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Film room: Quinyon Mitchell, the PBU machine

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By: Matt Holder

Quinyon Mitchell | Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down 1 of the top cornerback’s game

The Las Vegas Raiders are in the market for a new cornerback this offseason and one player the Raiders have been tied to as a potential first-round pick in the NFL Draft is Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell.

Mitchell’s ball skills are a big reason why he’s considered a top prospect as he racked up 27 pass breakups and six interceptions over the last two seasons combined, according to Pro Football Focus.

That helped him earn the second-highest PFF coverage grade (91.6) among FBS cornerbacks in 2023 as he tied for third with 17 forced incompletions. The former Rocket was even better the year before, leading the position group with a 92.7 mark and ranking tied for second with 18 forced incompletions.

Those numbers alone are enough reason to flip on the tape, so let’s dive into what Mitchell brings to the table.

Something that was pretty consistent about Mitchell’s game in college is that he’ll play a lot off coverage, park himself near the sticks and look to drive on short routes. Here, Toledo is playing Cover 1 and the outside cornerbacks line up with inside leverage. So, when his man releases inside, Mitchell uses a couple of leverage steps to maintain his positioning.

Once he sees the receiver break on the short in route, he’s quick to trigger downhill and collide with the receiver right as the ball gets there, forcing the incompletion. This is a great example of his play speed as he reads the route/release and then has the acceleration to contest the catch at the catch point.

This next rep is similar to the last one. The biggest difference is the wideout runs a curl route instead of a short in but the result is the same. Again, Mitchell does a good job of reading and breaking on the route to be in a position to make a play on the ball.

Also, a couple of elements that are pretty consistent on his tape are that he can play through the back of the receiver and rip hands at the catch point to get some of those PBUs.

Consider this step three in the progression of the clips above.

Here, Mitchell is going to open the gate/his hips a bit as the receiver threatens him deep. That forces the corner to side shuffle to the 50-yard-line, but once he sees the receiver’s shoulders come up, he knows the curl route is coming.

Again, Mitchell shows off his play speed by reading the route and driving on it to be in a position to make a play on the ball. This time, he’s actually a little early since the pass is deeper than the two reps above, so he’s able to undercut the curl and come down with the interception.

This next play is back to what we saw previously. Toledo is playing Cover 1 again with Mitchell in off-coverage and parking himself near the sticks. He reads another in route, drives on it, and plays the wideout’s hands perfectly to get a PBU that his teammate ends up picking off. As you can see, there’s a common theme to the former Rocket’s game.

We’ll end with one clip that’s a little different than the others but the result remains the same, a Mitchell PBU.

With Miami (OH) on the goal line, Mitchell lines up in press coverage against a receiver who is off the line of scrimmage. Post-snap, he can help himself by making contact or jamming the receiver on the line. However, he does a decent job of playing from a trail position and staying in the receiver’s hip to avoid losing his man.

This is where the Toledo product’s 4.33 speed comes into play as he’s able to stay in phase just enough to be in a position to get his hand in at the catch point and force the incompletion, serving as another example of how strong Mitchell’s ball skills are.

Originally posted on Silver And Black Pride