After an impressive pro day performance, Notre Dame cornerback Nick McCloud has garnered attention late in the 2021 NFL Draft process. Does the former North Carolina State standout have what it takes to hear his name called in Cleveland?
Nick McCloud NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’0 1/2″
- Weight: 193 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Nick McCloud Scouting Report
Positives: North Carolina State transfer that’s flown under the radar all season long. Sized well, aggressive, and uses his frame to out position receivers and defend the pass. Effective facing the action, nicely covers receivers on crossing patterns, and physically beats down opponents to knock away the throw. Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and correctly times pass defenses. Works to keep the action in front of him, strong enough to shed blocks, and makes plays against the run.
Negatives: Not smooth or fluid pedaling in reverse, stiff flipping his hips in transition, and trails opponents in man coverage. Shows hesitation in his game. Does not play to his 40-yard dash time.
Analysis: McCloud flashed outstanding ball skills last season and while he was at North Carolina State, and comes with terrific size as well as speed. He has a large upside but is a bit one-dimensional as he must play in a zone system or facing the action. Unlikely to be selected in the draft, McCloud could make noise next season as a ninth defensive back/special-teams player.
Nick McCloud Player Profile
Just seven players out of McCloud’s hometown of Rock Hill have been drafted to the NFL. One of those seven, DeVonte Holloman, is now the head coach of the South Pointe High School where McCloud’s football journey began. A wide receiver early in his career, he had 33 catches for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns as a junior in 2014. However, a switch to cornerback in his senior season yielded results for all concerned.
In 2015, South Pointe went 14-1 and won the South Carolina Class 3A Championship win a dominant 35-0 victory in the title game. McCloud was named to the All-State team, and his play caught the eye of college recruiters.
A three-star prospect by 247 Sports, he was ranked as the 80th cornerback in the 2016 class. Amongst offers from Northwestern, Maryland, and UCLA, North Carolina State’s October 2015 offer led to his commitment to the Wolfpack in late January 2016.
McCloud’s college career at NC State
Despite being a late bloomer at the position, he made an immediate impression for the Wolfpack. Playing a handful of games, he was one of just two true freshmen to see game time. He made his first career pass breakup against Miami and earned his sole start in the bowl game against Vanderbilt. Adding another two pass breakups in his first start, McCloud headed into 2017 in great form.
With starting cornerback Mike Stevens injured, McCloud made seven starts as a sophomore. Showing an ability to be disruptive in the secondary, he racked up 34 tackles and 7 pass breakups. In the season-ending Sun Bowl against Arizona State, he secured his first career interception.
McCloud followed that up with multiple interceptions in his junior season, snagging picks against Virginia and East Carolina. Although he missed two games with injury, he made 11 starts and finished fourth on the team in tackles, including a career-high 10 tackles against Clemson.
His performances over those two seasons earned McCloud the honor of team captain for 2019. He kicked off his senior season in style with 7 tackles and 2 pass breakups against ECU. However, a knee injury would limit the NC State cornerback to just two appearances.
McCloud transfers to play cornerback for Notre Dame
Having lost his senior season with NC State to injury, McCloud decided it was time for a change of scenery and entered the transfer portal. Notre Dame had lost key parts of their secondary to the NFL Draft, and the Fighting Irish proved the perfect landing spot.
McCloud made his debut against Duke, securing a pass breakup in his debut. He followed that up with 2 pass breakups against Florida State and a first tackle for loss against Louisville. As Notre Dame asserted their dominance on the ACC, their cornerback snagged an interception against Pittsburgh.
McCloud played a pivotal role in defeating the No.1-ranked Clemson team with two fumble recoveries. The first led to a Notre Dame field goal, while the second sealed an unlikely victory in overtime.
He ended the season with 33 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 1 interception, 2 tackles for loss, and third-team All-ACC honors. Following the College Football Playoffs defeat to Alabama, McCloud decided to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Nick McCloud’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
As alluded to in Tony Pauline’s scouting report, the Notre Dame cornerback has flown under the radar in the 2021 NFL Draft process. Although his pro day performance will force NFL teams and scouts to go back and look at the tape, they’ll find that he doesn’t often play up to his impressive 40-yard dash time.
Despite this, he offers good size and ball skills to play the outside cornerback position in the NFL. The limitations in his game may narrow down his landing spot options, therefore impacting the likelihood of him being drafted. Some team fits for McCloud in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers, and Carolina Panthers.
Want more 2021 NFL Draft prospect news? Want to do your own mock draft?
Dive into PFN’s Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator and test your own drafting acumen. Continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay in the loop on all things college football and the NFL Draft landscape.
Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.