Make sure to check out part one of our undrafted free agent spotlight on cornerback Luq Barcoo by clicking here.
As tough as it already is for any rookie entering the NFL, having to make the journey through the undrafted process almost seems daunting. The lack of a ready-made plan for you coming in, unsure of circumstances surrounding perhaps the biggest decision of your professional career - it doesn’t appear ideal.
For Jaguars cornerback Luq Barcoo, not being drafted wasn’t a big deal, however. An optimist person at his core, Barcoo took the process in stride knowing anything could happen and hopes to continue the positive momentum as he sets on his path in the NFL.
“It didn’t matter to me honestly,” Barcoo told Big Cat Country last week. “Whatever the result was, I was gonna have the same mentality, same mindset towards just overcoming adversity, the same thing I’ve been doing my whole life. Going in there with a chip on my shoulder and showing them that I do deserve - I am a very talented player, and I just wanna prove that to everybody so I didn’t really care where I was drafted.”
Barcoo was invited to the East-West Shrine game, however, he didn’t get a combine invite. During that week, he met with several team scouts, including two from the Jaguars. However, his performance, as he describes it, was “weak”. Having to learn new techniques on the fly was a little frustrating to the young cornerback, however he was thankful for the opportunity.
“I wish I was able to have a better week of practice there and impress guys a lot more, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out like that but I still got a great opportunity and I’m excited to play.”
While Barcoo was not disappointed with the outcome of the draft, he was a little surprised he wasn’t drafted. Not only was he a talented player, but “15-20” teams spoke to him prior to the end of the draft. Barcoo was the Jaguars’ number one target in undrafted free agency, and it showed given the record-breaking contract he signed which included a $160,000 guarantee.
San Diego State corner Luq Barcoo @luqmanbarcoo, has signed with the Jaguars for a record-breaking $160K guarantee. Deal includes $20K signing bonus, per league source. Per NFLPA records, deal was negotiated by agent Josh Arnold of Synergy Sports International @SynergySportInt— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 26, 2020
Ultimately, it came down to the Jaguars and the AFC South divisional rival Indianapolis Colts, but Barcoo ultimately would side with the Jaguars, perhaps a better opportunity to compete for playing time, and the location was perfect, Barcoo said.
No, Barcoo isn’t from Jacksonville, however, his family moved to the first coast just before the draft began, something Barcoo says made the decision “a no-brainer”. Luck, destiny, happenstance, whatever you would like to call it, it appears this was a match made in heaven.
“I’m extremely appreciative of the opportunity the Jaguars gave me, and it does obviously feel great knowing that you have that type of support and somebody that’s rooting for you out there. So, I’m gonna give the Jaguars everything I got for giving me the opportunity.”
With the NFL currently in a virtual-only setting, Barcoo has had to adapt, opting to train with his brother in the front yard of his new home, or training at an indoor facility with Jaguars offensive lineman A.J. Cann. Anyway to get the work in he ultimately misses without being on the field with all of his teammates.
“I just simulate what I’ve been learning in the film room with [Jaguars secondary] coach Walt[on] as far as body - and just the techniques that we’re gonna be using, I try to simulate those as best as possible on my own and I feel like I’ve been doing a great job of simulating that, so I should be able to adapt quickly once I do get on the field with the rest of the guys.”
Working hard has always been the path to success for Barcoo, and that much was proven last season when he was one of the most productive defensive backs in the nation - leading the FBS with nine interceptions.
As he described earlier, going through adversity has been apart of his life. Barcoo made the transition from wide receiver to cornerback, something he credits his ball skills to, however, that transition didn’t come easy. At his JUCO, Barcoo wasn’t used to the structure and the extensive playbook that comes with a division-I program like San Diego State.
“My biggest transition was just like learning the system as far knowing where to be on time, being on time and just making sure you study the playbook on your own and just stuff like that,” said Barcoo. After playing on one side of the football and moving to the counter position on defense, Barcoo was able to take what he learned at receiver and translate it.
“One of the biggest things that playing receiver has helped me with is having that instinct to go up and get the ball,” he said. “When I’m playing corner and the balls in the area it just feels like [inaudible] I just feel like it’s my ball, you know, it’s like I’m responsible for going up and get it. Like, the ball belongs to me like a receiver would feel.”
With plenty of upside, the Jaguars recognized Barcoo’s ball skills, and likely his length and athletic ability which was put on display during his impromptu pro day he and his agent orchestrated.
“That was one of the things that pretty much every team that talked to me was like, they like the way I can create turnovers and go up to get the ball,” Barcoo said about what the Jaguars liked about him.
“I feel like I have a lot of upside to my playmaking ability. I feel like I’m able to go up and grab the ball and create turnovers and create big plays. So, there’s a lot of excitement as far as me creating turnovers and just making big plays on the field.”
With a long road to go yet in his development, the Jaguars will hope it does translate to the next level. If so, the team has landed one of the most intriguing prospects in the nation, something that appears to be meant to be.
“I’m going to work as hard as I can put myself in a position to be successful.”