Colorado’s defense was among the best in all of college football last season, mainly due to their fantastic trio in the secondary. To go along with Chidobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson, Ahkello Witherspoon helped Colorado get back on the map. Colorado finished with the 19th best defense in FBS as a result and finished 20th in pass defense.
Again, one of the main contributors to this defensive improvement was the strong play of Ahkello Witherspoon. The former Junior college athlete netted 23 tackles with one interception in his first full season starting last year. He also tied for the most passes defended on the team with 19 and was named Second Team All-Pac 12 by the Associated Press.
Although Witherspoon doesn’t possess the wow factor with his stats like other top prospects, he is a legit NFL talent. He has the traits and refined ability to be a successful player at the next level. He continued to increase his draft stock at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Name: Ahkello Witherspoon
Size: 6’3”/198 lbs/ 33’’ Arm Length
Comparison: Sean Smith (Oakland Raiders)
Draft Grade: Early 3rd Round
Combine Results: 40 yard dash: 4.45, Vertical Jump: 40.5”, Broad Jump: 127”, 3-Cone Drill: 6.93, 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.13
Strengths: Very good athlete for such a long player, covers ground very well with long strides. Excellent in man to man coverage in either off ball or in press, allowed a 26.5% completion percentage this past year when quarterbacks targeted him in man. Very fluid in and out of his backpedal. Footwork at the line of scrimmage is well above average. Mirroring technique is top notch, almost always running stride for stride with receivers. Best Redzone cornerback in this draft class. In general, his covering ability is one of the best in the class. His combination of size and speed will make him very coveted by the NFL. Only started one full season at Colorado so still has plenty of room to grow.
Weaknesses: Still rather raw for the position, which comes from lack of experience. Ball skills do need some work, excellent at breaking up passes but lacks the ability at times to come down with the interception. Terrible run defender, often times failing to seal the edge and getting driven back yards down the field. Tackling ability needs some work, drops his head which leads to many missed tackles. Zone coverage ability is fine but nowhere near as good as he is in man. Lacks the overall aggressiveness in his game to be a dominant zone corner.
Overview: Witherspoon has all the tools to be a very successful man corner in the NFL. He has a rare combination of footwork, length, and athleticism that could make him an elite corner at the next level. For a player that is raw in many aspects of the game, his man coverage ability is really refined. Once he plays more aggressive and can learn to at least be adequate in run defense, he will be a premier corner in the NFL. I would have no problem with a team on draft day spending a second rounder (maybe even a first rounder) on Witherspoon, his traits are that impressive.