Below I will take a look at what separates Qwynnterrio Cole as an NFL Draft hopeful and focus on his journey to the NFL. Some exceptional defensive backs have come into the league recently from the FCS level, and Cole hopes to join that elite group.
From high school star to intriguing college standout
Cole was a standout on offense, defense, and special teams at Memphis East High School. His length and athletic ability made him a threat as a safety and also gave him the ability to create outstanding catches on offense. His explosive play-making talent was showcased exceptionally well on special teams, and this will only add to his NFL Draft value at the next level. Alcorn State was the first school to offer Cole, and that is where he decided to attend classes and play college football.
As a sophomore, Cole was a named to the 2018 HBCU All-American team last season along with teammate and defensive lineman Terry Whittington. He was also included on the HERO Sports Sophomore All-America Team. Cole had a minimal role on the defense as a Freshman, but started every game as a Sophomore and put himself on the map. The Memphis native recorded 4.5 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovered. These numbers also landed Cole on the 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year Award Watch List.
— BlackCollegeFootball (@BCFHOF) August 14, 2019
As an NFL Draft prospect, Cole has ideal size at the position and could be a valuable commodity to NFL owners and decision-makers. He played all over the defense as a sophomore, lining up at the nickel, outside corner, and both safety positions. Cole’s 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame makes him a great fit at each of these positions in the NFL, and also presents Cole as an extremely versatile player. This frame could also allow the rangy defender to add weight and make it harder for opposing skill-position players to fight him off as he moves from college to the pros.
Prospect comparisons and fit at the next level
A recent FCS player that Cole compares favorably to is current Los Angeles Chargers’ safety, Nasir Adderley. The rookie safety was also a versatile playmaker from the FCS level and celebrated as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Adderley played each position in the secondary for Delaware and has the size to contribute there for the Chargers. He was ultimately selected in the second round and has a chance to be an excellent long-term starter for Los Angeles. Adderley’s experience in the secondary was a great strength, but he fell in the draft due to the competition level he faced and his lack of discipline in coverage. Adderley will improve with guidance at the NFL level around great players such as Casey Hayward and Derwin James.
Cole also displays a lack of discipline at times, but he has a chance to improve and overcome that during his Junior season for Alcorn State. I believe Cole’s best position fit in the NFL Draft and in the league will come at outside corner. He will need to play in an aggressive defense where he can press bigger receivers and use his height and strength to his advantage. This style is similar to the way Seattle used Richard Sherman during the Seahawk’s great Legion of Boom years on defense.
Another player of this caliber and ability is former Samford alum and current Carolina Panthers’ cornerback James Bradberry. Carolina could also be a great fit with the Panthers as the Panthers look to add to their depth at the position with Bradberry and fellow starter Donte Jackson. If Cole sticks at the cornerback position in the pros, Bradberry will be a great act to follow. He is physical with receivers and uses his length nicely to disrupt receivers when the ball is in the air.
Expectations for 2019 and beyond
Cole was mentioned as a player to watch in 2019 at the FBCU level. He joins fellow Alcorn State standouts Terry Whittington and De’Shawn Waller as serious NFL hopefuls on this Braves’ roster. Since Donald Driver in 1999, Alcorn State has not seen a player drafted. These three standouts give the Braves a great chance to break that streak in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Wherever Cole hears his name on draft day, his early contributions will likely come on Special Teams. His added value with the return ability showcased in high school will play big in his favor during the NFL Draft. If he can eliminate mental mistakes and continue to grow and learn each position in the secondary, he will have a great shot to stick on an NFL roster in 2020. Cole should hear his name called sometime on day three. From that point on, it will be up to him to continue proving he belongs among the elite and football’s finest.