For the next month, we’ll be looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once the “official visits” start to leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
#26 - Marlon Humphrey - Cornerback - Alabama - 6-0, 197
Games Watched: Clemson (2016), Tennessee, Texas A&M, Auburn, USC, Clemson (2015)
Pros: Prototypical size, length and speed for today’s NFL cornerback. Possibly the best cornerback in the draft class in run support, and one of the best prospects in that regard in recent memory. Very physical tackler who is not afraid to take on offensive linemen or throw his body around. Receivers could not block him on screens at the college level. Effective using his physicality and size to jam in press coverage. Has experience playing off and press, as well as man and zone coverages, although he looks most comfortable in press where he can use his athleticism/physicality to his advantage. Flips his hips with ease following a jam to either stay in the hip pocket of receivers downfield or carry them across the field. Shows a good burst in confined spaces to close on receivers. Has quick feet but his technique in that regard needs to be refined at the next level. Generally shows a good understanding of zone concepts although at times he can get lost in space and starts to drift when playing in zone or off coverage. Shows good ball awareness and the ability to turn his head and make a play at times, but he is entirely too inconsistent in that regard to the point where you’re wondering if you’re even watching the same player. Primarily played left cornerback, has some experience in the slot but doesn’t project inside at the next level.
Cons: Known for giving up big plays downfield at times due to lapses in concentration or over-aggressiveness where he loses track of the ball in the air despite having good coverage or bites hard on a double move. Gave up some big plays to Mike Williams in the 2016-17 BCS Championship. Has a tendency to grab/pull when he senses that he’s beat or out of position. Played on an ultra-talented defense with a talent level that is way beyond most of their collegiate opponents, which could possibly have made him look better than he is or covered up certain weaknesses.
Conclusion: There are a lot of things to like about this prospect, namely that he has prototypical height/weight/speed, and then when you combine that with excellent physicality and a willingness (or even enjoyment) in tackling, you have a cornerback who seems to have been made in a lab. With that said, I keep coming back to the fact that he had a tendency to give up big plays for a variety of reasons, even on a defense that has a significant talent advantage over almost all of their opponents. That is something that usually doesn’t get get better once cornerbacks get to the next level.
He is young though (won’t turn 21 until July) so there is a chance that some of his issues could be rectified with NFL coaching and maturity, particularly the tendency to bite on double moves. For these reasons I’d be somewhat hesitant taking him at 28, but depending on what else is available he could be worth the risk when you consider that his upside is a potential Pro Bowler based on his physical profile and physicality. Worst case scenario he ends up as a “number two” type cornerback who is excellent in the run game, and that’s not too bad with a pick at the end of the first round.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect. I started this odd fascination of mine in 2011 when I sent my breakdown and links to videos of Tyron Smith at USC to the excellent Cowboys blogger Bob Sturm (April 28, 2011 - Even More Tyron Smith Tape). Since then I’ve continued watching prospects closely, but I’ve never taken the initiative to actually formally write my thoughts until I became a writer for BTB. I hope that I can provide an interesting, and accurate perspective on prospects from a Cowboys-centric point of view.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.