SERIES: Road to Chicago
Part three – Position by position breakdowns as the 2015 NFL Draft Nears
The combine has wrapped up and we are now in the fast lane headed towards the NFL Draft starting on April 30th. Before we get there though we will be releasing a six part series, chronicling our top five players at each position, culminating in our final mock draft. This installment will focus on Cornerbacks and Safeties. Click here if you missed Part One – Interior Lineman or Part Two – Edge Rushers & Offensive Tackles
Before I start I do want to put out there that the safety position is by far the thinnest position in this draft, but there are a few guys that I really like. Now let’s get started.
- Trae Waynes – Michigan St.
Even before the combine I had Waynes as my number one cornerback, and the combine did nothing but solidify his spot atop my board. Not only did he kill the 40 yard dash, but he showed impressive ball skills and shined in each and every on field drill. He has excellent size and has been very successful playing on an island. He will be a number one cornerback at the next level.
- Marcus Peters – Washington
Peters is another player who has experience and success playing on an island, and has possibly the best ball skills of any cornerback in the last couple of drafts. His biggest questions come when he was seen laughing on the sideline during a blowout loss to Oregon and then we have heard stories of his constant clashing with coaches at Washington leading to his dismissal from Washington. I heard he did well with his interviews at the combine. Top 10 talent that might fall to the late first round.
- Jalen Collins – LSU
Jalen Collins has the size that NFL scouts are looking for, and in the time that he played at LSU, he played well. The problem is that he hasn’t played much. LSU is known for its defensive talent, primarily in the secondary. With that success from others, Collins time on the field suffered. He has all the requisite skills but may need time to develop. As long as he isn’t asked to be the number one corner on day one, he should be fine.
4t. Quinten Rollins – Miami Ohio
Quinten Rollins is one hell of a story! He hadn’t played football since his senior season of high school. He played basketball while at Miami Ohio, becoming the school’s all-time leader in steals and assists. He then played football during his senior year, and he was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year. He had a very strong combine, showing impressive ball skills, and balance in his feet. He’s a prospect with a very high ceiling.
4t. Doran Grant – Ohio St.
There is something about this kid that I love, and I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet. He plays with a very high football IQ. Grant has plus ball skills, he’s patient, and can read the quarterback and routes just as well as anyone in this class. He didn’t run as fast as he plays, but sometimes people put too much stock into guys 40 times. He can use his hands too much and get flagged, but with some NFL coaching, that area of his game can be cleaned up.
4t. PJ Williams – Florida St.
Most analysts like Williams a lot more than I do. Not to say that he isn’t a very good corner, he is, but I feel like he is a tad overrated. He does have good size for the position, but he doesn’t use that size very well. Can be over aggressive and gives up some really big plays down field. He also isn’t a good tackler. Has some work to do, don’t know that he can ever be that number one talent that most people see him as.
5t. Lorenzo Doss – Tulane
If were talking about ball skills, Doss is elite at that part of the game. He has the ability to high point the ball and take it away from any receiver. He shows the ability to keep his balance in coverage and is a decent tackler. Not as quick as one would like, tightness in his hips, and with his lacking of quickness, he does get beat over the top. I do believe he has a high ceiling, and could be a good NFL corner in the future.
5t. Byron Jones – UConn
The thing that bothers me with Jones is that he is much more of an athlete at this point than a cornerback. He does play well in press coverage, but I do think that people are putting way too much in how fast the kids runs and how far and high he can jump. I question his ability to quickly access what a top level receiver is going to do, and how well he can read a quarterback. Not sure his athletic traits will quickly translate to NFL success.
- Landon Collins – Alabama
Collins is talented, but this safety class is very weak. If Kenny Vaccaro or Eric Reid were in this draft, they would be the number one safety and not Landon Collins. Collins does show the proper amount of aggressiveness that you want from your safety. He is a solid tackler and shows very good footwork and quickness. Can be beaten with a good play action though, as shown by some plays in the LSU game. Very good talent, wouldn’t call him a can’t miss prospect, but he’s close to it.
- Dean Marlowe – James Madison
Like I previously stated this is a very thin safety class, but for some reason this James Madison product sticks out to me. I was able to see him play a couple of times over the past two seasons, and each time he stood out in my mind. He is a ball hawking safety, and by that I mean that he finds his way into every play. He had a solid combine, which I hope gets him drafted, but if it doesn’t, I still believe he will make someone’s team and will be a solid contributor at the very least in special teams from day one.
- Derron Smith – Fresno St.
Not the prototypical size that you look for in a safety, but his vision and awareness make up for the lack of size. Derron Smith shows very good ball skills and hand eye coordination to either knock the ball down or pick it off. He also can return punts, he averaged about 13 yards on punt returns as a senior at Fresno St. So whether or not he can start at safety on day one, he can help a team on special teams, something that will undoubtedly help his stock in such a weak class at his position.
- Gerod Holliman – Louisville
Unlike Smith, Holliman does look the part as far as size goes, but has more trouble making tackles. He does possess above average ball skills, but he doesn’t use his size well in terms of wrapping up ball carriers and taking them to the ground. Can drop his shoulder and lower the boom, but will need coached up in his tackling technique. Not sure he can be a special teams player, which hurts his stock.
5t. Ibraheim Campbell – Northwestern
Great student during his time at Northwestern, Campbell is also a very good football player. Shows great ability to read an offense and attack the line of scrimmage. Very physical player, drops his shoulder and lowers the boom as good as anyone at his position. Very stiff in coverage though, much better at blitzing from the safety position than dropping back into coverage. Not sure he can ever be a starting safety in the NFL, but will undoubtedly be one hell of a special teams player.
5t. Damarious Randall – Arizona St.
Randall possess rare speed for a safety, but lacks ideal size that NFL scouts are looking for in a safety. He is the type of player that plays until the whistle, he never gives up on a play, and actually plays much bigger than he measures. Not as strong as he should be and even though he plays a physical game, he lacks the strength to bring down bigger ball carries. Played a lot of special teams in college and also was a return man. His ability to contribute on special teams, like most of these safeties, will help his stock
5t. Eric Rowe – Utah
Rowe is the best looking, in terms of measurables, of any safety in this class. He uses his length very well and has decent ball skills, and a very good tackler, he played corner in college. The reason why I place him with the safeties is because he ran a slow 40 and with this being such a thin class, he was the best corner on my board that underperformed in the 40. If he is willing though, I do think he has the skills and IQ to transition into one of the best safeties in this class.