Durden entered the transfer portal and was quickly snatched up by NC State, who were about to lose DT Alim McNeill to the NFL Draft. A significant coup for the Wolfpack, the transfer should be mutually beneficial, with Durden having an excellent opportunity to recover his 2019 form and elevate his 2022 NFL Draft stock.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter @ojhodgkinson.

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