Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn CB | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Nehemiah Pritchett scouting report -- can the Auburn CB help extend the Tigers' run of drafted defensive backs in the 2022 NFL Draft?

With interceptions in two seasons as a starter for the Auburn Tigers, cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett has the opportunity to be one of the top cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Having earned attention in the previous cycle, the former high school wide receiver/safety opted to return for another go around. What does his scouting report reveal about the potential for another Auburn CB to be an NFL Draft selection?

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Nehemiah Pritchett NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: Auburn
  • Current Year: Junior
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 179 pounds

Nehemiah Pritchett Scouting Report

After watching Roger McCreary enhance his reputation during the 2022 NFL Draft process, Pritchett’s return to the Tigers will give him an opportunity to build on his scouting report. Early observations during the previous cycle show that the Auburn CB is brimming with potential. As such, he should be considered an early round talent next April.

Let’s begin his scouting report with physical appearance. At a listed 6’1″, Pritchett has the size to play any cornerback position in the NFL. Furthermore, he has impressive arm length that adds to his viability as an outside corner at the next level. 

The length is significant. While people obsess over cornerback height, without the length to impact the game, it is for naught. Thankfully, Pritchett’s length helps him impact the game in multiple ways.

Length and athleticism 

The Auburn CB is a former high school wide receiver, and the advantage his length gives him in that arena translates to the CB position. He can effortlessly make plays on the ball using his long levers. Additionally, his length allows him to wrap up well as a tackler and feel for his man in coverage. 

Pritchett’s experience playing wide receiver is also apparent in coverage. His route recognition, on the whole, is outstanding. His tape is littered with examples of him running the route with the receiver, ensuring that he doesn’t allow separation at any part of the route. 

The Auburn CB’s athletic ability helps in this regard. He is fast! Although his high school 40-yard dash time is 4.58, I would expect him to run a little faster than that at the NFL Combine. He comfortably kept pace with DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III last season.

In addition to his speed, Pritchett is a fluid mover with loose hips and a decent backpedal. All of these things allow him to be sticky in coverage. If a receiver deceives him, he possesses the speed to recover and make a play. However, that was rarely an issue in the games studied.

Football intelligence and versatility 

Pritchett appears to possess excellent awareness and football intelligence. He can be routinely seen directing teammates pre-snap, and he demonstrates adjustment ability post-snap while reading the quarterback in zone coverage. 

Finally, Pritchett offers versatility as an NFL Draft prospect. The Auburn CB has played predominantly outside (boundary and field) and has experience playing as a nickel back. Additionally, his ability as a kick returner will add valuable special-teams experience to his NFL Draft résumé. 

Areas for improvement

Pritchett’s scouting report contains many of the requisite skills that you look for when assessing NFL Draft prospects at the cornerback position. The Auburn CB is sticky in coverage, possesses excellent speed and ball skills, and is a measured tackler. Yet, there are some areas for improvement and concerns on his scouting report. 

While he has good size and length, there’s no escaping Pritchett’s slender frame. Although he’s added 17 pounds since arriving in Auburn, his 179-pound listed weight is still considerably less than some of the top cornerback prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Although this isn’t an automatic red flag, it does translate problematically to his tape. There were multiple examples of him being bullied at the point of attack. This was particularly apparent in the run game, where wide receivers could effortlessly move him downfield. In turn, this results in Pritchett having some difficulty shedding blockers. 

Finally, Pritchett needs to ensure he is more precise in how he uses his hands. While he often demonstrates good hand timing at the line of scrimmage, he can be guilty of grabbing downfield, which will result in costly penalties at the next level. 

Nehemiah Pritchett Player Profile

In many respects, Pritchett was a late bloomer as a football prospect. Despite securing 5 interceptions as a sophomore for Jackson High School, the former wide receiver/safety slipped somewhat under the recruiting radar early in his high school career.

