Quentin Lake, UCLA S | NFL Draft Scouting Report

UCLA S Quentin Lake is following in the footsteps of his All-Pro father, and his NFL Draft scouting report details a player with high IQ.

Quentin Lake has some massive steps to follow, as his father was former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro safety Carnell Lake. However, it is important to view the UCLA safety’s scouting report in a vacuum, as expecting Lake to reach his father’s heights is setting him up for failure. Indeed, Lake is an enticing prospect in his own right and should hear his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Quentin Lake NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Safety
  • School: UCLA
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’1 1/8″
  • Weight: 205 pounds
  • Wingspan: 76 1/4″
  • Arm: 31 1/4″
  • Hand: 9 1/8″

Quentin Lake Scouting Report

Lake may not wow onlookers in the traditional sense. But if you understand football and what makes for an NFL-caliber safety, you have to appreciate Lake’s film. He checks the size box at 6’1″ and 205 pounds with 31 1/4″ arms. He also ran a respectable 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine but suffered a hamstring injury on his second attempt. Not only did the injury knock him out of the rest of the Combine drills, but he also wasn’t able to perform at the UCLA Pro Day.

While not testing has surely impacted his stock, Lake should still hear his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft. It is a relatively light safety class, and not many prospects own his football IQ and instincts. The UCLA S makes up for his lack of elite speed, athleticism, and thumping ability by reading quarterbacks’ eyes, play design, and the hips of receivers.

His NFL bloodline is an obvious plus, as his father has helped him understand the game from a young age. Lake is also regarded as a leader, both on and off the field. On film, he was an active communicator and made sure his teammates knew their assignments.

Overall, Lake’s average physical tools and trigger will limit his ceiling in the NFL and how he will be drafted. Regardless, his special-teams prowess, technique, ball skills, and vision of the field will secure him a roster spot and presumably a Day 3 selection.

Where Lake wins

Having an All-Pro father doesn’t mean much if you don’t learn from him. When watching Lake’s tape, it’s safe to say he has. Lake can read and react swiftly from deep safety or around the box. Furthermore, he can read the eyes of QBs and play design, offering him a larger range on the back end than his speed would typically allow.

Lake owns the required height/length/speed combo for the position. His discipline in coverage allows him to stay in phase with receivers, and he has the footwork to undercut routes. In man coverage, he has flashed the ability to keep his eyes on the WR’s hips and keep his feet active. His hips are fluid enough to turn and run downfield, and he showed jamming ability when asked to do so.

In fact, Lake looks comfortable in the slot with movements not routinely seen from a safety. He displayed such skill during Shrine Bowl practices, consistently locking down opponents. The UCLA DB also attacks passes like a receiver, owning solid hands for the interception. He remains focused and plays through the WR’s hands. Lake is a patient safety, and there are instances where he tries to bait a QB into attempting an ill-advised throw in his zone.

Against the run, Lake can get in the chest of receivers to quickly shed blocks. He isn’t afraid to get his pads dirty and tackles with solid technique. The occasional miss will happen, but Lake is a solid tackler, keeping his head up even in the open field. Moreover, Lake is a versatile chess piece, having played near the line of scrimmage, in the box, slot, and as a free safety. His special-teams ability, which was on full display as a true freshman, is a bonus.

Areas for improvement

While Lake’s eyes are his moneymaker, they can also get him in trouble. NFL QBs can hold onto reads, looking off Lake and making him move out of position. Furthermore, he is prone to the periodic bite on double-moves in zone coverage. In these instances, he lacks the footwork and sheer explosiveness to recover.

The UCLA S just doesn’t have the juice of top-tier DBs in the NFL. He isn’t quick out of his backpedal, transitions, or in redirections. His ability to anticipate plays makes up for much of his athletic limitations but not all of it. He has shown some mirror ability in man, but quicker receivers may cause him trouble from the slot if he doesn’t get his hands on them.

Lake can improve his consistency in reading runs, as there are times when he is a hair late pulling the trigger. He can take improper angles when crashing downfield, leading to missed arm tackles in the alley. His adequate lateral agility limits his ability to make up for poor angles in the open field. Lake is a strong tackler, but he won’t jolt many ball carriers backward and needs help to finish the job at times.

The main concern with Lake is health. He missed most of 2019 with a broken wrist, dealt with COVID protocols in 2020, and suffered multiple injuries in the early goings of 2021. Further emphasizing the point, he is currently recovering from a hamstring injury that held him out of most Combine drills and the UCLA Pro Day.

