Xavien Howard, CB
School: Baylor | Conference: BIG 12
College Experience: Junior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 201 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Keenan Lewis
Xavien Howard is one of the best cover corners in the draft. For the past two years he blanketed receivers and locked down his side of the field for Baylor. Opposing quarterbacks avoided him, and when they did throw his way they rarely succeeded. Howard's vision, size, ability to mirror, instincts, and aggressive style of play give him an edge over most of the competition and it has allowed him to make a lot of plays on the ball over the past 2 years. He typically covered the opposition's top receiver and plays with outward confidence. Howard has been getting a steady buzz from the scouting / draft community with some believing he could even sneak into the back half of the 1st round. Could be he the cornerback the Redskins are looking for?
- Sticky in coverage to the point of being a pest. Can mirror and stick with his man stride for stride he excels in man coverage.
- Fluid in his hips when changing direction has the ability to recover when beaten with initial steps.
- Great ball skills and ability to located while on the run in the air.
- Relentless in his competitive nature, scrappy and has a high motor. What is more impressive than 10 career interceptions are the 23 career pass breakups.
- Can play too physical at times silly grabs and pushes draw pass interference penalties.
- His athleticism is fine for covering most receivers but he struggles to keep up with guys that have great long speed.
- Remains blocked most of the time when playing the run, not enough initiative to fight through blocks and take a guy down.
Let's see his work:
Text from an asst. coach on any surprise 1st round guys: "Won't be us but Xavien Howard". Measurements matter, folks— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) April 12, 2016
Xavien Howard says NFL teams have given him props for being a cornerback who's able to tackle as well. #NFLCombine— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) February 27, 2016
Xavien Howard sure looks comfortable turning/running and finding the ball.. Never looks panicked or out of control.. Trusts speed— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 23, 2016
The CB tandem of William Jackson and Xavien Howard at Wheatley High School was just unfair for opposing offenses. Both top-75 NFL prospects.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 14, 2016
Tweeted about Xavien Howard's ball skills and size a few months ago. Idk how he's flown under the radar for so long. #NFLDraft— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) February 5, 2016
Xavien Howard did make my Top 30 big board. Best ball skills of any CB not named VH3. 6'2, 200 pounds.— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) February 4, 2016
Really love Xavien Howard's corner skills. Not sure he falls to 3rd, but his man coverage at Baylor was outstanding. https://t.co/puhayQixN8— Conor Myles (@MylesSheet) March 27, 2016
Like the fact that you're thinking Xavien Howard. Trap coverage maybe, 2 goes out come off 1. Take proper angle tho. pic.twitter.com/uztl5aT4O7— Brian Witherspoon (@Spoony29) March 17, 2016
Xavien Howard gets beat here for a would be TD. https://t.co/Xq1gyCaq1y— Eric Elizondo (@EricElizondo8) March 26, 2016
Xavien Howard (top of screen) does a great job reading Mahomes and coming back to the ball here. pic.twitter.com/Zau6fH6erg— Ethan Young (@NFLDrafter) February 20, 2016
Xavien Howard is often in good position, but then things like this happen. pic.twitter.com/bF70XuCWIm— Ethan Young (@NFLDrafter) February 20, 2016
Xavien Howard highlights. 6'2, 200 pound corner from Baylor. Raw, but high upside. https://t.co/NbysmMXXDR— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) February 20, 2016
Xavien Howard locates the ball at its highest point, attacks it for the INT. Boom https://t.co/uXptGjYJ6A— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) January 28, 2016
PRO DAY RESULTS
40-yard dash: 4.41 seconds
Vertical: 38 1/2 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches
3-cone: 6.94 seconds
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
Howard could be a legitimate Redskins target if the team trades back to the late half of the first round or even into the early 2nd round. Physically Howard checks the boxes that the Redskins are looking for in their corners. If he is drafted by the Redskins there won't be immediate pressure for him to start as he will be playing behind Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland and probably Will Blackmon. Howard would provide quality depth and a future starter at the position in the future.
Howard will have to learn to play more disciplined however especially with his physical nature when covering receivers who are running deep routes. He will also need to employ his aggressiveness when playing the run and shedding blocks. I could see Howard eventually taking over Nickel duties from Will Blackmon during the season. His ability to mirror receivers and to play the ball in the air would benefit the Redskins if he could convert those to turnovers.