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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: S JaCoby Stevens

  • The Draft Network
  • January 18, 2021
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JaCoby Stevens was a 5-star high school recruit that played both receiver and safety in high school. He initially played both positions in college but switched to defense on a full-time basis as a sophomore. Stevens brings terrific size to the table and he has some impressive reps playing closer to the line of scrimmage where he can function in condensed areas of the field and trigger downhill. In coverage, Stevens is physical and capable of redirecting routes with his willingness to crowd routes and be aggressive. LSU played Stevens all over the defensive formation but his below-average play speed and athleticism restricts the roles he can realistically fill in the NFL. He lacks the range and anticipatory skills to play deeper off the ball. While Stevens’ best qualities are his size and physicality, he doesn’t always perform to his weight class and his enthusiasm in pursuit can disappoint and there are times he is passive when it comes to playing off contact and tackling. Stevens is likely a core special teams player in the NFL that brings some situational value in subpackages as a nickel/dime linebacker or in short-yardage defense. The other factor to consider is that LSU listed him at 230 pounds but he measured at 216 pounds at the Senior Bowl. If he was in fact 230, that may have contributed to the athletic profile that was revealed on tape and if the reduction in weight increases his mobility then his ceiling could be higher—perhaps even as a developmental starter as a split zone safety. 

Ideal Role: Developmental strong safety that frequently plays closer to the line of scrimmage.

Scheme Fit: Zone heavy.


Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: Texas (2019), Mississippi State (2019), Mississippi (2019), Clemson (2019), Mississippi (2020), South Carolina (2020), Missouri (2020), Florida (2020)

Best Game Studied: Florida (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: South Carolina (2020) 

Football IQ: LSU played Stevens in a variety of rules including deep split zones, overhang, near the line of scrimmage, and as an off-ball linebacker. While he doesn’t project to have that type of versatility in the NFL, his ability to play so many roles in college speaks to his football intelligence. With that said, Stevens’ processing speed and responses can be tardy. Stevens is also guilty of committing hard to false keys and vacating the space he is responsible for. 

Tackling: Stevens is a fairly consistent tackler that has his share of impact finishes. With that said, there can be some reluctance at times and he prefers to be the assisted tackler. Stevens has some challenges finishing with consistency outside of his frame and finishing in space.  

Versatility: While LSU played him seemingly everywhere on defense, his athletic profile doesn’t project well to doing the same in the NFL. Stevens is likely a split zone safety that plays in the box in subpackages at the next level. Stevens has positive traits that make him appealing against the run and pass. Some of Stevens’ best moments on tape come when LSU has him shoot gaps and blitz off the edge. 

Range: Stevens is not a candidate to serve as a single-high centerfielder that is responsible for large quantities of real estate. He is more of a split zone safety that has hash-to-sideline range. Stevens’ inability to cover ground restricts the roles he can fill in the NFL and those deficiencies have to be schemed around. 

Ball Skills: Stevens collected 15 pass breakups and four interceptions in college, which is modest ball production. With that said, when he’s in position to make a play on the ball, his background as a wide receiver shows up and it’s apparent that he has good hands. Stevens’ modest reactionary quickness and anticipatory skills don’t lead to many opportunities to disrupt at the catch point, but he’s impressive when he’s there. 

Run Defending: Stevens is a flashy run defender. Given his projection as a box safety, there are times when his downhill trigger and enthusiasm to tackle can disappoint. On other occasions, Stevens is eager to play off contact and close. 

Functional Athleticism: Despite his billing as a 5-star recruit with experience at wide receiver and defense in high school, Stevens isn’t the most dynamic athlete. His range is limited and he lacks agility. LSU listed Stevens at 230 and he came in at 216, so perhaps the reduction in weight—if that was actually the case—will bode well for better functional athleticism.  

Competitive Toughness: Stevens is a mixed bag here. There are times where he is so physical that I think he can transition to linebacker and play permanently in the box. And then just when I start to buy into him being a tone-setter with physicality, passive reps that lack enthusiasm for contact show up. He needs to find some consistency in this department because it comes and goes. 

Flexibility: Stevens' modest athletic profile is unfortunately coupled with tightness in his frame. His change of direction skills and lateral mobility are restrictive. He can labor to turn and flow toward the sideline and his transitions are elongated. 

Special Teams Ability: Outside of the field goal block unit, Stevens didn’t play much on special teams for LSU. With that said, given his size, flashes of physicality, and necessity for special teams to be part of his next-level role, Stevens has appealing qualities to develop into a core special teamer in the NFL. 

Prospect Comparison: Greg Blue (2006 NFL Draft, Minnesota Vikings) 


TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Joe Marino: 68/100

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