Zo Huddle
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FSM Presents: Zo Huddle –West Coast Sleepers Come Draft Day –


The Zo Huddle loves two seasons: Football season and draft season. With the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon, the Zo Huddle continues to unveil the top sleeper prospects out west in his eyes…


Zo Huddle
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And we’re going to Duck Territory now.

In 2017, Oregon landed one of the more dominating CIF Southern Section athletes who thrived as a big-play receiver, ball-hawking defensive back, and six-point threat as a return man…all while turning down nearly 40 scholarship offers for the Ducks.

Now, he leaves Eugene by helping construct a defensive identity at a place known for “Blur” ball on offense with its high-paced no-huddle scheme that took college football by storm.

How he’s not listed higher on NFL Draft boards (let alone the top 10 among cornerbacks) by national outlets is beyond me. More perplexing are the ones who claim he’s not athletic enough in their eyes…which makes the Zo Huddle wonder if the guys evaluating him actually stay up for Pac-12 After Dark to watch his games or simply didn’t watch any of his performances.

Time to wake up those folks without the Folgers. Here is the next West Coast Sleeper from the Zo Huddle:




Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images Getty Images

Hometown: Los Angeles (Calif.)

High School: Los Angeles (Calif.) Bishop Mora Salesian

Star ranking: Four-star (No. 7 best cornerback prospect and California’s No. 8 best overall prospect ranked according to 247Sports)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 195-pounds

No. of seasons playing collegiately: Four

Personal accolades: All-Pac-12 honors from second team to honorable mention, East-West Shrine game invitee, member of back-to-back Pac-12 Conference champs, and won 2019-20 Rose Bowl with the Ducks.


Before he was a Duck…


Few down in L.A. dominated in all facets of the game the way Lenoir did.

Defensively, teams had to throw away from him. Offensively, teams had to account for him. Special teams wise, kickers had to kick away from him…

And he went on to put up the following numbers: 4,265 total yards of offense, 47 touchdowns, four forced fumbles, 150 tackles (133 solo), and two interceptions, according to MaxPreps.

And he posted those career marks while briefly teaming alongside a future Las Vegas Raider named Keisean Nixon, while also starring in a state that had Darnay Holmes (New York Giants, Calabasas High) and Jaylon Johnson (Chicago Bears, Fresno (Calif.) Central) part of the 2017 graduating class.




Shutdown consistency: There is a real reason why Lenoir’s interception numbers stand at six through four seasons – because he was rarely tested. According to PFF analytics, Lenoir was tested on 24 passing plays in the six games of the 2020 season. The result? Only 11 catches allowed for 121 yards. Eleven receptions surrendered through six games means opposing wideouts averaged only one to two catches against him. Quarterbacks additionally struggled against Lenoir when throwing his way, with a QB rating of 58.8 in 2020 per PFF.

Even before 2020, Lenoir was rarely thrown at. When he was, Lenoir was disciplined at staying close to the hip like this end zone incompletion in 2018 against Washington State:




On most plays, the Ducks trusted Lenoir to press at the line of scrimmage or allow him to play man. His physical strength with his palms and knack for keeping his hips low and squeezing the gaps between him and the WR forced QB’s to look in another direction.

The last proof of his shutdown capability: Lenoir was only beat on two touchdowns from what I saw in the film room in 2020: The 8-yarder by Zeriah Beason against Oregon State and the 47-yarder by Amon-Ra St. Brown, which saw Lenoir fall. But that really means just two scores surrendered through 28 quarters of play in 2020. Additionally, after surrendering two touchdowns in the 2019 loss to Arizona State, Lenoir then went 26 consecutive quarters without allowing a TD against a receiver – including the 2019 Pac-12 Championship game and Rose Bowl.

Red zone defense: To stay on the topic of TD’s allowed, Lenoir only allowed three aerial scores inside the 20 in a span of 21 games. Teams have to love a corner or defensive back, which limits the passing touchdowns between the 20 and goal line.

Lenoir brings heads-up plays like this one against Iowa State. He immediately identifies the inside catch and makes the stop at the one:




Takeaway ability: His six career picks should not be a concern for NFL teams. Again, it is more of an indicator of his skillset in coverage.

In fact, the list of QB’s he picked off includes NFL QB Gardner Minshew and highly-touted 2022 NFL Draft QB prospect Kedon Slovis – both of whom were intercepted twice by Lenoir.

His wide receiver hands clearly never left him on the INT’s. In 2019, Lenoir trusts his right-hand extension to lure in the one-handed pick versus USC:




One year later, against the Trojans, Lenoir is paired up with 6-foot-4 target Tyler Vaughns. Lenoir cuts underneath the taller Vaughns then leaps to the sky for the early pick:




Eye discipline: Going back to his performance against Minshew, that game serves as a prime example of Lenoir’s set of eyes.

