Darius Slay CB Mississippi State #9
Size/Athleticism: Adequate height. Has the speed to stay with just about any receiver. He’s quick-twitch athlete with the fluid agility to excel in coverage.
Coverage: Versatile corner who excels in both man and zone coverage, and can line up on the outside or take on smaller, quicker receivers in the slot. His technique is somewhat inconsistent. He doesn’t always stay low in his backpedal, which makes him a half-step slower when reacting to cuts by receivers. He seems to elevate his play based on his competition. When faced with his toughest challenges he seems to really focus and refine his fundamentals.
Ball skills: Decent hands, but he’ll drop some interceptions. When he’s in position to make a play, he’ll go up and challenge the receiver for the ball. However, he’s inconsistent with his ability to reach the quarterback. He needs to do a better job locating the ball and turning himself in the receivers.
Run support: Lacks the size to make a significant impact, but he’s willing to step up. He improved in this area during his senior year. Tackling is inconsistent due to his size, but he’s shown a willingness to go after bigger ball carriers. Typically takes the correct angles, and even if he isn’t able to make the play, he slows down the ball carrier giving up others time to step up.
Intangibles: Experienced on special teams. Used in special teams coverage throughout his career. Failed to qualify academically out of high school and played two years at JUCO. Only one year of experience as a starter.
Durability: Suffered a knee injury during combine drills.
Comments: You would think Slay would have been picked on as a first-year starter opposite the All-SEC Johnthan Banks, but opponents quickly figured out that he was equally dangerous. In fact, I like Slay more. While he is far from a polished product, I think Slay as the physical talents that you can’t teach. He needs to be much more consistent in his technique, but he has the tools. At worst, he’s a solid nickel corner at the next level.
Johnthan Banks CB Mississippi State #13
Size/Athleticism: Impressive height with a decent vertical to go with it. Speed is very average, but he’s quick in short bursts.
Coverage: Ideal matchup in man coverage against taller possession receivers. He lacks the strength to battle with some of the more physical receivers in press coverage, but his height will create interesting battles between him and some of the taller receivers in the league. Because he’s so tall, he lacks the quickness to stay with shorter receivers. His footwork is a step slower and he bites on too many fakes. A smaller outside receiver such as Mike Wallace will toy with him at the next level, and those matchups should be avoided at all costs. Lacks awareness at times. Struggles to stay with receiver while trying to spy on the quarterback and will lose his man or take a step i the wrong direction.
Ball skills: Height allows him cause trouble for receivers, but he is inconsistent in his ability to put himself in position to make plays. His poor footwork and lack of agility often makes him a step late. While his height allows him to go up with taller receivers, he’s extremely skinny and can easily be boxed out.
Run support: Willing to step up but doesn’t always take the best angles. Struggles to shed blocks. He gives a solid effort, but he just lacks the upper body strength to fight his way out of a good block. Occasionally used to blitz, but if he doesn’t have a clear path to the quarterback or ball carrier, he’s unable to fight through traffic to make a play. Tackling technique is shaky; he swipes at the ball carrier’s legs far too often and doesn’t step up with a form tackle.
Intangibles: Experience at corner and free safety.
Durability: Missed the Senior Bowl with a knee injury which bothered him for most of the season.
Comments: It’s easy to be intrigued by Banks’ height, but how will it benefit him? For a corner as skinny as Banks, height may actually be a hindrance. Like all tall corners, banks lacks the quick footwork and fluid hips to hand with the game’s shorter, quicker receivers. But unlike other tall corners such as Richard Sherman, Banks also lacks the bulk to fight with the more physical receivers in the league. He’s a boom-or-bust prospect who could develop into the next Sherman, or he could simply be a ‘tweener who can’t find a role in the league.
Jordan Poyer CB Oregon State #14
Size/Athleticism: Adequate height and overall size. Combine performance was about as bad as it gets for a cornerback. He struggled to show the speed and explosiveness necessary to play the position. However, on the field he appears to possess at least average athleticism, if not more. It’s tough to determine the reasons for the poor combine showing, but it could be attributed to a 2012 knee injury.
Coverage: Very polished in both man and zone coverage. He does a great job keeping his eye on the quarterback whenever possible and adjusting to the ball in the air. He makes up for his modest athleticism by limiting his false steps and not biting on subtle moves. He’s willing to get physical at the line of scrimmage. He can’t play press against every receiver, because he gives up a good amount of size in certain matchups, but he will take on bigger, stronger receivers and win.
