MOBILE, Ala. — Julius Brents put his name on the map in Manhattan, Kansas, but he might have just propelled himself up teams and the Steelers draft boards by what he did in Mobile, Alabama at the Senior Bowl. A unique frame for a cornerback, Brents is a muscled-up, 6-foot-3 cornerback with an 82 7/8 inch wingspan. That’s elite length and size. And don’t think that Brents doesn’t know exactly that.
“I definitely use my length to my advantage, any time I can,” Brents said. “When I get out there, I want to make guys feel uncomfortable. There is nothing that I want to do more than make a wide receiver’s life harder.”
If you turned on the tape at the Senior Bowl, you would see Brents doing just that. A stifling presence, Brents’ length gave receivers fit all week. The more impressive thing is that when Brents gave up some ground and even got turned around, his ability to flip his hips and run was impressive. What about the long speed? On four attempts down the field against him in the practices, Brents won all of them, going stride-for-stride with receivers. While his speed might be a question, he has set his goal high.
“I have my goal set in the 40-time, but I won’t tell anyone just yet,” Brents said. “Just know that I can run with these guys, whether they’re big, small, medium. I have that in me. We’re gonna run fast.”
Having played in a variety of schemes, Brents has the unique experience of playing tons of press, off-man, and zone coverages throughout his college career. So, that makes him a particularly interesting fit for teams that use multiple coverage schemes, like say, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brents has seen that as a big plus for him thus far in the short-lived draft process.
“I’ve been in two different schemes. In the Big 10, I played more of a zone with a lot of off-man,” Brents said. “Being in the Big 12 about seventy-five percent of the time, I’m all pressed up at the line, I’d say I’m real versatile and a fit for a lot of these schemes.”
But take it from Brents, when it comes time to get dirty in the run and screen game, he brings that energy, too. A unique frame for a defensive back, Brents is an elite block shedder and brings the wood downhill. That is something he has cultivated over his football career as a point of pride within his game.
“It starts with the mindset,” Brents said. “Just not being afraid to come downhill, stick your nose in there and run through the smoke. A lot of guys might be scared at doing that. But not me, I get myself into that mindset that I need to get in there and get dirty every down.”
That tracks for Brents and did all week. No other cornerback was as willing to lay the wood down quite as Brents. So, if you want a long, physical cornerback, Brnets should be on the draft board and probably pretty high on that board.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Measured at the Senior Bowl: 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, 33 3/4 inch arms, 9 1/2 inch hands, 82 7/8 inch wingspan
JULIUS BRENTS SCOUTING REPORT
Brents is in rare air when we are talking about size, and that brings major advantages and perceived disadvantages. However, his fluidity and what I would perceive as good enough speed makes his size an extreme boon to his stock. He can disrupt players at the line of scrimmage in press coverage, but has the instincts and werewithal to not overcommit within the context of a given play. In addition, his ball production shot up this past year at Kansas State, nabbing four interceptions, but is he truly a ballhawk? That is one question I have.
Regardless, Brents has physical qualities that are rare while being an extremley smart player. He can work in a variety of different coverages and plays as physical as I’ve seen an outside cornerback play in quite some time. Overall, he will have some detractors due to his size, but I think Brents is a polished, plug-and-play guy.
HOW DOES HE FIT?
Brents can fit into anything. Really, I think he would do best to play pressed up on the line of scrimmage where he can use his length to disrupt players. After all, what are you really doing if you’re not using his elite physical trait? However, Brents can work into different coverages. The Steelers run a little bit of everything, but there is a tendency to go towards more man coverage in recent years, so Brents can fit that model perfectly.
WHERE WILL HE BE DRAFTED?
As it stands, Brents is set to be picked around 71st overall in third round, but experienced a meteoric rise in his draft stock after the Senior Bowl. I would not be surprised if that continues to rise as long as he runs well in his hometown of Indianapolis. If he does, Brents is a candidate at 49 for the Steelers.