VDT: Boise State S JL Skinner Is a Big Time Playmaker
The Minnesota Vikings are entering this offseason needing to find more depth in their secondary. Between free agents at cornerback in Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, and Chandon Sullivan as well as aging veterans at safety like Harrison Smith, the Vikings could use some youthful talent this offseason.
While a pectoral injury will likely limit how much he can impact games in his rookie year, a prospect that could be on the Vikings radar in the mid-late rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft is Boise State S JL Skinner, and he is the focus of today’s edition of Vikings Draft Thermometer series, PurplePTSD‘s one-stop shop for all your 2023 NFL Draft needs. Throughout this series, we have examined a number of prospects ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, what exactly their role could be at the NFL level, and most importantly, whether or not they could end up playing their first NFL snaps in a Vikings uniform.
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 209 pounds
- Arm: 32″
- Hand: 8 1/4″
- 40: N/A
- 10-Yard Split: N/A
- 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A
- Bench: N/A
- School: Boise State
- Games Watched: BYU (2022), Wyoming (2022), Utah State (2022), Fresno State (2022)
- 2019: 14 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 3 PDs (8 games)
- 2020: 37 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 PD, 1 INT (6 games)
- 2021: 92 tackles, 7 TFLs, 3 PDs, 2 INTs, 2 FFs, 3 FRs (12 games)
- 2022: 65 tackles, 0.5, TFL, 5 PDs, 4 INTs (12 games)
JL Skinner looks more like a linebacker on the field than a safety, but despite his massive size at 6’4″ and over 200 pounds, he still moves well in the secondary, allowing him to play pass coverage against either receivers or step into the box and cover larger tight ends.
His extreme length gives him an edge over smaller receivers that he is forced to cover and allows him to make plays on the ball even if he loses a step on faster players. His above average ball skills allow him to force turnovers at a high rate as well when the ball is thrown in his vicinity.
Skinner is a hard-hitting tackler as well and is very capable as a blitzer and supporting the run defense. He knows how to wrap up ball carriers on a consistent basis and missed tackles should not be a concern heading into the NFL.
NFL teams probably won’t want to leave Skinner as a last line of defense against vertical routes over the top. He moves well for a player of his stature, but the fastest slot receivers can still get the better of him down the field.
Additionally, the Boise State safety has some trouble shedding blocks. This is something he must get better at to maximize his impact as a run-stopper, and he could also bear to learn how to take more efficient routes to ball carriers.
We also have to take into account that Skinner suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the lead-up to the NFL scouting combine, so he may miss the majority of his rookie season.
- Draft Round: Mid Fifth-Late Sixth
- Immediate Role: Starting strong safety
- Best-Case Scenario: Kam Chancellor
- Vikings Draft Temperature: 55
JL Skinner might not get onto the field during his rookie season because of his pectoral injury, but he remains one of the more physically imposing safeties in this entire draft class. Because of his versatility and combination of size and speed, he has a skill set that should impact at the NFL level one day.
The Vikings may be a beneficiary of this injury as it will more than likely force him down into the latter rounds of the 2023 Draft. Considering Minnesota has need for more safety depth, Skinner wouldn’t be a bad prospect to take a flyer on in Day 3.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.