As the NFL Draft approaches prospects are scrambling to prepare for their individual pro days. Those prospects who didn’t get an NFL Combine invite realize that this could be their last shot to wow NFL talent evaluators. Unfortunately, with many large crowd events, such as pro days, canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, this will surely have negative ramifications for many NFL draft hopefuls.
Cornerback needy teams will zero in on top prospects such as OSU’s Jeffrey Okudah or Florida’s C.J. Henderson, but one small school prospect has gone under the radar. That prospect is University of Texas San Antonio’s Cassius Grady. The 5’9 1/]\” 185 lb. firecracker from Arlington, TX may lack size for a cornerback, but more than makes up for it with his feistiness and ability to attack the ball. Grady boasts 33″ arms 9’7-8” hands and UTSA coaches clocked him at 4.5 seconds in the forty-yard dash with an impressive 40″ vertical leap.
During 2015 Grady was a redshirt freshman at Northern Illinois University. The young cornerback had issues keeping his grades up while balancing the transition to school life and the obligations of football, as is the case with many student athletes. Later that year he left school moving back home, but kept in football shape by working out with his twin brother. After a hiatus from playing football, in 2017 Cassius Grady enrolled at Trinity Valley Community College located in his home state of Texas. During his lone season at Trinity Valley, Grady recorded 4 ints with 11 pass break ups.
The following season Grady was offered a spot on the University of Texas San Antonio’s football team and went onto to have a stellar two years registering 81 total tackles 69 solo 7.5 tackles for a loss 6 ints 12 passes defended and 1 sack.
Student of the Game
Grady is a student of the game and his UTSA coaches have made it known how much of a film junkie he is. Oftentimes he’s been seen in the UTSA student cafeteria watching film and game tape on his phone. His willingness to sharpen his ability is key. However, he also understands the value he can add on special teams which is just as important during his transition to the NFL. Grady’s film affirms The Burgundy and Gold Report’s assertion that the UTSA CB will be a valuable asset in an NFL defensive back room who offers leadership, but more importantly the ability to contribute immediately on the next level.
Read on for a list of the intangibles that make Grady a must have as a potential Draft Day prospect:
Ability in Coverage– Displays tremendous instinct to shadow receivers with an effortless back pedal. Understands the nuances of the route tree and when to jump the route/when to let it develop. May not have pro-typical size, but knows when to open up his hips in coverage. Isn’t afraid to mix it up and get physical with receivers.
Acceleration– Gets from point A to point B with little wasted movement. Shows very good recovery speed if beaten off the line to make up ground in a hurry.
Hands– Displays excellent concentration when high pointing 50/50 balls as was evident with his 6 ints between 2018-2019. Many of his interceptions were contested passes against bigger receivers.
Tackling– Rarely will miss an open field tackle and has a vast understanding of tackling angles, particularly on screens. Displays textbook tackling ability. Lack of size doesn’t seem to be a determinate and understands the importance of tackling technique.
Getting to know Cassius Grady
During a recent Burgundy and Gold Report Q&A session with Cassius Grady, we discussed what led to his decision to leave Northern Illinois during his freshman season in 2015, prior to arriving to UTSA in 2018.
“What lead to my departure from NIU was me being in my own way, letting my grades get the best of me. I actually got caught trying to cheat on a test. It was a wakeup call for me, it taught me to always do the right thing even when you don’t want to. Nothing good comes from doing stuff the wrong way.”
UTSA defensive back Cassius Grady (28) warms-up before a college football game at Rice Stadium on Saturday, Oct 6, 2018, in Houston.
We went on to discuss Grady’s favorite aspect of playing cornerback, as well as his thoughts on what he believes separates him from other draft hopefuls, in which he’ll be going up against to make an NFL roster.
“My favorite aspect of corner is being a student of the game. Which means watching film, looking at every detail from the WR stance, from the way he comes off the ball, his tempo in the routes. Breaking down a WR’s game is my favorite aspect and what I believe is going to separate me is my instincts & the fact that I literally play big! I’m 5’9″ 1/2, 185 that can do anything you would want from a 6’1″ corner & I’m a team first type of player, I’m on time, I’m prompt & I’m confident. Those are the things that I feel will separate me from a lot.”
We wrapped up, discussing Grady’s film and how his ability to run stride-for-stride with receivers looks to be his biggest strength. The Roadrunner receiver understands that he’s not a finished product though. In addition, we discussed what part of his game he would he prioritize, in regards to improving and refining during the pre-draft process.
“During this training process I’ll be focusing on speed & the agility part of my game to prepare me for my pro day.”
The UTSA defensive back understands that, like most NFL hopefuls, his dedication to film study and his attention to detail will be closely analyzed by NFL teams. His ability to contribute on special teams, will no doubt give him an opportunity to make a team’s final 53-man roster. Regardless if the corner gets drafted or goes undrafted, his journey and work ethic should appeal to cornerback needy teams.
Fit in Washington
The Redskins release of Josh Norman and recent trade of Quentin Dunbar have created void at cornerback. Although Washington added fan favorite Kendall Fuller back into the fold, Fabian Moreau and second year CB Jimmy Moreland are the only other corners that can be expected to have meaningful contributions in 2020. The signing of Ronald Darby last week, no doubt ads competition, but similar to Dunbar health is a question mark. Depth at cornerback for new DC Jack Del Rio’s defense is a major issue. There is no doubt Washington could still sign another corner in free agency or add one in the draft. In fact, unearthing late round gems has been an area of success for Kyle Smith and the Skins scouting department. Grady fits the profile of a small school prospect that has the work ethic and ability to make an NFL roster. The UTSA corner would bring speed and discipline to a special team’s unit that needs an upgrade. Rivera covets prospects who will strengthen his special teams unit, but also add big play ability to the defense. With the draft only weeks away, Grady would be an ideal late round selection with the Redskins holding multiple selections in the 7th round. Cornerback is just one position of need for Washington, but adding a high IQ prospect like Grady would go a long way in improving the overall depth and ability of the defense.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Cassius Grady @therealcassius5
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