JL Skinner Scouting Report | Boise State University DB | 2023 NFL Draft
Soon after arriving at Boise State University following a successful high school career at Point Loma High School in San Diego, California, JL Skinner proved to be a versatile and relentless force at the backend of the Broncos’ defense.
As a true freshman in 2019, Skinner entered his true freshman season at 6 foot 4, 213 pounds. Due to his exceptional size, sharp instincts, and hard-hitting ability, Skinner saw early playing time on defense and special teams, becoming the only true freshman on the Broncos’ defense to appear in all 14 games. In a season where the Boise State finished with a 12-2 record, including an 8-0 record in Mountain West Conference play, Skinner recorded 14 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and three pass deflections.
In a seven-game season in 2020, Skinner began his ascension as a true leader on the Boise State defense. Skinner made six starts at strong safety, finishing the season with 37 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one interception, and two pass deflections. The Broncos finished the season with a 5-2 record, which featured a loss in the MWC Championship Game against 24th-ranked San Jose State. After the 2020 season, then-Broncos head coach Bryan Harson left Boise State to become the new head coach at Auburn. Harsin’s departure turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Skinner and the Broncos’ defense, as Boise State hired then-Oregon Defensive Coordinator and former Boise State Linebacker Andy Avalos to take over as its new head coach.
The 2021 season would be a breakout year for Skinner in Avalos’ effective 3-3-5 defense, a system that enabled Skinner to exhibit his position versatility and unique physical traits in a variety of ways. Playing strong safety, nickel, and even dropping down as a box linebacker, Skinner would establish himself as one of the best defensive players in the Mountain West. On the season, Skinner started all 12 games and accumulated 92 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions, seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. His performance during the 2021 season helped him earn Second Team All-Mountain West honors while cementing his place as Boise State’s most valuable member of its defensive backfield.
Fortunately for Avalos and the Broncos, Skinner announced that he would forgo the 2022 NFL Draft and return to Boise State for his senior season. Before the season, Skinner would receive heavy praise from the college football media, earning his spot on the Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch Lists. Skinner’s decision would prove valuable for the Broncos as he continued to make life difficult for opposing offenses. In his senior campaign, Skinner wreaked havoc at multiple positions, capping off his Boise State career with 65 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions (two of which came in the final three minutes of Boise State’s victory over Wyoming), and eight pass deflections. Skinner’s incredible senior season would not go unnoticed, as he would earn First Team All-Mountain West honors for the first time in his career.
JL Skinner possesses elite size, length, tackling ability, and position versatility for the defensive back position. Standing at 6 ‘4 and weighing in at 220 pounds, Skinner has the physical traits to compete for playing time as soon as he steps foot on an NFL practice field. With a superb 77-inch wingspan, Skinner can play physical, bump-and-run coverage against bigger tight ends at the line of scrimmage, affect passing lanes in the intermediate and deep ranges of the field, and beat receivers to the highest point on 50/50 jump balls.
Skinner is very willing to come downhill and fill in run support; He has impressive closing burst and high-contact courage, making him a sure-handed tackler who can be trusted to roam the middle of the field from several positions.
Skinner’s unique size/frame and overall athleticism enable him to play multiple positions like he did at Boise State. Defensive coordinators should feel comfortable utilizing Skinner’s talents as a deep safety, box safety, slot corner, or as a boundary corner if necessary.
With high football instincts, a fluid lower half, and sufficient speed, Skinner has displayed a proficiency to cover underneath concepts in man coverage or drop back as a cover safety in zone coverage. Skinner also has great ball skills and a knack for creating turnovers wherever he lines up on defense.
Skinner has very few holes in his game and fits the criteria of a defensive back prospect that should covet plenty of attention from NFL defenses, regardless of scheme. He’s a plug-and-play safety that should see plenty of playing time early in his career on defense and special teams. Given his physical traits, overall athleticism, football instincts, and versatility, Skinner will be a valuable asset in the NFL for years to come.
Mid 2nd-Early 3rd