2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: South Alabama CB Darrell Luter Jr.

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today, we’ll be profiling South Alabama CB Darrell Luter Jr.

#18 Darrell Luter Jr./CB South Alabama – 6000, 189


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Darrell Luter Jr. 6000, 189 10 3/8″ 32 3/8″ N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.46 1.57 4.43 6.9
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10’3″ 40.5 N/A


— Nice technique in press coverage, stays square to force wide releases, utilizes kick step to match before engaging his off-hand jam
— Plays with the necessary patience in coverage to challenge receivers at all three levels of the field
— Stays square and plays with great patience in off-coverage, loves to play from catch man technique
— Fluid in his kick-step/transition phase, can seamlessly turn and run from press coverage to match vertical releases
— Willing tackler in the open field
— Shows solid effort in backside pursuit
— Nice technique with step/replace mechanics, feet always stay within his frame
— Nice contact balance to fight through push off and throw by attempts from larger-framed receivers at the top of routes
— Played exclusively to the boundary at South Alabama, leaving him primarily in isolated MOD (man on demand/man any vertical release/route that breaks beyond five yards) and MEG (man everywhere he goes) matchups
— Powerful base and punch to reroute receivers at the top of their routes in catch-man coverage
— Does great work as a flat zone defender in Cover 2
— Mixes up his approach at the line, does a nice job to roll down late and surprise receivers with physical jump jams

The Bad

— Patient approach at the line can leave him susceptible to speed releases on shallow in-breaking routes
— Tends to get lost in traffic on crossing routes, fails to stay tight enough to the receiver and runs himself into pick routes, creating separation
— Plant and drive mechanics from a crossover run are a bit choppy, lack explosion of the break
— Not an impactful tackler, more of a drag down tackler, feet usually go dead on contact
— Would like to see him show more urgency to disengage from stalk blocks on the perimeter


— 91 tackles 2.5 TFLs 1 FF 5 INTs 18 PDs
— 2022: 42 tackles 0.5 TFL 1 QBH 1 INT 7 PDs
— Played two JUCO seasons (2018-19) at Pearl River CC in Mississippi before playing three seasons at South Alabama (2020-2022)
— 19 tackles, 1 INT, 8 PBUs in his final JUCO season
— 2021 first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection
— 2021 second-team All-American, per PFF
— 2022 third-team All-Sun Belt Conference Selection
— 2019 second-team All-Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges
— Lettered in basketball, football, and track in high school

Tape Breakdown

Following Cam Sutton’s departure, the Steelers’ cornerback room remains devoid of a capable, every-down slot defender. The team is also relying on an aging former All-Pro on the boundary. Needless to say, cornerback has shot up among the franchise’s top needs ahead of the draft. With an immediate need in the slot and a longer-term need on the boundary, it would not be out of the question to see Omar Kahn and company double dip at the position.

Today, we are taking a look into another non-Power Five, mid-round target — that being Darrell Luter Jr. He took the JUCO route before producing a pair of dominant seasons at South Alabama, culminating in All-Sun Belt Conference recognition. A technician in both press and catch-man coverage, Luter Jr. plays with great patience, consistently staying square, playing within his frame, and keeping himself in phase to disrupt receivers with physicality at the top of their routes.

Capable of combating larger-framed receivers at the top of their routes, Luter Jr.’s contact balance helps him fight through push-off and throw by attempts to stay in phase and contest the catch point. Here, aligned in catch-man coverage to a nub tight end set, he aligns with outside leverage, weaving to maintain leverage while staying square, and fighting through a push off to stay in location with the tight end’s near hip.

His proficiency in catch man coverage suggests that he may be able to provide some inside/outside versatility at the next level, despite playing exclusively on the boundary at South Alabama. Further evidence of his power and contact balance, Luter Jr.’s arm length can provide powerful jams downfield, capable of eliminating routes at the second level. Once again finding himself matched up with a tight end in a nub formation, Luter Jr. once again aligns in catch man coverage, this time playing tighter to the line of scrimmage.

At the snap, he weaves outside to match the release, anticipating the push off and extending his arms with his weight on his insteps, knocking the receiver into the dirt and effectively erasing the route. For anyone at home calling for PI at this point, the defensive back has every right to stand his ground vs a push off, just as Luter Jr. does here.

