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2019 Senior Bowl Positional Preview Scouting: Defensive Backs (CB and SAF prospects)

Air Date:
January 21, 2019

It’s Senior Bowl time…

Leading into the 2019 Senior Bowl week, all first-half of January 2019, I’ve been preview scouting all the prospects (except OL and PK) – spending 20-60 minutes per prospect watching selected tape and looking over their college output/statistics and game logs.

I then typed a quick reaction paragraph or two and assigned a school grade scouting to each prospect. This initial grade is just my early reaction to what I see. I cannot run the non-QB prospects through my computer scouting models until I get the NFL Combine and/or Pro Day data. This preview is my best attempt to explain what I see and to prepare myself on things to look for going into the Senior Bowl week of practices. *My scouting grades/takes on these players can/will change based on watching them this week but more so when their Combine and Pro Data comes in.

I will be releasing a few positions of preview scouting and grades starting 1/19 and running to 1/22. On 1/22, Tuesday, we have the official weigh ins and measurements, which I’ll be covering and reporting on the interesting results as fast as I can type them out.

1/22 (TUE) also starts the practice week 1/22-1/24, I’ll be covering what I saw/heard from prospects and coaches, etc., and reporting out that night/next day. 1/26 will be the game itself.

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CORNERBACKS:

CB Mark Fields, Clemson (5’11”/180) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-

I’ll find out with more study the reason why…but I don’t get why Fields is even at this game. 12 games played last two seasons. Didn’t show much on tape. Questions on his commitment to the game, in a video piece I saw a clip of. Watching him in an interview…his personality doesn’t help his case. Too many good prospects to waste time here at this point.

CB Kris Boyd, Texas (6’0”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = D

Long arms, long legs…long strides. Seemed like his length/stride was costing time for Boyd to make cuts covering better WRs because his long legs didn’t move as fast to get him up to speed in a hurry. Can move when he gets going/runs straight, but maybe a risk covering the agile workers in the NFL. Has the size, but the coverage nuisances looked problematic for the next level.

CB Corey Ballentine, Washburn (5’11”/204) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+

Hard to find tape on Ballentine/Washburn football, so take this one with a huge grain of salt… He looks just ‘OK’ on what I saw. Didn’t look/feel like an NFL starting CB prospect. Just didn’t look the part at a very low-level of college play. Obviously, I need to see more of him in Mobile this week.

CB Sheldrick Redwine, Miami (6’0)/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = C

Played more safety on the tape I watched. Played some corner and was solid, but it looks like his heart and style feel more like a safety than corner, so reduce his grade some on that.

CB Jordan Brown, So Dakota St. (6’0”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+

Has the ‘look’ (size and movements) of an NFL starting CB. Hard to get a full feel because of playing FCS QBs and WRs, but I think I see NFL fluidity in coverage and is a willing enough tackler. Senior Bowl week will take him to ‘B’ or ‘D’ as he faces D1 WRs.

CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State (6’0”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-

Tough, physical CB. Looks like solid enough speed/agility, but his gift is his physical play and nose for the ball. Wiry/then frame might be a minor turn off for the NFL.

CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple (6’1”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-

Great feet. Nice mirror technique. Can really shift/change direction adeptly as needed. Looks a little inexperienced, lost at times but a lot of raw, physical tools are there. He will rise/fall at the Senior Bowl facing the best of the best.

CB Iman Marshall, USC (6’0”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = B

Smart cover corner. Not the most athletic, but savvy, plays the man and the ball well. Better football player than what measurables might say. Very good, sound prospect.

CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky (6’3”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = A-

Love his skill set and size but love his football instincts and toughness even more. Can run with/cover WRs down the field but will also keep an eye on running plays and screens and race in to snuff them out. A tall corner prospect with athleticism to cover but will also play/tackle like a safety as needed. He could be a safety in the NFL for sure but he’s a legit corner, starter in the NFL at a glance. A lot to love here.

Wow, some big, athletic CBs at the 2019 Senior Bowl…which matches the flood of big, athletic WRs embarking on the NFL this year.

CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston (6’3”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = A

Legit. I have more DBs to watch, but halfway through the list…if there’s a better CB prospect than this, then what a year for CBs at the Senior Bowl.

Stellar speed – has to be a 4.4 runner if not 4.3s. He caught so many runners from behind with a huge head start for the runner…I’m thinking his speed hype is very real. In coverage, he closes so fast and has a long 6’2”-6’3”+ body with reach. A near perfectly constructed corner. Has everything you want, on tape (preview).

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SAFETY:

SAF Khari Willis, Michigan State (6’0”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = D

Just didn’t show me much on tape. Has size but moves a little too slow to be taken seriously as a top safety prospect for the NFL.

SAF Marquise Blair, Utah (6’1”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+

Blair has a reputation for ‘hard hitting’, and he is that guy – but he’s more so a cheap shot artist. He’s looking for the knockout blow all the time. Hitting defenseless receivers up high to dislodge the ball, cutting their legs if they leap, helmet-to-helmet is fine by him – he’s going to get himself or another player hurt. He’s nothing special besides trying to make headlines with a hit…and overruns plays, etc., because he’s always looking for it. More trouble than he is worth, but some NFL coaches will LOVE him and want that kind of ‘attitude’.

SAF Darnell Savage, Maryland (5’10”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+/C-

Not a bad player, but it’s just he’s a coverage safety and they’re not that in demand/needed to draft. Savage has more value because he might could play some corner along with free safety. He definitely looks like a corner body playing safety. Willing hitter, better in coverage…8 INTs in his college career.

SAF Juan Thornhill, Virginia (6’0”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-

Is almost a corner playing free safety. Very good cover instincts and technique – 6 INTs in 2018/13 INTs in his college career. So-so tackler and an OK athlete. His heart is in coverage and that’s not a top safety skill that will get your drafted highly in the NFL unless you’re a freak.

SAF Mike Edwards, Kentucky (6’0”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = C

A solid football player. Covers the pass very well. Good tackler. Nothing stands out as ‘great’ but no ‘bad’ notes either. Not much more to say.

SAF Darius West, Kentucky (6’0”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = C

Solid strong safety who played some OLB. Is a candidate to be a SAF/LB hybrid player in the NFL. Has size. Moves well. Smart, heady player. He isn’t off the charts but is NFL-worthy and versatile.

SAF Will Harris, Boston College (6’1”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = C

Nice size, a hard-hitter, and moves around the field well but looks like he might be a touch too slow to be a top NFL prospect at safety. NFL-worthy but not an obvious top guy.

SAF Nasir Adderley, Delaware (6’0”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = C

Was a dominant, physical safety pushing around FCS WRs, but he looks to be like he’ll be the one getting knocked around against top D1 prospects. Adderley has the attitude for the NFL, but this Senior Bowl week may show he doesn’t have the game like he thinks he does.

SAF Marvell Tell, USC (6’1”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+

Shows signs of being a very good NFL safety, but also shows signs of ‘watching’ too much; not being involved in as many plays as you’d expect/want. Just 56 tackles, 1.0 TFL, no sacks, 5 PDs in 2018 (10 games).

SAF Jaquan Johnson, Miami (5’11”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-

Very smart, very quick to the ball defender…just a really nice football player to have. Reliable to be in the right spot and a willing hitter. Good hands too – 8 career INTs, 6 forced fumbles. Very thin frame is his downside. Worries to be injury-prone at the next level.

SAF Johnathan Abram, Miss State (6’0”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-

Big hitter. Very tough, high effort player. Played safety and OLB on tape that I watched. Thought he held his own in coverage and was often looking for the strong tackle in the run game. Solid player and coaches will love his effort and physicality. His 40-time will be important…an outside risk he’s a 4.6+ runner.



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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>