Welcome to SKOL Search!
This series will be your guide to the 2023 draft class. From scouting reports to mock drafts and exploring different scenarios, we will be covering the NFL draft and the future of the Minnesota Vikings from all angles.
The focus of the draft class in this space will be on the Vikings’ major needs at wide receiver, running back, cornerback and both interior and edge pass rusher.
The Vikings are slated to have four picks before compensatory selections are awarded and they need to make the most out of them.
Sep 2, 2022; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Cam Camper (6) runs with the ball after a catch while Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) defends in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
0-Star recruit per 247 Sports
Stats: 157 tackles, 115 solo, 11.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 5 interceptions, 25 passes defended, 1 forced fumble
Games watched: Wyoming 2022, Nebraska 2022, Michigan 2022, Minnesota 2022
Nov 6, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) celebrates a win against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the fourth quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
First thing that jumps out is explosiveness. He has an extremely quick trigger in both reacting and accelerating. Extremely fluid mover helps accentuate his ball skills. His athleticism had Illinois playing him as the field corner often, meaning he had more space to cover. Illinois had confidence in Witherspoon to play everywhere.
Witherspoon stays in phase really well and has nice route recognition skills. Defenders don’t maneuver around Witherspoon with nuanced tricks easily.
Witherspoon is a very physical player. He packs a powerful punch in the open field and in press coverage. It also helps him in terms of ball skills. Witherspoon bursts through the receiver to attack the football.
Witherspoon plays mostly off coverage using multiple techniques. Excels best with a standard backpedal and, as Coach O’Ryan says in D3 The Mighty Ducks, letting the receiver make the first move.
Capable in both run coverage and as a blitzer. Has 11.5 career tackles for loss, including 8.0 in 2021.
Oct 30, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Sydney Brown (30) and teammate Devon Witherspoon (31) team up to tackle Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Noah Vedral (0) in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
When Witherspoon initiates contact, he wins more often than not but you can knock him off his block with a lowered shoulder.
His aggression can be his biggest downfall. Can overrun plays due to that aggressive nature. There will be a path to beat him with misdirection and double moves. He does play press on occasion, but there aren’t a lot of instances of him jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. His aggressiveness and physicality should translate here, but I would have liked to see it more on film.
Getting Witherspoon in motion and on the move looks to be key to stopping him. It evokes his worst instincts of aggression.
Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) breaks up a pass intended for Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) during overtime at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
86.8/100 First Round
This is the prototype of a first round cornerback. Consistent across the board with the ability to make plays with his aggressive nature. That could hurt him early on until he fully harnesses that ability, but that will come with time.
He would fit really well with the Vikings, especially in zone where he can play off and read what is happening in front of him. Witherspoon is a very popular player right now and likely won’t fall to the end of the first round.