If you felt underwhelmed by last year’s safety class, you’ll feel redeemed by the 2022 class. The 2022 NFL Draft has a wide variety of safeties, all of different molds and styles. And at the top of the board, there’s plenty of high-level talent to discuss. One NFL Draft scouting report in the mix is that of Penn State S Jaquan Brisker. What does Brisker bring to the table, and what kind of upside does he possess?
Jaquan Brisker NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Penn State
- Current Year: Redshirt senior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 204 pounds
Jaquan Brisker Scouting Report
Safety is a relatively thankless position. It’s not quite at the level of the offensive line, but there is an element of particular precariousness on the back end. It can be very easy to make a little mistake that ends up costing the defense 6 points. The fragile nature of the safety’s responsibility fazes out replacement-level players. But by the same virtue, it rewards those who are up to the challenge.
In his short time at Penn State, Brisker has proven he’s up to the challenge. The Penn State S has developed into one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten this year, and he could leverage his performance into a selection on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft — or maybe even Day 1. Here’s how Brisker wins and profiles at the next level.
Jaquan Brisker’s athletic profile
There’s no shortage of athletes in the 2022 NFL Draft’s safety group. However, Brisker might be one of the best of the bunch. He’s not quite at the level of a Kyle Hamilton or a Daxton Hill, but he still brings quite a bit to the table.
At 6’1″, 204 pounds, Brisker has a long, compact frame. And within that frame, he has many of the desired athletic traits. Brisker is a twitchy athlete who can change directions quickly. He’s an exceptionally smooth mover with loose hips and light feet. Additionally, he’s a great lateral athlete. The Penn State product can sink his hips into direction changes and divert course with little delay. Brisker has shown he can flip his hips while backpedaling as well.
If that’s not enough, Brisker has great long speed and full-field range for his size. He can cover ground quickly with energetic strides. He can chase down plays in pursuit, even from angles that aren’t ideal. It also helps that Brisker accelerates extremely quickly. He possesses a torrid initial burst, and when he keys in on plays, he explodes toward the ball.
Putting his athletic traits together, Brisker is a very versatile defender. He can line up in single-high, two-high, or in the slot. His combination of size, burst, and fluidity allows him to match up with almost anyone. The Penn State safety can match smaller receivers, as well as blanket tight ends up the seam.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Brisker’s physical traits pop off the screen, but his polish beyond that foundation is what generates true excitement for his NFL projection.
In coverage, Brisker’s adept mental traits are on display most often. The Penn State S has great awareness. He sees the field well and knows when to pass off routes and track other receivers. Beyond that, Brisker follows the quarterback’s eyes, but he’s also aware of the space around him. He doesn’t get tunnel vision, and that instinctive awareness makes him very adaptable as a player.
Brisker does a good job identifying routes, and he can anticipate proper positioning and manipulate route leverage. He generally does a good job spacing himself against 2-on-1’s downfield as well. Going further, Brisker can identify rollouts and swing out to the side. He can magnetize to wheel and seam routes, mirroring receivers. He’s able to flip his hips and launch into those lanes, then quickly transition from pursuit to coverage.
Closer to the line, Brisker also shows promise. He is combative against blocks in run defense, and he’s shown he can proactively use his length to disengage. The Nittany Lions star is willing to fill in run defense and sift through congestion to make stops. And once he has a clear lane to the runner, he brings an intense closing burst at the tackle point. He’s shown he can wrap up as well.
Among other things, Brisker is an urgent, high-energy player who’s always active on the back end. He’s willing to use his physicality in press coverage to disrupt route progressions. He also has visible vertical athleticism and ball skills — deriving from his days as a high school wide receiver. Brisker can track the ball in the air and convert on momentum-changing plays.
Areas for improvement
Overall, Brisker is a very well-rounded 2022 NFL Draft prospect. He’s a great athlete with good processing ability and play pace. You can only poke so many holes in those kinds of profiles. Nevertheless, the Penn State safety can still strive for greater operational consistency.
