Expert Analysis


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Daequan Hardy 2024 NFL Draft: Combine Results, Scouting Report For Buffalo Bills CB

Penn State's Daequan Hardy (25) returns a punt 56 yards for a touchdown during the first half of a NCAA football game against Massachusetts Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in State College, Pa.

The 2024 NFL Draft is getting close, making it an excellent time to highlight some of the class' best players with scouting reports. Each report will include strengths, weaknesses and background information. 

Here's our report on Daequan Hardy.

Daequan Hardy's 2024 NFL Combine Results

  • Height: 5-foot-9
  • Weight: 179
  • 40-yard dash: 4.38
  • 10-yard split: 1.50
  • Vertical jump: 42.5"
  • Broad jump: 10'6"

Daequan Hardy 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report


  • Primarily aligned in the slot as the nickel CB but played some snaps outside, depending on the scheme.
  • Good lateral quickness in his ability to elude blockers and then close on the ball carrier in run/screen game.
  • Explosive athlete with good return ability – vision and acceleration to find lanes as a punt returner (SPT ability).
  • Excels with turning and running with vertical routes from press coverage – excellent burst and speed.
  • Good technique in press alignment – moves feet to stay in position and then uses his speed to mirror WRs.
  • Stays in phase and showed good ball skills to get his head around and locate the ball downfield in coverage.
  • Solid blitzing off the slot, using his quickness to beat blocks and has the speed to pressure QB quickly.
  • Compact, controlled backpedal, allowing him to quickly redirect and use his speed to accelerate out of breaks.
  • Instinctive player who quickly reads and recognizes quick game, rallying down with speed and aggression.


  • Undersized, slight DB who struggles with physical route runners who use their strength to get open.
  • Less comfort in zone coverage with some blind spots and awareness of route concepts and spacing.
  • Technique and effectiveness drop off when he plays from off alignment and is forced to play reactively.
  • Struggles to get off blocks due to size – issues defending the run when he can’t beat blocks with movement.
  • Can get caught flat-footed from zone coverage, allowing WRs to attack him across the field out of breaks.

Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State defensive back Daequan Hardy (DB14) works out during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Transition

Hardy was utilized in multiple ways in Penn State’s creative schemes, forcing him to play outside, in the slot, blitz off the edge, underneath zone coverage and deep field defender.

During the last three seasons, he aligned primarily as a nickel, slot corner. He had more than three times the number of snaps in the slot than outside. Hardy is an undersized DB who relies on his athleticism and movement to cover. He struggles to control bigger, more physical WRs in coverage and to disengage blockers. 

Still, he’s an explosive athlete with good lateral quickness and acceleration skills to run vertically downfield in coverage (very good speed). He’s most comfortable from press alignment in man coverage where he can use his speed and quickness to mirror and run with receivers in coverage. 

There were a couple of good examples of him intercepting passes from press-man coverage vs. Illinois and Ball St. He’s a good blitzer who can be useful in sub-package pressure schemes from the slot. Hardy is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He has a good mix of speed and quickness to make defenders miss as a returner. He should contribute there in the NFL.  

Overall, Hardy is a quick-twitch athlete who is undersized and best suited in sub-package situations. He has good experience playing in the slot. In addition, his ability to contribute on special teams as a return specialist and potential gunner could make him a good Day 3 pick.

Other Notes

Hardy was a local player from Pittsburgh, PA who stayed close and went to Penn State. He was a three-star recruit who was the 64th-ranked cornerback in the nation coming out of High School. 

Hardy played in 44 games in four seasons at Penn State, primarily in the slot. He did get some playing time on the outside. During his senior season, he returned punts and was effective, averaging 14.6 yards per punt return with two return touchdowns. 

In 2023, Hardy was third-team All-Big Ten at cornerback and second-team All-Big Ten as Punt Returner. He finished his career with 60 total tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 3.5 Sacks, five INTs and 19 PBUs. Hardy returned 17 Punts (all in 2023) for 248 yards (14.6 avg) and two touchdowns.

From 2021-2023, Hardy played 574 defensive snaps from the slot, compared to only 162 snaps from a pre-snap outside CB alignment. That gives him a lot of experience playing inside, which is such a critical position in the NFL because of the high usage of sub-packages in defenses. 

Hardy rushed or blitzed on 75 snaps in the last three seasons, which is a solid amount ( averaging 25 snaps per season).