Quandre Diggs: Breaking Down Detroit’s Sixth-Round Pick


This piece originally appeared at DetroitLionsDraft.com, where I served as lead editor. That site is now on indefinite hiatus but I will reprint it here, completely unedited, in its original form…

Aug 28, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs (28) looks on prior to the preseason NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions selected Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs with the 200th overall pick, the 24th pick of the sixth round. I was in Chicago for the draft and in the Selection Square area when the pick was announced. That loud Ric Flair “Woooo” you heard was probably me.

I love this pick. Diggs was my 100th overall player and my 12th-ranked corner when I finished my evaluations of over 400 players and over 35 cornerbacks.

Diggs is a four-year starter for the Longhorns, giving him an extensive body of work to evaluate. Having lived in Texas for his first two years, I even got a chance to see him play in person twice, vs. BYU in 2011 and Oklahoma in 2012. He immediately caught my attention when he broke up the first pass ever thrown his way in that BYU game, and he also forced a fumble later on. Thereafter I was predisposed to liking the Angleton, TX (just southwest of Houston) native.

His aggressiveness stood out in that game, and that quality pervaded his entire Longhorn career. Diggs has been feisty, a guy with a great fight/size of dog ratio. It’s easy to see the family stylistic resemblance to Quinten Jammer, his older brother who had several solid seasons with the San Diego Chargers as a physical corner.

Here are some of my notes from his game against pass-happy Texas Tech in 2012:

–quick close on the WR screen, assists on the tackle for minimal gain

–solid jam on (Eric) Ward, reroutes him wide and off the intended path

–bites on head & shoulder fake, gives up clean release inside

–excellent play in run support; dodges the block attempt and knifes in to make the wrap tackle off left tackle

–one step behind in trail coverage on shallow cross, makes the immediate tackle after a poor throw slows down the receiver

At that time, Diggs was often matched up against the opponent’s #2 wideout as Carrington Byndom was the #1 corner. Kenny Vaccaro, who would become New Orleans’ first-round pick in 2013, also played a lot of coverage as a safety playing CB on that team.

As is the case with a lot of younger corners, Diggs had his ups and downs. By my notes he was beaten for a TD in the Oklahoma game, and he frequently gave a little too much room against Baylor’s wide open offense. Yet he marked Pittsburgh’s first-rounder Markus Wheaton impressively in their bowl game against Oregon State as the primary left CB for those Longhorns. DLD’s Darren Page broke down how the Texas duo of Byndom and Diggs handled Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief, a bigger receiver who will be starting for the Colts next fall. A couple of excerpts from Darren’s piece nicely encapsulate Diggs’ inconsistency:

“Moncrief shows off an impressive vertical to climb the ladder and haul in this pass.  He needed to attack the ball in the air, as it was placed well inside.  Diggs is completely oblivious to the ball coming in and is a stepstool for the receiver on this occasion.  While Diggs has the top end speed and fluid hips to turn and run with Moncrief on this occasion, his inability to finish it by finding the ball and getting a hand to it has to be frustrating for the Texas coaching staff.  Moncrief actually comes down with this ball, stiff arms Diggs into the turf, and takes it all the way for a touchdown.”

“This time Diggs opens his hips to the inside right away and keeps his eyes on Wallace the whole way.  He does well to maintain his proximity with Moncrief and not drifting too far away from him. Without question, Wallace places this ball quite poorly.  It gives Diggs an easy interception, but it’s still a credit to an adjustment in his technique.”

Flash forward to 2014. Texas has a new coach, a new and somewhat misfit 3-man line scheme which dared teams to throw slants and short routes. That’s stressful for corners, and it showed in the numbers Diggs allowed. Per College Football Focus (thanks Steve Palazzalo!), Diggs allowed 63.2 % completions on passes where he was the primary cover, resulting in a 76.3 NFL passer rating. Diggs did a lot of compensating for holes around him in the secondary. This was readily evident in their bowl game against Arkansas, where the Razorbacks didn’t even attempt a pass his direction in the first half. He wound up being a de facto safety, as he is on this Arkansas touchdown. Diggs is coming from completely across the formation to try and help here, but he just can’t do it all:

When Diggs was challenged more directly, he rose to it. The West Virginia game is a great example of where the numbers don’t tell the full story. Kevin White, whom Diggs will face twice a year as the #7 overall pick by the Chicago Bears, caught 16 passes in that game. By my breakdown, 13 of those were against Diggs. Yet White only managed 132 yards on those 16 catches, a paltry 8.25 yards per reception. He did not catch a touchdown as the Mountaineers suffered a humbling 33-16 loss. One of the reasons he didn’t catch a touchdown is because of Diggs’ strong coverage, as seen here:

This is perfect coverage by a corner surrendering almost 5 inches of height and about 15 pounds. Look at Diggs’ initial move here. He opens himself up so he has the ability to break inside and jump the slant route, but he’s not overplaying it either. White is lackadaisical with his sales job on the slant and Diggs immediately senses the fade coming. The corner runs the route for the receiver and quarterback Clint Trickett smartly throws the ball well over both their heads. Diggs prevented 6 points here.

Diggs also a fine job in limiting yards after the catch. Here’s a great example of his savvy against White on the screen pass:

Once again Diggs doesn’t overreact with his initial move. He’s patient enough to remain in great position to make the play. West Virginia runs this play a lot, and Diggs and his mates were ready for it thanks to diligent film study. There’s a lot of that with Diggs; he’s clearly someone who understands how to watch film and implement what he sees into his game. Kevin White is a load of a receiver, and Diggs played him differently than he did Tyler Lockett in the Kansas State game. They weren’t squared off that often, but Diggs correctly knew the Wildcats liked to run Lockett on crosses and pivot routes while trying to get him isolated in space. Diggs was more assertive in playing Lockett inside out and taking away the easy short slants. He was on the hook for one 17-yard completion to Kody Cook on 3rd and 9 where the situation was similar to the Arkansas highlight above, overplaying to his help and giving Cook too much space.

He won’t have to worry about so much in Detroit. That’s good, because his athletic metrics aren’t great. At 5’9” he ran just a 4.56 40 at the Combine, and his 4.15 short shuttle and 7.22 3-cone drill times are average. He’s also got short arms at under 30” and middle of the pack jump numbers.

The Lions selected Diggs as insurance for the slot corner spot, where both Nevin Lawson and Bill Bentley were hurt almost all of last year. I’m still an unabashed Lawson fan, and his healthy return is the best possible outcome at the slot corner. Yet Diggs is already a better option than Cassius Vaughn or Mohammed Seisay were last season when pressed into duty. At worst, he’s the #2 inside corner and #5 outside corner, and I think Diggs’ arrival really puts oft-injured Bentley on the spot. Lawson can also play outside, so the battle here is really between Bentley and Diggs. It’s nice to have options.