Roger McCreary - CB - Auburn
Welcome to the rookie profile for Roger McCreary. McCreary is a silky smooth corner who rarely gives up much space in separation. He has been targeted 76 times but only given up 35 catches during this time. McCreary is at his best when lining up and covering the player across from him, a physical corner who has no problem against the bigger receivers.
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 190 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.44s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
Bench Press: DNP
McCreary was a three-star talent out of high school and has had to put in the graft and make some adjustments to his game, when joining Auburn he switched from safety to cornerback and hasn’t looked back since. His freshman year was a slow burner as he was used sparingly, featuring 4 times and putting together 5 tackles.
One thing you can say about McCreary is that he is a hard worker, he spent his sophomore year watching a lot of tape to master his craft at the cornerback position and while he still wasn’t used as a starter we began to see a huge improvement. McCreary featured in 13 games and chalked up 36 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, a fumble recovery and an interception.
McCreary’s big improvement in his sophomore year saw him gain the starting spot as Auburn’s corner, a mainstay in the 10 games he featured in. Once again, we had seen an improvement in McCreary’s production as he put up 45 tackles, 7.0 tackles for a loss, 3 interceptions and a forced fumble.
Having seen year on year improvement throughout his college career, 2021 was expected to be an even bigger year and McCreary didn’t disappoint. McCreary started all 12 games for Auburn and amassed a career-high 49 tackles, 2.0 tackles for a loss, 1.0 sack, 2 interceptions – returning one to the house and a fumble recovery. McCreary was also the SEC’s leader in pass deflections and led to him receiving first-team All-SEC honors and was named first-team All-American by the associated press and ESPN. Not a bad way to sign off from your college career.
McCreary is at his best in man coverage, using his excellent change of direction to quickly mirror the opposing receivers, matching up with them throughout their routes. His ability in man is elite, showing good ability to play off and consistently break up plays and get his hands on the ball. He is able to play alone on an island with the opponent’s best receiver, and will not get sold by double moves. McCreary is easily one of the best man coverage cornerbacks in the class.
McCreary is very good in zone coverage; his excellent awareness and instincts help him dial in on all plays. He has a good tendency to keep his eyes on the quarterback, whilst doing this he can also zone in on the air game. He can identify routes very well and has experience in cover 3, shows excellent range and versatility in his game.
McCreary’s versatility will be an area of his game that NFL scouts will like. He can play outside and has performed at his best out there, however his skills would also allow him to play inside if required. Having had high school experience at safety, this could help him act as cover if and when required.
McCreary is a willing and able tackler in both the run and passing game, whilst he’s not the most powerful tackler he can wrap up well and avoid any head contact. As McCreary is often playing in coverage he is able to limit any extra yardage after the catch, limiting any gains.
McCreary plays much bigger than his frame and has excellent ball skills which reflect this. He is a very good competitor who puts in maximum effort and will close the gap. If he can’t get the interception, he can get the pass break ups as shown consistently throughout his college career, getting better and better each year.
An area of McCreary’s game that is notably below average is his length and height, below the average size we see of a player in the cornerback position. After all, in a game of inches his arms are 2 inches smaller than the average cornerback, this could make him liable to giving up big plays. This will limit his abilities at the line when in press and when competing against larger receivers – in the NFL this will make playmaking opportunities much harder to come by especially as he won’t be used much as a red zone jump ball defender.
Whilst McCreary is very good in zone coverage, to become elite he will need to tidy up problems he’s experienced with comebacks across the middle of the park. NFL Quarterbacks may also take full advantage of his aggressive approach play in both man and zone coverage on short routes and go straight over the top, giving up big plays.
McCreary has good speed and mobility but does have short strides, which prevents him from having a good long speed. Again, whilst he has a good change of direction his choppy footwork can at times make this part of his game look unnatural.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 2
McCreary could go late in the 1st round but I think we’ll see him prove to be an absolute steal in the 2nd round. However, a team could take McCreary towards the end of the 1st round and will be in the hunt for a cornerback is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they have Carlton Davis as a pending free agent this off-season and at the end of next season Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean will be pending free agents. I cannot see the Buccaneers keeping hold of all three between now and the end of 2023, therefore picking up a cornerback in this year’s draft would be a savvy move from Bruce Arians to avoid any shortcomings at cornerback should any of their current cornerback core not re-sign.