Yusuf Corker, Kentucky S | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Perhaps overlooked in a strong DB class, can Kentucky S Yusuf Corker leverage his scouting report into NFL Draft prominence this April?

A unique element of the safety position is the diverse skill sets you’ll find within that category. There are many different types of safeties that fulfill many different types of roles. But one-trick ponies are slowly being phased out of the NFL. Being really good at one thing isn’t good enough anymore. You have to do more. As his 2022 NFL Draft scouting report shows, Kentucky S Yusuf Corker has the potential to do just that.

Yusuf Corker NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Safety
  • School: Kentucky
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 5’11 1/2″
  • Weight: 204 pounds
  • Wingspan: 75″
  • Length: 30 7/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/8″

Yusuf Corker Scouting Report

Kentucky has quietly been one of the more productive SEC schools in recent years when it comes to producing NFL talent. Last offseason, Jamin Davis and Kelvin Joseph went in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. This offseason, players like Darian Kinnard, Wan’Dale Robinson, Josh Paschal, Luke Fortner, and Marquan McCall will all find new homes at the next level.

Another name from the Wildcats’ roster to remember for your mock drafts, however, is Corker’s. Corker was one of the most productive defensive backs in his conference this past season. He didn’t catch on until Day 3 of the Senior Bowl — and still appears to be flying under the radar. But there’s a lot to like about Corker’s game (and some unearthed potential as well).

Corker’s athletic profile

Corker measured in a bit smaller than expected at the Senior Bowl, but he still has a strong frame with decent length. Most impressive in Corker’s athletic makeup, however, is his explosiveness. The Kentucky S has great long-track explosiveness, and he can gear up quickly when he has a runway. Corker also has good short-range twitch and burst. He can snap out of his stance and surge forward in the box.

Going further, Corker’s explosiveness allows him to trigger downhill quickly. He can erase space closer to the line and seal off big plays. Additionally, Corker’s explosiveness translates to impressive recovery speed. He can close gaps quickly in pursuit. The Kentucky S also has solid range over the top. He opens up his strides and covers good amounts of ground on the back end.

Corker shoots out of a cannon coming downhill. He can levy big hits against receivers over the middle with his frame. With that frame, Corker also has the strength to effectively wrap up as a tackler in the open field. He can still improve his efficiency of motion — as we’ll get into later — but he flashes smooth weight transfers. That twitch helps him load up potential energy and explode out of his stance.

Execution beyond the physical traits

Even with his experience, Corker has some things to work on operationally. Nevertheless, there’s a promising foundation in place. Most notably, Corker flashes the ability to process quickly and adapt mid-rep. He has fairly solid awareness and route-recognition ability. He can follow the quarterback’s eyes and pick up routes over the middle. But Corker also doesn’t get tunnel vision on routes often. He can recognize screens sneaking beneath the field and peel off to respond.

The spatial awareness is there with Corker. He keeps his head on a swivel in space and sees the field well. He’s always active on the back end — active feet, active eyes, and abrupt transitions. Moreover, Corker has a lot of promise in deep coverage. He actively adjusts his hip alignment on the back end to prepare for potential engagements. He can flip his hips, manage space, and accelerate quickly out of transitions.

Closer to the box, Corker brings great utility. He can rotate into the slot, jam receivers at the line, and then match them with his burst. He flashes the quick feet and physicality necessary to hold up on man coverage reps. In run defense, Corker can square up ball carriers and adjust his tackling angles quickly. He has great urgency as a tackler and launches in contact. He’s also willing to occupy blocks to free up space for teammates.

Last but not least, Corker shows glimpses of good ball skills. He could turn his head around more often, but he’s able to track the ball, and has a competitive mindset when the ball is in the air.

Areas for improvement

Most noticeable with Corker is the need for improved efficiency of motion. His footwork at times can be staggered. He’s not always a smooth or fluid mover. His feet can be uncoordinated in zone. He doesn’t always keep his base, and overlapping routes can tie him up. He can also be a little stiff when changing directions. Moreover, Corker sometimes gets caught flat-footed on transitions from his backpedal, and that can impact his reaction quickness.

Corker can sink his hips, but he doesn’t always have synergy with his feet. Improving his efficiency of motion could help with that. On top of his mobility, Corker needs to do a better job anticipating and attacking when reading the QB’s eyes. His eyes are often in the right place, but he can be a tick late reacting. Corker sometimes freezes up when reading plays — he can improve his response speed by anticipating more. The Kentucky safety needs to also anticipate angles better. He sometimes runs into blockers when trekking across the field.

