Secondary issues can be a nagging growing pain for NFL teams and management especially at the cornerback position. College football's West Virginia Mountaineers knew the same problem until Daryl Worley arrived in the summer of 2013. Since that summer the now junior has continued to show improvement. There has been so much improvement that he may be the one to help one of those struggling NFL secondaries in 2016 if he so chooses. Worley has a tough decision to make after what some would call a statistically spectacular 2015 season. He can declare for the 2016 NFL Draft or decide to come back to West Virginia for his senior season and one last shot at a Big 12 Title.
As a true freshman the cornerback from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was thrown into the fire to relieve West Virginia's burnt out secondary. He would play in 11 games and eventually start 5 of them. Although he was inexperienced he was still able to hold his own. The coaches saw potential in him and named him a full time starter for his sophomore season in 2014 where he started to tap into that potential with 3 interceptions.
Worley entered 2015 with a career 4 interceptions and 9 pass breakups. Some of college football's best cornerbacks have those statistics in one season but Worley was not done. By the end of his 2015 regular season he would demolish those numbers on the way to being named to the All Big 12 First Team. Before the post season he has managed a tie for a team leading 5 interceptions, accompanied by a monster 12 pass breakups. With those numbers and a 6 foot 2 inch, 200 pound frame NFL teams could be drooling over Worley.
He has the potential to completely change games like he did with a two turnover and performance against Texas in November. That day his fumble recovery and interception proved to be a difference maker as West Virginia won by way of a 38-20 decision. Two Texas possessions could have made this game a much more dangerous one for Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen.
There are some concerns though.
There are times where miscommunication or flat out being beat is an issue. The cornerback saw Oklahoma's Durron Neal go for a 72 yard score off a bad read causing a break in coverage then later in October Worley was beat by Baylor's star wide receiver Corey Coleman early and so much so he broke records on West Virginia. Then there was the 77 yard receiving score from Kansas State's Deante Burton set up by yet another lapse in coverage by Worley.
"It was a coverage thing-all the defense's fault," said WVU cornerback Daryl Worley. "It's a play we should have stopped."
Although there were mishaps Worley did benefit from covering some of countries best receivers in a man setting. WVU runs a 3-3-5 defense with many blitz packages often forcing secondary members into cover one or zero. In other words he was forced to hold his own on an island at many points in his career. His man to man coverage skills will not be hidden on film by any means.
The question now is do the mistakes override the body of work and resume? There hasn't been many NFL analyst or scouts publicly spewing their opinion's on Worley as it currently stands but that could also be due to the lack of decision to go forward with the draft or stay at West Virginia.
If Worley should decide to leave early for the NFL he will be competing in a draft class with the likes of elites such as Florida State's Jalen Ramsey, and Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III who are currently sitting at the top of many draft boards. If Worley should decide to stay he will reunite with his defensive coordinator Tony Gibson who cleared up rumors of him leaving the school recently. The Philadelphia native will also get a chance for not only that Big 12 title but perhaps maybe All-honors as well.
When asked if this was his final year at West Virginia in August Worley responded with an unclear answer but maybe after the Cactus Bowl a less vague answer will emerge.
"We never know what God has in store for us. I'm going to stick to the game plan and do everything I can on the field to help my team win a championship."