Oregon had an impressive secondary this past year, but the expectation was that Ifo Ekpre-Olomu would declare for the NFL Draft as a likely first round pick. An Oregon corner did end up declaring but it was his teammate Terrance Mitchell. Mitchell has been a big contributor in his time, making an impact almost immediately and has found a knack for causing turnovers as well as just being a good, assignment defender.
For the NFL, Mitchell is a smart, technical defender who has to prove he has enough athletic ability to do the job. He works hard, is constantly making plays because of sheer effort as well as his awareness and understanding of angles and where plays are going. Mitchell does a good job in coverage and does possess the hips, fluidity and short area quickness to operate underneath in zone or man coverage. He looks like he should be able to make a living as a nickel or dime corner, provided he can prove he can contribute on special teams. Mitchell projects as a day three corner with a small chance of going undrafted, but as long as he gets a shot to prove himself, he could be a player that makes himself incredibly difficult to cut.
Vitals & Build
Mitchell is listed at 6’ 189lbs with a relatively slight, lean frame. His strength is underwhelming at this point and added strength would make his life much easier. Mitchell has good quickness, body control, fluidity and a solid burst. His long speed is relatively average. Mitchell has some potential if he can continue to fill out his frame while maintaining and perhaps improving his overall athleticism.
Mitchell is a decent tackler by virtue of the fact that he gets the job done. He does a pretty good job of using his arms in his tackle to at least slow the opponent up if he does not take them down himself. Mitchell does a good job of taking advantage of the sideline when possible. He does not show much in terms of power in his tackles but does not feel compelled to launch himself to compensate.
Mitchell does a pretty mediocre job against the run, but it is not for lack of effort. He does a good job of reading the play and getting in position. The problem he runs into is a sheer lack of size.
Mitchell has trouble when it comes to taking on shedding blocks. He will occasionally do a nice job of rolling off of blocks or shocking an opponent. Mitchell also will try his best to hold his position to limit running lanes. The problem is that when opponents put in the effort, they can get their hands on him and are able to drive him off out of the play. This problem is likely only going to get worse at the next level with bigger, stronger receivers until he is able to add bulk and get more stout.
Mitchell is a smart, technical cover corner who does a great job maximizing his athleticism. He does a good job using his hands to control the opponent and maintain his body position and give him a good angle to play coverage.
His quickness and his hips are good, so he is able to turn and run but does a nice job of staying balanced throughout the play. He has good vision and awareness for the most part, allowing him to see where plays are going as well as doing a good job with recognizing route combinations and getting his man. The Ducks run a lot of man schemes that allow the opponent to attack zones and determine which defender is responsible for which opposing weapon.
Mitchell tends to play over the top to keep plays in front of him and avoid giving up the big play. When he sees the play, he is able to anticipate and break on the football and potentially intercept the pass or get an arm in to deflect it.
Mitchell does have some question marks when it comes to deep speed and being able to hold up against the big play. He has had some issues where opponents are able to gain separation and he has to try to make a play on an underthrown ball. By playing over the top, he generally can avoid these situations, able to anticipate opponents going deep, but if an opponent can eat up the cushion, he can be vulnerable.
Mitchell has experience in zone coverage, though it tends to come in the form in playing dropping back deep. Again, this allows him to keep plays in front of him, break on the football and see the play coming. Mitchell’s vision and awareness allow him to process a good amount of information and have his eye on one player, reacting to a pass thrown to another target.
Mitchell has decent range by virtue of the fact that he has a good sense of what is going on and can anticipate plays. He does not waste much in terms of steps so he can play faster than he might otherwise run. Although he does not have the ideal build for the position, in a pure passing situation, Mitchell could function as a deep safety, playing the deep center of the field.
Mitchell’s ball skills are pretty solid. He is able to react well to the football and between his effort and general sense of where he needs to be on the field, he ends up with opportunities to get tipped passes. Mitchell seems to adjust well and makes the most of his opportunities and he is not afraid to be aggressive with the ball in his hands.
Mitchell looks like he should be able to make a man or zone team as a depth corner. He seems to really absorb knowledge well and make very few mental mistakes. Mitchell will need to prove he can contribute on special teams as well. If he can do that, he will make it extremely difficult for a team to get rid of him.
The potential issue for Mitchell is how far he can go on his athleticism. If he can continue getting stronger and better physically, there might be some potential to start in the NFL or be at least be a great slot corner.
If he can absorb the system like he did in Oregon, he should be able to find his way to the field quickly and push for playing time quickly. His adjustment appears to be far more on the physical side of the game than the mental side.
Mitchell could end up being similar to Chase Minnifield of the Washington Redskins. Coming out of Virginia, Minnifield was a legacy who had NFL bloodlines, being the son of former great corner Frank Minnifield, but he did not have a ton of natural athletic ability and won on being smart rather than great athleticism. Unfortunately for Chase, he almost immediately got a serious injury that made it tough for him to get a start to his NFL career, but he is still battling to stay in the league. Mitchell is similar as a prospect as Minnifield, but hopefully will have better luck when it comes to his health.
Terrance Mitchell is the epitome of a guy who really understands how to play defensive back. Even though he is an underwhelming run defender, he is a technically sound one, so if he can get stronger and have a more NFL caliber physique, he could really be a nice player at the next level for quite a while. Mitchell projects as a day three prospect that could end up going undrafted, but may have a better shot at making an NFL roster and contributing immediately than a number of more physically gifted corners.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com