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NFL Draft

Divine Deablo: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • April 21, 2021
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Today’s NFL requires more effort than ever from its defensive backs, which makes versatile prospects a hot commodity in the draft.

If your favorite team is looking for that kind of playmaker for the back end of its defense in this year’s class, former Virginia Tech safety Divine Deablo believes he is the man for the job.

Deablo spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about playing multiple positions growing up, his experience at this year’s Senior Bowl, and what kind of impact he’ll make at the next level.

JM: You played some receiver in high school. You actually came to Virginia Tech as a receiver originally as well. How did your experience on the offensive side of the ball make you a better defensive player?

DD: That experience made me a better defensive back because it taught me a lot about route concepts. I have a great feel for curl routes, a flat, post corners, and other routes. I have a good feel for what a receiver is going to do on any given play.

I actually played some quarterback in high school as well. I have a great feel for what they like to do. I know how they read defenses. There’s just a lot of minor details that I have a feel for. It really helped me make the switch to DB.

JM: Tell me more about what the transition was like. There’s a lot that goes into playing defensive back.

DD: It was very difficult in the beginning. I didn’t know how to tackle or cover anybody; that was rough. My goal was to simply improve every single day. I feel like that’s exactly what I did over time. It took me a while, but I definitely have the hang of it now.

JM: What were some of the things that you did to help you make a smoother transition to the position?

DD: My coaches did a great job working with me every single day. I asked a lot of questions. I invited them into the film room with me. I wanted to study tape with them. I went through the playbook with them. I did a lot of work on my own as well. I worked on my backpedal in my free time. I started watching tape on guys like Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, and Kam Chancellor. I was trying to get a feel for what I wanted my play style to look like. I started to find myself. I’m confident about where I am now.

JM: You were at the Senior Bowl back in January. What do you think you proved to NFL scouts in Mobile, Alabama?

DD: I proved that I’m a versatile player. I can play at safety and I can play inside the box as a linebacker. I can stick with tight ends and running backs in coverage. I did a good job covering the plethora of slot receivers that were at the Senior Bowl. I had a good week. I showcased my versatility. I put a lot of good things on tape out there.

JM: You sure did. You also recorded four interceptions in just nine games in 2020. Those are some terrific numbers. Prior to this past season, you didn’t have many interceptions on your resume. It must have felt good to prove that you could get your hands on the football.

DD: That was big for me. I thought about entering the draft last year, but I wasn’t satisfied with my ball production. I realized that I didn’t get my hands on the ball enough in 2019. That was a big focus for me heading into this past season. I came back and I did a great job getting my hands on the ball. It was huge. I could have had even more interceptions. I left a few plays out there. I was proud of myself. I showed a lot of improvement in a critical area.

JM: You really did. What do you think led to that increased ball production? What changed for you?

DD: I spent more time in the film room. That was probably the biggest thing. At least two of my interceptions were a result of something I identified on film leading up to the game. I knew that the play was coming. I worked on my footwork. My coverage skills improved. I worked on my man-to-man ability. I played better coverage on tight ends, running backs, and wide receivers in 2020. I practiced against those positions just to get a feel for all scenarios. I worked and improved every single day.

JM: Can you see yourself playing as a dime linebacker at the next level? The positions are somewhat interchangeable nowadays. I feel like you have the ability to do both.

DD: I’ve spoken with a ton of NFL teams that can see me playing as a dime linebacker for them. I’m up for the challenge. I feel like I can do it all. I match up well with tight ends and running backs. I have a good feel for the run game. I can definitely see myself playing as a dime linebacker.

JM: It’s so important for a guy in your position to be able to play both inside and outside the front seven. You’ve put it on tape.

DD: I feel like it’s incredibly important. When you look at how NFL offenses are operating nowadays, they’re getting more and more athletic. Tight ends are getting more athletic every single year. Even in this draft, look at a guy like Kyle Pitts (laughs). George Kittle and Travis Kelce are special talents. You have to be athletic enough to keep up with those types. It takes a lot of size and speed to match up with a tight end nowadays. I can be that versatile weapon for an NFL defense.

JM: We’re on the same page. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, what kind of impact is Divine Deablo going to make at the next level?

DD: I’m trying to collect as many Super Bowl rings as I can. I’m gonna gain the respect of my teammates. More than anything, I want kids to look up to me and say that they wanna be like Divine Deablo. That’s the biggest thing to me.

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