5’11” – 196 lbs. – 4.55e
Began his collegiate career as a running back, but converted to cornerback during his first camp. Started all twenty-six games at the position in his first two seasons before being suspended from the team for the 2014-15 season for academic violations. Was readmitted to the school last year, starting eleven games before sustaining a broken shin. Tall, leggy cornerback with good bulk for the position; looks almost like a free safety. Usually plays on the left side of the line, aligning tight to the formation when there isn’t a receiver to defend against; however, also slides into the slot from time to time, shifting back and forth between the left and right sides of the line. Often asked to play in press-man coverage, turning and running rather than being asked to backpedal (although his footwork and balance looked patient on the few occasions in which he was asked to handle those responsibilities); has the length to intrigue teams who are looking for cornerbacks that can jam at the line of scrimmage. Pretty physical player who might need to be a little bit careful about the amount of contact he creates down the field; gets a little bit grabby in an attempt to compensate for his average speed. However, has a bit of trouble sticking with faster defenders downfield from such an alignment, which will probably cause him to need safety help over the top. Also a little bit susceptible to quick comebacks and other routes of that nature, possibly because of an unwillingness to risk deep completions; fortunately, doesn’t make many mental mistakes in coverage, forcing opponents to beat him athletically instead. Sniffs out screens quickly, with adequate ability to plant and drive on the ball. Wasn’t often working in zone coverage. Asked to rush out of the slot a few times per game, although he didn’t have much success in the games reviewed. Aggressive, physical temperament in coverage carries over into the running game, where he is willing to come up and engage ballcarriers. Generates some pop on contact, getting low and exploding into opponents without forgetting to wrap. Gets extension with his arms when taking on blocks from opposing receivers. Made some additional contributions on kick coverage units. A polished cornerback with a high football IQ, a good build, and varied responsibilities, the main things working against Russell are his season-long suspension for academic dishonesty and his recent injury; that said, still stands a good shot at going on the second day of the draft if endorsed by teammates and coaches.
Games watched: Massachusetts (’15), Southern California (’15), Texas (’15)