Eli Apple 2016 NFL Draft Profile

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Overview
Position: Cornerback
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 199 pounds
School: Ohio State Buckeyes

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.40 seconds
Bench press (225 pounds): 13 reps

Eli Apple 2016 NFL Draft Profile

Ohio State has always prided itself on being a football program with a national recruiting reach. Eli Apple’s commitment to Urban Meyer’s staff in 2013 was a prime example. The Voorhees, NJ native was the first member of that year’s recruiting class from outside the state of Ohio to commit. And it served to demonstrate Meyer’s ability to recruit portions of the country like the Garden State. Such a strategy supplements the program’s already rich local talent pool.

Apple came to Columbus as the nation’s eighth-ranked cornerback according to Rivals.com and 89th overall. After redshirting, he quickly became an immediate contributor. He started all but one game as a redshirt freshman on OSU’s national championship winning team in 2014. His stats included leading the team with ten pass breakups. He also added three interceptions. One of those was fairly significant. In the College Football Playoff title game against Oregon, he would pick off the final pass of Marcus Mariota’s career. And it was just the fourth interception of the season for the Heisman Trophy winner.

A year later, he started every game on a defense that finished top 20 nationally in pass yards allowed, opposing quarterback rating, and points per game. And he certainly saved one of his best performances for last. Against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, he was named defensive MVP. Much of it was due to his ability to shut down Irish star wide receiver Will Fuller. It’s very possible those two might cross paths once again in the NFL.

Strengths

  • ideal build and overall frame for the position at the next level.
  • was one of the quickest defensive backs at the Combine.
  • can effectively jam opposing receivers in press coverage.
  • solid understanding of spacing when dropping into zone.
  • good leverage and hand placement allows him to shed receivers in blocking situations.
  • possesses prototypical coverage corner skill set as demonstrated by high number of pass breakups.
  • has work ethic and competitive drive necessary for success in the NFL.

Weaknesses

  • doesn’t possess jump off the film level athleticism.
  • receivers get too much separation on comeback routes.
  • has tendency to resort to arm tackles too often.
  • can panic when receivers get over the top, which can result in pass interference penalties.
  • loses awareness of ball location on deep routes.

NFL Comparison: Delvin Breaux

Teams with Need at Position: Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projection: Late first to early second round

Bottom Line

Eli Apple played just two seasons for the Buckeyes before declaring for the draft as a redshirt sophomore. But in that short period of time he’s established himself as one of the top cornerback prospects heading into this year’s draft. He possesses the requisite build, skill set and knack for putting in work to succeed at the next level.

That said, the OSU secondary did rely on a ridiculously talented defensive front that gave opposing quarterbacks very little time to throw. The big question mark going forward is his ability to maintain quality coverage when pro quarterbacks have that extra second to find their receivers. Regardless, you can expect his name to be off the board relatively early.

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