From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we hope to 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, I will be profiling North Carolina State defensive lineman, Cory Durden.
#48 Cory Durden, DL, North Carolina State (rSR) — 6042, 292 lbs.
NFLPA Bowl/Pro Day
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Cory Durden||6’4 1/4”/292||9 7/8||34 1/8||83 1/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Good size and length
— Experience from the 0 tech to the 5 tech in even and odd fronts
— Strength to move the line of scrimmage
— Heavy hands and good placement
— Very good motor and uses several pass-rush moves
— Good acceleration to the ball and good hit power
— Ability to play two-gap and remove blockers from his path
— Eyes are consistently on the ball; pursues all over the field
— Works through traffic effectively
— Inconsistent snap quickness
— Balance and core strength when engaged
— Hand timing leaves chest open
— Countering to disengage from blockers when they have the advantage
— Timing when shedding blockers
— Technique versus double team blocks
— Awareness against blocks coming from his side
— 2022: 27 tackles, 12 solo, 2.5 TFL, 0 sacks, 1 PBU, 2 FF
— Career: 126 tackles, 52 solo, 20 TFL, 11 sacks, 4 PBU, 2 FF
— 57 games, 36 starts
— Team Captain
— 2022 third-team All-ACC
— 2021 first-team All-ACC
— Transferred from Florida State
— Has two children, Jaxxon and Olivianna, born in December of 2021
— Had surgery for partially torn labrum prior to final season
— NFLPA Bowl invitee
A highly recruited 3- and 4-star recruit out of high school Cory Durden began his career at Florida State. His last two years were with North Carolina State where he garnered All-ACC honors. He played primarily at the 0 technique in a three-man front but also played outside the tackles on a four-man front.
As a pass rusher, Durden has a very good motor, fighting through blocks to get to the quarterback. When he plays with good snap quickness and pad level, he has the play strength to reset the line of scrimmage. He uses solid hand placement, heavy hands, and very good length to stand up blockers. He will use a variety of moves to rush, including a push/pull, club, swim, and spin. His most successful rushes usually involve the forklift, using his hands to push the offensive lineman’s arms up to get him off balance. He has the power and length to be effective with power rushes. When he has a lane, he has good acceleration to close on the quarterback and displays good pursuit outside the pocket. As the looper he displays solid quickness, will get his hands up in passing lanes and is solid reading screens.
While at Florida State, Durden (16) is lined up as the 3 tech. Against the left guard he’ll swipe the hands and accelerate to the quarterback. In the second play as the 0 tech, Durden (48) will yank the center out of the way to get the pressure and force the early throw.
The effort is evident getting after the passer. The first play has a club/swim followed by a spin. The second uses the forklift to lift the arms of the left guard.
Against the run, Durden has solid snap quickness and solid good punch with his hands. He displays good hand strength to engage and yank blockers on the line of scrimmage and plays with his eyes up. Working down the line of scrimmage he displays good athleticism to work his way through traffic to the ball. He plays to the whistle and chases the ball well, tackling with good power and effectiveness.
The ability to stack and shed is there. Consistency with timing will allow him to make more plays like these.
Another shed while holding his ground in the middle.
Sometimes it’s about resetting the line of scrimmage.
I don’t know if this was the call or his instincts but instead of attacking the o-line he plays it like a linebacker and scrapes down the line to the gap on a third down late in the game.
His snap quickness is inconsistent, ranging from adequate to very good. He will get out over his toes and lose his balance, ending up on the ground. When he is late with his hands, he leaves his chest open and loses the rep. He needs to improve his hand usage to disengage more quickly. His core strength is only adequate, leaving him susceptible to being twisted and taken to the ground. At N.C. State, there were a lot of three-man rushes, so he was facing multiple blockers often. He used power rushes more often earlier in his career and not enough last season.
Some rushes never get going. The first rush against the left tackle his hands are late, and he gets stopped. The second he loses the leverage battle vs the center.
When playing two-gap he needs to stay square. He tries to shed the blocker too early in the rep, which gets him turned sideways and out of the play. Hand timing against the run needs to be more consistent. Against double team blocks, his technique is marginal. He plays too high and needs to learn to split the blocks. Against down blocks, he has marginal awareness and doesn’t get over the block.
Here the right guard is going to block down on him and take him out of the play.
On this play Durden attempts to yank the center out of the way. In the process the center stays engaged and turns him out. If he stays square and sheds later in the rep, he has a better chance at making a play.
Durden has a high motor versus the run and pass and gives good chase to the ball. He has good pad level, hand placement, and play strength when rushing the passer and uses a variety of moves to try to get home. The forklift is an effective move for him, and he closes quickly on the quarterback. Against the run, he has the hand strength, length and play strength to stack and shed in a two-gap scheme and works through traffic well.
Areas to improve include more consistency in his snap quickness and playing with his feet under him to not end up on the ground. Protecting his chest and countering with his hands to keep blockers off him. Improving his technique when facing double team blocks, his awareness vs down blocks and timing his shed more effectively will allow him to make more plays.
Durden’s listed weight on the school sites had him in the 305- to 310-pound range. He weighed in at 292 at the NFLPA Bowl, which is curious. Fifteen to 20 pounds could make the difference in playing the nose tackle or 3 tech. He has a lot of flexibility on a defensive front to play just about anywhere and is scheme versatile but would fit best in a two-gap scheme. Pittsburgh has a history of late-round defensive line picks with players like Carlos Davis, Isaiah Buggs, L.T. Walton, and Big Dan McCullers. Durden feels like someone the Steelers would be interested in with his length, pedigree, and solid production.
For a player comp, I will go with Shamar Stephen from UConn. He built a solid eight-year career starting in half of those years. Coming out of college, he had scheme versatility, had the raw tools and athleticism to work with and was a team captain. He too needed to work on technique and understanding of block and improve his snap quickness.
Projection: Late Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 6.4 End of Roster/Practice Squad (6th/7th Round)
Games Watched: 2021 – Vs Clemson, At Wake Forest; 2022 – At Clemson, At North Carolina, Vs Maryland