The book on: CB Kendall James

From two-star recruit to seventh-round draft pick, CB Kendall James has made the grade.

Kendall James

University of Maine Black Bears
Roselle, New Jersey
Union Country Academy for Information Technology


James might be a bit of an unknown to the average college football fan, but if you ask any wide receiver in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association to name the best man coverage cornerback they have faced, they will sound like a chorus – Kendall James. Proving that "big things" do come in small packages, the undersized pass defender has very strong hands that he uses like weapons to reroute his assignments.

In the last two seasons, opponents have targeted 136 passes into his area, but managed to complete only 32 of those attempts (23.53%), as he made the quarterbacks pay for a lack of pinpoint accuracy, picking off eight passes during his three seasons as a starter. One of the best competing for jump balls, James, who possesses an impressive 39-inch vertical jump, has used those elevation skills to bat away twenty-five other throws.

A lack of recognition from the media is nothing new for the emerging star. He was rated just a two-star recruit by during his senior season at the Union County Academy for Information Technology in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. He earned all-conference and all-league honors during both his junior and senior seasons, and helped lead his team to its first winning record in ten years in 2007.

James holds a rare distinction of set school record for longest interception returns, as he established the Union Country mark with a 103-yard interception return for a touchdown and as a junior at Maine, he ran a pass theft back 100 yards.

The three-sport star also played basketball, where he was a three-year starter at point guard helping lead his team to a sectional championship during his junior season. He also ran track and helped lead his team to a state title his junior season.

James would later enroll at the University of Maine, where he was a member of the Black Bears football team from 2009 to 2013. During his career, he accumulated 147 tackles, eight interceptions, 25 pass break-ups and three forced fumbles. He earned All-Colonial Athletic Association honors twice; a third-team selection in 2011, and a first-team selection in 2013. He was also named a second-team FCS All-American by the Associated Press during his final season.

As a freshman, James started once at left cornerback, piling up 16 tackles. He would earn 11 starting assignments in 2011, as the All-CAA choice posted 50 tackles with a trio of pass thefts, also breaking up four other throws. His junior season produced 45 tackles, along with 12 pass deflections and three interceptions, including his 100-yard runback at Bryant.

The All-American honoree would close out his career with 36 tackles, including 13 third-down hits. He picked off two more passes and deflected nine others. His leaping ability also saw him block a kick for the second time during his career.

Do not be fooled by the cornerback's small frame. He shows good overall muscle definition and thick legs, typical for a player who performed in track. Has good chest thickness with a tight bubble and a frame that can carry at least another ten pounds of needed bulk. The first thing you notice on film is his burst of speed. He is very smooth coming out of his breaks and is able to transition thanks to excellent hip flexibility and body control. He flashes very good take-up speed and acceleration to close. His flexibility allows him to adjust and make plays on the ball in the air (25 pass deflections and eight interceptions).

His sudden burst and smooth turning motion coming out of his back-pedal, coupled with exceptional timed speed, let James stay tight on the hip of the receiver. He might struggle some to win jump balls vs. the larger NFL-type receivers, but he has the leaping skills to disrupt the action when he times his jumps properly. Even for a player of his size, he shows good aggression to be a nuisance through route progressions.

On deep routes, he will sometimes get turned some and be late to react, but he has the second gear needed to recover. He is a tight shadow type on the receiver who continues to develop good hand usage, as he has more than enough quickness to mirror the opponent through the patterns.

Even for a player of his size, James will not hesitate to face up with aggression. He is a decent wrap-up tackler who puts all of his power behind his hits. He is not a pile jumper or arm tackler, staying at a good pad level to extend, wrap and secure. He hits with good pop and can take down a ball carrier along the perimeter.

I like the way he plays at his low pad level and feel with additional bulk, he will be a secure tackler at the next level. He shows good urgency striking when he gains position and while he is not a "blow them up" type of hitter, receivers struggle to break free after the initial hit.

James started 36-of-48 games at Maine, where he recorded 147 tackles (111 solos) that included 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage…Caused three fumbles, recovered another and blocked two kicks…Deflected 25 passes and intercepted eight others for 125 yards in returns, including a 100-yard touchdown.

Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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