Lake’s Player Profile

Lake was born in Pittsburgh but grew up in Southern California. He attended powerhouse Mater Dei High School with the likes of JT Daniels, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Bru McCoy. Yet, Lake was the leader of the defense, racking up 49 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and 7 interceptions as a junior.

Mater Dei charged to a 13-1 record in his senior campaign, with their lone loss coming in the playoffs. Lake ended the year with 28 tackles, 9 pass deflections, and 2 INTs. He also participated in track and field, staying in shape after the football season ended. According to the 247Sports Composite, Lake was a three-star recruit and the No. 57 prospect in the state.

He held offers from USC, Pittsburgh, and Oregon State, but his heart always belonged to UCLA. Both of his parents were Bruins, with his father a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame. Lake’s dreams of becoming a Bruin became true as he committed to the program prior to his senior year and enrolled the following fall.

Lake’s career at UCLA

It didn’t take long for Lake to see the field, as he played in nine games as a true freshman — mainly as a special-teams contributor. In 2018, the program went through an overhaul, with Chip Kelly becoming head coach. Former starting safety Octavius Spencer chose to transfer, opening an opportunity for Lake. He took it and ran with it, earning the starting role and ending the year with 67 tackles (third on the team), 5 PBUs, and 2 INTs.

While his career was on an upward trajectory, it would come to a screeching halt due to a broken right wrist after just three games in 2019. He went on to miss eight contests, but he returned for the season finale off the bench. 2020 brought further trials and tribulations, as the Pac-12 Conference initially canceled the season due to the pandemic.

They would reverse course midway through the fall, giving UCLA seven games. Yet, Lake missed two due to COVID protocols. Nevertheless, he generated 33 tackles, 4 PBUs, and an interception in five games. Finally healthy and with the effects of the pandemic dissipating, Lake was primed for a breakout campaign.

But it wasn’t to be, as Lake missed a game and battled injuries during the beginning of the year. Still, he was able to produce 55 tackles, 6 pass deflections, and 3 INTs — including an impressive one-hander against USC.

Academic success and next steps

Lake made the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll every year at UCLA and earned his undergraduate degree in Sociology. Additionally, he is currently enrolled in the Transformative Coaching and Leadership graduate program.

Although injuries held back early-season success, Lake’s play down the stretch caught the eye of the NFLPA Bowl team. Following his NFL Draft declaration, he accepted his invitation and prepared to showcase his talents. But before he could, the Shrine Bowl offered him the opportunity to play in their all-star event, and Lake jumped at the opportunity to face stiffer competition.

What they’re saying about Lake

“[Lake] is a guy who’s starting to generate some midseason buzz among scouts. In a fairly thin safety class, Lake has a few things for scouts to hang their hats on: intelligence, eye discipline, and the ability to play in space. … Lake is a heady player who tends to be one step ahead of his opponent, as he was against the Ducks on a key goal-line interception.” — Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy

Lake’s NFL Draft ascension

Lake compares favorably to former Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller. The Los Angeles Rams’ 2020 sixth-round pick shares similar measurements to Lake. Additionally, neither pops off the screen physically, but they make up for it with plus football IQ. However, I believe Lake possesses better overall coverage ability.

  • Fuller (2020 Combine): 6’2″, 203 pounds, 31″ arms, 9″ hands, 4.67 40-yard dash
  • Lake (2022 Combine): 6’1 1/8″, 205 pounds, 31 1/4″ arms, 9 1/8″ hands, 4.59 40-yard dash

I expect Lake to go late Day 3 like Fuller. He hasn’t conducted any official top-30 visits, but he does have obvious ties to the Steelers franchise. His father was an All-Pro safety and DBs coach for years with the team, Lake was born in Pittsburgh, and his favorite player is none other than Rod Woodson. Mike Tomlin’s squad could use depth at the safety position behind Minkah Fitzpatrick. And if they haven’t selected one by Day 3, Lake would make a good fit and story.

Teams would best utilize his versatility and intelligence in sub-packages (nickel/dime) and in split-field looks. The ceiling may not be the roof with Lake, but the floor also isn’t the foundation. In reality, Lake’s NFL career will likely fall somewhere in the middle as a special-teams contributor and depth piece on defense. Although that may be a far cry from his father’s achievements, Lake has stepped out from under his shadow and will continue to do so in the league.

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