Keith McGill came to Utah as a highly regarded JUCO player as a safety at Cerritos College. After getting to Salt Lake City, McGill was able to play 6 games as a junior before suffering a significant shoulder injury. The rehab from the surgery actually forced head coach Kyle Whittingham to redshirt him for the 2012 season before he came back in 2013 to play as a cornerback.
Projecting McGill to the NFL, he is still somewhat raw as a corner, but he does have some ability and potential to get better. He has the size and length that some teams are really hoping to find in their corners and has shown some effectiveness with his jam and ability to make plays on the football, but he needs to get more consistent in just about every area of the game. He has potential to get better but his shoulder surgery and his age (he will be 25 at the time of the draft) could cause some teams to pass him over or wait much later in the draft to take him. As a result, McGill projects as a third day prospect with the possibility of going undrafted, but it is likely that a team will find a place for McGill whether it be on the active roster or the practice squad to try to develop him as a defensive back, whether it be at corner or safety.
Vitals & Build
McGill is listed at 6’3” 205lbs with a strong, bulky built upper body with lean legs. His overall speed is relatively average and his hips are solid but not great. McGill displays a pretty good amount of strength in spots. There are definitely going to be questions about his shoulder when he goes to the combine, since it caused him to miss basically a year and a half of football. He appears to be able to continue gaining strength but the biggest improvement he can make physically is becoming more fluid.
McGill tends to be a consistent wrap up tackler, but too often he leaves his feet and just lets gravity and his weight do much of the work. His angles to tackles are inconsistent and can be downright bad at times where the path he takes misses the tackle entirely or approaches it from a difficult angle. The fact he is a good wrap up tackler does help him quite a bit as he has a wide wing span and it can make up for some issues he has otherwise and it makes it tough for runners to get away from him.
His tackling is frustrating simply because he appears to be able to and simply needs to decide it is more important to him. McGill has experience as a safety but it is tough to put him there with how inconsistent he can be, risking the potential to give up big plays.
The ability for him to be effective in run support is there, but the results are inconsistent at best and too often seem to be mediocre. The biggest problem he seems to run into is that he does not do a good job taking on blocks from opponents. Some of this just appears to be a lack of desire or effort rather than the ability and he is too satisfied to be taken out of the play.
Given his size and strength, it seems as though McGill could be the type of player that could take away a good amount of real estate and cause opponents to run away from him as a strong side corner but the tape does not give a lot of confidence he would do the job consistently.
McGill has a lot of experience in press and off man coverage. His wingspan and strength can be a real weapon when it comes to getting a jam successfully and potentially controlling them at the line of scrimmage. There are certainly examples where this happen, but ends up missing too often and the way he tries to punch can be problematic. At times, he steps to his target and when he misses, the receiver is able to get behind him immediately. If he has safety help over the top that is designed to allow him that freedom, it is not the end of the world, but his accuracy and effectiveness with his jam needs to get better and more consistent.
When it comes to off man coverage, McGill really works hard to backpedal and keep his opponent in front of him, so he can plant and attack the ball in front of him in addition to the fact that he can tackle a catch in front of him if it is made. He can break on the ball effectively and his long arms have allowed him to get to a number of passes and deflect them out of the play.
McGill does show some issues with speed and opponents who can close the cushion quickly. In college, he can get away with using his hands to push them and potentially either widen out and push them out of bounds or just knock them off balance or off of the ground completely. That is a penalty in the NFL and will be an adjustment he has to make.
When it comes to pure speed, McGill has to be able to anticipate it, so he can flip and run with them. In those situations, his lack of speed is countered by the fact he has a decent cushion starting in front of the receiver and his length allows him to get to plays. The adjustments some receivers have made is slow playing McGill and either using double moves or hesitate to get him off balance and then use speed to beat him or come open on the comeback type route.
For example, a receiver might push that cushion, get him to flip and just come back underneath and McGill is left back and coming up late because he had trouble making that adjustment, fearful (with good reason) of being beat over the top. There are also situations where receivers will slow down or sell the underneath route to get him to stop or slow down and then blow by with speed. A few have just blown by him with speed and gotten behind him. The results are not only that McGill can be victimized deep but he can also get lost in coverage.
McGill has experience in zone and some potential in that area, but has not really shown a good sense of how far he can push zones and tends to get caught at times with nothing to do.
McGill’s height and length make it so he can reach plays and his ability to break on the ball can allow him to cover ground when he knows the pass is coming. He also has the ability to get some momentum and be a big hitter if he uses better form as a tackler to ensure he makes the play.
McGill could be employed in this scheme but needs more experience and a better sense of where he can go and when he needs to let opponents out of his coverage and when to pick up receivers coming at him.
McGill’s ball skills are somewhat limited. He is able to get to plays but he does not make enough with the opportunities he gets to catch the ball. Some of this is due to the fact that McGill is breaking on a play and is only able to get a hand in to deflect the pass but there are situations when he should catch the ball and cannot make the play.
Blitzing off the Edge
McGill’s ability off the edge is interesting because his speed suggests he is not good at it, but he had a tremendous sense of timing and snap anticipation on when he can go. Often coming from the outside receiver in coverage, McGill takes one big hop step inside of the receiver when he senses the snap is coming and when he lands, he explodes at the quarterback. His speed tends to have him fall short of getting to the quarterback but he does look to try to knock the ball down when thrown near him.
McGill has experience on kick coverage as well as being the outside protection on punt returns. In both situations, the results seem to be more feast or famine than they should be and if he cannot get control of the opponent early on punt returns, he can simply be beaten with speed and give up the play. His ability in kick coverage is more promising but the effort needs to be more consistent when it comes to beating blockers.
McGill’s best fit seems to be in a press man scheme or a Cover-2 scheme. That would allow him to take advantage of his length and power at the line of scrimmage to knock opponents off of their line. He needs to get better at being more accurate there, but the potential is there for him to be effective with more work.
It is also possible that McGill could be drafted as a safety. He has experience at free safety but he could potentially be depth at strong safety as well if he can buy into being more of a physical player and better tackler.
McGill’s game and path to the NFL could be similar to that of Brandon Browner of the Seattle Seahawks. Browner went undrafted and after getting a shot with the Denver Broncos, ultimately went to the CFL before coming back as a member of the Seahawks. Like McGill, he is that same type of big, rangy press corner who can jam opponents at the line and make plays with his length.
Keith McGill has shown ability as a corner, but is still somewhat raw and still learning the position, only having played 18 games at the D-1 level with just 12 at corner. His size, wingspan and strength can make him a nice player to have when it comes to getting a jam and controlling receivers. McGill still needs to develop consistency in coverage and get more active and determined in the running game.
He has been invited and accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, which could be an opportunity to showcase ability he has picked up this season and even the time between the event and the season’s end to where he could possibly improve his stock. The combine will be important for him because of medical questions with his shoulder and some teams may hold his age against him. All of those factors combined, McGill projects as a day three prospect and could end up going undrafted, but one way or another, McGill will get his shot to prove himself to an NFL team, likely getting a chance to develop as a defensive back.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com