DJ has the talent and athletic ability to play at a high level in more than one position in the defensive backfield for the team that drafts him. He shows on film to possess excellent quickness. He can play in zone coverage as a cornerback or be your nickel back in the middle of the field on third and long. He has solid coverage skills, fights for the ball in the air and has the hands to make the interception. As a returner on special teams, he could be something special -- the type of returner teams fear and have to plan for on special teams. In a two deep zone playing the safety position, he is a ball hawk looking for the ball and breaking the minute the quarterback thinks about throwing the ball. He has excellent instincts and is very football savvy. He has the type of street smarts that you love to see in a player on the defensive side of the ball, similar to Troy Polamalu. At times he will solo away from the defensive scheme on a play if his instincts tell him he can make an impact play. DJ is a hell of a football player.
You better be a good coach if you want to get the most out of this kid's talent because DJ is a penalty machine and he doesn't care if you know it. He will take a penalty to make a point and the coach will not be able to do anything about it because DJ will be one of the best players on the field so coaches are going to have to live with that. He refuses to wrap up when receivers come across the middle and the only thing that will stop him from not propelling himself into a defenseless player is his own teammates taking him to task. He also is a bit inconsistent and sloppy when he tackles in general, but he gets the job done. DJ could play corner, but lacks the true make-up speed needed when a corner gets beat to recover without committing a penalty. But he can easily play on the outside in a zone scheme. Coaches are not going to affect how this kid plays football if they are not as smart as he is. He is a trash talker and wants to be a leader, but until he can control his penalties, he will struggle to lead. That being said, as long as there are no off-field issues, drafting DJ seems like a no brainer to me if you like a challenge.
There is a lot to like about DJ in the way he plays and there is also a lot to not like, but just because you might not like a player's style of game doesn't mean you pass on drafting that player if you feel he is an impact player for your team. You can't like everyone you work with. DJ plays the game on the edge on every play. By that I mean if he can't beat you within the rules, he will break the rules to beat you. What I see on film is a player who plays with the fear of failure. That fear, mixed with an aggressive attitude, makes this kid play like an angry tornado on the field -- it's what propels him to be better than his athletic talents suggest he can be. It is what motivates him to demand that others play with that same heart and effort or he will tell them to get off the field. He reminds me a lot of Rodney Harrison with better coverage skills. For those of you who don't remember Rodney, according to his Wikipedia page, Rodney was drafted in 1994 by the San Diego Chargers in the 5th round. From 1994 (before the "hitting a defenseless player" rule went into effect), Rodney was fined and suspended multiple times. By 2002, had racked up over $200,000 in fines by the NFL. In spite of his impact play for the San Diego Chargers, Rodney was released in 2002 and signed with the New England Patriots. I do not believe while playing for the Patriots that he ever got suspended for hits. He might have paid some fines, but I don't believe he was suspended. He was named captain his first year and went on to continue his impact play for a coach he respected and listened to. I would think the Steelers, Ravens, 49er's, Seahawks or Rams would like to add this type of talent to their roster in the first round.
Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart