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, we’ll be profiling Northwestern CB Cameron Mitchell.
#2 CAMERON MITCHELL/CB NORTHWESTERN – 5’11’’ 191 (REDSHIRT JUNIOR)
2023 NFL Combine
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Cameron Mitchell||5’11’’||9 3/4||31 3/8||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Physical in man coverage
— Plays bigger than his size
— Quick in reacting to any kind of change in direction
— Consistent contributor in run defense
— Natural tackling skills, not afraid of making a hit
— Attacks the ball at the catch point, creating pass breakups in contested situations
— His physical playing style leads to too many flags downfield
— Quicker than fast, has problems to stay with speedier receivers
— Doesn’t have the recovery speed, won’t come back into play when beat
— Lacks ball production, only two forced fumbles and two interceptions in four years
— Missing awareness when taking on crossing routes in zone coverage
— Birthday: September 8, 2001 (21 years old)
— Career Stats: 119 Tackles (88 Solo), 18 Passes Deflected, 1.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumble, 2 Interceptions
— Three-star recruit out of Bolingbrook, Illinois
— Growing up in the south of Chicago, Mitchell was raised as a huge White Sox fan
— Coached and influenced by his father Deon (former wide receiver at Northern Illinois)
— All-Big Ten Honorable Mention 2021 and 2022
— Regular starter since 2021
— Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week vs Nebraska 2022
Cameron Mitchell is best suited as a cornerback in man coverage. You can see him sticking close to his opponent’s hips, giving him less space. He is a smooth mover with a quick reaction to any change of direction. At first, he’s playing his wide receiver in a trail technique, but gets on top of the route as soon as he breaks down, ending up with one of his rare interceptions.
Playing in zone coverage, Mitchell always keeps his eyes in the backfield and reacts in the case of a run. He’s got the athleticism to control the inner gap and still bounce outside with the runner’s cutback.
Mitchell is a viable tackler in the open field and capable of stopping ball carriers in their tracks. He is not afraid of laying the hit on someone, but always stays clean in his tackling technique, wrapping his arms and leading with his shoulder instead of his helmet.
His physical play style even shows when attacking the box as he is willingly taking on blocks. He could be a suitable option playing the nickel, although he played most of his snaps on the outside. It remains to be seen what could be his best position in the defensive backfield, but his physicality certainly helps him.
Mitchell’s room for improvement is includes making more plays on the ball, like he did against Justin Fields in 2020. By playing in zone coverage and keeping his eyes on Fields, he doesn’t need to react on the double move by future first-round pick Jameson Williams.
After taking over the starting role from the departing Greg Newsome II to the NFL, Mitchell quietly became a solid cornerback in the Big Ten. Playing physical man coverage, he usually covers up any receiver. Lacking true top speed, he’ll struggle with faster wideouts but could shine as a nickel corner. He’s got the ability to react quickly, plays bigger than his size and is a fine tackler, which could give him the edge against some of those route runners and maybe even tight ends.
He’s got upside as a run defender, playing with gap integrity and the right instincts. Playing mainly outside contain as a cornerback, he frequently stops runners from getting around him and chooses the right angles to make a tackle.
His biggest concern would be his lack of speed to stay with faster receivers and to recover on deep routes. Unfortunately, he already showed that at points during his college career and certainly needs to improve on this to have a shot at the faster NFL level. If he’s able to create more big plays and find the ball more frequently, he could be up for a role as a solid nickel corner.
Projection: 4th Round
Depot Draft Grade: 7.2 – Rotational player (4th Rounder)
Games Watched: vs Nebraska (2022), at Maryland (2022), vs Ohio State (2022)