Asked for a moment that could shed some light on the make-up of Jordan Poyer, Oregon State secondary coach Rod Perry pointed to October 6 of this past season against Washington State. Poyer had three interceptions in the game to lead the Beavers to a 19-6 win. It wasn’t the performance that was noteworthy to Perry, but rather what prompted it.
“[Washington State] was jawing at him before the game. That got him fired up,” he said. “What I got out of that is that he is a highly-competitive guy that won’t back down. You don’t want to get him riled up. You don’t want to back him into a corner.”
If it’s firewood he needs, then he should be able to pull an acre’s worth from his draft experience. The consensus All-American and Bednarik Award semifinalist (top defensive player) was projected by some to be a top-100 pick. Instead, he slid all the way to 218 before finally getting plucked in the seventh round by the Eagles.
“It [was] a long couple days, that’s for sure,” said Poyer. “It was [agonizing] but I kind of want to have an idea of who passed me up because I kind of use that stuff when I play. I’ll remember who passed me up and I’ll use it and let it fuel me.”
Poyer (6-0, 191) started his college career as a safety before transitioning to corner as a sophomore. A special teams contributor all four years, Poyer became a starter in 2011 and earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors, ending with four interceptions and 16 passes defensed.
Last season the coaching staff decided to move Poyer around, frequently deploying him in the slot. He responded with seven interceptions (second most in the country) and 14 passes defensed, adding a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. Chip Kelly saw his versatility and effectiveness up close at Oregon.
“Just an outstanding football player,” said Kelly. “He’s a corner, he’s also a nickel, he’s also a very, very good returner. I thought we got some depth from a special teams standpoint. I think he had six picks this year as a nickel. He has a lot of experience playing inside and covering slot receivers. He’s a tough, physical, hard-nosed player.”
Oregon State decided to move Poyer inside for several reasons. He matched up well with slot receivers, showed the instincts necessary to create in that space, and didn’t shy away from the physical element of the game. Plus, it’s easier to avoid throwing in a corner’s direction if he is exclusively on the outside.
Perry, a former Pro Bowl cornerback with extensive NFL coaching experience, likened Poyer to longtime pro Terry Cousin and Ricky Manning, Jr., whom Eagles fans are all too familiar with.
It came as a shock to Perry when Poyer was arrested in May for trying to get into a bar which he had previously been banned from.
“At times you make bad decisions when you’re young and you learn and grow from it,” said Perry, who touted Poyer’s work ethic in the gym as well as the classroom. “That was a one-time type deal. His character is outstanding.”
Poyer served as the gunner on punt coverage and as a punt and kick returner while at Oregon State. He doesn’t know exactly why he slipped in the draft, but plans on coming in and contributing early — whether it be on special teams or otherwise.
“I am ready to play wherever they need me. I’ll play on all special teams and however they want to use me I’m ready,” he said.
“[The draft] was a long couple days, but like I said I was just happy to go somewhere. I know I’ll make the most of my opportunity.”
In Oregon State’s 2011 matchup against Arizona State, Poyer intercepted Brock Osweiler twice. On both picks (:18 and 1:45) he shows good anticipation and instincts. You can also see him as a kick and punt returner here (he muffs a punt in this game.)
In the 2012 Alamo Bowl against Texas, you can see just how much his role changed from one year to the next. He lines up all over the place. He comes on the blitz at 3:05, tracks down the quarterback at the 3:45 mark and shows the ability to lay a big hit at 4:25.
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