Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy wasted no time to announce the inevitable. Just moments after the Florida Gators’ final loss of the season, Purifoy announced to ESPN columnist Joe Schad that he would enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
As a freshman, Purifoy came to Florida from the Panhandle and immediately starred on special teams, leading the team with 22 special team tackles, while playing sparingly on defense where he accumulated five tackles and one forced fumble. As a sophomore, Purifoy again excelled on special teams blocking two kicks and forcing three fumbles. As an every down player on defense, he finished 2012 with 57 total tackles (fourth on the team) and five pass deflections.
Enter the 2013 season. Prior to the season, it was no secret that Purifoy was likely headed to the NFL after most draft analysts considered him one of the top 32 prospects and a likely first round draft pick. Analysts drooled over his size and athleticism, expecting him to have a breakout year as the top cornerback on an outstanding Florida defense.
However, 2013 didn’t quite turn out as quite as well as most expected. Purifoy ended the season with just 24 tackles, two sacks, seven passes broken up, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one blocked kick. His numbers were good enough, however, to land him on the Associated Press All-SEC Second Team at cornerback.
Overall, Purifoy’s numbers in college were decent, but not great, numbers. However, numbers do not always tell the full story. Let’s analyze Purifoy as a player further.
Purifoy has outstanding size for a cornerback that is able to match up to any wide receiver. He has the height to be able to compete for jump balls and will not allow much above his head and has the weight to press at the line and seldom get beat by a more physical wide receiver. This combination allows Purifoy to be a great asset both in the passing game and run game.
With his height and weight combination, Purifoy is able to play very aggressively, sometimes to a fault. Purifoy was able to great some very violent hits on targets and caused a number of fumbles.
Further, Purifoy has outstanding speed and agility that allows him to both run with receivers and blitz off the edge. As showcased throughout his career, Purifoy seldom got beat deep (in the air) and was able to create pressure on the quarterback and block quite a few kicks.
Finally, Purifoy was great at playing with his receiver on short routes, not allowing many yards after the catch – an important NFL skill.
Albeit an extremely athletic football player, Purifoy is not an outstanding pure cornerback yet. Purifoy has the ideal size and weight you are looking for in a cornerback, but his sloppiness in coverage and tackling can often outweigh those positives.
The biggest fault of Loucheiz Purifoy is a result of his aggressiveness – often going for the big hit or forced fumble – which has caused a slew of missed of tackles and big gains. Purifoy had a bad habit of tackling at the shoulders for a big hit, instead of a wrap-up tackle around the waist. Purifoy tried too often to strip the ball, which many times resulted in getting just one hand on the receiver instead of two. To be successful in the NFL, Purifoy will need to learn the importance of the wrap-up tackle, or he will be picked on throughout his career.
Further, Purifoy, although physical and big, either was blocked or was slow getting off blocks. For Purifoy, it will be important for him to learn how to shed blocks better in the NFL, as the players are only more technically sound and stronger.
Finally, Purifoy can sometimes be too physical, which can cause more problems in the NFL than it did in college. Purifoy used his hands a bit much, both on the ground and in the air. While it is good to be physical, there is a line that the NFL does not allow you to cross, that college football usually does.
Purifoy is an outstanding athlete that has more polished physical skills than pure cornerbacking skills. Purifoy had a good junior campaign, but became sloppier in his tackling and dropped down draft boards. At times Purifoy struggled in the zone cover schemes and was not as much of a shutdown cornerback as many expected him to be. Purifoy will drafted, and drafted high – perhaps late first round or early second round. Purifoy will be an outstanding NFL special teams player and should work his way into the starting cornerback line-up after a year of coaching.