Noah Igbinoghene enters the 2020 NFL Draft as one of the most interesting prospects in the class. His natural athletic ability has been on display for the past two seasons in the SEC while helping lead Auburn to its best defensive years in over a decade.
Igbinoghene entered his time at Auburn as a wide receiver in the Tigers offense. Entering his sophomore year, the 5’10 198 pound athlete was asked to move to the other side of the ball and quickly became an elite bump and run corner for Kevin Steele’s defense.
The son of two olympians showed how important and valuable genetics can be as Igbinoghene proved his value as he was named one of Auburn’s starting corners after playing the position for just a few weeks. The NFL loves projects. They love the ability to mold very fine clay into their version of their own work of art.
Igbinoghene allows an NFL team to do just that.
Hitting the ground running
The high school track standout earned a tough draw as his first collegiate start at corner would be against an elite Washington offense in the season opener of the 2018 season.
The Trussville, Alabama native made an impact in the Tigers slowing the Huskies passing attack.
In his first start, he showed his ability to play the ball while it is in the air and the knack he has for controlling his body to defend the receiver from the ball.
The raw cornerback also showed that he has discovered how to use the sideline to his advantage as well.
Over the course of his first season, he would become much more physical at the line of scrimmage and much more confident in man coverage.
Igbinoghene appears to be most comfortable when lining up directly on the outside receiver and jamming him at the line of scrimmage. He showed time and time again that he possesses the skill to know top SEC pass catchers off their routes and altered the timing of the opposing offenses plays. He did it on most plays from scrimmage,
Referencing back to a previous point that he showed us in his first start at cornerback, he understands how to use the sideline as another defender while the ball is in the air.
While he was at his best in man coverage, from time to time, he showed flashes of feeling out space in the defensive backfield while reacting to the quarterback’s eyes. He showed this last year against one of the best offenses in the history of college football.
Igbinoghene showed willingness to get involved in the running game. He also showed the discipline needed to keep the play inside of him as containment responsibilities often fell on him as he was the most outside defender a vast majority of the time. He showed both of those traits here in Auburn’s bowl game loss against Minnesota.
His development as a top corner was a quick one but as you could guess, negative notes come with that.
When you have only played the position for two seasons, there’s only so many reps you can get under your belt until certain situations are thrown at you. Igbinoghene showed panic at time when he couldn’t locate the ball. He would get grabby at times downfield and would result in pass interference calls when he was challenged through the air consistently.
Auburn’s defensive backs benefitted greatly over the past two seasons by having a ridiculously stout defensive line. Obviously, the longer a defender is in pass coverage, the tougher it is to defender the opposing wide receivers. When plays went longer and the Auburn pass rush could not alter the pass, Igbinoghene consistently allowed space to opposing wide outs.
He’s physically minded at the line of scrimmage, but he will need to improve engaged blockers and getting off to pursue the skill player with the ball.
This play probably should have been a penalty and is an extreme example, but NFL teams will work with him on how to engage and shed blockers at the next level.
Igbinoghene had a decent showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
40 Yard Dash: 4.48
Bench Press: 15
Vertical Jump: 37.0
Broad Jump: 128
Arms: 31 3/4
Hands: 9 3/8
Igbinoghene is going to be a great asset for whichever NFL team calls his name in the 2020 NFL Draft. His raw ability proved to be enough to thrive in the SEC and NFL coaches will develop him into being a solid to elite starting cornerback in the NFL.
Round value: Late 1st/ Early 2nd