The San Diego State Aztecs are sending three defensive backs to this year’s annual selection event. They’ve had at least one player drafted to the NFL in each of the last four years. Can San Diego State cornerback Darren Hall extend that run in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Darren Hall NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: San Diego State
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 5’11 3/8″
- Weight: 189 pounds
- Wingspan: 74 1/2″
- Arms: 30 1/8″
- Hands: 9″
Tony Pauline’s Darren Hall Scouting Report
Positives: Two-year starter who also saw extensive action as a freshman. Nice-sized cornerback with a knack for breaking up a lot of passes. Quick-footed in reverse, effectively reads and diagnoses plays, and possesses a good burst to the ball. He breaks down well, fights with his hands, and positions himself against receivers to make a play. Gives effort defending the run, firing up the field, and wrapping up ball handlers.
Negatives: Occasionally bites on receivers’ moves, which results in blown assignments. Deep speed is a bit of a concern.
Analysis: Hall decided to enter the draft after two productive campaigns and looked good during Senior Bowl practices. He possesses the size and ball skills to play nickel at the next level, though I believe Hall would be best in zone coverage or backed off the line of scrimmage.
Darren Hall Player Profile
Ironically, the last time San Diego State didn’t send a player to the NFL Draft, cornerback Darren Hall was having his breakout year as a high school player. A late bloomer on the football field, it wasn’t until 2016 when the Rancho Cucamonga High product began to develop as a playmaker in the secondary.
Having seen limited playing time behind the likes of Oregon prospect Thomas Graham, he had a standout senior season. It helps to get notoriety when your team has a 12-1 record as the Cougars did in 2016.
However, Hall was making a name for himself. He was named the Outstanding Defensive Back of the Year and First Team All-League. Over the final two years of his high school career, he notched up 95 tackles, 11 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and a fumble recovery.
Bearing in mind most of that production came as a senior, Hall began to garner college attention. The three-star recruit was ranked the 76th player in California and the 81st cornerback in the class. He wound up receiving 13 scholarship offers. Power 5 teams such as Washington State and Oregon State were overlooked, and Hall eventually committed to play for San Diego State.
Darren Hall’s college career at San Diego State
Having played both safety and cornerback at Rancho, Hall saw playing time at safety in his first season with the Aztecs. Making his debut against UC Davis, he logged two tackles. Unfortunately, he would see the field in just one more game against UNLV before injury forced him to take a redshirt year.
As he transitioned from safety back to cornerback in 2018, Hall elevated his game for the Aztecs. Making three starts and 12 total appearances, he earned Team Outstanding Freshman honors and was twice named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week. He secured interceptions in consecutive games against Eastern Michigan and Boise State. More importantly, both turnovers resulted in scoring plays.
The following season, the San Diego State cornerback attracted national attention
Hall was a part of an Aztecs’ CB duo with Luqman Barcoo that tied for the most pass breakups in the nation. Both players had 16 pass breakups.
As Barcoo headed to the NFL, Hall was left to be the leader of a relatively inexperienced Aztecs’ secondary. In just eight games, he racked up 37 tackles. Once again showcasing his playmaking skills, he snagged a career-high 3 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. As a result of his impressive performances, he earned First Team All-Mountain West honors.
Following his successful 2020 campaign, San Diego State cornerback Darren Hall declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He received an invite to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He impressed scouts both in practice and with 3 tackles and a pass breakup in the game itself.
Darren Hall’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Due to his experience at safety and cornerback, Darren Hall offers versatility as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect. There is no reason to suspect that he couldn’t line up at any spot in the secondary. However, he performed best as an outside cornerback in zone coverage in his time as a cornerback at San Diego State. He could be a late-round steal for a team in need of depth in the secondary.
Some teams that could look to add Darren Hall in the 2021 NFL Draft include the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Denver Broncos.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.