The NFL Draft takes place this Thursday-Saturday (April 23-25), and will be simulcast on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. All of the NFL executives will be making picks from their homes as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, meaning you should watch to see execs struggle with basic internet issues at a bare minimum.
But above all else, you should watch because several Virginia Football players have a chance at hearing their names called this week. The first Cavalier off the board could very well be superstar cornerback Bryce Hall. He’s projected largely as a late second round, early third round pick.
Since the start of widespread quarantine, Hall has “met” with NFL scouts and coaches via FaceTime. “I had to watch my own tape through a screen,” Hall told the media (via Zoom) back in late March. “So, it’s kind of blurry, but we were just kind of talking through some things.”
Hall is a shutdown corner, and likely would have been a first-rounder last year if he hadn’t decided to stay in Charlottesville for his senior season. His college career abruptly ended after he dislocated his ankle, broke his fibula, and tore his deltoid ligament in Virginia’s game at Miami this season. Hall wasn’t quite at 100% when he spoke to media just under a month ago, but was hoping to reach that level by Virginia’s scheduled pro day on April 8.
“I wouldn’t step on the field unless I was 100%,” Hall stated. “So as of right now, I would say no, but April 8, I’m optimistic. So I think I’m progressing at a high enough pace that it would be like a game-time decision, but I wouldn’t do it unless I was 100%. And right now, that’s not where I am yet.”
Obviously, that pro day didn’t happen, but there’s enough tape and stats for execs to go off of when it comes to Hall.
Hall started 39 of 44 games he saw action in at Virginia, coming into Charlottesville as a two-star recruit from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In his breakout third year, Hall led the nation with 22 pass breakups and was tied for first in passes defended with 24. He made First Team All-ACC and five All-America lists — ranging from HM to second team — in 2018. Before last season started, Hall was named to two preseason First Team All-America squads and a handful of other award watch lists.
Hall, who stands at 6’1 and weighs 200 pounds, is lauded for his physicality, tackling, awareness, and overall football IQ. Joe Marino, an analyst for The Draft Network, said Hall is an “assertive tackler that brings excellent hitting power and contact balance to the point of attack.”
Lance Zierlein, an analyst for the NFL, says, “his reactive quickness and ball skills fit nicely into zone-based coverages, allowing greater freedom to spy quarterbacks and squeeze short and intermediate throws.”
The only real knock you’ll find on Hall’s game is regarding man defense and his lateral/backpedal speed. His injury has raised a lot of questions, but he’ll be able to prove himself easily on the field. He’s a player that will fit in nicely with a zone-heavy team, and his ability to know and understand different schemes in Bronco Mendenhall’s 3-4 defense will make him an even more attractive draft pick.
While many players could understandably get discouraged following a season-ending injury, Hall took it as an opportunity to keep learning. “I was basically a coach during that time, so I was in the film [room], I was in some of the staff meeting rooms, and when they’re watching film and breaking down things, I saw and got the perspective on how [a player’s] game crept in,” Hall said. “Then we would go out and practice, and you could see different guys and how they would go through the walkthroughs.”
Off the field, Hall is an asset to any locker room. His personality is infectious, and his coaches and teammates have nothing but praise to offer. He’s clearly a hard worker, earning a starting spot after coming into Charlottesville without much fanfare.
The ACC Network’s Roddy Jones had nothing but praise for Hall and his game:
CBS Sports - No. 73, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sports Illustrated - No. 78, Atlanta Falcons
Sporting News - No. 61, Tennessee Titans
NFL Draftwire (USA Today) - No. 64, Seattle Seahawks
NFL - No. 130, New Orleans Saints
How to Watch
Here is the full schedule with times and networks, per the NFL:
- Thursday, April 23 (8-11:30 p.m. ET): Round 1 — ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
- Friday, April 24 (7-11:30 p.m.): Rounds 2 and 3 — ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
- Sat, April 25 (12-7 p.m.): Rounds 4 through 7 — ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
Stick with Streaking the Lawn this week as we continue to look at the NFL Draft and the players that might hear their names called.