Most notably, Brisker can react faster as he sometimes gets caught watching. He can be more consistent anticipating separation downfield. Safeties have to be pre-emptive at times when timing their hip transitions. Furthermore, Brisker sometimes creates too big a cushion between himself and routes. He can bite on quick moves at the stem and fall a step behind. Thus, he can be more consistent in maintaining close spacing on the back end.
Moving forward, Brisker can sometimes get baited away from plays by misdirections. While he generally keys in on the ball well, he can be more consistent there. In a similar vein, the Nittany Lions S sometimes overshoots tackling angles coming downhill. He can also be a bit late to disengage in run defense. And while he’s solid as a tackler, he can be more consistent.
Finally, while Brisker is an excellent athlete, there are times where he can be slightly more efficient as a mover. His weight transfers can be smoother at times. He gets flat-footed on occasion when changing directions. Moreover, Brisker can widen his stride lengths in the open field to cover more ground.
Jaquan Brisker’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
You’ve heard this cliché a billion times: “He checks a lot of the boxes.” I am a culprit of using it too often — but I can’t help but apply it to Brisker. He is a very well-rounded safety prospect.
Set to be 23 years old at the start of his rookie season, there may be added pressure on him to contribute right away. But Brisker is certainly a player who can hit the ground running.
Athletically, the Penn State product is long, explosive, fluid, and twitchy. Mentally, he’s sharp, energetic, and adaptable. He has dual-sided appeal as both a coverage and run support player. Additionally, he’s versatile enough to line up in a variety of different spots. His playmaking ability at the catch point is just a cherry on top.
Brisker, like most players, can attain more consistency from an operational standpoint. Nevertheless, he’s good enough in each area to command early-round appeal in the 2022 NFL Draft. And if he stands out at the Senior Bowl and tests well, Round 1 is in the realm of possibility.
Jaquan Brisker’s Player Profile
It’s been a long road for Brisker — one that didn’t always appear to have so much light on the horizon. It’s been defined — both for better and for worse — by the loss of his older brother Tale’.
Like any little brother-older brother combination, Brisker was attached to Tale’ at the hip when he was younger. Both he and his brother had the same passion for football — almost too much at times. It got so bad that their mother instituted a “no balls in the house” policy to prevent them from breaking things. But that didn’t stop them from creating makeshift footballs out of socks and footies.
Jaquan grew up under Tale’ and learned the game from him. But when Tale’ was 19 and Jaquan was 15, Tale’ was shot and killed in Texas. And in Tale’s place, a massive void festered and grew. Jaquan stopped going to school and nearly slipped onto a dark path. But something his brother had told him before he died kept tugging Jaquan back. “If anybody in the family makes it, it’ll be you.”
While his brother passed on, that unfettered belief never did. And that’s what drove Jaquan to keep pursuing his dream of playing football. While academics prevented him from attracting Division I offers, Brisker got his chance at Lackawanna Community College.
At LCC, Brisker was a standout player for two years. He earned Northeast Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018 and found his way back on the D-I radar. Named one of the top JUCO prospects in the 2019 class, Brisker signed with Penn State. And just like that, the dream was alive again.
Brisker’s career at Penn State and NFL Draft ascension
With the Nittany Lions, Brisker has all but delivered on the shared promise he and Tale’ made to each other as brothers. He’s become not only one of the best players in college football, but one of the best prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.
In three years at Penn State, Brisker has amassed 143 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, 14 pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. 2021, meanwhile, has arguably been his most productive year to date. The senior captain has accumulated 55 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 5 pass breakups in 11 games.
In a loaded Penn State class that includes Jahan Dotson, Brandon Smith, Arnold Ebiketie, PJ Mustipher, and others, one could argue that Brisker is the highest-rated player. His draft stock has skyrocketed this season. And with a strong offseason, there’s a chance Brisker could hear his name called on Day 1.
It would be a gratifying moment for many — Brisker’s mother, his teammates, and his coaches — but for none more than Brisker himself, who’s carrying the desire of himself and his brother to officially make it to the NFL stage. That kind of desire — just like Brisker flying through a gap or leaping for an interception — is hard to stop.