Bryce Hall isn't going to spend time worrying about the past. Hall, a University of Virginia product who was limited to six games his senior season before undergoing surgery on his left, ankle, didn't hear his name called until the fifth round of the draft when he fell to the New York Jets on Day 3.
"I think that definitely played a factor in me going a lot later than where I went, but at the end of the day I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," Hall said after he was taken with the No. 158th overall selection. "I know God brought me here for a reason. I don't ask too many questions that are above my head and I'm here now, so I'm ready to look forward from now on."
In 2018, Hall led the FBS with 22 pass breakups. His junior stat line also included 62 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. The 6'1", 202-pounder headed into his senior campaign with some expecting him to receive Round 1 consideration in April but things changed in Miami on Oct. 11. During a 17-9 loss to the Hurricanes, Hall got injured while on punt coverage and went down with a serious injury. Trainers put an air cast on Hall's leg and his collegiate career was over.
"He clearly was a first-three-rounds type of prospect. There were mock drafts literally a year ago that had him in the first round," said Phil Savage, who serves as a Jets senior adviser under GM Joe Douglas. "I think realistically he was a second- or third-round kind of talent. He unfortunately had that ankle fracture and he's not able to participate in the Reese's Senior Bowl and he's not able to participate in the combine. Then with this pandemic, there was really no way to ultimately follow up with him from a medical standpoint other than just the combine."
Hall is a long, instinctive cornerback with big hands and he doesn't mind getting his nose dirty against the run. He has experience in both man and zone coverage and has very good ball skills, evidenced by his 44 PDs in 44 collegiate games.
"I'm somebody who first and foremost prepares like crazy. I'm somebody who brings a lot of energy and a lot of passion, somebody who's very meticulous in their preparation," Hall said. "Just because I don't have the skillset at the moment, I'm very determined to learn and grow. Every day I'm hungry to learn, hungry to just get better. For me as a player, it depends on what they want me to do wherever it is that they have me. I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."
With the Jets in the second week of their virtual offseason program, Hall can attend meetings on the computer and continue to rehab his left ankle.
"Basically right now, my ankle is healed. It's just about getting it back to the same range of motion and just explosiveness as my other ankle," he said. "I'm getting better and stronger every week."
Douglas added: "We felt good about where he's at now based on the communication and the ability to be around him at the combine and the communication we've had with his doctors that he'll be ready to roll."
One of six team captains drafted by the Jets this spring, Hall tried to become a more verbal leader last year and help his teammates through his film preparation. He will join a cornerback group that includes nickel back Brian Poole, holdovers Blessuan Austin, Nate Hariston and Kryon Brown and newcomers Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson. Just like Hall, the Jets are comfortable in the present as they look ahead to what could be a promising future.
"We'll have to wait and see where he actually is, but there was good feedback that he'll recover fully from this injury," Savage said. "If there's any kind of delay at all, honestly, we're betting on the future with Bryce Hall. It's not just 2020, it's 2020 and beyond because we think he's a good player."
See the Top Images of the Virginia Cornerback and Fifth Round Pick