Dexter McDougle has been a talented corner for Maryland but had his senior year short circuited by a season ending shoulder injury in September. He was able to make a good number of plays in the time he did play, but obviously missing a substantial portion of the season hurt his ability to showcase his talent.
The first question the NFL is going to have to decide is whether or not McDougle’s injury history is concerning and teams will need to make sure his medicals come out clean. On the field, McDougle has a good amount of strength, speed and quickness. He has the ability to be a good cover corner, but he needs to eliminate the mental lapses and false steps that can get him beat. McDougle is a willing run defender who can also contribute on special teams. As a result, McDougle could be picked right around the 100th pick in the draft.
Vitals & Build
McDougle measured 5’10” 196lbs at the scouting combine with 30 5/8” arms. His height and arm length are not ideal, but he makes up for some of that with a good level of strength and power. In addition, McDougle has great speed, agility and terrific feet. He does a good job of making the most of his physical tools. He may have some physical potential, but he is probably largely what he is going to be and will just work on getting more efficient with it to get better.
McDougle is aggressive and likes to show off his strength by trying to really drive through tackles. As a result, he will occasionally fail to wrap up and leave his feet, which tends to be an extremely risky way to go. Usually, he will wrap up, use his strength to take a guy to the ground and does it without too much of a problem. If he realizes he can still bring the power without sacrificing technique, especially with keeping his legs under him, he can be really effective at the next level.
McDougle will come up and play the run, not afraid to get involved and try to make an impact. As soon as he reads run, he will come downhill and be aggressive to try to make a play.
Where he needs to get better is being more willing to take on blockers to set the edge as well as being aggressive and beating them. Too many times he will try to work around blocks to get to the play with some examples of success, but will end up taking himself out of plays as a result.
McDougle is really comfortable playing off man coverage. He has a great backpedal and terrific feet, so he can stay square to the line of scrimmage and when the ball goes in the air, he plants his foot in the ground and looks to cut underneath the route and intercept it or at least deflect it.
His hips and feet are terrific and allow him to react really well, turn and run with receivers. He will occasionally get fooled or take a misstep, ending up too far back off of the route, but he will keep the play in front of him, tackle the pass and live to play another down. There are also situations where he can bite on a fake and get beat deep. McDougle can get better at mirroring, but once engaged, he places himself in a receiver’s hip pocket, uses his strength to naturally push himself to the sideline and is able to box the opponent out from the play and put himself into it.
McDougle has a ton of experience playing with his shoulders square to the line and his overall athletic ability, range and ability to break on the ball make him a natural fit there. He also has a pretty good sense of where he needs to be to cover his zone.
McDougle has natural hands and really is able to find and track the ball well. He does a nice job when it comes to making the most of his reach and shows a pretty impressive radius where he is able to make plays on the football and potentially catch them. He is also a threat to take an interception back all the way as he is a returner and not afraid to be aggressive occasionally.
Blitzing off the Edge
McDougle has the burst, speed, and physicality to come off of the edge and make an impact. He did not have a ton of opportunities to make an impact for the Terrapins, but it could be something he does more at the next level.
McDougle has experience as a punt returner and is extremely agile and able to make quick moves to make opponents miss with the speed to maximize returns. He is someone who can be a threat to score with the ball in his hands. McDougle also has experience in coverage units and will go down and make tackles on returners.
McDougle can play in just about any scheme. He has the versatility and base skill necessary to play in any, but he appears best suited to play in a man scheme that allows him to be aggressive and try to cause turnovers.
McDougle looks like he should come in and play nickel initially and he could thrive in that spot, but there is certainly potential for him to start on the outside. He could be a nice asset as a weak side corner who can contribute in the running game. McDougle should also be able to help on special teams, be as on coverage units as well as returning punts.
McDougle has some similarities to Brandon Boykin of the Philadelphia Eagles. Boykin played a similar, aggressive style at Georgia and came into the NFL initially as a fourth round pick and nickel before really blossoming into a good outside corner. It remains to be seen how far McDougle can go, but if he can stay healthy, he has a good amount of talent and could have a similar career path.
Dexter McDougle has a great skillset for the NFL if he can stay healthy. From strength to speed and quickness, the only thing he is really missing is height. McDougle can help against the run and contribute on special teams as well. He has some inconsistencies with mirroring and missteps that can hurt him and get him exploited, but he is also able to make a number of plays on the football. McDougle could end up in the back end of the third round or early fourth round depending on how teams feel about his health, but he could be a nice player in the NFL if he can avoid injuries.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com