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Miami Hurricanes 2018 NFL Draft Profile: Cornerback De’Vonta ‘Dee’ Delaney

It was a season of highs and lows for graduate transfer CB Dee Delaney.

Miami v Florida State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

The Hurricanes are no strangers to dipping into the transfer pool to address team needs. It worked out well for UM when CB Adrian Colbert moved to Coral Gables for his junior season, helping to shore up the defensive secondary. If it worked once, why not go back to the well for more? Which is what Miami did before the 2017 season, pulling CB Dee Delaney as a graduate transfer from The Citadel. Delaney, a two-time Walter Camp All-American at the FCS level, was considered the best defensive back not at a traditional power five program during his sophomore and junior seasons as a Bulldog.

Having stepped up in the few FBS games that The Citadel had scheduled during his time with the program, Delaney’s play gave college and some NFL analysts the impression that he could be a viable prospect in the near future. That’s why, when Delaney swiped right on the Miami Hurricanes dating profile, it seemed like the perfect match between player and school early in the preseason. Measuring at six-foot-one and weighing 193 pounds, Delaney has the prototypical size that a coach would ideally love to have in an outside or boundary corner. Take his physical attributes along with the experience, and you can’t blame those preseason projections calling for Delaney not to just excel, but to also lead the Hurricanes’ defensive secondary in some respects.

Measurables and Path to the Draft

Height: 5’114/8”

Weight: 200 pounds

Arm Length: 301/2 inches

Hand Size: 96/8 inches

High School: Whale Branch Early High School

Hometown: Beaufort, South Carolina

Best Game Film: Georgia Tech (2017)

Dee Delaney’s Senior Profile

Strengths

Good Tackler

The attribute of being a good tackler usually is not the first quality that comes to mind when scouting a cornerback. Yet, Delaney’s willingness to stick his head into piles will surely endear him to teammates. With 24 solo tackles and 15 assisted tackles, Delaney was a decent fit for a Manny Diaz defense that requires solid tackling to get onto the field.

Solid Speed

While there are other players on Miami’s roster that would torch Delaney in a 100-meter dash, the graduate transfer does possess enough speed to stay with wide receivers down the field. His trail technique keeps Delaney close enough to make a play on the receiver or the ball in some scenarios.

Great Instincts

When you look at the single interception that Dee Delaney was able to produce, it does not sound as though this is a player who can be a playmaker in an NFL secondary. However, Delaney has the talent to get between intended receivers and the ball. Before his one year at Miami, Delaney has 13 interceptions at The Citadel. It will be up to NFL evaluators whether they feel that his lone season at Miami is indicative of his potential or situation that did not play out in his favor.

Weaknesses

Ball Skills

While Delaney showcased that he could stay with receivers on deep routes, there were too many instances for ’Canes fans where he was unable to make a play on the ball. Look no further than the Orange Bowl for examples of Delaney being unable to make a play on the ball. While there were times earlier in the season in which the blame could be put on coverage mixups, the benefit of the doubt quickly washed away with Delaney.

However, as he illustrated at the Scouting Combine, Delaney looks like a natural catching the ball. Some subtle tweaks and refinement of his technique could lead to him getting his hands on more passes in his direction.

Scout’s Take

Graduate transfer from The Citadel who looked overmatched during much of his senior season at Miami. Delaney doesn’t have the suddenness or coverage talent to stick with crafty route runners from the slot while big, fast receivers can beat him down the field. While he’s an aggressive, willing tackler against the run, he may lack the requisite cover talent to make it in the league.

Lance Zierlein NFL.com analyst

Final Wave

The 2017 season did not play out in the same manner as a Disney Film... well, it at least did not start out that way. From the beginning of the season, there were points where Delaney looked out of position, confused and overall flustered with himself and teammates after a breakdown in coverage. At one point, Delaney went from the top of the cornerback depth chart to somewhere on the outskirts, seeing a decrease in snaps as Miami’s younger DBs leapt over him on the depth chart. However, not one to be deterred, Delaney illustrated his resolve, applying himself in practice and during those few snaps to climb back into the top four rotation. Unfortunately, Delaney went down with an unspecified injury after Miami’s game against Florida State. What initially was reported by some sources as a season-ending injury turned out to be about a month’s worth of games, with the redshirt senior cornerback making his way back into the lineup. While Delaney did not start another game for Miami for the remainder of the season, he did see an increase of snaps coming back after the injury.

Delaney could be a case where his pro career exceeds his one season at Miami. His adjustment to FBS competition was not swift; however, he improved as the season progressed. Entering the NFL, he could use some time to acclimate to the speed and nuances of the game. Look for Delaney to contribute immediately as a special teams member. Depending on landing spot, Delaney could work his way into a defensive back rotation this season as he acclimates to the speed and nuances of football at its top level.

Best Fits: Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots

Draft Projection: fifth-seventh round selection

Good Luck Dee!