It’s not a great year for defensive backs on the west coast, but Pittsburgh (California) prospect Jordan Parker is one of the exceptions. He may be the top corner out west in this cycle.
UCLA is putting together a great defensive class so far for 2016 and Parker is a tremendous addition for the Bruins.
Parker has good, but not elite speed. There is efficiency with his movement though and his footwork and acceleration is very good. 5’11” looks like it may be a bit generous and he does not have great length, but he certainly doesn’t play small.
When people talk ball skills for a cornerback, most people think interceptions. It can mean more than just picks though and Parker has outstanding all around ball skills. He has good hands and can finish with an interception, but is great at getting his hand on the football and adjusting to the ball in the air. He breaks up a ton of passes.
There are some technique issues Parker definitely needs to improve in man coverage. He frequently gives a free release off the line in press and doesn’t use his hands to get a jam to disrupt the receiver. He also will too frequently get caught flat footed and end up grabbing receivers to make up ground because he hasn’t got into his backpedal. He needs to get better with these things, but he covers up a lot of mistakes because he is very efficient out of his transitions and is very quick when closing. He has that extra juice ready when he needs it to accelerate to make a play.
He shows good instincts in zone and does a nice job of reading the quarterback’s eyes. This is another instance of his ability to accelerate being a huge asset in terms of making plays on the ball. Ball skills don’t mean anything if you’re a half step slow.
He’s a willing, but not an overly physical tackler in the run game. He does do a very good job of slipping blocks to get involved in the play.
I think Parker would be better off playing in off coverage more than being in a scheme that asks him to play press at this point in time. I think he is best suited to play as a field corner and could even end up moving to safety later down the line.
What Parker may lack in top end speed, he makes up for in other areas. There aren’t many defensive backs with ball skills like him and that’s a big reason why I feel he has such a bright future in the Pac-12. He has all of the tools to be a multi-year starter and I expect he’ll break up a lot of passes during his college career.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).