The 2015 NFL Draft has a lot of unique defenders that can play multiple positions and the next one I want to discuss is Utah’s defensive back Eric Rowe. He played his first three seasons as a safety and then switched to corner back his senior season. While watching him, one can see that the defender never left his physical style behind when he moved to corner. I reviewed four of his games against Michigan, Washington State, UCLA, and Arizona to get a better feel for what the young man brings to the next level. Here is what I saw:
CB/S Eric Rowe, Utah 6’ 1” 205 lbs.
Cons: The defender still moves more like a safety than a corner. What I mean by that is he shows stiff hips changing directions (this is very evident as it leaves him open to get beat deep when Rowe gets forced to open himself up quickly). The corner gets very handsy in coverage and it will depend on the officiating staff to decide if penalties will get called on him from game to game. He sometimes tackles too high and can get off-balance trying to shoulder block ball carriers down, instead of wrapping up. Rowe shows a tendency to play the man and not the ball, so if a receiver with great rapport with his quarterback might take him by surprise if he is looking for a sign that the ball is arriving.
Pros: Unlike most corners, Rowe does well defending the run and seems to enjoy it. He is quite good at blitzing off the edge too. There are times he looks more like an outside linebacker than a corner back on the field. The defender is a hard hitter, who specializes in lowering his shoulder separating the pigskin from the ball carrier. Rowe has a good motor and will chase whoever has the ball around the entire field until they go down. He is a good special teams player: blocking or slicing thru to get to the football.
Against the pass, the defender has a crisp back pedal and times his jumps well to disrupt the throw. He has a knack for punching the ball out before the receiver can secure it. Rowe is mentally tough and seems to enjoy gambling with the quarterback while trying to read the signal caller’s eyes. The corner can play press coverage or off-man, but seems to enjoy off-man the most. I feel is better at press, because the defender can rough up the wide out more. He can tip the ball up and use his decent hands to make the interception.
Overall thoughts: Rowe reminds me of another one of his classmates, Washington’s Marcus Peters, who also likes to play physical, but also tackles the catch. He would be a nice fit for the Ravens/Steelers/Seahawks/Patriots brand of defensive back.