At 6’1", 195 lbs, Pierre Desir out of Lindenwood is a long corner from a small school. He’s been rising up draft boards at an astonishing rate after making a name for himself at the East-West Shrine Game, then getting called up to the Senior Bowl. He was fantastic in Senior Bowl practice and even better in the game, only being targeted twice and giving up one incredible catch on a great throw to a great route by Jordan Matthews (who was instantly forced out of bounds), and intercepting the other pass. But what did he do at Division II Lindenwood that shows he can do the things he did at the Senior Bowl consistently in live-game situations? Well, there’s plenty of his raw all-22 from college on youtube, so I took it upon myself to watch it all.
Note: All these points showed up repeatedly on film from multiple games. The videos are just strong examples of each. He's wearing number 3. I would have embedded them or made .gifs, but I don't know how. Also, I did purposefully leave any Niners perspective out of this.
Let's get started.
Good Tackler: http://youtu.be/T3wblFZZhMM?t=21m16s
On this play, Desir sees the run coming outside, baits the runner inside so the runner gets outside the receiver’s block, then makes a shoestring tackle. That kind of improvisational run support shows exceptional understanding of angles.
Defeats WR Blocks: http://youtu.be/T3wblFZZhMM?t=24m23s
Here, as in the previous example, Desir quickly defeats the receiver’s block and moves into position to make the tackle. This ends up being unnecessary because another defender makes the tackle, but Desir positions himself perfectly to account for a possible missed tackle.
Strong Understanding of and Communication in Zones/Physical in Press Coverage: http://youtu.be/T3wblFZZhMM?t=20m1s
Desir very simply passes off the in-breaking route to another defender in order to defend the deep route in his zone. This requires understanding of the coverage concept, communication, and good awareness of multiple receivers at once. He is also physical at the line, but very smart about it.
Good Break on Ball in off coverage/Ball Skills: http://youtu.be/T3wblFZZhMM?t=22m52s
Lots of teams will plan on using Desir in almost exclusively press coverage. This is a mistake because he has ability in off coverage as well. He knows when to flip his hips and run (not included in this example, but present on tape except for parts of Senior Bowl practice), as well as when to break on the ball, accruing a pass defense in the process.
Targeted minimally, only gave up catches that were no-win scenarios: http://youtu.be/T3wblFZZhMM?t=27m56s
On this completion, he was covering 2 receivers at once because his zone had been overloaded. He did give up the catch, but he recovered and made the tackle. Impressive reaction, recovery, and instincts. He was hardly even thrown at, and when he was, he either made the tackle or broke up the pass. (Or it was off target. This is Division II.)
Dropped Interception: http://youtu.be/T3wblFZZhMM?t=22m52s
The vast majority of the time, he caught these. He had 25 career interceptions in college, which averages out to more than 6 per year. That's a ton. There isn't much more to say about it.
Basically, his only real questions stem from the level of competition, his technique and his physical skills. Questions about the level of competition and many about his technique were answered at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. Any remaining questions about his physical ability and technique should be answered at the combine. Pierre Desir has shown that if he’s strong enough and fast enough (I'm hearing he's been clocked at a very respectable 4.46) with good enough feet, he has the ability to be a very good NFL player at worst. One offseason with the right coaches will likely fix any remaining questions about his footwork. I can’t wait to see what numbers he puts up at the combine so we can figure out just how good he can be.