When the Philadelphia Eagles pulled the trigger on cornerback Rasul Douglas in the third round of this years NFL draft, the consensus thought was that he is a good player with strong ball skills but he may be too slow to cover NFL receivers. Despite refining his skillset as a true ball hawk in his time at West Virginia , there were many questions about his 40-time, and if he had the top end speed needed to be successful at the next level.
While watching the tape on Douglas, it is apparent that his 8 interceptions in his senior year were no fluke. Blessed with great vision, Douglas was able to keep himself in perfect position on a regular basis to make a play. He seemed to have a knack for reading plays before they happen. What was so impressive about the tape on Douglas, was his capability to run routes for receivers and disrupt their play.
Despite his lack of speed (allegedly), his biggest strength may be his use of angles. In this, he is a lot like a current pro-bowler, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. While going through the draft process, Sherman’s biggest knock on his was his speed, or lack there of it. Fast forward a few years, and here we are. Sherman is an all-pro and his lack of speed, never seems to be an issue when describing arguably the top cornerback in the league.
Much like Sherman, Douglas always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. His coverage ability is only rivaled by his willingness to stop the run. At 6’2, 210 lbs ,the New Jersey native has the size to mix it up with bigger bodied players and never shies away from the big hit.
He has the pure speed to lock down tight-ends, running backs, and slot receivers while covering over the middle, but his best attribute and most valuable spot on the field is playing on the outside, covering bigger wideouts.
In a quick conversation with Turron Davenport (Eagles wire USA-Today), about the rookie CB, and his thoughts as he has seen him up close at Eagles OTA’s.
“Douglas is good, his quickness is underrated and is very good for someone his size. He refuses to back down from Alshon (Jeffery). I like how he bounced back after Alshon caught that fade for a touchdown last week. He shined in 7 on 7 after that. He is always talking to Jalen Mills after plays.”
What may help the young player the most is his constant asking of questions. Always looking to take the humble approach and trying to learn from both the offensive and defensive players, his willingness to take on veteran receivers like Jeffery speaks to his character, and his confidence in his skills.
In his short time as a Philadelphia Eagle, Douglas has turned the heads of the media, players, and coaches alike. Last week during a press conference, head man Doug Pederson spoke highly of the rookie as one of the players that stood out to him.
“There has been a lot of guys (who stood out) You talk about our rookies, Rasul Douglas, has shown some strides here in the last couple of practices.”
The simple words made sense as Douglas, who started off the OTA period, was the first guy off the bench when the birds got into a nickel. He would quickly become the first choice opposite second year player Jalen Mills. The promotion isn’t much to read into as of now, seeing that it was only OTA’s, but the fact that Douglas is already considered an option as a starter speaks to his quick growth.
When it is all said and done you can’t measure a players knowledge and natural ability…both of which, Douglas seems to have tons of. With terrific ball skills and a knack for always knowing where the ball is going, mixed witha nastiness to his playing style, Douglas is completely a Jim Schwartz, type of corner. Time will tell what will happen with the young man, but if his early look is any indication, the Eagles could have a legitimate star in the making. Something the City of Brotherly Love has been waiting for a while now.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Christopher Szagola/CSM via ZUMA Wire