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Donovan Stiner

Preseason Scouting Notes: Donovan Stiner, S, Florida

Senior| 6’1” 203 lbs | Houston, TX

 

Versatile free safety with good range, physicality and athleticism who must improve his pursuit and finish

 

Overview:

Donovan Stiner is a rising senior who plays safety for the Florida Gators. Up to this point, he has started 18 of the 37 games he played in, totaling 87 total tackles, 1 sack, and 6 interceptions. His 4 interceptions in 2019 led his team and tied for second in the SEC behind only LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. He has not missed time due to injury but he has been ejected once after targeting. Stiner primarily plays as a free safety in Florida’s two-high scheme, but he can also play in a one-deep role or as a slot defender as well.

Strengths:

– Physical defender who doesn’t shy away from contact in either phase of the game. Will reroute receivers or run downhill through blocks
– Smooth hip fluidity and quick reactions help him stick to receivers in man coverage
– His long speed and tenacity allow him to impact the game at all three levels
– Can maneuver through trash in relentless pursuit of the ball-carrier
– Generally good concept recognition and ability to force QB to move to a different read with his break speed
– Fills the alley quickly. More than willing to throw his body into the pile in support against the run
– High motor. Always finishes to the ball with great closing speed
– Strong wrap-up grip won’t allow broken tackles
– Very good at disguising coverages pre-snap. Has baited QB into interceptions with deception

Areas to improve:

– Pursuit angles must improve. Will over-pursue when meeting a ball-carrier in open space and allows cutbacks off of missed tackles
– Can lose sight of run support responsibilities and plug the wrong hole
– Occasionally starts plays flat-footed while reading his keys and diagnosing his responsibility
– Plays will start without him as he tries to communicate with teammates through the snap of the ball

Injury concerns:

N/A

Projection:

Stiner has the makings to be a versatile player in the secondary. He has good range to play as a deep-half player. He has the man-coverage ability of an extra corner. He usually picks up on plays and route concepts pretty quickly. He has good enough vision and pursuit to play in the box against the run. In the pass-happy era the NFL is in, Stiner is the type of athlete teams want to have in the secondary. Despite all of this, he does not break up as many passes as he should, totaling only two through his first three years with the Gators. His finishing in open space needs to improve as well. Currently, Stiner projects as a Day 2 pick who could contribute in DB packages as a backup in his first year.

What to watch in 2020:

The primary thing Stiner must improve on is his pursuit angles. In man-coverage, he does great at matching his counterpart’s movement and tracking the hip. He needs to be able to do this when pursuing the ball-carrier downhill. He does not wait for plays to manifest themselves. Rather, he wants to get to the ball-carrier before the ball-carrier gets to him. This is great given his speed and motor, but it is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, he can halt the play early, but he doesn’t play to be the last line of defense. If he is downhill and then runner breaks into the open-field, Stiner’s aggressiveness will put him out of position and will miss the tackle. However, when he does get a good grip on the ball-carrier, he usually brings him to the ground. Florida has three potential 2021 draft prospects fighting to play safety with Stiner, Brad Stewart Jr., and Shawn Davis. Last season they split snaps, but Stiner heated up down the final stretch and earned more consistent playing time. If the 2020 season happens, Stiner hopes to use last season’s momentum to start strong this year and separate himself from the bunch.