Nevertheless, there was no doubting his incredible athletic ability. In addition to excelling on both sides of the ball on the gridiron, Pritchett was a Class 5A first-team All-State honoree in baseball. Despite his ground-eating speed and long, muscular but slender appearance, he attracted little attention.

At Jackson, they knew the talent Pritchett possessed. Upon his commitment to Auburn, head coach Danny Powell told AL.com:

“He’s got a lot of speed and, of course, good ball skills. He will strike you. He doesn’t shy away from contact. We put him on the other team’s best receiver, but other times we put him at safety. He’s a good kid who works hard and picks stuff up pretty quick.”

From Jackson to Auburn

As a three-star recruit and the 49th cornerback in the 2019 recruiting class, one thing he didn’t pick up “pretty quick” was collegiate interest. Pritchett only had two offers when he headed to an Auburn junior camp in June before his senior season. Having impressed Auburn’s staff, they extended an offer immediately.

More followed during an impressive senior season. Pritchett snagged 8 touchdowns as a wide receiver, displaying his speed and putting his length to excellent use in the back of the end zone. However, his 40 tackles, 6 interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and 2 tackles for loss earned him Class 5A ASWA first-team All-State honors, an invite to the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, and a total of 16 offers (including Ole Miss).

Pritchett’s career at Auburn

Despite the interest from elsewhere, Pritchett’s heart belonged to the Tigers, and he committed in November of 2018. Pritchett joined a talented Auburn CB room that included future NFL Draft selections Noah Igbinoghene, Daniel Thomas, and Jamie Sherwood.

As a result, his opportunities as a freshman were limited. During the 2019 season, he saw playing time in just six games, making his first appearance against Kent State. While he didn’t start any fires statistically, Pritchett led Auburn in tackles against Samford in his first season with the program.

Related | 2022 NFL Draft Prospects: Updated big board, player rankings, and more

With Igbinoghene and Thomas declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, Pritchett seized the opportunity as a starting CB for Auburn as a sophomore. He made his first start against Georgia, registering 2 tackles before securing a still-career-high 3 pass breakups against Arkansas.

In an impressive 11-game stretch, Pritchett secured his first career interception against LSU. The Auburn CB also logged 2 pass breakups against both Mississippi State and Alabama, impressing against John Metchie III and DeVonta Smith. He finished the season with 11 pass breakups, 1 interception, and 25 tackles. However, most impressively, he led all SEC cornerbacks by allowing just 2.9 yards per target through the 2020 season.

High expectations ahead of the 2021 season

While Pritchett’s performances earned him national attention ahead of the 2021 college football season, the loudest noises about his potential came from inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

A notoriously quiet personality, Pritchett’s teammates talked him up instead. Linebackers Owen Pappoe and Chandler Wooten lauded their compatriot to 247Sports.com.

“Really a versatile player,” Pappoe began. “He is one of the fastest dudes on the team too. Very athletic. Just seeing him grow, coming out of his shell, is exciting to see. I can tell he’s going to have a huge impact for us this year.”

“Obviously, he is a very fast guy, great technique,” added Wooten. “He can do it all. He is able to play inside, outside. He’s able to do a lot of different things. Just a great player, man. I’m excited to see what he does this season.”

Pritchett’s returning to Auburn for the 2023 NFL Draft

Despite high internal expectations, Pritchett found a way to add to his versatility in the 2021 college football season. In addition to 27 tackles , 3 pass breakups (Georgia State, LSU, Mississippi State), and 1 interception (Houston) the Auburn CB has also returned kicks for the Tigers. He tallied 313 yards on 10 returns, with a long of 72 yards. It was another example of how Pritchett’s speed can make him a versatile weapon. 

Although he attracted significant attention in the 2022 NFL Draft cycle, Pritchett opted to return to Auburn for his fourth season with the Tigers. In doing so, he has the opportunity to elevate his stock and establish himself as one of the best cornerback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle.

 

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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