A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.
Name: Julius Brents
Weight: 198 pounds
Combine Results: 4.53 40-yard dash, 41.5” vertical, 11’6” broad, 6.63 3-cone drill, 4.05 short shuttle
Julius Brents is a testament to the kind of patience it takes for a player to reach their potential. The Indianapolis native and three-star recruit committed to Iowa, one of only two Power 5 schools to offer the towering cornerback. He saw limited action as a freshman, missed the entire 2019 season with an injury, and then struggled to see the field during the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
That prompted Brents to transfer to Kansas State, although it wasn’t an instant impact for him. Brents played uneven in 2021, showcasing his length and explosiveness that once made believers out of the Hawkeyes, but still got burned in coverage all too often. In fact, his 101.9 passer rating allowed was the 16th highest among all corners in this draft class.
Brents didn’t let that keep him down, though. He returned in 2022 with a vengeance, looking like a different player. He picked off four passes, doubling his career total up to that point, and graded out as one of the top cover corners in the draft: Brents ranked 14th in completion percentage allowed, 15th in passer rating allowed, and eighth in coverage snaps per reception. Now, Brents is entering the draft with a good chance at being selected on the second day of the draft, likely somewhere in the second round.
Man Coverage: Brents is at his best in press coverage. He’s got long arms and is a long strider, and he uses both of these aspects well in press coverage. He is very physical in general, and he’s able to grapple with receivers off the snap and stay in their hip pocket. He has some struggles when playing off man coverage, as he’s a bit too stiff in his hips to remain in good position after flipping. That said, Brents understands how to use his length to make up the difference.
Zone Coverage: There are flashes of Brents’ potential as a zone defender, especially in how he uses his length to occupy a bigger zone. Similar to his man coverage skills, he excels at press bail technique in zone, such as Cover 3 or quarters. He’s not a top notch processor, so sitting back and reading the offense in zone is not his best attribute.
Playmaking Ability: He knows how to use his length to his advantage, but he does lack fully developed ball skills. He’s more of a hand fighter than someone who goes for the ball. Brents picked off four passes this past year, displaying ample ability to catch the ball, but he’s never recorded more than four pass breakups in a season. He seems content to instead swat at receivers’ arms or try to knock them off balance during the catch. He has the size to consistently win at the catch point, but he needs to be better about playing the ball.
Athleticism: Brents is one of the most explosive athletes in this draft. He took the top spot at the combine in the broad jump, 3-cone drill, and short shuttle while coming in second in the vertical jump. He’s got incredible closing speed that is further aided by his length. Brents does lack good long speed, which will be an issue against the fastest receivers in the NFL; he can’t be left on an island, but Brents is oozing with athleticism everywhere else. He nearly posted a perfect Relative Athletic Score.
Run Support: He loves to tackle. He’s one of those types of defenders that relishes the opportunity to come down in run support and make a hit. He is also a very fundamentally sound tackler, taking good angles and wrapping up. He only missed two tackles this season and tallied eight run stops, both among the top 10 of this cornerback class.
Processing: Brents is a believer in his instincts and athletic ability, which leads to some inconsistencies in his processing. He seems to have dirty eyes at times, not sure which key to read but gambling based on his own ability to make the play anyway. Sometimes it works and sometimes it gets him in trouble. he did take a big step forward in this regard over the 2022 season, so there’s still room to improve.
Intangibles: Brents has two things that are impossible to teach: tenacity and sheer size. It’s not often you see corners that are this physical or measure at 6’3” while still having the kind of athleticism he does. It’s even more rare to find both in one player. Brents may not be a Day 1 starter, and his long-term success will be heavily dependent on scheme, but he has the intangibles to grow into an impact player as early as his second season.