Corker’s inconsistent angles show up in several phases. He sometimes takes faulty angles heading into the box, funneling himself into dead ends. The Kentucky S can be too aggressive, overcommitting to tackling angles and slipping by opponents. Additionally, Corker sometimes falls for eye candy and takes his eyes off the ball. He occasionally turns his back to the ball when tailing routes, taking bait from the offense.

Among other things, Corker doesn’t always attack blocks. He sometimes fades away from them, giving ground for opponents. Corker can do a better job reading the QB’s eyes in the red zone, as he doesn’t always get proper depth. Furthermore, overlapping routes can slow Corker down, when he should just stay at full speed and stick to his assignment.

Corker’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview

At safety, Corker offers promise and intrigue in multiple phases. His explosiveness pops off the screen, both coming downhill and closing ground in space. Corker has great range as a playmaker. But he’s also physical, and in zone coverage, he’s shown to adjust his hip alignment, adapt, and maintain space.

While there’s a lot to like with Corker, there are also dire areas of improvement. His tackling can be hit-or-miss coming downhill. His efficiency of motion needs work if he wants to hold up against NFL receivers in space. And while he can process well, he needs to be more consistent anticipating and arriving on time. He sometimes freezes up and second-guesses himself. That can be a fatal mistake for defenders in the fast-paced NFL.

Nevertheless, Corker has some enforcer qualities in the box. He has a dense frame, great closing burst, and a physical edge. And in coverage, the building blocks are there for Corker — a former cornerback — to be a versatile DB with two-high, slot, and potentially even single-high capabilities.

Corker is probably best as a strong safety in a two-high alignment to start, while he keeps honing his footwork and anticipation. But at his peak, he can be a versatile playmaker whose explosiveness and urgent play pace grant him plenty of opportunities against the run and the pass.

Corker’s Player Profile

It’s been a long journey for Corker, but there’s never been any doubt that football is in his future. Going as far back as high school, Corker always had a knack for making plays. The Kentucky S amassed 105 tackles, 15 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles as a four-year starter at Woodland High School. At the time, Corker played cornerback, and he was lauded for his lockdown potential.

Predictably, Corker was a top-250 prospect in the 2017 class and a highly rated four-star recruit. Coming from Stockbridge, Georgia, Corker fielded offers from Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, and Florida, among others. But Corker viewed Kentucky football as the best fit, so he chose to join the Wildcats on the college football arena.

Corker’s career at Kentucky

Corker forged a storied career under the lights at Kroger Field. He was a full-time starter by his redshirt-sophomore season in 2019. Over a two-year stretch from 2019 through 2020, Corker logged 151 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a sack, 3 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, 2 fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. All that production — and Corker’s 2021 season was his best yet.

In 2021, the two-time team captain broke out as one of the best defensive players in the SEC. He collected 82 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and a career-high 8 pass deflections. Beyond his play on the field, Corker was an academic honoree, as well as a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given to a defensive player who embodies integrity, maturity, tenacity, and excellence in the community, among other qualities.

Corker’s NFL Draft ascension

It’s difficult to nail down where Corker will go off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft. He didn’t necessarily separate himself at the Senior Bowl, but he put together some solid reps down the stretch. Athletic testing will be huge for Corker. Everyone knows he’ll test with good explosiveness, but it could do wonderful things for his stock if he can put up good speed and agility numbers.

As of now, the Kentucky S looks like a solid mid-round pick who could sneak into the top 100 with a good conclusion to the offseason. Corker will have to keep improving his efficiency of motion and keep sharpening his stimuli as a processor. But he has the physical tools and the capacity to be a versatile tone-setter with playmaking ability on the back end.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Yusuf Corker

Positives: Smart, physical safety with average size and speed. Instinctive, quick to diagnose, and immediately picks up and stays with coverage assignments. Fires up the field to defend the run, wraps up tackling, and brings opponents down at the point. Effectively times pass defenses and shows a burst to the ball out of his plant.

Negatives: Plays to one speed and isn’t fast out to the sidelines. Does a lot of face guarding in man-coverage situations.

Analysis: Corker was a productive three-year starter at Kentucky, but he has athletic limitations. Best up the field as a strong safety or in a zone system, he offers possibilities as a fourth safety/special-teams player.

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