Abdurrahman “Rock” Ya-Sin – Temple
Walter Football Rank: 4
CBS Rank: 4
DraftTek Rank: 5
Draft Wire Rank: 5
The Draft Network Rank: 9
Range: Second Round
Size: 5’11”, 190 lbs
Breakdown: A strong, physical corner, Ya-Sin’s name is reverberating around draft rooms despite being a small school prospect. He’s unpolished but has the physical tools and demeanor to intrigue scouts.
Pros: NFL ready body. Physical with a great compete level. Strong and physically imposing in coverage at all points of the route. Good ball skills and tracking. Uses his length well. Solid in man coverage, especially close to the line of scrimmage. Good break on the football in off coverage. Willing and dependable tackler. Notably a quick learner.
Cons: Top heavy player with confusing footwork. Can trip over himself, take missteps and over complicate his steps. Level of competition will be questioned, despite performing well against top talent. Only played one year at the FBS level. Was not regularly asked to play zone and footwork failed him too often when he was. Anticipation and feel for route concepts is still developing. Average athleticism.
How he fits: It’s telling that Draft Network Analyst Benjamin Solak compares him to now-Miami Dolphins CB Eric Rowe. He was a Chip Kelly pick, but his skill set still matches a lot of tasks the current Eagles defense will ask of him. The main component in the comparison is an upside. With Rowe, it never quite translated to success. There is still that risk with Ya-Sin. NFL draft experts would have you believe he’s a “rock solid” high second round, maybe even first round talent — don’t take the bait. His upside is that of a first-round corner, but his day one projections put him right in the window of Philadelphia’s second-round selections. Still, I think there are better fits — not necessarily because of skill set, but because of the time the Temple product will need to develop. It’s never a bad thing to add young promising talent to your secondary. However, with so many encouraging players of that ilk already on the roster, a selection spent on Ya-Sin seems more like indulging a secondary concern (no pun intended) than a primary need. His physicality matches the attitude of the defense and his strengths match the team’s needs. Howie generally likes to see more college production from his selections but has also shown he is willing to bet on potential. If he falls to 53, he won’t, I am all for it.
Joejuan Williams – Vanderbilt
Walter Football Rank: 11
CBS Rank: 10
DraftTek Rank: 10
Draft Wire Rank: 11
The Draft Network Rank: 10
Range: Third Round
Size: 6’2″, 208 lbs
Breakdown: Williams has rare length at the corner position and supplements it with good ball skills and physicality. His speed and quickness will be called into question when considering his ability to start at the NFL level. Although, he ran a relatively impressive 4.55 at his Pro Day.
Pros: Big, strong, physical press-man corner. Uses his length when the ball is in the air. Surprisingly smooth for his size with good footwork. Very competitive. Good route recognition and does not bite on fakes very often. Solid tackler with wide radius. Comes downhill in run support and will fight blocks.
Cons: Not very convincing in space. Click-and-close is not a forte. Can lose the football with his back to the quarterback. May have done some convincing on his long speed with a good 40-time, but agility and change of direction are still below average. Struggles against adept route runners. Needs more consistency with press technique.
How he fits: If this were 2016, I have no doubt that Williams would be at the top of the Eagles cornerback draft board. On paper, his size, mentality and skill set are picture perfect for the Philly defense. However, I thought the same of Rasul Douglas, and we’ve all seen how that’s turned out. There may be some titbits hidden behind the scene on Douglas’ development, but by his performance on the field, he seemingly deserves a lot more playing time than he’s been given. I think the real story here is that modern football is much more suited for smaller, more agile corners even in press-man situations (Avonte Maddox proves this point). There may be a longer article needed to completely explain this point. Simply put, I think we’ve seen Philadelphia’s needs change and Williams’ slow breaks on the football and sluggishness in space might take him off Howie’s radar despite physically fitting the bill. That being said, if Williams is still kicking around in the fourth round then I expect the Eagles to pull the trigger without too much hesitation. He knows what he’s about — a long, strong press corner — and he does it well.
Justin Layne – Michigan State
Walter Football Rank: 35
CBS Rank: 5
DraftTek Rank: 8
Draft Wire Rank: 9
The Draft Network Rank: 5
Range: Third Round
Size: 6’3″, 185 lbs
Breakdown: A converted receiver, Layne is still learning the nuances of the position. He’s a quick learner and shows a ton of promise, but will need to develop before being thrust into a starting role.
Pros: Rare length at the corner position and uses it well. Makes every catch difficult on the receiver. Physical. Ball skills match that of a former receiver. Tracking and high pointing the football are an asset. Uses his hands well in press coverage. Has a good understanding of route development in man coverage. Confident and physical tackler.
Cons: Much better matching and mirroring in man than reading in zone — comes with the territory of a converted receiver. Long legged and therefore lateral quickness, break on the football and change of direction are limited. Hips can also be rigid.
How he fits: He’s a work in progress, but Layne could be a diamond in the rough for any team that drafts him. For reasons why the Eagles won’t spend a selection on him, see the blurb on Ya-Sin. Adding another DB to wait in the wings might not be the most cost-effective move in this draft. However, Layne can be had for a cheaper price than Ya-Sin and that makes a world of difference. He projects as a third-round selection, which is again problematic for the Eagles. It’s a real possibility Philadelphia trades back from one of their second-round placements. In terms of scheme fit, there won’t be many better late second day options than Layne for the Eagles.
Michael Jackson – Miami
Walter Football Rank: 29
CBS Rank: 18
DraftTek Rank: 13
Draft Wire Rank: 10
The Draft Network Rank: 17
Range: Fourth Round
Size: 6’1″, 200 lbs
Breakdown: Jackson is a physical, downhill player and a reliable tackler. With good length and ball skills, it is his feet and agility that leave something to be desired.
Pros: Patient close to the line of scrimmage, does not over-commit. Competitive and strong. Good football IQ and understanding of routes and concepts. Forceful, confident tackler and a huge factor in run support. Great 40-time (4.45) for his size.
Cons: Fairly rigid athlete, will get lost in coverage against smooth receivers. It is mostly due to messy, inconsistent footwork. Doesn’t recover well. Can give too much cushion and does not have the footwork nor the burst to compensate. Can get grabby.
How he fits: A downhill run defender with solid press technique is always a good option for Jim Schwartz’ defense. His flashes definitely pique the interest of scouts and he was considered a possible first rounder heading into the 2019 season. If the Eagles are to select a corner, a player like Jackson in the 4th round would be my preference. He has great special teams potential and can work his tail off to challenge the other young guys in the DB room. His edge is something that you can never have enough of in the NFC East. It’s a physical division with fantastic running backs and Jackson would be a great backup to add to the group.
Signature play: One example of his patient, physical coverage and another of his textbook tackling.