So, that thing is happening again.
That thing where people question Texas Longhorns cornerback Quandre Diggs because of his height.
Known as Quandre the Giant because his heart is much bigger than his physical stature, Diggs is carrying around a little something extra -- a significantly-sized chip on his shoulder that serves as fuel to prove all those doubters wrong who once again believe that he can't succeed at the next level.
"I think (my motivation) shows in the interviews, and I'm going to prove a lot of people wrong," Diggs said in March. "That's been my mentality my entire life. I'm not going to get any taller than 5-foot-9, so I'm just going to go ball."
Following some struggles adjusting to the nickel back position in 2013 that were exacerbated by some nagging injuries, Diggs rebounded with an excellent senior season by setting a career high with 73 tackles, along with five pass break ups, and three interceptions. He also showed his willingness to do whatever it takes for the team by finishing tied for fourth on the team with four special teams tackles and added five tackles for loss and two sacks to his season numbers. As a result, he earned second-team All-Big 12 recognition from the conference's coaches.
For his career, Diggs started 49 of his 52 career games and finished inside the top 10 in school history in interceptions (11) and pass break ups (37), earning All-Big 12 honors three times in the process (2011, 2013, and 2014).
Unfortunately for his draft prospects, Diggs wasn't able to answer concerns about his athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine in February:
Diggs measured in at 5'9 and 196 pounds, with 29 5/8-inch arms and 9 5/8-inch hands.
The failure to post an elite 40 time in Indianapolis hurt his stock somewhat and he wasn't among the best performers, but his 4.15-second shuttle time is a solid number that was key for him since it's one of the most important attributes for a nickel corner. However, the bigger issue is that Diggs failed to break into the top half of the defensive backs in most of the testing numbers.
For at least one observer, though, that wasn't the biggest takeaway:
Just saw Quandre Diggs do his position drills. I don't care what he runs. Those feet are special, and he's physical like his brother.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) February 23, 2015
Feeling confident enough about the testing numbers put up at the Combine kept Diggs from doing much testing at the Texas Pro Timing Day in March, but he did re-do his broad jump and beat his result at the Combine by six inches.
So the emphasis on that day was on the individual drills and showing off his cornerback skills.
"I just wanted to show them how fluid I am, how quick," Diggs said in March. "I'm a quick-twitch athlete. Put me in the slot, go out and do those things, special teams, all those different things. I just want to show I have great footwork, and that's what I did."
He once again impressed:
Coming out of high school, Diggs was a consensus four-star prospect in the 2011 class ranked as the No. 67 prospect overall, the No. 5 athlete, and the No. 10 player in Texas. Despite being the younger brother of former Texas star Quentin Jammer, Diggs had to wait for his offer, as he was one of the few prospects to attend the second Junior Day in 2010 without picking one up. When he did eventually receive it, he wasted little time in committing and then enrolled early in January of 2011.
As Jammer's younger brother, the pedigree of Diggs stands out. It's not just the genes -- it was growing up around the Texas program, spending time with the coaches at a young age, and beginning to gain a deep understanding of the game of football as a result.
Listed at 200 pounds as a junior, Diggs dropped at least five pounds down to 195 for his final season and improved his short-area quickness, which allowed him to showcase the instincts that have always been one of his greatest attributes. Capable of changing direction quickly and driving on throws in front of him, Diggs also has solid ball skills for his size and is capable of finding and tracking the ball in the air.
Texas also needed more playmaking from Diggs as a senior. He responded by intercepting a pass against Kansas in the end zone and blasting Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes to force a critical fumble in that contest:
It was the only fumble that the Texas nickel back forced in 2014, but the play was also emblematic of his physicality as a tackler.
Diggs also had a big-time performance against star West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, switching out of his normal nickel role to work on the outside against one of the top receivers in college football. The move by head coach Charlie Strong paid off, as White was able to catch 16 passes for 132 yards, but averaged a season-low 8.25 yards per catch and was held out of the end zone.
Checking in at 5'9 is not something that helps Diggs with NFL scouts because it essentially limits him to playing the nickel position, with outside receivers too tall for the Angleton product to handle despite his experience playing the field position for his first two years in Austin. And, as mentioned, the 40-yard dash by Diggs at the NFL Scouting Combine was hardly an elite number and is actually on the low end for highly draftable cornerbacks.
Against bigger receivers, plays like those in the TCU game illustrate the problems that Diggs faces, as he was consistently beat for jump balls and even though he had good positioning, his lack of height or elite vertical leap left him helpless against 6'3 Josh Doctson.
Another significant concern is that he struggles to beat blocks, a key requirement for nickel backs who have to deal with perimeter blockers in the run game and wide receivers blocking on screens.
Forget about the size issues -- Diggs played big against the best wide receiver he faced in 2014, he can tackle, he can play on special teams, and his fluidity and quickness in pads are more impressive than his testing times. After growing up around football, he understands the game on a deep level and he's mentally and physically tough.
For some rare players, doesn't doesn't matter that much. Diggs is one of those players. Those limitations with size and speed? Just more fuel for the fire that burns in Diggs.
Draft projection -- Round 6 or 7
The odds are high that Diggs will have to wait until the third and final day of the draft to hear his name called, but NFL.com does have him coming off the board in Round 5 with the 153rd pick, which belongs to the San Diego Chargers, the same team that drafted his older brother.
One draft expert believes Diggs could be an excellent fit for the Bills and new head coach Rex Ryan:
After studying Quandre Diggs, I could see Buffalo taking a flyer on him on day 3. Rex loves feisty/competitive guys. Tough dude.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 20, 2015