2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: San Diego St CB Damontae Kazee

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Damontae Kazee/CB San Diego State – 5’10/2 184

The Good

– Excellent feet and fluid hips, transitions out of pedal well flipping his hips and breaking downhill
– Explosion out of pedal creates power on contact and allows him to play bigger than his actual size
– Incredibly aggressive against the run, maybe more than anyone else in his class, and willing to sacrifice his body on the perimeter, takes on and undercuts pullers
–  Throws his whole body into the tackle and a tone-setter
– High football IQ in off man/zone, knows where and when routes will break and allows him to be a playmaker
– Physical in press coverage and doesn’t give receivers an easy release
– Good leaper, times jumps and makes up for lack of height
– Not just a slot corner, played on the outside as a RCB in college
– Experience in man, zone, and blitz concepts
– Some punt return value
– Tons of starting experience
– Excellent two final seasons in college, high level of production and a ballhawk

The Bad

– Obviously undersized and lacks length (30 7/8 arms)
– Lack of length makes it difficult for him to play the pocket
– Long speed is only a bit above average, didn’t test great (4.54 at Combine)
– Will have to learn how to play in the slot if NFL team decides to kick him inside
– Doesn’t always wrap up against the run, goes for knockout blow
– Can be too aggressive in coverage and/or stick eyes in backfield and vulnerable getting beat deep


– 41 career starts
– Career: 17 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles
– School record holder for career INTs, eight interceptions in 2015 set conference record
– Back-to-back Mountain West Defensive Player Of The Year (2015, 2016)
– 239 career tackles, led team in solo tackles junior year (58) and finished second as a senior (45)
– Originally declared for NFL Draft as a junior, changed mind and returned to school to finish degree

Tape Breakdown

Kazee has an easy NFL comparison and based on his rookie year in the NFL, it’s a promising one. Kazee is this year’s Tavon Young. The size is obviously working against him, though 5’10 isn’t that short, they can’t all be Richard Sherman, but most will project him to the slot. That’s a fair analysis but like Young, Kazee has spent his entire career on the outside and could stick their in the league just as Young has.

Kazee has all the traits of an excellent zone corner. He’s one of the most exciting players to watch support the run. An angry disposition that would make Greg Lloyd swoon, it’s like he’s trying to prove everyone who questions his size wrong. You won’t find anyone who embraces the run better than Kazee, more than even a guy like Desmond King. He’s at the bottom of the screen, right corner, in the clip before, and where he’ll be in all these clips.

He does a better job of wrapping up in coverage with the same amount of aggression and power, showing strong lower half explosion to create power on contact.

His ball skills are elite and Kazee has a fantastic football IQ. You don’t just stumble into 15 interceptions the last two years. Watch him read this speed out, undercut it, and come with the game winning interception.

Didn’t see much press man in the games I watched but at the Senior Bowl, he showed the ability to press, again playing bigger than his size. It may not be his ideal role in the NFL but serves as a reminder of how aggressive and physical he is.

I do question his long speed and probably some over-aggressiveness that can get him beat deep. Like here against Jared Goff’s Golden Bears in 2015.

In Pittsburgh, he’s someone I’d move to the slot because of the glaring need. But I’m confident he can play on the outside for a team who demands it. Better zone corner than man, not because of size, but because of his football IQ and questionable deep speed. I want his vision on the receiver and the QB, not with his back turned where his lack of length will make it tough to combat a lot of throws. Even with the Steelers showing a level of desire to move to more man concepts and bigger CBs in general, Kazee is an ideal guy in the slot. With his IQ and work ethic, I got the vibe of the latter in the brief chat I had with him at the Senior Bowl, he could see the field sooner than most guys in the slot.

Projection: Late Day Two

Games Watched: at California (2015), at San Jose State (2015), vs California, at Wyoming

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos Watkins

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Spencer Krick

    I really like Kazee. I’d snap him up in the 3rd in a heartbeat.

