A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.
Name: Darius Rush
Weight: 198 pounds
Combine Results: 4.36 40-yard dash, 35” vertical, 10’1” broad
Darius Rush entered this draft as the second best cornerback from South Carolina behind the talented Cam Smith, but a standout performance at the Senior Bowl now has scouts stuck between he and his teammate. That’s because Rush’s tape was quietly really good playing opposite Smith.
Rush committed to play for his hometown Gamecocks as a receiver. The three-star recruit was not a hot commodity, a fact that was underscored by South Carolina switching him to cornerback in camp before his redshirt freshman season. Rush then played almost exclusively on special teams for the next two years before getting to see the field on defense in 2021.
Rush looked like a natural right from the start. He finished the 2021 season with the fifth lowest completion rate allowed and was third in coverage snaps per reception. Rush didn’t stay at that sky high level for 2022, but he remained among the top 30 corners in the nation in multiple categories. He followed that up with a dominant Senior Bowl performance that forced everyone to take a second look at his tape. Now, Rush is a likely Day 2 pick in the draft.
Man Coverage: Rush looks uncomfortable in man coverage, often finding himself off balance when trying to initiate contact in press coverage and lacking top-end closing speed at the end of the play. He struggles to properly mirror receivers, which is to be expected from someone with just two years of experience playing the position. His length offers plenty of room to grow as a man cover corner, but he isn’t there yet.
Zone Coverage: Rush excels at zone coverage. He understands how to use length to leverage routes around his zone, and his receiver background comes in handy when he’s allowed to sit back and watch it all unfold before him. His anticipation still has room to grow, but Rush profiles as a very good zone cover corner right now.
Playmaking Ability: Just as you’d expect from a former receiver, Rush is very aggressive at the catch point and treats every target as if it were thrown to him. He registered 15 pass breakups over his two years, and he ranked in the top 10 in forced incompletion rate both seasons. Rush only had three interceptions, but that number isn’t reflective of his great ball skills. If he can clean up his man coverage ability, he could become an interception machine at the next level.
Athleticism: When your last name is Rush, you have to be fast, and Rush certainly is. He ran the fourth fastest 40 time among corners at the combine, and he looks just as fast on tape. But he lacks explosiveness, evidenced by his average measurements in the broad and vertical jumps, which impact his closing speed in coverage. Better pad level can help with that, though, because he has speed for days.
Run Support: Rush never shies away from contact, and his two seasons of special teams experience have served him well, but he is oddly not that refined as a tackler. He often takes poor angles or comes in out of control. He registered seven missed tackles each of the last two years, which is far from ideal.
Processing: He is still learning the position and that much is obvious. He still has room to grow when it comes to mirroring receivers, but when he can sit in zone and watch everything he displays good recognition of route patterns and concepts. With how new Rush is to the position, he should be considered ahead of the curve.
Intangibles: Rush played almost exclusively on special teams for two years. That kind of experience is invaluable, especially when projecting roles for a prospect who likely won’t be ready to start as a rookie.