Defensive Draft Prospect: Bryce Hall

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Nate begins his series looking at defensive players from the NFL draft as potential fits for the Kansas City Chiefs with a review of Virginia CB Bryce Hall

It’s draft season! We’re just about 5 weeks out from the draft (at this present moment), and I’m getting into watching some prospects’ film. We’re starting with some cornerbacks, and one I feel really high about is Bryce Hall. Hall, a senior from Virginia who had his season stop early with a dislocated ankle, is one of the more underrated players in this class. Why is he so underrated, and what makes him a fit with the Chiefs? We break that all down here.

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Measurables

6’1 2/8, 202 lbs, 32 1/4″ arms, 9 5/8″ hands, 78 1/2″ wingspan, 11 reps on bench press.

Strengths

This section functions the same way my scouting reports from previous players did, but instead we’re just putting it into strengths and weaknesses for each player.

To start with, Hall is a physical, very willing tackler. Against bubble and rocket screens, Hall’s able to sprint downhill and wrap up well. He’s willing to tackle tight ends, wide receivers, and even running backs in one-on-one matchups. Hall’s fantastic against these screens, using excellent play recognition and wrapping up to blow these plays up.

Hall is also very good in run support. Virginia requires their cornerbacks to go up and hit running backs, and Hall’s really good at that. He can stack blocks from receivers or even in-line tight ends. He can get physical and take away the alley. Steve Spagnuolo requires his cornerbacks to be great in run support, and Hall seriously cares about it, so that already makes him a great fit.

In coverage, Hall’s really versatile. Virginia played a lot of Quarters or Cover 3, which put Hall in an off-stance primarily. If it was a 3X1, with Hall on the 1 WR side, he would go press, as they would generally play Match coverages. Still, it was mainly quarters, which was one of our favorite coverage shells. Regardless of if he’s in man or zone, Hall can play it all.

Still, he’s at his best in zone. He plays with great eyes, always reading the #2 receiver to see where he’s going in zone. He has very patient feet, and won’t be beat with a lot of cuts and longer developing in-break routes. When he has to flip his hips to carry a wide receiver, he can do it, and he’s really good at condensing space. Overall, for a zone corner, he’s really good.

The thing Bryce Hall probably does best though is track the ball. Hall may have the best ball skills in this class, which is saying something. Whether it’s fighting for the ball in the air, coming down with picks, or being able to deflect passes, Hall can do it all. Even when he is beat, he’s able to recover and still make a play on the ball. The Chiefs didn’t have a lot of ball skills from their cornerback group last year, and Hall would cure many of those issues immediately.

Weaknesses

Hall does have one major weakness though, which is his athleticism. We didn’t get to see him at the combine due to his ankle injury, but on tape, there were concerns. Smaller, faster receivers gave him some issues. While he’s excellent against big body guys, he can’t condense his hips and change directions super quickly. His vertical speed isn’t bad, but in a press alignment, he may have issues with the faster NFL receivers. Kelvin Harmon, a sixth round pick last year, destroyed Hall in their game together, and he’s not even fast. He’ll require some safety help in the NFL.

While Hall can press, it’s not something he’s particularly great at. He does a good job of mirroring his feet to the route, but he’s not going to set the tone with a punch or jab-step. With faster receivers and slower hips, that could be an issue in the pros.

His click and close isn’t great either. When he is in zone, he can give up the 8-10 yard out route easily. He’s able to read it, but he can’t close well to the sideline. He either takes too many steps, or just isn’t athletic enough to try and make a play on the ball. Still, this isn’t a massive deal, as giving up an 8 yard route vs 50 yard route is fine by me.

Finally, Hall did occasionally get grabby on plays. When he does get beat, he tends to grab. That’s not a major issue for Kansas City, they dealt with that a lot in 2019, but it is something to be concerned about with Hall vs NFL speed.

Range for Chiefs to take him

I think Hall is around the late 2nd to early 3rd round in terms of range. With the ankle injury and likely no combine and pro day, Hall won’t be able to test athletically. That is a major concern for teams, as they’re already questions about his athleticism. His speed was an issue on tape, and laterally, he sometimes struggled to change directions.

Still, the ball skills and IQ get him into the top 75. Hall was projected a top 25 pick two years ago, and the process since hasn’t been great. Still, Hall will be around the 10th CB taken, which generally falls in that top 75 range.

Scheme Fit

Hall is a really good fit in our scheme. Virginia played a ton of Cover 3 or quarters, which fits exactly what Spagnuolo likes. Hall does have the ability to play press man, but he mainly does that to take anyway the sideline vertically. Spagnuolo doesn’t really care about his cornerbacks having to flip their hips and condense on some quicker routes, which suits Hall. He’s able to mirror the feet of a receiver well, stay light on them, and flip to carry. For Spagnuolo, that fits what he wants.

