The NY Jets will likely look to address the cornerback position in the 2021 NFL Draft. And one player who makes sense as a potential Day 2 or 3 target is Oregon’s Deommodore Lenoir.
Lenoir was a highly-touted recruit who played both sides of the ball in high school. With offers from most of the top schools in the nation, Lenoir committed to Oregon where he saw playing time early as a true freshman.
The California native took over the starting job in his sophomore season and he’d go on to start three years at Oregon, playing in just shy of 50 games. Lenoir culminated his college career by earning second-team All-Pac 12 honors after a standout senior season.
Primarily seen as a Day 3 prospect, Lenoir could be an option for the Jets later in the draft, even if they address the position early as well. His athleticism and physical traits give him a relatively high ceiling in the NFL.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lenoir about his football journey, the 2021 NFL Draft, if he sees himself as a fit with the Jets, and if the Jets have shown any interest.
Below is a transcription of our interview.
Interview with NY Jets draft prospect Deommodore Lenoir
Justin Fried: “So you were a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school. You played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back, you name it. Did you always see yourself as a cornerback at the next level or did you dream of playing something else?”
Deommodore Lenoir: “Coming out of high school, I really didn’t see myself as a corner. I considered myself an athlete. I personally thought that I’d transition to offense in college because that’s what I was in high school. But I found my way on the field at cornerback and I started loving the game once I met [Former Oregon cornerbacks] Coach Donte [Williams].”
JF: “Right as you said, you were the No. 1 ranked athlete by Rivals.com coming out of high school. You had offers from pretty much any school that you would’ve wanted to go to. Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, all the top programs. What factored into your decision to choose Oregon?”
DL: “Growing up, Oregon was my dream school. I used to watch De’Anthony Thomas, a guy from my area. And Oregon has just been my dream school ever since. When I got that opportunity, it was just time for me to make the decision.”
JF: “I’m sure the jerseys didn’t hurt either, they got some nice jerseys. Now, you played immediately as a true freshman and took over as a full-time starter in your sophomore year. With 34 career starts and three years as a starter, do you think your experience is something that helps you stand out as a prospect?”
DL: “When I first got to Oregon, I didn’t think experience mattered. But experience definitely matters. It helps a lot because you see a lot and then the game gets slower for you so it’s easier to make plays.”
JF: “Especially something like cornerback. You could be as toolsy or athletically gifted as possible, but if you lack in-game experience, you won’t have the same refinement that others might have.”
DL: “Exactly. And that’s how it was. I was super athletic when I came in so I thought that would help me be good, but that wasn’t the case. I had to be coached and taught. I had to learn everything and think like a DB.”
JF: “For sure. You had the chance to play alongside some pretty talented DB’s during your time at Oregon. This year alone, you have Thomas Graham, Jevon Holland, and Brady Breeze all going pro. What was it like sharing the field with those guys each week and which one of you is making the Pro Bowl first?”
DL: “I’m always going to bet on myself. They’re tough guys, they made my life easier. I just pray that we all do good and that we all make the Pro Bowl.”
JF: “Oregon’s trying to reclaim that DB-U moniker I see.”
DL: “Hey man, in 2019, before COVID-19 hit, we were No. 1. By drafting any one of us, they’re going to have a steal.”
JF: “Now you were predominantly a boundary corner at Oregon, but some analysts think you might be better fit as a nickel or even a safety. Is that something you’d feel comfortable doing? Switching positions?”
DL: “Yes sir. I’m willing to do whatever. I just want to be on the field. Whatever team drafts me, I’m going to make sure to work hard and get on the field.”
JF: “That’s the right mindset to have. Who would you say was your toughest matchup in college? What receiver challenged you the most?”
DL: “Brandon Aiyuk. He was a twitchy guy. He was very explosive after the catch and those types of receivers tend to give me fits. I would say that’s my biggest challenge, going up against receivers like him that are twitchy, have long arms, and good speed. He’s a phenomenal football player.”
JF: “I mean he’s killing it now over in San Francisco so I’m sure others would say the same. You have a bit of a background in track as well. Do you think that’s something that’s helped you as a football player?”
DL: “A little bit. I would say I definitely got faster running track. It taught me how to run with form because before I started running track, my arms were all wild everywhere. I didn’t even run, but I knew I was fast. So when I got on the track and I was just losing sometimes, I didn’t know why. I know I’m fast and when I’m on the field, I got breakaway speed when I’m playing running back. And then I get on the track and I just lose. I didn’t understand why so I had to learn. In that sport too you have to use your form and technique. It all plays a part.”
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JF: “Exactly, it’s all about honing your craft and polishing your skills. Kind of like what you did your freshman year. Do you have any NFL players that you model your game after or just like to watch on film?”
DL: “I got a few players that I like to watch, but I wouldn’t say I model my game after them. I like to watch Darius Slay, Marlon Humphrey, and Marcus Peters. Guys that just have a knack for the football. I watch just to see how I could implement it in my game.”
JF: “Three of the best in the game right there. Are there any teams that have shown a little more interest than others that you could potentially see yourself with come draft day?”
DL: “I’ve talked to a total of 28 teams and they all sound interested. I’ve talked to a few more than others. The Jets are one of them, I’ve talked to them a lot. So I wouldn’t be surprised if I was to get a call from them. The Colts, 49ers, and Vikings too. I’ve looked into what their corners are like and how they’re built, just to see if I’d be a fit.”
JF: “I was going to ask about that. You mention that the Jets have met with you and are showing interest. Do you see yourself as a fit for the scheme they’re going to run under Robert Saleh?”
DL: “From my meetings with [Jets Defensive Backs] Coach [Marquand] Manuel, I think the scheme definitely fits. And the type of person he is, I could play for him. He’s a good guy. I like Coach Manuel.”
Special thanks to Deommodore for taking the time to speak with us. The Jets will likely target a cornerback at some point in the 2021 NFL Draft.
And Deommodore Lenoir makes sense as a potential target.