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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Evaluating the athletic Buckeye, Eli Apple for the 2016 NFL Draft. 

Eli Apple - Ohio State Buckeyes

 

Position: Cornerback
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 199 lbs.
Year: (Rs)Sophomore
Hometown: Voorhees, New Jersey
Experience: So. - 2 year starter

Measurables:

40yd dash: 4.40 s
Bench Press: 13 reps

Career Notes:

Eli Apple is the prototypical tall and fast corner desired by general managers in today's NFL.  After redshirting his freshman season, Apple earned a starting role in 2014.  He quickly became an important piece of the national champion Buckeyes with 13 passes defended, 53 tackles, and 3 interceptions.  He had a slight statistical dip in production his sophomore season(8 deflections and one pick), but opposing quarterbacks did not target his side of the field as often. 

Apple uses elite size and athleticism to attack the ball in the air at all costs.  He was penalized frequently in college only due to his aggressive hands and drive back to the football.  He plays large and has the fluidity to mirror receivers in coverage.  Although he played on a defense with many young studs, Apple's athleticism and potential should catapult him into the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. 

Injury Report: 

Eli Apple started every game after his redshirted season, and has suffered no significant injuries in his 28 starts. 

Career Stats: http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/eli-apple-1.html

Analysis:

  • Man Coverage: 4.0/5.0  Apple's strength is one of his largest weaknesses as well.  Apple is a true press coverage corner that fights receivers at the line of scrimmage to deter them from their routes.  He drew many holding and pass interference penalties in college, and that will only continue to be an issue in the NFL.  Regardless of his over-physicality, Apple shows great ability to mirror receivers throughout their routes and he rarely gets beat over the top.
  • Zone Coverage: 3.0/5.0   When patrolling in zone coverage, Eli Apple reads the eyes of quarterbacks well.  Apple is great at watching the play develop in front of him before utilizing his athleticism to track the ball.  He typically played near the line of scrimmage at Ohio State, so it will be interesting to see how he drops into a deep zone in the NFL.
  • Against the Run: 2.0/5.0  Apple fires upfield against run plays.  Sometimes he gets too aggressive and overruns the play or misses a big hit.  He needs to square his shoulders better when attacking ball carriers, but is not afraid to use his body near the line of scrimmage.  He disengages receivers well, but Apple needs to refine his fundamental tackling ability at the next level.
  • Speed/Quickness: 4.5/5.0  Apple has great speed for a man his size.  His 4.4 40-yard dash time dictates what was plenty aware on the field.  He rarely allows long gains because he is able to run stride for stride with bigger, fast receivers.  He shows an innate ability to diagnose the play and reaches the ball carrier in a matter of seconds.
  • Impact Play Ability: 3.5/5.0 Whether he's making a deflection or missing a tackle, Apple seems to be around the ball on every play.  He has the speed, height, and athleticism to disrupt deep balls and has shown decent hands when intercepting passes.  His four picks and 21 deflections in two years illustrate his ability to make plays on the ball. 

Summary: Although only a two-year starter at Ohio State, Eli Apple shows the awareness and athletic ability necessary to play in today's NFL.  He plays an aggressive game that may draw laundry at the next level, so he will need to refine his footwork and hand placement near the line of scrimmage.  Apple has shown that he can excel in either man or zone coverage, but he doesn't provide much more than a high motor against the run. 

Overall Grade: 3.5/5.0  

If drafted by the Packers:

General Manager Ted Thompson drafted two young cornerbacks in last year's draft and added another in undrafted rookie free agency.  Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and LaDarius Gunter appear to be the future of the position along with veteran Sam Shields.  With Micah Hyde set to become a free agent after the 2016 season, Thompson could look to add one more valuable asset to his secondary.  Eli Apple fits the mold of a taller, athletic cornerback that Thompson has typically targeted.

Apple will most likely be taken near the middle of the first round.  Although he has a small sample size, Apple shows the athleticism and coverage ability to handle large receivers on the perimeter.  The big receivers in the NFC North such as Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Stefon Diggs, and the newly added Marvin Jones require large, physical corners in coverage.  Apple isn't afraid to deliver a large hit or fight receivers throughout their routes.  He constantly attacks the football and shows the aggressive nature to succeed in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense.  Thompson will almost certainly have to use a first rounder on Apple, though, and there are much more pressing needs in the first. 

Video:

 

 

 

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Comments (6)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 08, 2016 at 08:15 am

Amended opinion. I watched some more tape and it wasn't so good. I do see a tall guy with speed and some ability to mirror. Many of the raw ingredients are there. Terrible if willing tackler. I've rarely seen a guy attempt so many arm and shoulder tackles, nor have I've seen so many guys break those tackles.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 06, 2016 at 08:39 pm

Watched his '15 game against Michigan State, '14 game against Alabama, '14 Oregone and '15 game against N. Illinois. He's "ehh". He did have some heads up plays against '14 Oregon though.

I didn't see any of that "press man" in those videos.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 07, 2016 at 09:48 am

Mid round first. Not happening, I hope

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holmesmd's picture

April 07, 2016 at 11:27 am

Meh.... no need and not worthy of #27 for the Packers. It's hard to imagine TT using that pick on a CB IMO

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al bundy's picture

April 07, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Shore up the pass defense with a guy like this and one problem is solved for a long time. Move on to oline and linebackers next. You cant let aguy like this go buy.

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holmesmd's picture

April 09, 2016 at 05:29 pm

You know TT's MO, BAP. They have their board and anything is possible. Still, it's hard for me to imagine him taking a CB in r1 two consecutive years in a row?! If Billings, Butler, Reed, or Rankins are there at #27, I cannot imagine TT would take a CB not named Jalen Ramsey.

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