South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton is the result of a second chance. After head coach Steve Spurrier had initially kicked him off the team for a violation of team rules stemming from poor academics and participation in team workouts, Spurrier gave the then redshirt freshman another shot, but was suspended for the first three games of that season.
Hampton paid that off by being one of the better cover corners in the country this past year as a member of a tough Gamecock defense, leading the team in interceptions and pass deflections. Unfortunately, Hampton’s career in Columbia ended much the same way it began as he was not allowed to start the Capital One Bowl game against Wisconsin for another violation of team rules. After helping the Gamecocks beat the Badgers and get South Carolina to 11 wins on the season, Hampton opted to declare for the NFL Draft along with teammates Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Bruce Ellington.
For the NFL, Hampton has a lot of skills that will be attractive to teams including his knack for getting to the football. His arms appear to be cover up his lack of height, he has a good build and seems to have a nice amount of speed and quickness for the position. There are some technical issues that need to be improved such as his stance and some questions with coverage breakdowns. He is a gambler and seems to always be willing to bet on himself to make the big play which has resulted in some big plays against him. Teams are also going to have investigate and get answers to questions regarding these suspensions and how much they give them concern about his ability to contribute and stay on the field for them. On talent, Hampton warrants a top 100 pick and could be a player that ends up going in the second round if teams are satisfied with his character.
Vitals & Build
Hampton is listed at 5’10” 202lbs with a strong build, especially in his upper body and has long arms. He has impressive agility and seems to have enough speed to keep up with most any opponent. His body control can be fantastic in spots but will also have trouble keeping his balance and keeping his feet under him when he has to make drastic changes in direction. Hampton could still get stronger, but the best thing he can do is getting more efficient in his movements to avoid getting caught off balance.
Hampton has shown he can be a good tackler, but he is inconsistent. At times, he will do a nice job of breaking down and wrapping up on contact. There are also times where Hampton is off balance, will lunge and try to shoulder bomb the opponent. The one issue that consistently shows up for Hampton in his tackling is that he needs to keep his feet and drive through contact better, so he is more accurate and avoids getting shook by the ball carrier. Hampton shows he can do the job and just needs to trust his technique for better results.
Like his tackling, Hampton has some great examples of being an effective run defender but he is inconsistent. Hampton has shown the willingness to come downhill fast, get in position and make the play on the ball carrier. There have been some great examples of him shocking a blocker to avoid getting engaged on his way to making a play.
He also has situations where he will take on a block with ugly position, bending over and putting his head down, making it easy for the opponent to take him out of the play. His effort to help in the run is not always there and could be better. And if he is not confident in his ability to take down the ball carrier, he goes for a big shot that can prove risky.
One of the issues that stand out immediately with Hampton is his stance. Hampton, even when lined up right over the top of a receiver in coverage, stands really tall and looks lackadaisical. He has the quickness and physicality to play in press, but he is at a disadvantage and trying to play catchup often because he starts out so inefficiently. Giving up that time to get situated when the play gives the receiver time to set him up and make a move. Cleaning that up and getting an efficient stance would make him more able to stay with and run with opponents.
When Hampton gets in position and is able to run with the opponent, he is able to mirror effectively and is able to react and make plays on the ball well. Hampton has shown good instincts on when and how to find the ball and make plays. He is physical as a corner and appears to have long arms that make him able to reach well and make plays on the ball effectively. Hampton breaks on the football well, does a good job of getting to the football and is able to do it without drawing penalties for unnecessary contact.
He has a lot of experience in off man coverage as well. Hampton really seems comfortable facing the line of scrimmage and likes being in a position where he can attack downhill on the football.
Hampton has also shown the ability to see the ball being thrown, come off of his man and either bolster coverage or make a play on another receiver in the play. His range and ability to process information as the play is live is impressive.
Hampton has some experience playing in zone, though periodically it seems like it is thrust upon him with a missed assignment somewhere in the defense, which came up a concerning amount of the time. He was ultimately benched twice during the season for ‘freelancing’ in coverage.
Between his experience in off man and zone, Hampton is comfortable facing the line of scrimmage and letting receivers come to him. In a few situations, Hampton has shown terrific spatial awareness, covering multiple receivers at the same time. For example, in a play where he ended up as the lone man covering two receivers streaking down the field, played in the middle of them and held his water, allowing the quarterback to decide for him on where to make the play. Hampton was smart and did not panic, so when the quarterback threw the ball, he was still able to close and knock the ball away. In a situation that was either a bad defense for the situation or a broken defensive play, Hampton was able to adjust and make a huge play, bailing out his teammates.
There are some situations where Hampton gets caught flat footed, watching the play and someone will run right by him or he or a teammate is wrong in their responsibility, so they both end up on the same opponent and someone is left wide open.
Hampton has shown he can get to the ball quite a bit and make plays on it, but needs to make more of the opportunities when he catch it. There are definitely situations where Hampton is only able to get an extended hand on the ball and has deflected passes in the air to teammates, he needs to work and improve on his ability to catch passes in contested situations.
The fact that Hampton is able to get to the ball and creates as many opportunities as he does is important and notable. If he can catch more passes thrown at him, opponents will stop throwing at him, but he is always a threat to make a play and can sometimes catch opponents by surprise with his range and ability to stretch out and get to passes.
Blitzing off the Edge
Hampton has been used to blitz from the edge, but the same issues that hurt him in man coverage hurt him here. His stance makes him slower to get off of snap and if he was better there, he could be faster to the football. Hampton appears to have enough speed and burst to make an impact and though he only recorded one sack in his career, he could be utilized there.
Hampton seems most comfortable in an off man look because he is aggressive in how he plays coverage. He could also play in a zone system has the potential to play press effectively. Hampton has a lot of versatility and likes to be in a situation where he has the freedom to go attack the football as he is probably going to do it anyway, so if he has safety help behind him, it would allow him to try to cause turnovers. He may ultimately be served to be part of an aggressive defense that will embrace his style of play or protect him when he makes mistakes.
The potential is there for Hampton to come in and start but could be a nice option as a nickel defender early as well. His style of play and nose for the ball could allow him to make an early impact playing in the slot with the possibility of being near the ball more often. Some of that could ultimately be due to how willing Hampton is to listen to coaching and be part of the scheme. His long term upside should have becoming a starter on the outside at some point and has the talent to be an impact player if he can iron out some technical issues and consistency questions.
Hampton has some of the same characteristics as Vontae Davis of the Indianapolis Colts. They have a similar broad build and impressive physical attributes. Davis ultimately went in the first round because of his incredible workouts and potential but has settled into a nice fit with the Colts. Hampton may not go as high as Davis did and might not have the elite physical tools that Davis did but he might have a better nose for the football.
Vic Hampton has a tremendous amount of ability and instincts. It is somewhat bizarre how good he is in some nuanced areas of the game but has some basics that need to be addressed like his stance. He seems to be able to do a little bit of everything for a team and has shown he can get to the football and disrupt plays. There are some character questions that need to be answered in how he started and finished his career for the Gamecocks, but should those issues check out, the talent is there for him to be an impact player in the NFL. Hampton warrants a top 100 pick but could end up being a solid second round pick and perhaps jumping a few name corners because of his ability to make plays.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com