January 25, 2006

The Breakdown: Defensive backs

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.

A.J. Wallace, 6-1, 195, Pomfret (Md.) McDonough Video
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.
Darrin Walls, 6-0, 172, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Woodland Hills Video
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.
Chykie Brown, 6-1, 175, Houston (Texas) North Shore Video
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.
Ryan Hill, 6-0, 178, Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards Video
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.
Ochuko Jenije, 5-10, 177, Tallahassee (Fla.) N. Fla. Christian Video
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.

Reshad Jones, 6-1, 173, Atlanta (Ga.) Booker T. Washington Video
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.
Antwine Perez, 6-1, 199, Camden (N.J.) Woodrow Wilson Video
Perez is a big hitter who likes to go for knockout blows and needs to wrap up better. He will need to tackle better between the hashmarks. Has speed, can play center field.
Tervaris Johnson, 6-2, 211, Miami (Fla.) Monsignor Pace Video
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.
Darian Hagan, 5-11, 180, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw Video
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.
DeAndre McDaniel, 6-0, 185, Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby Video
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 miss.
Steve Brown, 6-0, 197, Columbus (Ind.) East Video
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.
Anthony Leon, 6-3, 210, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep Video
Leon is a physical tackler, rangy with long arms. I like his hitting ability. Not as many picks to evaluate. He is another guy who could be an OLB in college.
Bryan Thomas, 6-0, 186, Columbus (Ind.) East Video
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.

More Breakdowns:
Quarterbacks | Backs/Receivers | Offensive linemen | Defensive linemen | Linebackers

For more of Randy Rodgers recruiting analysis, check out his website, randyrodgersrecruiting.com.

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