  • Steelers12

    he is one of my favorites but i prefer jourdan lewis out of Michigan

  • Steelers12

    yeah i was thinking more of the 4th round

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Interesting read and one that surprised me. – up until now I thought Kazee WAS a slot CB. Everything I read pointed towards his being used there in the NFL.
    Now I’m not so sure – if he has to LEARN the slot then I could see us avoiding him and instead drafting Jourdan Lewis earlier instead (or someone else if we are looking for a boundary CB).

  • tcirish53@gmail.com


  • Ni mo

    Too short and too slow especially for man coverage , we have enough short cb

  • Daniel

    Yes on jourdan lewis but in the 2nd rd

  • falconsaftey43

    We have Burns and Cockrell at 6 foot, then Gay at 5’10” and if you want to count him, Golson at 5’8″. They need a future slot CB to replace Gay. If a guy can play, I don’t care if he’s short.

  • Spencer Krick

    I suppose you could take Elder if Kazee doesn’t make it to you in the 4th.

  • Spencer Krick

    After that incident, he could go anywhere from 3rd-5th.

  • Alex Kozora

    What he said.

  • Steeler83

    I just came on fanspeak with this draft. It’s Christmas day if we have all of these picks. (CBS rankings, Fanspeak team needs)
    30: R1P30
    62: R2P30
    94: R3P30
    105: R3P41
    135: R4P28
    173: R5P29
    213: R6P29
    248: R7P30

  • Spencer Krick

    The sheer talent in that draft is great, but so are the medical concerns.

    Tell me about Raekwon McMilllan, I don’t think I’ve seen anything on him.

  • Alex Kozora

    Witherspoon definitely on our list.

  • Brian Tollini

    I’ll take a Tavon Young-clone in my secondary any day. Sure, it would be nice if he was 6’1″. but he would also be a 1st rounder if he was. He plays the game the right way and has the talent to go along with the heart. Kazee, Awuzie, and/or Jourdan Lewis (if the reports turn out to be not true) would be a welcome addition to this secondary.

  • Steelers12

    yes i like elder as well, he seems like a younger Will Gay

  • Steelers12

    could be blessing in disguise

  • Steelers12

    i think Lewis can be had in 3rd

  • Ace

    Thanks for the profile AK. He’s been my guy for weeks now. Love him as our comp pick. Ferocious tackler and great ball skills. Plays with a chip. Plays like he is showing the big schools what they missed out on. So Alex, I assume the plan would be again to throw him in the slot. Who do you prefer, you’re early crush Elder or Kazee as a 3rd rounder?

  • Alex Kozora

    I like Kazee more though definitely fans of both.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Just as an addendum to a thought in the article, I read that now that the Ravens signed Carr, Tavon Young will more than likely move to the inside. Which, according to the Ratbird site, is fine because Young played both spots in college. So with continuing the Young/Kazee comparison, I wonder if Kazee can indeed be as versatile as they claim Young can be?

    It’s worth noting that, because I do like the skills that Kazee has, even though his size and length are a bit concerning/not ideal. But that is the things about bulldogs, they sometimes USE that lack of size as a motivator, indeed. That, little dog barking ferociously at the big dogs, mentality. It’s really interesting to watch a guy like Kazee, because many times when you have guys who excel at coming up and stopping the run from his position, they often don’t possess the requisite ball skills to match that aggressive nature. But Demontae has both, which makes him intriguing.

    Kazee didn’t honestly test, numerically, that great at the Combine compared to some of the big risers, pretty average, but he DIDN’T have a bad day at all. In fact, in total, I thought he had a good day. So that I’m not redundant, here’s what I wrote on the recap I gave after the Combine:

    “Demontae Kazee is an interesting guy. The best thing he has going for him is his hands and his ball skills. Both are exceptional and top notch. He caught EVERYTHING thrown his way all day and with ease. A fairly little guy with shorter arms and smaller hands. Amazing he has such ball skills, really. He was slower than you would hope in the forty at 4.54. And his 34 Vert and 10’4″ Broad are just okay. So you would kind of wonder why he had a really good day. But there was just a bulldog mentality with him. And again, those ultra soft hands. He also really looked good during the drills. He showed good athleticism, quick feet, and fluid hips. Alex says he’s a slot guy and I would totally agree.”

