by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics.
The NFL Draft talk never ends, and we are here at Draft 412 in an effort to keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars. From today until draft night 2024, we will bring you mocks, profiles, team needs, and everything else related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Pittsburgh, Cornerback, M.J. Devonshire
Name- M.J. Devonshire
HT/WT- 5’11” 190 lbs.
Home – Aliquippa, PA
M.J. Devonshire enjoyed a successful high school career while attending a traditional Pennsylvania football powerhouse, Aliquippa High School. There he was a three-sport athlete excelling at football, track and basketball. During his high school career, Devonshire returned eight kickoff or punts for touchdowns, which just put him one away from tying the national record. He was named Post-Gazette Co-Player of the Year and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Athlete of the Year. He was rated as a 3-star recruit by ESPN and 247 Sports during his senior season and opted to play football at Kentucky.
Devonshire only played in 3 games as a freshman at Kentucky, preserving his redshirt. In 2020, as a red-shirt freshman, Devonshire played sparingly in 9 games for the Wildcats and shortly after, entered the transfer portal, coming back home to play for the Pitt Panthers.
In his first season as a Panther, Devonshire played 13 games in a reserve role and had one interception. That interception was an overtime, goal-line pick that helped Pitt beat North Carolina on their way to playing in the ACC Championship.
This past season, Devonshire starred, playing in 13 games, starting 9 of them at cornerback. He also contributed as a punt returner on special teams and was named second team All-ACC as a return specialist. He scored 3 touchdowns in 2022 (2 interceptions and 1 punt return) to become the first Panther since Darrelle Revis in 2006 to score a touchdown via interception and punt return in the same season.
The Panthers are looking for big things out of Devonshire for the 2023 season. He, along with Marquis Williams, gives the Panthers a formidable pair of starting cornerbacks.
Devonshire is athletic and has quick feet, which help him to mirror the movement of wide receivers. He reads zone coverage well and understands his assignments. His athleticism gives him a twitchy, quick burst, allowing him to cover a lot of ground.
With Devonshire, there is big play potential every time he intercepts a pass or returns a kick. He has the ability to be a weapon in the NFL on defense and special teams, with the instincts and skills to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He’s a willing run stopper who explodes through runners while tackling and is not afraid to engage with a blocker to make a play.
On the downside, Devonshire does not have the elite length NFL teams desire at the next level. At times, he gives the receiver more cushion than most coaches want to see, but this can be corrected in the film room. To get drafted higher, he’ll need to work on his backpedaling and mechanics. And at times, he bites on fakes, looking to make the big play.
Big play ability
Capable run stopper
Needs to improve mechanics
Gives too much space to receivers
Sells out on fakes
Not elite size
M.J. Devonshire will need a big season to help his draft stock in 2023, and he has the skillset to do so. He can undoubtedly be a return weapon at the next level, but Devonshire will need to smooth out his game to sneak into the late 3rd round of day two or remain at the top of round four during day three in the draft.
Draft 412- DRAFT PROJECTION- 3rd or 4th round pick