This is a particularly interesting draft class when it comes to the cornerbacks. There is no perfect guy who excels at everything you’d like to see in a potential NFL corner. There are guys who have size, but not the speed. There are guys that have speed, but not the strength. There are some guys who have all the tools, but haven’t put it all together on the field yet.
This makes it difficult to say that there is a big gap between CB’s that a team might draft in the second round and a guy a team might draft in the fifth. Somewhere in this wide range of corner prospects lies Notre Dame’s KeiVarae Russell, one of the many imperfect prospects who could emerge as a real contributor at the NFL level.
Weight: 195 lbs
Russell moves very well. He has fluid hips and quick feet, giving him the ability to break on quickly thrown balls and react to the well to whatever routes and moves a wide receiver will make. He also shows good body control to adjust to the ball and make the interception. In terms of athleticism to physically play CB at the next level, Russell checks a lot of boxes.
Russell is a decent tackler, all be it not a very physical tackler. He wraps up well and sticks to the ball carriers legs like glue. He might not always bring his man down, but he can certainly stall them long enough for his teammates to flock to the ball and finish the job.
Russell doesn’t do a good enough job watching for the ball. Often times he will be in position to make a play, but not get his hands in the air because he never turned to look for the ball. This makes me question his overall awareness. Russell has to do a better job of keeping his head on a swivel if he is going to make it in the NFL.
On a related note, Russell had some major academic issues in college. He missed the entire 2014 season due to his problems in the classroom. Granted book smarts and football smarts are totally different things, but it still leads me to question his ability to learn an NFL playbook.
Russell might be listed as 195 lbs, but he looks smaller than that. He is easily pushed around by receivers who are trying to block him. I doubt he will be very much help against the run, a stall for his teammates at best. It also leads me to question if he’ll be able to press receivers effectively in the NFL.
Russell seems to have the athletic ability to be a good cover man in the NFL. He has quick feet, fluid hips, and decent speed. However, he will probably never be a complete defender. His lack of physicality and question marks about his mental aspects of the game make me wonder if he’ll ever be more than just a good college athlete. Even in a class of imperfect corner back prospects, I wouldn’t expect a team to take a chance on Russell until the middle of day three.