With Troy University giving the NFL an All-Pro at linebacker (Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware) and another All-Pro at defensive end (New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora), it is only fitting that their next college standout will complete the trifecta to come in the secondary. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is that man and figures to join an NFL team this April.
McKelvin had a superb career at Troy. After being bypassed by some big-name collegiate programs because of academic concerns, McKelvin rewarded the Trojans' faithful by committing himself even harder on- and off-the-field. Starting as a reserve cornerback, McKelvin worked his way into a starting job by his junior season and was a team captain in his final year. Over 48 games (25 starts), he finished with 173 tackles (145 solo), four interceptions (one for a touchdown) and 22 passes deflected. He ranks third in Sun Belt Conference history with 3,909 all-purpose yards.
Setting a good precedent as team captain, McKelvin was among the hardest workers on the team. He started out as a reserve cornerback in his freshman year and worked his way up to being one of the top corners in the nation. His hard work in the training room also translates well on to the field as he does not need many reps to pick up plays. He also has not stopped working as he is set on finishing the 14 credit hours he has left for his sports medicine degree, even with all the preparation for the draft and offseason workouts.
McKelvin's best asset by far is his blazing speed, part of a great combination of overall athleticism. McKelvin ran a 4.38 40-yard dash in his offseason workouts, and his acceleration over a shorter period is even quicker. Due to his speed, McKelvin is tough to beat deep. However, he is not just a speedster. In a draft populated with solid cornerback choices, MeKelvin has come away from his workouts with some of the best marks for agility. Not only is he adept at covering receivers deep, he can work in the short-to-mid range as well.
His speed doesn't help him only on the defensive side of the ball; it also makes him one of the most exciting return men in the nation. He finished his career with the NCAA subdivision record for total kick returns (211) and yardage (3,817). He has great vision in the open field and his start-and-stop agility makes it easy for him to make people miss.
Despite a disadvantage with his height (5-foot-10 1/4), McKelvin does not give up easy on jump balls and is one of the feistiest defensive backs in the draft. This aggressiveness also manifests itself in the risks McKelvin takes. He tends to peek into the backfield, which gives him the jump on underneath passes, and likes playing up on receivers. His speed allows him to get away with this.
He may be fast, but McKelvin does not have the ideal size to play in the NFL. He stands just 5-foot-10 1/4 and weighs in at only 190 pounds. He is pushed around too easily at the line of scrimmage and is a liability when matched up against taller receivers. His lack of bulk also keeps him from being a great wrap tackler, instead forcing him to drag down receivers.
McKelvin's risky nature means he gets burnt sometimes on deep passes when he reads the play wrong. He has been susceptible to trick plays, pump fakes and play-action in the past. Luckily, his speed allows him to recover on most plays, but this is something that can be exploited at the next level.
He suffered a fractured ankle in the spring of 2006 that required surgery, and McKelvin sprained the acromioclavicular (AC) joint of his left shoulder during the 2005 season, which he said bothered him much of the year.
Expected Draft Placement
Quality shut-down corners are often hard to find, and this year is no exception. McKelvin, who sits atop of his draft class, stands to make a lot of money because of his ability both defensively and in the return game. The New England Patriots, picking seventh, and the Baltimore Ravens, picking eighth, both are in need of a corner. If they pass on him, don't expect him to fall past the Arizona Cardinals with the 16th pick. The Philadelphia Eagles have also been rumored to be considering a move up to draft him as they seek an improvement in their return game.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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