JaCoby Stevens is one of the NFL draft's most curious prospects. While at LSU, Stevens was dominant close to the line of scrimmage as a hybrid safety who could rush the passer and cover tight ends and running backs out of the slot.
During LSU's quest to a national championship in 2019, he was a consistent playmaker for the purple and gold while also establishing himself as a leader of the team. So when he elected to return for his senior season and was later awarded the No. 7 in the fall, everyone was expecting great things in his final season.
But as the LSU defense struggled, so did Stevens. He was asked to play deeper in the secondary as a more traditional safety under Bo Pelini's scheme and it was a struggle at times in coverage for Stevens. The secondary lacked the communication needed for consistent success and questions were raised as to where Stevens would fit best at the professional level.
A successful pro day eased some concern as there's little doubt Stevens will be drafted some time this coming week. But where he lands is ultimately the main question as whichever team that drafts him will need to have a specific role in place to capitalize on his athletic gifts.
"I'm comfortable playing any position. I think the game is kind of going towards a position-less game where it's kind of becoming like basketball, Coach O said it best: basketball on turf," Stevens said. "So it's getting to the point to where you're going to have to basically be ready for matchups. Any specific position, I don't have like just one that I prefer over the other, I'm willing to play any anything especially anything to help the team, help the team win."
Hand: 9 1/8
Arm: 32 1/4
Wingspan: 76 1/2
40-yard dash: 4.50 seconds (first attempt)
Vertical Jump: 42 inches
Broad Jump: 10-10
Here is FanNation's NFL Draft Bible's draft profile of Stevens and what kind of role he could have at the next level.
A big-bodied defensive back who did a little bit of everything for the LSU defense. From a physical perspective, Stevens appears a lot closer to linebacker than a true safety. He has lined up everywhere from single high to SAM linebacker on a snap-to-snap basis.
Don’t let his looks fool you; Stevens is a gifted athlete who covers a lot of ground for a player his size. He was incredibly productive over the last two seasons of his career, collecting 155 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
Whenever the film is popped on, he is likely to be around the football. As a sub-package player, there are a lot of possibilities. The question is where he will line up on base downs. Stevens is an odd fit at both linebacker and safety on a fulltime basis.
He lacks the desired change of direction ability on the back end and the prerequisite physicality to win at the point of attack on the second level. In an optimal situation, Stevens should be a strong safety coming down in the box and playing over tight ends. For a team with a creative defensive structure, Stevens will be a desirable piece to a defense. His versatility is the big sell.