Eric Rowe   CB/S   Utah

TALENT BOARD ROUND 1

STRENGTHS
Eric is one of those tall, long corners that most are overlooking and struggling to project his potential for the next level. He doesn’t have that quick twitch that you look for in a corner, but makes up for it with his size, long arms and legs that give him a defensive radius way beyond the normal cornerback. Eric has excellent strength and is physical with the ability to shed blocks and make tackles on the line of scrimmage. He reminds me a lot of the Seahawks’ Byron Maxwell. Like Byron, Eric is an excellent man-to-man, bump-and-run cover cornerback. He can defend those tall, pass-catching tight ends in the middle of the field as well as being able to cover those big receivers on the outside, in the middle of the field and in the red zone. Eric has the strength, size, athletic talent and aggressiveness to be an outstanding cornerback in a defensive system that plays tough, aggressive, in-your-face man-to-man defense in its backfield.

CONCERNS
Eric really struggles playing in zone coverage. He is confused on the depth of his drops and struggles to decide what player to take when his zone is flooded. He is slow to react and make decisions because he is looking into the backfield trying to guess where a quarterback is going to throw the ball rather than reading the routes in front of him. A good safety looks first into the backfield then reads what’s in front of him. He may look back into the backfield at that point, but as he does, he is also reacting to his reads. Eric lacks the football intelligence and the decision making abilities right now and simple man-to-man coverage is more of his strong suit.

BOTTOM LINE
I don’t believe that Eric (because of his size) should be considered a safety as some are suggesting. He does a good job tackling and is a physical player, but that is not the issue as far as I’m concerned. First of all, he is too good in single coverage and he lacks the football intelligence and decision making when the play is in front of him in zone. Also Eric is far better working around the line of scrimmage rather than coming from deep to the line of scrimmage and making a play. This kid can cover; all you have to do is give him an assignment and don’t confuse him with a lot of different defensive zone coverages and Eric will become an excellent cover corner. He should be fine with experience in zone coverage with experience but I don’t think he will ever have the instincts that he has in single coverage. Eric does a good job defending against the run and he is a good tackler and using him as a cover safety makes sense but using him as a free safety or as a single safety will not be smart because of his lack of experience. I’m not saying that Eric is not smart, he is; however, as a zone defensive back, he out-thinks himself and makes too many false moves. Again, Eric reminds me a lot of Seahawks’ Byron Maxwell who was drafted in the 6th Round of the 2011 draft.

Drew Boylhart
MAR/2015