Weight: 220 pounds
Physicality and Aggression: The league is shifting toward admiring lengthier, more physical cornerbacks and Jean-Baptiste certainly fits the bill. At the line of scrimmage, his punch is devastating and it redirects receivers’ routes, delaying the play, and forcing the quarterback to look elsewhere for an open target. If a quarterback decides to test him, Jean-Baptiste has the mentality and ball skills to track the football in the air and attack before others have a fair shot at it. He is instinctively aggressive to the football. When he is defending the run, Jean-Baptiste embodies the same physicality. As a tackler, he can improve, but in terms of willingness and ability to handle blocks, Jean-Baptiste is as impressive as one can get.
Fluidity: Being as tall as he is, one may assume that Jean-Baptiste would be rather sluggish or clunky in his movements. Oddly enough, he is incredibly fluid for his size, or any size, for that matter. For a cornerback, Jean-Baptiste is built like a tank, but he does not move like it. When flipping his hips, he does so ever so smoothly and does not waste any movements. He turns and sticks with his man. Change in direction is not an issue for Jean-Baptiste. When accounting for his length along with his ability to keep tight to speed demons that are not burning down the sideline, Jean-Baptiste has the tool set to cover just about anyone in the NFL.
Long Speed: Despite his stunning fluidity and short area movements, Jean-Baptiste can fall behind to the speed freaks of the NFL. Now, that does not mean that receivers can just run a streak and beat him every time, but if they happen to create even the slightest amount of north-south space between themselves and Jean-Baptiste, the receiver wins the battle much more often than not. The issue is not Jean-Baptiste getting beat initially. That is a rarity. Although, once he is beaten, there is no recovery and the play could end disastrously for the defense. Long speed is Jean-Baptiste’s only overly glaring flaw, but it is a deadly one.
Brandon Browner, Seattle Seahawks
Jean-Baptiste is built almost identically to Browner. Along with their frames, both are strong, physical cornerbacks. Like Browner, Jean-Baptiste may end up making money defending the run, instead of being an elite cover cornerback. One could make a comparison to Richard Sherman, but Jean-Baptiste does not flash the same speed.
Jean Baptiste is a top-five cornerback in this class and has a chance to squeeze himself into the first round. His length, fluidity, and strength will intrigue teams and get them to wonder whether he can be the next Brandon Browner. Grade-wise, he gets a fringe-first round grade. Where he gets picked will depend on how much cornerback-needy teams value length in a cornerback.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in the market for a cornerback, but pick 22 may be a bit too sweet considering they are more in need of a safety. If Jean-Baptiste miraculously falls to the second round, do not be surprised when an Eagles staff member is sprinting to the podium.
With Terence Newman and Adam Jones nearing the end of contracts (and careers), the Cincinnati Bengals could snatch Jean-Baptiste to create a tall, lengthy cornerback duo with Dre Kirkpatrick.
The San Francisco 49ers have so few holes and so many picks that they can afford to take Jean-Baptiste in the first without hesitation. Adding him would nearly complete the already dominant defense.