Kyler Gordon worked his way into the Washington Huskies' starting lineup this season and blossomed into one of the best corners not only in the Pac-12 but in the entire country. Playing across from the terrifying Trent McDuffie is no easy task for any corner. Since more quarterbacks avoid throwing to McDuffie’s side it put more pressure on Gordon to maintain a high level of play from the start of the season to the end. The California game wiped a large amount of the concerns from Gordon’s projection as he was able to play tremendously well even when McDuffie was sidelined with injury.
Gordon has been working his way up draft boards this season due to his stellar play and impressive physical traits but how does he project to the NFL and how high could he actually be selected. I dove into his tape to find out!
Kyler Gordon is a retired dancer and has a background in Kung Fu. He is a former four-star recruit who was a two-way star in high school. He played on varsity on his high school team as a freshman before starting at both WR and DB as a sophomore. Gordon was an all-state cornerback as well as an all-state all-purpose player during his senior year of high school. He racked up numerous accolades during college including 2019 Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll and 2021 All-Pac-12 First Team.
Height: 5’11 1/2”
Weight: 194 pounds
Arm Length: 31”
Wingspan: 74 3/4”
Hand Size: 9 1/4”
Athletic Testing and Relative Athletic Score (RAS)
Each trait is graded on a 20-80 scale (very similar to how the MLB grades prospects) that Neptune Scouting’s Alex Katson and myself developed to better communicate player grades. More information about this new scale can be found here.
Man Coverage (70 - Star): Gordon is adept in man coverage, due to extremely fluid and loose hips he is able to transition extremely quickly. He is rarely shaken off of his man and can cut into the breaks with relative ease. It is rare to find a corner who has the natural foot speed and developed footwork that Gordon does. His feet are blindingly quick and it is easy to see that his background as a dancer really helps him limit wasted movement or small mistakes in his lower half, is extremely coordinated. Occasionally will let receivers get behind him and struggle to recover.
Instincts (50 - Average): Gordon has developed well in this area throughout his career, he understands how receivers want to set him up and can process that information quickly to set up his positioning. He needs to improve his ability to react in the run game, he shows aggressiveness but could be quicker to trigger downhill. he was not tested that often this season due to factors outside of his control (poor team run defense) so there is still room for him to develop with more and more reps.
Zone Coverage (65 - Star): Washington plays a good bit of zone coverage and this leads to their cornerbacks being traditionally more ready to step into zone schemes in the NFL. This is no exception for Gordon as he plays extremely well when assigned to his zone. His discipline is fantastic, he stays loyal to his zone and is rarely drawn out by receivers moving out of his zone. His eyes are an asset here as well, they seem to always be in the right place when searching for players moving in and out of his area. His quickness is another key feature of his ability in zone coverage, he can easily move to receivers entering and exiting while staying right with them.
Ball Skills (65 - Star): Natural ability to make plays on the ball, shows this frequently on tape, fights through the body of the receiver, and will come back to the ball with ease. Locates quickly and due to his excellent positioning routinely is able to get a hand on the ball. Due to some of the deficiencies in the run defense, he was not thrown at often. In his best game against California he intercepted two passes and this part of his game was on full display.
Tackling and Run Support (50 - Average): Gordon is not yet a finished product in the run game, he is far too inconsistent in many aspects that would make an impact player here. He will make splash plays every so often but will really have some issues shedding blocks and sorting through traffic. He goes for too many all-or-nothing tackles than most coaches will like. This can be easily fixed, he has all the tools, and based on his best reps the ability to improve is clearly there.
Physicality (55 - Above Average): Gordon often toes the line between physical and over-physical, he will occasionally get handsy (especially at the catch point). This is not something that should be taken out of his game because he is able to antagonize receivers during reps but he will have to tone it back at times and find a balance. Solid in press, strength is evident, and is willing to get up in the receiver's face.
Change of Direction (75 - Elite): Absurd change of direction skills, Gordon is a fantastic lateral athlete. He can accelerate and maintain momentum through transitions extremely well. Gordon has elite foot speed that allows him to hang with receivers throughout routes. This will give him a large margin for error in the NFL as he will be able to recover quickly as he grows in the mental part of the game.
Long Speed (45 - Below Average): Does not have great long speed, there are some reps where receivers get behind him and he can struggle to get up, this is not common though as it is clear that he understands this weakness. He will rarely bite on routes that cause him to come up and potentially get beat over the top. His fluidity really helps him mitigate this weakness.
Recovery (70 - Star): Foot speed is a huge factor again here, he is able to retreat off the line and take some more chances in coverages due to this ability (not necessarily the best at the next level but was important to his ball production). Is so smooth, that it rarely looks like he is actually beat, can get back to the correct positioning with ease.
Frame (50 - Average): Fantastic length for his size and is built extremely well, is sub-six foot but due to his leaping ability and arm length he does not play like it and it does not limit his game in any way. Gordon has a well-built lower half and really won’t have to change his body at all in the NFL.
Final Grade and Summary
Ceiling Grade: 8.7 (High-Level Starter)
Kyler Gordon is one of the higher ceiling corner prospects in the draft, this season was his first as a full-time starter and he grew a massive amount as a player. There is still so much room to grow especially on the mental side of the game which will only get better with more and more reps. His natural change of direction skills will be his calling card, being able to keep up with shiftier receivers as well as receivers who are effective route runners.
Floor Grade: 7.7 (Below Average Starter)
His floor could come into play if his development stalls in the early parts of his career. Due to how poor the Husky run defense was this season, teams did not make an effort to throw to the outside which limited the reps where Gordon was really involved in the play. If he is thrown into action early and quarterbacks pick on him the coaching staff he goes to will need to be patient with him.
Round Grade: 2nd Round
Summary: Kyler Gordon flew mostly under the radar this season on a Washington Huskies’ team that struggled mightily and failed to live up to the expectations set for them at the beginning of the year. He is finally getting the respect he deserves during the draft cycle. Gordon possesses elite physical tools mainly in his short-area quickness, foot speed, and ball skills. He has some shortcomings that look like easily fixable issues or things that should go away with more and more meaningful reps. Gordon did have a bit of a disappointing combine as he only ran the 40-yard dash and failed to wow. This really shouldn’t put a damper on his projection as it is clear on tape is much more of a lateral athlete than a long-speed athlete. This is a very talented corner class that could make Gordon into a day two steal but it would not be a shock if he ends up being selected in the back half of round one by a corner-needy contender.
Injury Risk/Character Concerns: None