2016 NFL Draft: Early look at Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller


Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller is one of the highly regarded defensive back prospects eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft. Fuller comes from an NFL family that features his brothers Kyle, Corey and Vincent with experience in the league. Kyle Fuller was a first round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2014.

Like his brothers, Kendall Fuller is a fluid athlete who can change direction. He combines this change of direction ability with a balanced stance to help him mirror the receiver. His ability to stick with the target limits separation making the quarterback squeeze the ball into tighter throwing windows. The image below is an example Fuller using his balance to adjust to the receiver’s route:

via draftbreakdown.com

Fuller is an instinctive player who has a natural feel for the position. He’s able to quickly locate the football and knows how to use angles. This ability to cut off the ball before it gets to the receiver results in pass breakups and interceptions. The clip below shows Fuller keeping his head on the ball, running with the receiver and using proper angles to break up the pass:

His ability to read the quarterback makes Fuller a threat to score points on the defensive side of the ball. He is able to not only identify the play but also features the short-area burst to jump the route and take the ball the other way for a touchdown. The clip below is just one example of his game-changing ability:

While Fuller is a top prospect he still has some areas about his game that create concerns. Fuller lacks the size evaluators are looking for in a cornerback prospect. The NFL is targeting big-bodied defensive backs to match up with the increased size of NFL wide receivers.

Some evaluators will look at Fuller and wonder if he’ll be forced to play in the slot where he’ll be matched up against players at his size. Luckily, there are still teams in the NFL who can look past size issues. A good example is the San Diego Chargers who recently drafted Jason Verrett in the first round and signed Brandon Flowers to a long-term deal (both players are small of stature).

Like Verrett and Flowers, Fuller is able to overcome his size issues thanks to his change of direction ability and instincts.

Early in this article I mentioned how Fuller does a good job getting his head around to locate the football. However, there are situations where he still needs to improve in this area. The problems arise when he’s asked to defend the 9-route where the receiver gets behind him.

In this situation, Fuller tends to just throw his hands in the air and run towards the receiver. This is going to result in interference calls at the next level.

Overall, this is a very promising prospect who has a chance to come off the board in the first round. He needs to clean up some small areas of this game and show that his size limitations are not a problem.