Tale of the Tape: What is Penn State getting in CB Lamont Payne?
After a quiet August, Penn State got back to work in the recruiting department this weekend by securing the commitment of 2023 four-star cornerback Lamont Payne about an hour before the White Out game against Auburn. The Pittsburgh area native ranks 228th nationally according to Rivals and 32nd overall at his position.
As we’ve seen though, not all players are created equal at a position. What makes Payne a priority as the second commit for the class of 2023? Let's get into his tape to find out.
Size/Length: Payne is not the biggest cornerback that Penn State has recruited in recent years, standing at just over 6 feet, 165 pounds. His arms border on 31 inches, which are good measurements, but Payne plays well beyond that with physicality at every part of the route. HIs work at the line of scrimmage in press is very impressive and he frequently bullies receivers out of the play.
Ball Production: Penn State has placed a priority on targeting players who can find the football in the air and Payne has shown that over multiple years starting in high school. His ability to come off of his man and make plays is something you just don’t find everywhere.
Coverage Versatility: Aside from his work at the line of scrimmage, Payne has the physical tools to play press man coverage at the next level. He’s very balanced on his feet and is never stumbling despite his aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage. He also has the hip flexibility to turn and run without losing speed. His coverage diagnostics in zone alignments are superb for a young player. He has the tools to be used in just about any scheme.
Areas of Development
Speed: This may be the hardest aspect of his game to read due to the fact that Payne has been dealing with a lower body injury to start the season. Yet even when healthy he’s a good athlete, but lacks the overall explosiveness and long speed to be an elite-level physical talent at the cornerback position. His timed 4.6-second forty yard dash will get better over time, but he’ll have to work in this area to get better.
Over-Aggressiveness: It’s a good problem to have when a cornerback plays with such confidence and aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage that you have to dial it back. The majority of the time Payne is on balance and intentional about his engagement with receivers. But there are times when he gets a bit lost in the sauce when facing an equally competitive player. He can get too physical and lose his leverage or get pulled off balance. Overall it’s not a huge concern but noteworthy.
Boundary Corner: The size, arm length and hip mobility that Payne shows on tape make him an excellent candidate to play the boundary corner position for Penn State. He can use his size to box receivers in on the short side of the field and has the length to go up against an opponents more physical pass catchers. Payne has the low center of gravity and transition skills to be a high-quality starter.
Field Safety: Penn State has a pretty good track record of taking bigger corners and moving them to safety if they don’t develop the collegiate movement skills expected over time. Just like Jordan Allen in the Class of 2022, Payne is a great physical presence on defense and is a feisty blocker on offense. It’s important to stress that it’s not likely to happen but he has the frame and skills to be a quality free safety prospect with the versatility to match up in the slot against certain receivers.
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