Spagnuolo also cares about open-field tackling and run support from his cornerbacks. That’s something Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward were great at in 2019. Hall would also instantly help the run defense, which makes him a bonus in the scheme.

Comparison

Comparison: Josh Norman

To me, Hall looks very similar to Josh Norman. Both are guys without great speed or change of direction, but they’re both very smart, with good footwork and technique. They’re not going to dominate the line of scrimmage, but they can press on occasion. Both have great ball skills, and track the ball well in the air.

Put both of these guys in a Quarters scheme where they get to play off-ball, and they’ll be at their best. Obviously, Norman is washed up now, but even with the issues with athleticism at times, he was once a top 10 corner in the league. A fully healthy Bryce Hall could maybe get there with some great safeties and coaching.

RAS Score

Generally, I would put the RAS score, or Relative Athletic Score. This was developed by Kent Lee Platte, who used metrics from previous testers to grade athletes in their scores. The scale goes from 0 to 10, with obviously ten being elite. This comes out with a very accurate grade that lets us measure speed, size, and agility.

(Go follow Kent Lee Platte please, he’s an amazing follow)

Still, Platte did grade the size and bench of Hall, which provided really crazy results. For size, Hall is really good. In fact, he tested one of the best in his class, with really long arms. For bench, Hall graded really poorly, which may be an issue to teams, but honestly, that doesn’t matter for cornerbacks.

Film

Hall is going to tackle you in the flat. You can try to throw a quick screen on him and he’s going to wrap up and blow it up. Bashaud Breeland was particularly great at this in the Super Bowl, and with him likely gone, Hall can make up for that impact almost instantly.

Hall is able to play the run very well. Even against in-line tight ends and fullbacks, he’s able to stack blocks well, and hold the alley. Nothing really gets past him in run support, and it’s hard to stretch run right at him, especially out of a dense formation. This would be an added benefit to Hall, who could come in and instantly improve the run defense, especially against stretch runs.

In zone coverage, especially Cover 3, Hall plays with incredible footwork. He has very patient feet, something that’s hard to teach cornerbacks. You’re not going to beat him with double moves, curls, or comeback routes. Hall trusts his feet super well, which for a zone corner, can be hard to teach.

In the second round, it’s hard to find cornerbacks with the feet Hall does. Most cornerbacks take years to be able to play in zone like that. Since we are a zone-based scheme, Hall would help out. Breeland and Ward were good in 2019, but neither are really zone corners, which forced us to change our styles and techniques with our corners. Hall would bring us back to more zone.

Hall is at his best around the ball. I’ve already mentioned this, but he’s excellent against 50-50 balls. Obviously, one this clip, he pulls down the interception. But look at his body position. He puts himself on the inside of the fade route, which is perfect position. If that fade route is caught, it’s perfect coverage. This makes it an impossible throw.

The IQ, technique, and ball skills are amazing. He knows exactly where to be nearly all the time. Hall’s floor will always be high, just because of his ability in zone and to play the ball.

When he’s in zone and does have to close to the flat, he struggles. Even against rounded out routes, he’s going to give up that play. Considering the speed of the NFL, that can be an issue. By continually setting up the out route, you can set up some double moves. Yes, Hall does play these well, but against NFL speed, that could be an issue.

Still, when he has to flip his hips and run, Hall’s good enough at that. NC State ran a lot of these fade routes on Hall, and he puts himself in good position every time. He condenses the route by squeezing the sideline, and tracking the ball. By fronting him and boxing him out, this throw is near impossible. This would make Hall very valuable in the red zone.

While I’m really concerned about Hall in press, he can play it. When he has to condense his hips and play quick slants, he can. Hall tends to mirror feet with the receiver, and once the stem opens, Hall condenses his hips, breaks down, and gets on the outside hip of his guy.

While I really don’t like Hall against fast receivers in press, against bigger bodies, he can get stops. He’s not going to lose at the catch point often, which is very valuable.

Conclusion

I won’t lie, his 2018 tape was better than his 2019 tape. In 2018, playing with Juan Thornhill, he looked much more fluid. That’s not to say his 2019 tape is bad, but I’m concerned about his athleticism. I don’t think he can really be a top cornerback in the NFL, because he’s simply not athletic enough. Still, Hall is at least a high-level starter in the NFL.

The ball skills, IQ, technique, and versatility are all amazing. In fact, they’re all probably top 3 in this class. We won’t know his athletic limitations, but if he’s there at 63 and the Chiefs didn’t address CB in the first round, I think you take him. The floor is high, the ceiling isn’t much higher, but I feel it’s safe to say Hall is bust-proof. For a team with no corner depth or experience, that’s very valuable.

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