    So yeah, I like the kid. It truly comes down to draft positioning. Kazee could be in the discussion for one of those draft day steals, if he gets overlooked enough. Perhaps his running and size will push him down a bit in the draft, and a savvy team will hope that it happens. Not for him personally, of course, but for that team that has their eyes directly on him. For me, as we still sit here today with little to no CB depth to speak of, I’m expecting a double-dip at the CB position. So with that in mind, Kazee ending up as our “2nd CB” out of that dipping, would be perfect. How far down will Kazee be? I’ve seen some mocks where he is grabbed in the 2nd rd (which I think is high). And I’ve seen others where he lasts to the 5th (which I think is crazy, but the CB depth this year is incredible). My guess? He’ll go in between, in the 3rd-4th. Lucky for us, we have two selections late there in the 3rd.

    Do we gamble and hope that he’s there in the 4th as a draft steal? Possibly. Or do we use one of those 3rd rounders on Kazee? Also possible. It really I guess depends on how those first 2 rounds went. Ideally, I’d really like to get him there in the 4th or so, after using the 2nd round pick on our “1st CB” taken.

    OLB/Edge/Obi with the 30th pick. Come back and get best CB available at 62. And then grab another CB with either the Comp. pick or the 4th rounder, and Kazee would be a good pick. The depth in this draft is such, that we could wait all the way till the 5th to double-dip our CB’s. But Defense is such a critical need, that shooting those bullets out earlier may be most prudent.

  • BallHandling Hooker

    Kazee is one of the corners I’d target as for a double dip CB. Take an outside taller guy in the first three picks, and one of Jourdan Lewis, Kazee, or Elder in rounds 4-5 and the secondary gets a huge upgrade.

  • Shane Mitchell


  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Me too.

  • Alex Kozora

    Hey, sorry I’m late getting to this. I think you’re spot on with basically everything you said my man. I think it’s realistic and worth it to take Kazee with either of the third round picks.

  • Steeler83

    “So are the medical concerns”. Do you speak about Sydney Jones and Jake Butt ?
    Because I think Sydney Jones is low risk high reward pick in the 3rd and with Burns and Cockrell we should be able to wait a year without him especially if we draft Kazee in the fourth.
    The same goes to Jehu Chesson.
    I think that an ACL nowadays is a bit more easy to overcome and I believe Butt is a really good TE.

    I think Mc Millan is pretty good compliment to Shazier. He is a strong and powerful LB. He tackles quite well. He’s a smart player and I love his covering skills.

  • Darth Blount 47

    No prob, Alex. Better late than never! I always appreciate when you write back to many of the commenters. Shows you as a man of the people. Never lose that McLumina spirit!

    I’m thinking Kazee would be a fine Comp pick candidate. I’m just so greedy for value come draft time that I’d love to get him even later. But sometimes, you snooze and lose, and that seems to happen to guys that I like for us, too often. Again, my hope is for 2 CB’s… one in the 2nd, and maybe one in the 3-5 range. Def got my eye on Kazee after those tremendous hands he displayed.

  • Spencer Krick

    I like both Butt and Jones, but if you’re picking those two guys you’re basically not helping yourself out this year. I’m not so sure you can take a flier on Butt specifically, because Green is already such an inconsistent wildcard.

    In short, I’m okay with taking one of those guys, but both might be pushing it imo.

  • Steeler83

    I agree with you but I think that our biggest needs in defense are an ILB which can cover (Or a safety for the dime) and a slot CB. So Kazee could help this defense from day one (or something like that). Cockrell and Burns will be our outside CBs. I think we can handle the loss of Jones for the year.

    As for Butt, I believe that Green and James will be ok for the job the next year. But if Green is concussed again then he’s gonna be cut the year after and James could be our TE1 to finish the year. In 2018, James and Butt will be our 2 first TE without issues.