Georgia has lots of talent all over the field on their defense. From Eric Stokes to Richard LeCounte, Jordan Davis to Monty Rice, this team is absolutely stacked with future NFL players. It is no surprise that they are playing at an extremely high level as a result. However, the elite play of their number one cornerback, Tyson Campbell, has truly made their defense the best in the nation. Just what has Campbell done to make his game so good, and how does it affect his draft stock?
Tyson Campbell’s elite play this season
Campbell has faced some strong competition thus far in the year. Most notably, he went head to head with Auburn’s Seth Williams two weeks ago. Whoever has lined up across from the talented cornerback has been shut down for the entire game. It has been a start to the year that may propel Campbell into sure-fire first-round status.
Now, the clear improvements Campbell has made have all been with his eyes. It is not perfect, but his eye discipline was horrific last season. He caught got looking into the backfield too many times. Campbell was too aggressive and did not stay square all time, either, as his eyes were not focused through the receiver’s hips. However, this year he has done a much better job of staying patient, reading through the receiver’s movements, and not getting caught up in most of what is going on at the line of scrimmage. That is part of his huge leap.
Some of it is just a natural progression, given the physical talent that Campbell possesses. From an athletic standpoint, Campbell is the ideal cornerback for any level. His hips are loose and fluid. This is a guy who can flip his hips rapidly, stay-in phase, and work right downfield with a receiver after his release. It has gotten to the point where Campbell is now running some routes for receivers.
Campbell’s attributes are enough to impress
The paramount improvement is his explosiveness off his click and close reps downhill. This was the final step forward needed regarding his physical traits. Few players have the elite closing speed and explosiveness stemming from that like Campbell. It allows him to squeeze throwing windows, and since he is almost always right in that hip pocket anyway, Campbell subsequently registers tons of pass breakups. In terms of basic athletic traits, Campbell has adequate long speed, and he is also quick and twitchy laterally. That is much more promising for zone-oriented concepts, especially those within pattern-matching based schemes.
Teams will love Tyson Campbell’s length and frame. He has clearly been in the weight room over the summer and has more power behind his strikes at the line. Press coverage is Campbell’s specialty, and given all of his tools, that makes a lot of sense. Williams struggled because of Campbell’s feistiness not just at the line but also at the catch point. Campbell knocked Williams off his route at the scrimmage line and then would wrestle the ball away at the catch point. Thus, he erased Williams for four quarters. Campbell knows that the sideline is a weapon and takes receivers out of the play by using it.
A delightful surprise in Campbell’s tape was how solid he was in run support. He has trouble working off of blocks, but he is feisty and competitive against the run. As a tackler, he is relatively solid. That is always a nice bonus that teams will appreciate.
Tyson Campbell is still far from perfect
Campbell’s year has certainly been great thus far, but there are still issues. In other words, Campbell is improving, but the job is not yet done. First, his discipline is much better, but he still gets caught looking into the backfield at too much window dressing. Tyson Campbell knows he must improve on this and is working relentlessly, but it will still be an issue until it completely gets fixed.
His ball skills have been something that is concerning. Campbell is almost always in position but fails to get his head around too many times. His ball tracking is a massive issue in the future, and it is part of why you do not see Campbell with lots of interceptions on his resume. In the NFL, that could bite him against some of the better receivers.
Meanwhile, while he has experience in zone coverage, Campbell is still a work in progress in that scheme. His eyes are still a problem here, but he also does not feel for route combinations and anticipates those concepts to make a play on them. It will be one of the steeper parts of the learning curve to the next level.
Alabama’s receivers will test Campbell
Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith will show just how real and how big the leap that Campbell took from 2019 to 2020 honestly actually is. Campbell’s discipline is the one thing that has to be disciplined against the Crimson Tide. Waddle and Smith will absolutely cook Campbell if he does not stay disciplined with his eyes in coverage.
However, the opposite is true if Campbell can pull off the strong performance. Scouts are going to keep their eyes keenly on the game and what transpires. Campbell’s athleticism and press coverage ability have the ability to match up extremely well against these talented receivers of the Crimson Tide.
With a strong performance, Campbell has a chance to lock himself into the first round of the draft in April. With his improving stock and a talented cornerback class, Campbell’s strong start to the season against good competition is already turning heads.