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Virginia Football: NFL Draft Profile - Maurice Canady

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Once just a 2-star WR out of Richmond, Canady moved to CB upon arriving on grounds and almost immediately began turning heads. He started twice as a true freshman and was a regular starter by his second year on grounds. Beginning in his 3rd year, he was the top CB on the team and now he looks to continue his football career in the NFL.

Though his strength is in coverage, Canady is perfectly willing to come up and make a tackle.
Though his strength is in coverage, Canady is perfectly willing to come up and make a tackle.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the chatter about Canady as he enters the draft centers on the lack of production from his senior year, and the fact that he was beaten for 10 TDs over the past two years. Those of us who watched the Hoos game in and game out know that often these were not Canady's fault. Or, perhaps more accurately, not entirely his fault.

Canady is a tall CB at 6'1", but isn't the biggest guy at just 193 pounds. His straight line speed is outstanding for his size, and his agility was very good at the combine. Below are his combine numbers:

Event

40 yard dash

20 yard shuttle

3 cone drill

Bench press

Result (CB rank)

4.49 (14th)

4.09 (8th)

7.03 (12th)

16 reps (11th)


Those are pretty good numbers, especially when taken with his size. None of those numbers are elite, although 16 bench press reps for a DB is close.

Canady also played at the Senior Bowl, and performed well. He was noted in practice reports as "stepping up his game in press coverage". One of the reasons this was mentioned is that press coverage is his perceived weakness. This goes back to the 10 TDs against his over the past 2 years.

As I mentioned, those of us who watched the Hoos know that the Hoos left Canady in a position to fail far too often. He was left on an island on play after play, usually against the opposition's top WR. Coach Jon Tenuta was far too aggressive with a young defense, especially this year. There were often 6 or even 7 pass rushers in the backfield, with little or no actual pressure on the QB. This left Canady in an untenable position. So, yes he was beaten too often. But that fails to give him credit for all the plays in which he was kin single coverage and was not beaten.

The other knock on Canady is that he lacks physicality. That he's not strong enough to come up and make tackles in the flats, or that he isn't willing to come up on those plays. Once again, though there is some truth to this, much of it was scheme based. Canady's primary job was to cover his man. Playing the run, covering the flats, and whatever else he might've done was all secondary. Even so, he had 53 solo tackles (76 total tackles) over the past two years. So, again, Canady isn't a great tackler. Few CBs are. But, Canady is perfectly willing and capable of making plays against running backs or on WR screens.

As a third year, in a defense with reliable pass rushers, Canady had 12 pass break ups and 3 INTs. As a fourth year, in a defense that struggled to rush the passer and struggled with contain, his production dropped to just 6 pass break ups and 0 INTs. For his career, Canady totaled 5 INTs, 19 pass break ups, 6.5 TFLs, 2 sacks and also forced 4 fumbles. He also returned a punt for a TD this year.

Canady is also an outstanding character who will show up to practice every day and isn't going to cause problems off the field. Though he missed 4 games with injury over his career, he's never had an injury that cost him significant time so there is little concern there.

Most NFL teams play a defense based at least partly on a cover-2 scheme. Therefore, regardless of who drafts Canady, he's likely to see very little single coverage in the NFL. For starters, he's not seen as an elite cover man. But besides that, NFL teams rarely leave their CBs in single coverage against without help over the top. Even Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman usually have help, especially when facing top WRs.

A cover-2 scheme will play to Canady's strengths. He has strong read skills and will do well playing in a zone that allows him to read the play in front of him. Furthermore, he can be used in single coverage underneath against most NFL WRs, as long as there is help over the top, which opens up pass-rush options.

Canady will be the best fit on a team with a good defensive front 7 in place, and with a good defensive coordinator who isn't going to force him into a position in which he's likely to fail.

Canady is expected to go anywhere from the 3rd to the 5th round. Let's split the difference and project him in the 4th round to the Kansas City Chiefs, with the 126th overall pick.