By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Breakdown of Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell.
Ross Cockrell/CB Duke: 6’0 191
– Slightly above average size but frame isn’t that noteworthy
– Some explosion and ability to close
– Plays the ball in the air well
– Speed not great but good enough
– Showed some toughness to play through injury
– Times where he shows aggressiveness as a tackler, playing through the hands to force fumbles
– As much experience as you could hope for
– Productive, decorated career
– Seemingly high character
– Very short arms (29 7/8) and small hands (9 inches) given his frame
– Devoid of functional strength
– Put on skates when stalk blocked
– Shy and hesitates to get his nose dirty against the run
– Soft tackler
– No special traits athletically
– May play too tall in his pedal
– Minor medical issues
– 49 career starts
– 2013: 46 tackles, 3 INTs
– Career: 233 tackles, 12 INTs
– Two-time All-ACC First Team (2012, 2013)
– Four-time Academic All-ACC
– Missed one game and half of another due to ankle injury in 2013
– Missed one game in 2011 with a leg injury
– Father played football at Columbia
– Helped high school team go undefeated and win state title as a junior
Cockrell is a decent athlete who has some explosiveness and click and close. Does a nice job with the ball in the air. Competitive and aggressive on the ball.
Pass is thrown behind Mike Evans but Cockrell capitalizes by playing the pocket and knocking the pass away. Came on 3rd and 10, too. Get off down for the defense.
Another big play this time against Miami. 4th and 3. Cockrell, bottom of the screen in the following clip, reads the quarterback in zone, and closes to the ball quickly. Contests the throw and the pass falls incomplete effectively eliminating any hope the Hurricanes had at a comeback.
Am of course a fan of the starting experience. As much as you can want in a player. After redshirting as a true freshman, he grabbed hold of the starting reigns and never looked back. Just reading the tea leaves but a two-time captain and four time all-academic bodes well for his character.
Even after watching four games, I struggled to find many positives in his game. As weak as the 5th grader picked last in dodgeball (side note: that was me). Huge liability in the run game. Can’t shed and worse, gets washed repeatedly. Saw it in every game. Cockrell sporting #6 for Duke.
Evans gets some revenge, driving Cockrell back a good eight yards into the end zone.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas trucks him. Thomas is a big dude but still ugly from Cockrell.
Tackling Kelvin Benjamin in the open field is no small task, but a feeble attempt to bring him down. Benjamin scores easily.
Could be playing too high in his pedal, shown in the picture below, causing him to be a tad stiff in his hips.
As I will always do, have to view Cockrell through the scope of what the Steelers want. The Steelers’ value three things from their cornerbacks.
1. Must be willing to support the run
2. Must be physical
3. Must be a reliable tackler
Cockrell doesn’t fit any of those requirements. What else he brings to the table is irrelevant….though that isn’t special either.
He doesn’t fit the bill of a Steelers’ cornerback but the player I look at next just might. Any guesses?
Projection: Late 4th-Early 5th
Games Watched: at Virginia Tech (Half – Injury), vs Miami, vs Florida St (ACC Championship), vs Texas A&M (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin
UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
South Carolina CB Victor Hampton
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Texas DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
TCU CB Jason Verrett
Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
Rice CB Phillip Gaines
Coastal Carolina RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Cincinnati TE Blake Annen
Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
Auburn RB Tre Mason