Markelle has the athletic talent to play more than one position in the defensive backfield. He loves to stick his head into the middle of the action and make tackles. He is fearless and when he sees the play in front of him start to develop, he is like a heat seeking missile tracking down its unsuspecting target and blowing it up. Markelle has excellent speed and shows solid change of direction skills enough to cover man-to-man in the red zone. He has those long arms that will help him in coverage when he makes mistakes and shows good enough hands to make the interception. Markelle can impact on special teams on the cover units and as a punt and kick returner and has the ability to play either safety position. He is excellent at covering backs and tight ends off the line of scrimmage and has the instincts of a linebacker against the run. He has the speed to be used as a single free safety and will take the head off of any receiver in the middle of the field. Markelle has the talent to be an impact player at the next level, but he must learn the game better on the back end of the defense to be really effective for the team that drafts him.
Markelle may have the instincts of a linebacker, but he does not have the size and right now is on a suicide mission for a concussion if he doesn't stop dropping his head and propelling himself into his opponent when he goes to tackle them. He has to play smarter in zone coverage. He is very susceptible to play action, which is the worst way in which a safety can be vulnerable. Right now, he does well as a strong safety up at the line, but he does not have the size to play a 16 game schedule as a strong safety. He takes on too much punishment and his body type does not suggest that he can get any bigger. The good thing is, he has the talent and body type to be an excellent free safety. The question is, can Markelle learn and play a better game mentally and become more of a coach on the field? As a strong safety, Markelle does not do a good job getting off blocks. That's not good for any safety. Safeties have to be excellent tacklers and be able to get off blocks in open space. If they can't do that, then they are of no use at all. I am convinced Markelle can be an impact player on special teams and a good nickel/ dime defense back but he has some learning to do to be a starting safety for the team that drafts him. The good thing is, Markelle has the athletic talent and you have to love the heat seeking aspect of his game.
There is the good and the bad with Markelle. If some coach can keep him from playing the role of hero, this kid could become a hell of a safety. The key will be how open to change and coaching Markelle will be in the NFL. How many times will he screw up in zone coverage before he learns? How many times will he fall for play action and get beat deep? You do not want to coach all of the aggressiveness out of his play, but he needs to calm down and pick his spots so he can stay on the field and make an impact. I think he is a smart kid, but being smart means you understand how to play to your talents. Zone coverages are killing this kid. When he is up on the line, he is excellent -- comfortable and doesn't have to think too much. All he has to do is read and react. As a free safety he has to think, read and then react. As I said before, Markelle should be able to impact on special teams and be used in nickel or dime coverages (up near the line) as he learns the intricacies of being a true free safety. Sometime players like Markelle never seem to get the importance of the free safety position because it lacks the physical action of most other positions on the field. Then again I see too many free safeties leading their teams in tackles more and more each year and yet the value of the position is still not held that high when drafting. There are exceptions, but the truth is most free safeties are low round selections. Markelle's athletic talents are a perfect fit for the free safety position and he has some Ed Reed FS Ravens aspects to his game, but he has to become more of a student of the game. Until he does Markelle's impact will be as as a special teams player and he is going to have to work hard if he wants to start at the safety position. He can do it, he just has to want to do it.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Feb /12