Big Cat Country continues to look deeper into the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2021 draft class by reaching out to those who covered each player in their college playing days. Next up in our series is Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell, who the Jaguars took with the first pick of the second round (No. 33 overall).
We reached out to Jeremy Attaway, also known as macondawg, the managing editor of Dawg Sports — SB Nation’s website for all things Georgia Bulldogs — to learn more about one of Jacksonville’s newest defensive backs. What does Campbell do well, and what does he improve upon in the NFL? We get answers to this question and more below.
1. Tyson Campbell has the length, build and skill set of an outside cornerback, but Urban Meyer and the Jaguars like his “versatility” and could play him inside in the slot. While Campbell played on the outside for Georgia, do you think he has the ability to play inside as a nickelback at the NFL level? Why or why not?
Jeremy: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has a background as a defensive backs coach for Nick Saban, and continues to work with the Bulldogs’ defensive backs now. One of the things he stresses is positional cross training. Campbell has practiced in the nickel. Georgia calls it the “Star” and actually uses the position more like a hybrid fifth linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. So technique-wise, I think he should be fine in that role. Physically, Campbell certainly has the size to play a more traditional fifth defensive back role. But just as importantly, he’s the rare defensive back with the sub-4.40 speed in coverage to pair with his closer to the line toughness. Indeed there aren’t many guys who you’d trust to both cover receivers outside on an island and also to handle the nickel, but Campbell’s one of them.
2. Prior to Day Two of the NFL Draft beginning, rumors started swirling that Campbell could come off of the board “very early.” Here at Big Cat Country, we were also hearing that the Jaguars liked Campbell and that he could be the the first pick of the second round, but he wasn’t necessarily a name on our radar before that. Did you expect Campbell to come off the board so early, or did you think other cornerbacks would go ahead of him?
From NFL Draft Kickoff: A look at some players who could go off the board early tonight. pic.twitter.com/YScBehUGvC— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2021
Jeremy: Honestly, I expected Tyson to either a.) drop a little because of his uneven body of work in college (more on that below), or b.) sneak into the first round because a team fell in love with his size/speed/strength combo. Soon after he declared, I expected option a.), but his testing was excellent and he showed enough flashes in college that the second round made sense to me as a result.
3. What does Campbell do well, and what areas does he need to improve on at the NFL level? Should his lack of interceptions (one interception in 33 career games) be a concern for Jaguars fans? How is Campbell in run support?
Jeremy: Run support was one of Campbell’s best skills in college. But he did struggle in coverage at times, especially the deep ball. That lack of consistency explains why he started as a true freshman, then got shuffled back in the rotation as a sophomore, before re-emerging in 2020.
Frankly the low interception total was always a bit of a puzzle for Bulldogs fans. Some of that was the fact that few teams other than Alabama tried to go vertical on a very deep Georgia secondary.
4. Campbell enters a pretty crowded cornerback room with Shaquill Griffin, CJ Henderson, Tre Herndon, Sidney Jones, Josiah Scott and others. The Jaguars drafted him highly to play a role, though. Obviously you can’t predict the future, but how would you project Campbell’s professional outlook, ceiling and floor (role player, depth player, Pro Bowler, All-Pro, etc.)?
Jeremy: I think Tyson has the ability to become a steady starter for the Jags, even in a pretty loaded secondary. He has some work to do on his tradecraft if he’s going to be an All-Pro caliber player, though he certainly has the physical tools to do it.
5. Were there any plays or moments in Campbell’s college career at Georgia that stick out? What were some of your favorites?
Jeremy: As you noted, there aren’t a lot of interceptions to talk about here. One moment that stands out for me was in 2018 on the road at Missouri. Georgia began the game by driving into Mizzou territory before Jake Fromm threw an interception at the 29-yard-line. Drew Lock turned around and had the Tigers moving. He completed a crossing route to tight end Albert Ogwuegbunam, who Campbell then stood up, stripped of the ball, and returned the ensuing fumble 64 yards for a touchdown.
6. Is there any else you think Jaguars fans should know about Campbell?
Jeremy: I could see him having a very binary career. By that I mean that in the right environment I could absolutely see Campbell being a fixture for the Jags for the next four seasons. Campbell was in some respects overshadowed at Georgia by Deandre Baker and Eric Stokes, a pair of first round corners. This could be a great environment for him to grow into his own. I could also see him struggling if NFL offensive coordinators figure out how to work him and he becomes the soft spot in that secondary. The NFL isn’t known for the kind of “second acts” Campbell enjoyed in 2020. If he doesn’t catch on early, I’m afraid he could end up lost in the shuffle.
Thank you to Jeremy for his thoughts and analysis on Campbell. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @macondawg, and for any Georgia fans out there, be sure to follow Dawg Sports for all news and insights related to the Bulldogs.
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