Here is the PFF draft profile for Baylor's Xavien Howard, which incorporates PFF’s college grades and scouting intel from our team of analysts. To see all of PFF’s 2016 scouting reports, click here.
Stat to know:
Howard allowed a NFL passer rating of just 32.2 on passes into his coverage in 2015, and had the 16th-best coverage grade in the draft class.
What he does best:
• Howard is all about potential. When he gets it right, he looks like Richard Sherman. Has the kind of length and ability to run deep with players that can make it very hard to find a window to complete the pass on him.
• He's another player that fits the size and speed profile NFL teams are looking for, stands over 6-feet tall, clears 200-pounds, and ran a 4.41 second 40-yard dash.
• Howard has excellent ball skills. When he sees the ball in the air, he is trying to pick it off himself more often than not, and had five interceptions to six pass breakups this season. More than one of those five picks were excellent catches.
• He plays the run well enough, is physical at the point, and understands where he needs to attack.
• Howard was left on an island at Baylor and still had amongst the best coverage numbers in the country; he allowed just 37.3 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught in 2015.
• He showed the ability to adjust in-game; beaten by something once early in a game, Howard shut it down the second time. This happened across several games.
• His coverage numbers this season were something of a mirage. Howard was beaten badly on multiple big plays that weren’t completed for whatever reason. The NC State game alone could have blown his stats to pieces, had receiver Mack Hollins not stepped out of bounds after beating Howard, turning what should have been a 75-yard touchdown into a 15-yard reception.
• A look at the tape shows him being beaten a lot deep, but not being punished for it with completions. Most of these plays are when he allows the receiver a free release off the line, and then finds himself chasing the play from behind the whole way, unable to recover that disadvantage.
• Howard lacks awareness at times, whether he is late to look for the football or just loses track of it entirely.
Pro style comparison:
Delvin Breaux, New Orleans. Like Howard, Breaux shows big-play ability and some excellent play, but when he loses, it’s bad. Breaux graded well last season, but also led all cornerbacks with 10 touchdowns given up in coverage. Howard could have had numbers like that, had the quality of his opponents' execution been better.
There are few corners in this draft with the kind of potential Xavien Howard has, and some teams are going to see nothing but that upside. When Howard gets it right on tape, he looks like the next Richard Sherman—a player with the length to all but eliminate deep passes to his side, and the skills to play the short stuff, too. If his negatives are cleaned up, he will be an excellent player, but there are still a lot of concerning moments on his tape, and so many plays where he is killed by receivers. It is a lot to clean up at this point.