Inside the red zone during the first quarter, Lenoir is playing five yards off the Cougars’ 6-foot-3 wideout Davontavean Martin. Despite the gap between him and Martin, Lenoir still trails him inside before reading where Minshew is targeting. The result is an INT in the red zone:




Later that night, Minshew tries to test Lenoir deep. Lenoir, however, doesn’t turn his back on the throw attempt. He identifies where the ball is heading then comes up with his second pick of the night:




I did notice that Lenoir had the tendency to bite on play actions. That’s usually a common mistake for aggressive corners who play close to the hip. But his eyes can always improve at the next level.

Tackling: Lenoir had 137 total career tackles…nine were missed attempts. That means – Lenoir finished close to 95% of his tackles. That should tell NFL teams that his tackling consistency is above average.

And most of his stops were not on deep passing plays or on short to intermediate passes. He sometimes played close to the line and became a willing run disruptor. The Iowa State game of 2020 magnifies his box ability. Same with the 2019 Auburn contest.

Speaking of Auburn, this play in that contest shows Lenoir’s read, react and attack side. The Tigers are near the Oregon 20, but Lenoir immediately denies any entrance to the red zone:




Handling the route tree and releases: Being someone with a wide receiver past, Lenoir will likely come in with a good understand of a WR’s route tree and knowing how they attack. The biggest key for him will be knowing what they will run at him pre-snap, which comes with extensive film study. Often times I noticed Lenoir was able to slow down a wideout off of reaction to where the WR was moving.

Speaking of which, opposing wideouts struggled to get outside releases against Lenoir. He found a way to eliminate that and immediately, forcefully, redirected the WR out of his route:




His feet and hips when covering WR’s are above average.

Plays when his back is turned to the ball: On downfield throws, Lenoir had the tendency to resort to force over technique as a method to break up the pass or aim for the incompletion. The downside to that is having a penchant for pass interference calls. The TD he gave up against Frank Darby of ASU in the 2019 contest is an example of that.

Lenoir right now looks like a DB who plays at his best when plays are in front of him and when he’s not chasing down the long ball.

Durability: Lenoir played in all 13 games of his freshman campaign in 2017. But from there, he became someone who never missed action and never missed a start.

NFL teams have got to love the fact that Lenoir will be entering the league that has started in his last 34 games. And when he was on the field, he played like someone who was going to empty the gas tank, then refuel for the next action the following week.

Closest comparison – Kyler Fuller, Denver Broncos:  Fuller came into the league with lots of versatility. He, too, collected six interceptions in four seasons of college ball. While the former Virginia Tech Hokie had his lapses in man coverage, he’s since put together two Pro Bowl seasons in the league.


Current Draft projection: Late third to the sixth round


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Pro Football Network

Zo’s most potential suitors: Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers, L.A Rams, San Francisco

Bills: The status of Josh Norman is still to be determined, but either way, Buffalo needs help outside of Tre’Davious White. Cornerback is a need for the AFC runner-up, and Lenoir could help form a nice 5-foot-11 CB tandem with White.

Panthers: The Panthers may have signed Rashaan Melvin and A.J. Bouye, but both are entering their 30’s. Carolina also lost younger CB Rasul Douglas to Las Vegas. The Panthers need to get younger at CB.

Bears: Can you imagine a Johnson and Lenoir pairing? Two dominant Pac-12 cornerbacks on the same team…and collaborating in a division that has Adam Thielen and DaVante Adams.

Cowboys: Dallas needs defensive help, period. Especially in the secondary. And new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn once thrived with a former Pac-12 star in Richard Sherman.

Chargers: The future of Casey Heyward is looking nebulous in L.A. The Bolts may not bring back free agent Michael Davis either. A homecoming of sorts for the L.A. native Lenoir could work here.

Rams: On the topic of L.A. homecoming, the Rams will need to find a replacement for slot CB Troy Hill, who signed with the Cleveland Browns. And Lenoir can learn from one of the league’s premier corners in Jalen Ramsey.

49ers: Cornerback is a mega need for the 49ers. Don’t be stunned if S.F. drafts two cornerbacks, especially whoever can be converted to slot CB. And when you’re in a division with De’Andre Hopkins, Robert Woods, and D.K. Metcalf, having CB depth is paramount.


Overall: Durability, versatility, physicality, and dependability…Lenoir has all four. One of the more fluid and underrated athletes of this 2021 NFL Draft cycle. Lenoir thrived in a conference (and Pac-12 North division) that throws more than run the ball. And few wideouts mustered success when lined up across from Lenoir. In 34 starts, Lenoir didn’t allow a touchdown on his side in 26 of those games. Obviously, he’s not getting the fame or attention for this time, but I won’t be shocked if he has a long career…or multiple Pro Bowl appearances.

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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Zo on Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

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