CB #13 Eli Apple, Ohio St.**

6’1” – 200 lbs. – 4.45e

Redshirted in 2013, then started opposite Doran Grant as a second-year freshman; retained his starting role as a sophomore before forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility in order to declare for the draft. Tall cornerback with good bulk and length for the position. However, lacks functional strength commensurate with pro requirements. More often lined up as a right cornerback, but will shift over to the left side on occasion as well; appears to be dictated more by an attempt to secure specific matchups than anything else. Often employed in press-man coverage; however, is more likely to turn and run or shuffle than he is to backpedal. Takes the occasional snap in zone coverage, but generally only when there’s no receiver split out to his side of the formation; looks a little bit tentative in that capacity and will probably be asked to execute more man responsibilities as a pro. Has quick feet; makes controlled movements and looks technically-sound, especially for a redshirt sophomore. That said, is probably more fluid and athletic than he is a quick-twitch player; can be a bit late to respond to quick curls or comebacks. Speed-wise, looks comfortable riding receivers downfield on go or wheel routes; rarely gets challenged downfield. Uses his length to get his hands on opposing receivers, although he can be too aggressive, drawing interference penalties for maintaining contact too far downfield. Looks like he can be exploited on routes over the middle of the field; tends to be a little bit conservative in coverage on shallow crosses and is susceptible to pick plays. Frequently gives up inside positioning against slant routes. Ball skills are difficult to evaluate because teams rarely test him in tight coverage. Willing in run support; uses his length and quickness against blockers and does a good job of funneling ballcarriers back inside. Because of his poor technique and lack of strength, however, is a very poor tackler who lets plenty of attempts through his grasp. Has some trouble recognizing what he’s supposed to do when defending against options. Gave up a touchdown against Amari Cooper in the Sugar Bowl but otherwise did a very good job against him. A very physically and athletically-gifted cornerback with impressive technique for such a young player; looks likely to go in the first round as a result, especially when factoring in positional value. Would be far better-suited in a man-coverage scheme, where he looks more comfortable and which is better-suited to masking his poor tackling ability.

Games watched: Alabama (’14), Oregon (’14), Michigan St. (’15)

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