Clemson’s defense featured some of the same type of impressive athletes their offense did. Bashaud Breeland proved to be a playmaker and someone that could cause turnovers even if he was still relatively raw at the position. His combination of size, strength and speed allowed him to make up for mistakes and come up with some big highlights, but he also had some troubles against some relatively average opponents at times. While people were focused on whether or not Vic Beasley would declare, Breeland was the one that ultimately decided to go to the NFL Draft early.
For the NFL, Breeland is an impressive athlete with terrific ball skills that could play in a few different positions. While he is likely to get every shot and has some nice potential as a cornerback, Breeland also has the tools and experience to play as a free safety. He is still learning the position and refining his instincts but shows a great deal of potential and could pay off handsomely for a team that bets on him. Breeland warrants a top 100 pick, but it would not be a surprise if he went earlier based on his athletic potential.
Vitals & Build
Breeland is listed at 6’ 185lbs, but he looks bigger than his listed weight. He has a broad build that makes look the part of a bigger corner. Breeland has good functional strength, impressive agility and burst. His long speed is good but not great. His long build and arms suggest he should be able to easily continue to add strength and get stronger going to the next level.
Breeland is a pretty solid tackler for the most part. He does a good job of wrapping up the opponent and he has a pretty good reach. Breeland is pretty consistent when it comes to getting a low base and generally avoids lunging at the opponent. He can use his feet better when it comes to driving through contact, but when Breeland is coming forward, he can lay a pretty good hit on the opponent.
The one thing he needs to avoid is putting his head down on occasion. He is a threat to rip the ball out and cause fumbles.
Breeland shows some ability and the willingness to be an effective run defender. He is active and has shown situations where he is either blitzing or reads the play quickly and shoots through to the play before a blocker can get to him with the ability to make an impact play. When Breeland sees it, he will go after it and give a good effort to try and make the play.
Breeland has and will take on blockers. Where he runs into a problem is how he tries to beat them at times. There are some great examples where Breeland will either shock a would be blocker and has a good angle to get into the play.
The issue that Breeland has to recognize is when opponents are giving him a lane intentionally and he takes it, taking himself right out of the play in the process. When that happens, he opens a running lane for the ball carrier in the process. There are times when he would actually be better off simply holding his ground and eliminating an option for the ball carrier.
The effort is great, but he just needs to get more experience and recognize situations that are being thrown at him.
Breeland has experience playing heads up as well as in off man coverage. In terms of the raw athleticism needed, Breeland has the ability to do the job. He needs to keep working and getting better in terms of mirroring. The results in how he reacts off the first move are inconsistent and he can get shaken off at times. When he is right, his broad build and length make him tough to throw against as well as his ability to find and make a play on the football.
In off man coverage, Breeland is extremely comfortable and does a nice job of breaking on the ball. Going forward or the direction his hips are facing, his acceleration is outstanding and he is able to cover a large amount of ground quickly. He has great hips and can react effectively to moves provided he reads them correctly. As a result, he is able to make up ground when he is behind the opponent and his size and length allow him to make plays on the football in situations where others might be shielded from the play.
Breeland has got to develop better awareness of what is going on around him. It is notable just how many times opponents were able to lose him by rubbing him on other players. This is particularly notable with how many times he gets caught running into the official. His focus on the receiver is good, but he has to be able to avoid getting beaten so easily and crossing routes and rub combinations proved troublesome for Breeland all year.
Clemson did not feature much zone coverage, but Breeland has experience playing safety in his past. He is extremely comfortable playing with facing the line of scrimmage and is aggressive coming up on the ball. His range and length could make an intriguing prospect in a zone scheme or transitioning back to safety and playing on the back end.
Breeland has demonstrated impressive ball skills. He is able to locate the ball at an extremely high level and has the ability to react quickly and catch the football. Breeland shows extremely natural hands and is able to catch the ball through contact. There have been some missed opportunities, but he has certainly shown to be a threat and if an opponent is not careful with the ball, he can definitely punish them for it.
Blitzing off the Edge
Breeland has impressive burst and speed off of the edge, so he can get into the backfield in a hurry. He is certainly a threat to make an impact in the backfield and create pressure to get sacks.
Breeland has experience on special teams and should be able to contribute there immediately as a gunner and on coverage units. His combination of size, strength and speed as well as being able tackle makes him a nice fit there.
Breeland’s best fit is still to be determined. He has been played quite a bit in man this year, but he could be played in zone or even moved to safety depending on how the team that picks him wants to use him. It stands to reason that he would be given every opportunity to succeed at corner before moving to safety.
Breeland has the potential to be a starting corner, but he might be initially used as a nickel option. He has a ton of experience playing inside and if he can play the run more effectively, he could give a team credibility in that area with nickel defense on the field.
Should Breeland ultimately end up at safety, he could be a nice addition because he can play man coverage on receivers. He has a lot of tools and potential so he can do a lot of different things but has not really mastered them into one true position at this point.
Breeland is similar to Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots in terms of his raw skillset. McCourty came out of Rutgers as a corner and ultimately started that way in New England before they had a difficult time filling a safety spot and moved him back there. Breeland has the ability to develop into a player like McCourty, but he is still raw where McCourty was a little more polished coming into the NFL. Still, the versatility and upside for Breeland are on that type of level.
Bashaud Breeland is a terrific athlete and he possesses some of the best ball skills in this year’s draft class. He still has to develop in terms of his instincts and recognizing how opponents are trying to take advantage of him, but he has intriguing upside. The skills are there to be a corner but if he simply cannot make that transition, he could be a nice safety for a team. Breeland warrants a top 100 pick but could go earlier, especially if he tests as well as he looks like he should. There is a lot to like about Breeland if a team is willing to pay some of the freight on his development.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com