Cornellius has the athletic talent, size, weight and strength to be the poster boy and definition of the perfect strong side defensive end for a 4-3 defense. He also has all the attributes to play as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense and possesses the ability to play both positions at a Pro Bowl level. Right now he is a better defender against the run than he is a pass rusher, but the reason for that has to do purely with a lack of techniques that he can learn at the next level. He has long arms and legs that will make it easy for him to rush the passer; however, what I like the most about him is his natural strength and hand strength to lock out his elbows, change the line of scrimmage, shed and make tackles at the line of scrimmage. Cornellius shows decent change of direction skills to finish his pass rush and the foot speed to run down players from behind. He also has the athletic talent and change of direction skills to drop off the line and disrupt the timing on short passes on third and short yardage situations. Cornellius has excellent upside as a defensive lineman in the NFL because he has the ability to stop the run and the athletic abilities to impact as a pass rusher. He just has to have the ability to take what he learns in practice into the game and he will be an impact player for the team that drafts him.
My biggest concern in drafting Cornellius is his ability to change the way he thinks about his skills as a pass rusher. He thinks because of his athletic talent that he is a speed rusher off the edge, which I don't believe he will be for the next level. In the NFL, the only way he gets to the quarterback for double digit sacks is to learn to use his natural strength and the pass rushing moves of a power pass rusher. If he does that, he will become an impact player. Cornellius plays too high, which causes him to lose leverage when defending against the run and when rushing the passer. He shows no explosion off the line in spite of his athletic talent -- unless he guesses the snap. If he continues to think he can run around blockers and not engage them when pass rushing, he is sorely mistaken. There doesn't seem to be a lack of effort on the field, but the lack of techniques at this point of his career sends signals of a lack of effort off the field. It's really that simple.
There are players in this draft who have not played the game as long as Cornellius and they know more, and better, pass rushing moves than Cornellius and at this stage of the draft are considered better. Think about that for a minute. How does that happen? I'll tell you how that happens: football intelligence, work ethic, and the ability to take what they learn in practice into the game. I like this kid's potential, but I have to question why, with his athletic talent, he is so far behind in techniques as a pass rusher? He does fine stuffing the run in spite of the fact he plays too high. However, his lack of pass rushing techniques is a bit disturbing. I don't want to watch him try to finesse his way to the quarterback. It shows a possible lack of maturity and I'm not sure what this kid will do with all the money he will earn once he gets drafted. Sometimes having so much athletic talent and being able to do whatever you want on the field without much off field attention to detail is a curse. It makes a player think that, even at the next level, they will be successful at the next level without significant work. After all, that's what they've done all of their lives. The NFL is like being asked to join the Marines. You can be an excellent soldier, but joining the Marines means you have to be better, work harder and "want" to be the best. That's my problem with Cornellius. Why didn't he want to be the best at all phases of the game like others who have not played the game as much as he has? It would not surprise me if Cornellius is drafted higher than I have him rated and the truth is this is why you have more than one person evaluating players. It doesn't mean I'm right, but you have to wonder if you can trust that Cornellius "wants" to be the best because if he wanted to be the best, he has everything you would be looking for in a top ten pick and (in spite of any injuries) would be one of the most talked about players in this draft.
Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart