In "The Breakdown," veteran talent scout Randy Rodgers is analyzing film of a select group of the nation's top prospects for Rivals.com. Rodgers has more than 35 years of experience in the college recruiting arena. He was the recruiting coordinator at the University of Illinois (1988-91) and the University of Texas (1992-97) and is one of the leading authorities on high school football talent analysis in the country. In this edition, Rodgers takes a look at defensive linemen.
Superior prospect as a two-way player. Has excellent size, tremendous speed, and superb acceleration. As a
corner he gets excellent breaks on the ball, plays the ball at the highest point and is physical in run
support. Showed tremendous acceleration off the edge as a FG blocker. Can catch the ball offensively and
defensively. Has really good feet in traffic. Shows tremendous acceleration on offense—when he makes his
cut, he is GONE. Would guess that he could also be an outstanding punt returner. A Ted Ginn-type player, who
we should see playing in all three phases of the game in college.
Walls has excellent speed, gets really good breaks on the ball and shows he has good ball skills while in the
air. Can change direction, has good jumping ability. Solid tackler on defense, smooth runner on offense.
Has really good acceleration as a designated kick blocker. Excellent man-cover skills. Many players are
recognized for their "first step" ... what I like about Darrin is his "last step" -- the ability to just
explode to the football at the last minute.
One of the more technically sound corners I've seen. Because he is only a one-way player, he gets to spend
more practice time at corner, and North Shore's coaching shows. Has very good cover skills, good reactions
and is a good tackler. His long arms allow him to be effective in press coverage. Is the kind of tall corner
recruiters are looking for.
Looks slightly smaller on tape than listed, but he is very fast. Has excellent feet and good reactions.
Shows good hands and ball skills. Has closing burst and is a solid open-field tackler. Needs to put on some
weight in college to improve his ability to play press coverage. Has the speed and footwork to be an
effective cover corner.
Small corner with tremendous speed. Really shows closing speed on his tapes. Physical tackler despite lack
of size. Can backpedal, turn and run. Should be able to play early in college on special teams, but might
have to redshirt to gain additional bulk and strength.
Randy Rodgers' Cornerback Comparison:
A.J. Wallace is the best in my opinion because he is good enough to play on both sides of the ball. I think
that Walls is the best pure corner; Chykie Brown is the best technician, but not as fast as either of the
above. Hill and Jenije are pure cover corners, because they must acquire more size to play in run support or
in press coverage. I don't see either of the latter two being cover-two corners.
Jones has excellent field strength. Very good open field tackler who takes excellent pursuit angles. Has
speed, seems to read routes really well and anticipates throws. Has long arms, good jumper, very good hands
and ball skills. Will need to put on weight in college.
Johnson is really physical, excellent in run support. He was the one safety who had highlights on offense,
and he could possibly be a big receiver. Excellent upper body strength. Is one of two guys who could
possibly project to OLB at college level in a speed-oriented defense.
Hagan seemed faster than 4.6 and has really good ball skills. He has a corner's body playing safety. High
tackler, seemed to get stiff-armed a lot, must improve ability to accelerate through the ball carrier.
McDaniel gets really good breaks on the ball. Can run after the catch, plays bigger than listed, but is the
one safety that I think has legitimate corner skills. He Will hit you. Returns punts, can make tacklers
On tape, Brown is a big corner with speed. He has some impressive chase plays on his tape. I would like to
see him get in better position to make open field tackles, but he has the strength to use his arms effectively
to bring ball carriers down. Is a strong, physical runner offensively. Has good hands and could play as a
wide receiver or out of the backfield. Because of his size, I see him moving to safety in college and could
play early as a nickel back, because of his versatility and corner experience.
Thomas has really good speed and is an excellent hitter and tackler in open field. Reads routes really well,
shows good anticipation. Has good ball skills and body control in the air.
Randy Rodgers' Safety Comparison:
I liked Jones the best -- he's not as big as others, but he plays bigger. I thought Johnson and Leon were the
best run support guys, and depending on growth potential might wind up as OLBs. I think Thomas is very
similar to the last two, but I think he is better in space and will definitely stay at safety. The player
that really intrigues me is McDaniel, because he has return skills and I could see him as a big corner
Steve Brown is also interesting because of size. I think he will wind up at safety because he shows me the
ability to move up and play in the box.