Ball skills: Focuses on the quarterback and reacts quickly. Turns and tracks the ball in the air and puts himself in position to make plays. 11 interceptions over the last two season were due primarily to his ability to turn himself into the receiver. He’s not very physical when it comes to fighting for the football. If he’s beat out for the best position to attack the ball, he’ll lose every time. Wouldn’t trust him in the red zone with a taller possession receiver in most situations.
Run support: Not real enthusiastic about mixing it up near the line of scrimmage, but he consistently takes correct angles and puts himself in position to clean up the mess if the ball carrier gets to him. He makes himself the last line of defense, and does a decent job, but he very rarely steps in a blows up a play. He’s a reluctant playmaker who has the ability, but not the desire to excel in this area.
Intangibles: Captain in 2012.
Durability: Suffered a knee injury in 2012.
Comments: Poyer lacks elite upside, but he is incredibly polished and ready to contribute immediately. He can step in as a starter as the No. 2 corner from day one. He may never rise above that on the depth chart because of his physical limitations, but at least you know what you’re getting with him. I also like that he seems to know who he is as a cornerback. He isn’t overaggressive and seems to consistently take the right approach to each matchup. A young corner with a realistic image of his physical skills is a rarity.
Zac Dysert QB Miami OH #4
Size/Athleticism: Adequate height. Strong overall build; he’s built to take a hit. Surprisingly athletic. He doesn’t move around a lot, but when he does need to buy some time with his feet he can move reasonably well.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Above average arm strength. He can make all the throws and he’s confident enough to take chances down the field. Maintains his arm strength on the run and when he’s pressured an unable to step into a throw. Needs to improve his touch on certain passes. He has a tendency to fire the ball at his receives from short distances. Accuracy is inconsistent. He can definitely make all the throws, but he’s hit or miss. Even on shorter passes, he misses some open receivers for no apparent reason.
Footwork/Release: Had a tendency to rush his delivery at times, even when it’s unnecessary. He short arms some throws, which leads to some of his accuracy issues.
Decision making: Extremely confident in his ability, but it’s mostly warranted. He takes risks down the field, and it does lead to some interceptions, but it’s a preferable approach to a college quarterback who relies heavily on shorter routes and checks down too often. It’s easier to teach someone to be more conservative than make someone more confident. Even though he makes some mistakes down the field, it’s rarely from a poor read. His accuracy gets him into some trouble, but the decision making skills are fine.
Intangibles: Spoke to an opposing coach about Dysert who said he’s “not a great leader. Appeared to argue and not get along with teammates. Not sure how mentally tough or football smart he is.”
Durability: Unable to work out at combine due to hamstring injury.
Comments: Dysert is an interesting prospect. He has the physical tools but his inconsistent accuracy is somewhat concerning. I like the way he takes risks down the field. He isn’t afraid to challenge the defense and he seems to do a nice job of reading what unfolds in front of him. It’s tough to improve accuracy, so his ceiling is somewhat limited, but he should be an adequate backup and spot starter at the very worst.
Landry Jones QB Oklahoma #12
Size/Athleticism: Prototypical height and overall built. Below average athleticism. He looks awkward trying to avoid pressure and doesn’t move well within the pocket.
Arm strength/Accuracy: All his physical traits are adequate, but nothing special. He can make every throw on the field but he does not have the elite zip on his passes than can make a quarterback stand out. His accuracy is fairly consistent, but it breaks down when he needs to rush his delivery or make throws with the pocket collapsing when e can’t step into his throw.
Footwork/Release: Give him time, and everything goes smoothly. But once the pocket starts to collapse he panics, and he does so far more often than a quarterback with his experience should. His ability to maintain his fundamentals under pressure never really developed, despite plenty of experience. Struggles moving within the pocket. He just doesn’t have the athleticism to move smoothly in tight spaces while keeping his eyes downfield.
Decision making: When given time, he’s patient and can read defenses. However, under pressure he panics and makes quick decisions without seeing the field.
Intangibles: Four-year starter but showed minimal development.
Durability: Extremely durable throughout his career. No known issues.
Comments: Jones is exceedingly average in every aspect of his game. He meets all the basic minimal requirements and may even have slightly above average arm talent. However, his lack of development in college is really concerning. He just never took his game to the next level, primarily due to his inability to handle pressure. When he stands in a clean pocket, he can look like a Hall of Famer, but as soon as the defense starts to bring consistent pressure his game begins to break down. He’s probably a career backup who may be able to start here and there. He reminds me a lot of Kelly Holcomb, who had moments where he looked great as a starter but in the long run his struggles with pressure and reading defenses hindered his growth.