From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#2 Greg Newsome/DB Northwestern – 6’1 190
– Smooth athlete with great size
– Oily hips, elite ability to click and close
– Plays with physicality, can play press man and off man
– Played both sides of defense, not married to a particular side of the field
– Shows great awareness in zone coverage, rarely covering empty field
– Makes plays on the ball consistently, and plays through the hands of receivers
– Plays with attitude, stays attached to hip on most reps
– Has solid closing speed on deep routes
– Good starting experience against quality competition
– Shows great understanding of route combinations and always in positions to make plays
– Gets grabby and handsy before the ball arrives and throughout the route
– Has relatively small sample size, only started 18 games in college
– Injury history, missed games in every season
– Struggles making tackles in the run game and low presence in run support
– At times puts himself in trail position, allowing for chances of getting beat deep
– Speed isn’t a strong suit, but has enough to stay with receivers
– Inconsistent shedding blocks down field and on screens
– Struggles with consistently jamming at LOS, rerouting receivers
– Started 18 of 21 total games played at Northwestern
– Started four games Freshman season year, eight Sophomore year , six Junior year
– 2020 All-B1G First Team
– 2020 AP All-American Third Team
– Three-star recruit from IMG Academy, chose Northwestern over Arkansas, Boston College and others
– Missed nine games freshman season with ankle injury, missed four games sophomore year with undisclosed injury, no games missed this season but left Big Ten Championship with groin injury
– Multi-sport athlete, played football and basketball in high school
– One career interception, 20 passes defensed
Greg Newsome II is one of the underrated defensive backs in the 2021 class. Don’t be fooled by the lack of ball production, he has all the traits you look for in a modern NFL defensive back. He possesses the ability to change direction with fluidity, click and close on routes with some of the elite in this class, and plays with physicality.
In this first clip from the Nebraska game, you see the good and bad with Greg Newsome. He does a nice job making a late break on the ball and making a fantastic pass break-up. And at the same time, he puts himself in trail position momentarily and allows the tight end to get a step on him. However, he recovers nicely to disrupt the pass.
We see how athletic and smooth Newsome is in the play below. Working at the bottom of the screen, Newsome gets turned around during the route, attaches to the hip of the receiver and makes the interception. His first career interception, but he’s often in position to make plays like this more times than not.
Newsome gets lost in traffic here, panics and arrives at the receiver before the ball gets there. When he gets beat, Newsome at times grabs and interferes, rather taking the penalty over allowing his man to catch the ball.
One of my favorite plays from Greg Newsome’s tape is how he plays this double move. He stays patient with his feet, mirrors his man, and makes a superb deflection and plays through the receivers hands. Textbook stuff from the junior.
However, when he gets beat vertically, he has a tough time recovering without being called for penalties. Gets beat off the line in press man, and he makes more plays in off man. He is susceptible to giving up deep passes when he gets out of position early in the route.
One of the battles of the conference was Purdue’s number one receiver David Bell and Northwestern’s Newsome facing off. Newsome held his own, including the play below, allowing Bell to only amass 78 receiving yards in the Boilermakers high powered offense. Newsome makes a great pass break up on this deep post pattern.
Overall, Newsome is a fringe first rounder if he tests well at his pro day. With how well he defends, moves his hips and feet in coverage, you’re getting a toolsy corner who will only get better. With an aging Joe Haden, the Steelers need to look at the future. Newsome brings a competitive fire, and should mesh well with a secondary that features former first rounder Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Newsome will have some questions to answer with his injury history, but at full strength this season he finally began to blossom into a true number one corner. He only allowed one catch in a three game stretch this season, on 11 targets.
His aggressive style of play will likely draw some flags, especially in his rookie season, and he has some tackling effort issues to clean up, but if taken at the right value, he could be the steal of the draft.
Projection: 2nd-3rd Round
Games Watched: vs. Wisconsin, at Purdue, vs Iowa (2019), vs. Nebraska