In press coverage, Luter Jr.’s progression is often picture perfect, beginning with the patience to stay square and make the receiver release wide of their landmark before effectively kick-stepping to the upfield shoulder, engaging his off-hand jam, and remaining in phase for the remainder of the rep.

Here, working in press-man coverage in the boundary, he patiently allows the receiver to declare and closes to the upfield shoulder before sinking his hips to effortlessly match the “whip” route, plastering to force the throwaway. The subtle technicalities in his game, such as a crafty hook of the receivers hip here, show an extremely advanced football IQ for a player his age.

When tasked with working as a flat defender in Cover 2 schemes, Luter Jr. does a nice job of mixing up his approach pre-snap surprising receivers in their release phase and attacking from depth to engage powerful jump jams. Here, working in the flat, he creeps down toward the line pre-snap, squaring up, adopting a staggered stance, and stunning the receiver with a two-handed jam, disrupting the timing of his release on the fade route.

After eliminating the hole shot with an effective jump jam, Luter Jr. sinks and looks for work. He triggers as a shallow crosser works into his zone, closing at a great angle to vice tackle the receiver short of the sticks on third down. His approach and instincts in zone coverage show a player mature well beyond his age.

When asked to make tackles in the open field, Luter Jr. consistently does a nice job of taking proper angles, closing to the near hip, and providing enough resistance to regularly put ball carriers on the ground. While his level of physicality doesn’t often lend itself to powerful hits, often failing to run his feet on contact, one would be hard-pressed to highlight tackling as a weakness of his game.

The biggest issue on Luter Jr.’s tape actually stems from his biggest strength –patience and an unrelenting commitment to staying square. That can leave him vulnerable to speedy, decisive releases on shallow in-breaking routes. Here, aligned in the boundary, he is forced to back from press into off-coverage due to motion, leaving him overleveraged at the snap.

While he is able to work to get square post snap, Luter Jr. is late to match an inside release, getting himself caught in traffic and running into the hole defender in the Cover 1 scheme. When defending the mesh, corners are often taught to track directly behind the receiver to avoid getting picked, as Luter Jr. does here.

Due to his decision to close the up-field shoulder rather than track the receiver’s numbers, Luter Jr. would’ve been caught on a pick from the backside receivers regardless. Given the well-timed motion, this could be chalked up as a win for the play caller, but this is far from the only instance on tape where Luter Jr. struggles to match a shallow crosser in a mesh concept.

In all aspects of coverage, Luter Jr. plays with the patience and confidence to challenge receivers at all three levels of the field. Naturally, this commitment to patience can occasionally lend itself to lack of urgency to match a vertical release.

On the rep below, Luter Jr. gets caught weaving too far outside, allowing the receiver space to cross his face on the inside release. Nonetheless, Luter Jr. does a phenomenal job to recover and get back into phase. Playing from in phase at the catch point, I would ideally like to see Luter Jr. finish with a violent punch through the pocket and contest the catch through the ground, although it should be noted that the receiver does a nice job of flashing late hands.


I came away impressed with Darrell Luter Jr.’s game, and feel that he will be able to contribute in a sub-package capacity as early as his first year in the league. While he almost exclusively played as a boundary corner at South Alabama, I believe that he offers some inside/outside versatility in obvious pass situations given his proficiency in catch-man coverage.

While I didn’t get a great chance to evaluate his ball skills due to limited targets in the games I evaluated, his five interceptions and 18 passes defended over his two seasons at South Alabama suggest healthy ball production. Luter Jr. reminds me quite a bit of Washington Commanders corner Kendall Fuller, who, in my opinion, is one of the more underrated defensive backs in the league. Both players are solid, if not outstanding athletes, who rely on their superior patience and technique to challenge receivers at all three levels of the field.

I may end up being a bit higher on Luter Jr. than most. But I see a player with the necessary man-coverage ability, physicality, and IQ in zone coverage to contribute immediately in sub-packages while working to become a starting corner down the line. If a team is able to grab Luter Jr. on Day Three, it could wind up with one of the best value selections of this year’s draft.

Projection: Late Day Two/Early Day Three

Depot Draft Grade: 7.6-Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)

Games Watched: vs Old Dominion (2022), vs Troy (2022), at Louisiana Tech (2022)

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