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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CB Zech McPhearson

  • The Draft Network
  • February 6, 2021
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Zech McPhearson originally started his career at Penn State (2017 and 2018), where he would play during his first two seasons. McPhearson would then transfer to Texas Tech, playing his final two seasons. Primarily a zone coverage corner in the Red Raiders' scheme, McPhearson showed glimpses of possibly being a scheme-versatile option as he was afforded the flexibility of being utilized as the team's primary slot defender. A developmental option at the position, he provides scheme versatility, ball skills, and upside as down-the-line depth.

Ideal Role: Outside CB in a zone scheme.

Scheme Fit: Multiple coverage scheme with a mixture of Cover 1 and Cover 3 principles.


Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: Texas (2020), Oklahoma State (2020), TCU (2020), Iowa State (2020), Houston Baptist (2020)

Best Game Studied: Oklahoma State (2020)

Worst Game Studied: TCU (2020)

Man Coverage Skills: Playing in a heavy zone-based coverage scheme, the only true reps where McPhearson experienced man coverage is when in the slot on late-down situations and during coverages that had zone match principles. While in those types of situations, he showed to be a fluid mover, but his man coverage footwork needs lots of cleaning up. Often playing a shuffle technique causes his reactionary time to be a bit developed and he’s often caught playing catch up. His inexperience in man could be a reason behind it, but he’s a raw prospect in man coverage. 

Zone Coverage Skills: The bulk of his career at Texas Tech involved lots of zone coverage. Wanting to keep everything in front of them, he has lots of experience in both Cover 3 and 4. Turning his back to the sideline is a technique that he’s spent lots of time doing, but playing with more knee bend will be needed as he can’t drive downhill on passes as quickly as desired. 

Ball Skills: McPhearson displays lots of comfort with playing the ball out of the air. As primarily a zone defender, he’s had ample amounts of opportunities at making plays on the ball. He finished red-hot down the backstretch of his final season as he recorded three interceptions in his final four games.  

Tackling: Because of his lack of density, he faces challenges with bringing ball-carriers down on his own. Having a minute frame also contributes to this as McPhearson must continue to add weight, especially to the top half of his frame. He often relegates to going low on ball-carriers in order to bring them down, but some have had success with breaking free or avoiding him totally with various moves. 

Versatility: Throughout his career, McPhearson has spent time both on the outside and in the slot. In Lubbock, he was the team’s primary option in the slot, as he displayed fluid hips and the ability to flip his hips and trail with wideouts in all directions. Wearing various hats for the team's defense led to him becoming a standout player.

Competitive Toughness: His competitiveness isn’t seen until he’s primarily used in the slot, as he’s active with switching up his coverage tactics. Staying disciplined within the scheme, he also isn’t shy about going out on a limb with his technique in obvious passing situations. The coaching staff trusted him to play man coverage on occasion and that is where he was able to show off his competitive notches.

Functional Athleticism: Playing both nickel and outside corner, he was able to show off his fluidity in multiple areas. In zone coverage, he was often tasked with playing a bail technique that kept everything in front of him. When tested deep, he proved to be capable of exiting his phase, turning, and running in order to keep up with matchups. He also has the transition and ball awareness in order to get his head around to find the ball in flight prior to making plays on it out of the air.

Football IQ: A highly intelligent player, he had plenty of examples where he pointed out route combinations and did his best to communicate to his surroundings the happenings of them. Pattern matching and driving early on ones that he was able to decipher were seen throughout his final season.

Run Defending: Oftentimes, McPhearson finds himself too locked into matchups with receivers and becomes oblivious to the happenings in the backfield. Being blind to the ball being handed off, he continues to run down the field with wide receivers that are simply trying to run him away from the play without ever having to block him. Peeling off and making tackles could become more consistent if he readjusts his eyes to the happenings in the backfield after noticing what wideouts are attempting to accomplish against him.

Length: McPherson has a bit of a slender frame overall. Possessing adequate arm length, he’s able to remain busy in throwing windows and clog them when passes are attempted into his coverage. Smooth in and out of phase, he’s comfortable with keeping his back to the sideline and then eyeing the ball in order to attack it out of the air. McPhearson experienced lots of success at the catch point with playing through the hands of wideouts.


TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Jordan Reid: 70/100

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