2021 NFL Draft Profile: Shaun Wade

Shaun Wade NFL Draft

Shaun Wade NFL Draft Overview

Position: Cornerback
Height: 6’-1”
Weight: 195 pounds
School: Ohio State

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2021 NFL Draft: Shaun Wade Player Profile

Shaun Wade will enter the 2021 NFL Draft after choosing to forego his senior year of eligibility at the college level. Red-shirted as a freshman, Wade started three seasons for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Bursting onto the scene as the Buckeyes primary slot cornerback his red-shirt freshman and sophomore seasons. Before transitioning to a starting spot on the perimeter which yielded mixed results his final season in Ohio. 

Wade won the Florida State Championship all four years he played football in High School. Trinity Christian Academy is a powerhouse high school program in Florida and Wade thrived. His Senior year, Wade won the USA Today High School Football Player of the Year and was a 5-star recruit entering college. He was ranked the number one cornerback of the 2017 recruiting class by ESPN.

As the Buckeyes primary slot cornerback, Wade made 57 total tackles his first two playing seasons and recorded four interceptions. He is perhaps most remembered for being ejected from the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, a College Football Playoff semifinal, for what was adjudged a targeting hit on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Wade mostly played as a perimeter cornerback in his junior year. He made two more interceptions but struggled in some high-profile games, including the National Championship loss to Alabama.

Strengths:

  • Great size and length for an NFL cornerback or strong safety;
  • Has shown versatility, with experience in the slot, on the perimeter, and as what would be a box safety in today’s pro game;
  • Shows discipline and patience in zone coverage and is a fluid mover in man coverage;
  • Strong tackling, very physical, big-hitting cornerback – had three forced fumbles in his career;
  • A dynamic nickel corner, one of the best blitzing nickel backs in this draft class.

Weaknesses:

  • His performance in 2020 suggests he belongs on the inside – made several high profile errors lined up on the perimeter;
  • Lacks the top-end speed to handle man coverage on the perimeter;
  • Allows his man a free release off the line of the scrimmage too often, missing in his hand placement when jamming a receiver;
  • Ball skills a question mark – doesn’t locate the football following receivers down the field;
  • Torched in the National Championship Final by Devonta Smith. 

NFL Comparison: Desmond King

While smaller in stature than Shaun Wade, King has transitioned from corner to safety at the next level. King is good in zone coverage as Wade has flashed but similarly lacks the top-end speed to handle premiere receivers on the outside without help. King has 8.5 career sacks at the pro level, Wade could have similar production if he starts at nickel. Wade could thrive as a roaming box safety or nickel who is a threat to blitz and with help over the top in coverage.

Teams With Need at Position: San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints

Projection: Second Round

Bottom Line on Shaun Wade

Despite a shaky 2020 campaign, Shaun Wade has plenty of potential to thrive at the pro level. His draft stock took a huge hit, but if anything it showed his future NFL team his limitations as a player which will give coaches a much better understanding of how he can benefit a defense. Moreover, there’s a place in pro football for an inside defensive back who is physical in run support. 

A move back to the inside is an inevitability, while a transition to safety is certainly a possibility. Wade will likely be given the opportunity to move around on the defensive side of the ball. He’d be at home in the slot but has shown strong enough skills in zone coverage to warrant reps at safety in training camp. 

It’s unfortunate a move to the outside didn’t lead to great tape for Wade. Even a middling season and we would be hearing his name called on day one of the draft. However, a team is going to be very happy with the value Wade will bring as a day two pick. Perhaps he even sneaks into the back end of the first round based on his early career tape. Wade will have a very successful NFL career if he lands on a defense that understands his limitations and use him in a position that plays to his strengths.

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