One of the more intriguing draft prospects is Boise State safety JL Skinner. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Skinner has the requisite size and speed to play and excel at the next level.
The key with Skinner, and really with any aspiring safety, will be his coverage skills. That will likely determine how high he is drafted.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Skinner rated as the No. 6 safety in the NFL draft.
As a comparison, the No. 6 safety selected last season was Percy Butler of Louisiana, who went in the fourth round, the 113th overall pick by the Washington Commanders.
There has been plenty of speculation that Skinner will be drafted before then.
Even though he didn’t play in the Senior Bowl, Skinner attended practices. He left before the game was played. His aunt had passed away during the week and Skinner returned home to support his family.
Before he departed, Skinner made quite an impression. He was a member of the National Team and was named his squad’s DS Practice Player of the Week. That came from a vote of the tight end and wide receiver groups.
It is physical plays such as this in practice that got Skinner noticed.
Skinner played four years at Boise State, and he will enter the NFL with a wealth of experience. He appeared in 44 career games and made 208 tackles (4.7 avg.). Skinner had nine tackles for loss, seven interceptions, 20 passes defended, two force fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
As a senior, he earned first-team All-Mountain West honors after being a second-team choice as a junior. In his final season, he had 65 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. Skinner also had eight passes defended.
He had clutch performances in the biggest situations.
As a senior, he had two interceptions in the final two minutes along with five tackles in Boise State’s 20-17 win at Wyoming that clinched the Mountain West Mountain Division title and the right to host the conference championship game. (Boise State would lose to Fresno State 28-16 in the Mountain West championship. In that game Skinner recorded six tackles).
The fact that he was involved in so many tackles demonstrates the aggressive nature of his game. He was also known as a playmaker, with this play being a prime example.
Among the other highlights of his senior year was when he recorded a career-high 13 tackles in a 27-10 loss at UTEP. During an opening 34-17 loss at Power Five Oregon State, he had 12 tackles and an interception.
In the last two years, he has had big games against Power Five opponents. As a junior in a 21-20 loss to Oklahoma State, Skinner had 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, and a pass breakup.
Skinner’s combination of hitting ability and speed makes him a threat as a playmaker. As a high school player at Point Loma in San Diego, he had more than 1,000 all-purpose yards and scored 11 touchdowns as a wingback during his senior season.
There have been different 40-times listed for Skinner, but an accurate one will come at the NFL combine, in which he was invited to participate. The combine is from Feb. 28 through March 6. Skinner should be a player who tests well at the combine due to his athletic ability.
Don’t be surprised if he is one of the players who gets talked up at the combine and improves his stock.