Earl has excellent overall athletic talent to play multiple positions in the defensive backfield for the team that drafts him. he has great make-up speed and shows a nose for the ball that a S/CB needs to have in order to impact in the NFL. Earl has excellent cover skills and can cover any big slot receiver or pass catching tight end. He's fast enough to cover just about any back coming out of the backfield and shut them down. Earl has good instincts and football intelligence; he shows some leadership skills mostly through his play on the field. He has decent size and is a drag-down style of tackler.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
Earl struggles to tackle when the running play is right at him. He is fine if he can take an angle, but if the play is in his face, he ducks his head and does not tackle straight on. In fact, he looks like a LB trying to run himself out of being blocked. Earl will have big problems in the NFL if he cannot come to grips with this part of his game. I don't like safeties that cannot make tackles in the running game. What are you going to do with a FS in the red zone that does not make tackles when running plays come straight at him? It just seems to me that the whole purpose of a safety is to make tackles against both the pass and the run.
The truth is, I think Earl would be better suited at the next level as a cornerback than as a safety. He does not possess the quick-twitch reaction time that you like to see in a CB who can play and defend against any size receiver. However, he does have similar talent to Charles Woodson (CB - Packers). I think if you are looking for a big corner who can shut down those big possession wide receivers and has the speed to go deep with just about any other kind of receiver, then Earl just might be your man. Put him at safety and he will be a liability in the run game unless he can get an angle on the runner. As a safety, I would not draft Earl until the second or third round. As a potential corner, I would draft Earl late in the first round. It seems to me that keeping Earl as a free safety will be great during the season. I'm sure he will look like a Pro Bowl player, but I fear he would be a liability against a team with a strong running game in the post-season. Just look at him trying to tackle those big Alabama running backs in the last game of the season and you will see what I mean. Give him a year to adjust to the cornerback position at the next level, use him on special teams and in your nickel-dime packages and I believe eventually Earl could become a Pro Bowl corner for the team that drafts him. Leave him at free safety and his impact will be less at that position. I have to rate Earl as a cornerback. If his workouts are what I think they will be and Earl has the cornerback talents I think he has, then, you bet partner... I would draft Earl someplace in the first round. Cornerback - 1st round, Safety - 2nd round. How's that for a wishy-washy profile?!
Drew Boylhart 1/10