WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a bout between a pair of D.C. public schools, H.D. Woodson took on Coolidge Oct. 9, although the game was called early due to lightning. TT was on hand to scout senior Maryland cornerback pledge Parnell Motley.
Our take on his game, which consists of evaluations from Oct. 9 and film study from previous games, is below, while an interview can be seen above:
A well-built, physical cornerback who can play both press and zone, Motley has some upside if he continues improving.
At about 6-feet, 170-pounds, the Woodson defensive back has decent size for a boundary corner. He’s a bit light in the base, but has a developed upper-body, necessary for jamming receivers. Motley lacks especially long arms, although he has a solid vertical, allowing him to rise up with many taller wideouts.
What stands out about Motley’s game right now is his never-back-down style. It’s obvious he loves to press, get in receivers’ faces and ride them throughout their patterns. He’s a feisty competitor, working to knock guys off their routes. Motley is fairly loose too, so he's typically able to flip and track down the field without losing too much momentum.
It follows that Motley’s not afraid to compete in the air, either. He actively looks for the pick in coverage, high-pointing balls and scrapping with receivers for position.
Naturally, Motley’s not afraid to make an open-field, one-on-one tackle either. A tough customer, he comes up in run support and does a good job cutting down backs on the edge. Unlike many high school corners, Motley zeroes in like a linebacker; takes a tight closing angle; and wraps his man up.
While Motley likes to press, he actually does some of his best work in zone. His above-average field awareness and anticipation skills come into play here, Motley seeking to bee-line forward for a potential pick. At the snap, when it’s clear the wideout’s going to cut off his pattern, the Woodson product can shoot downhill and undercut the route. Again, he closes well thanks to his tight angles and anticipation. Furthermore, Motley possesses fairly shore hands, so if the ball’s there, he’ll typically come up with the turnover.
Also, Motley shows the ability to switch on and off receivers, breaking down well in space. He possesses deft feet and good short-area quickness, which help his transitions. That, coupled with his ability to identify patterns (at least, at the high school level), allow him to latch onto his man and mirror routes, particularly those in the short- to intermediate-range.
But Motley does have some areas that need work if he’s going to hang in the Big Ten. While he does seem loose enough for high school competition, there is a little hip tightness, which could compromise his change-of-direction speed and his capacity to turn and run in college.
The latter could become even more of a significant issue, because Motley isn’t the fastest corner out there. While he’s quick, he doesn’t have the raw speed needed to catch up/recover.
Furthermore, Motley’s backpedal is a bit mechanical. It was rather surprising since he flashes nimble feet when transitioning, but it’s clear he has some issues tracking back and seamlessly flipping his hips. Moreover, once in awhile you’ll see Motley’s feet get tangled when attempting to maintain inside position downfield. He can get away with a false step or two now, but will need to develop second-nature technique moving forward.
Speaking of inside position, sometimes Motley finds himself in the wrong spot to make a play on the ball. For example, when defending deep, he’ll be on the receiver’s outside shoulder, making it impossible to defend a pass thrown to the inside without committing a penalty. Also, when attempting to jump routes in zone, we'd like to see him take a harder, faster first step, showing more initial burst. And while Motley anticipates well, he tends to stare into the backfield, reading the quarterback instead of the receiver.
All of the above issues can be ironed out in time, however, as most are fundamental faults. If Motley adds strength and keeps working on his technique, he has a chance to be a solid college corner.