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Scouting The Draft: Eric Rowe, CB/FS, Utah

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We're switching our attention to the defensive side of the ball now with a product from Utah

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Introduction

In 2014, Utah moved Eric Rowe from his free safety position to the cornerback position to limit the effect of losing Keith McGill who was drafted by the Raiders last year. He had an excellent season for a man who had just moved positions, registering 57 tackles and 13 pass break-ups. However if I'm drafting him, I move him back to the free safety position immediately, he's more comfortable there, his skill-set is better suited to that role and I think he'll have more success there.

Most Jet fans won't want to see the team draft another cornerback, at least early. After all we've drafted Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle recently and we need a veteran presence to bring them along, hopefully one or both of them work out. However I also think we absolutely have to move Calvin Pryor to strong safety if we want to get the best out of him, and as we have nobody on this roster capable of playing the free safety position, we need to bring one in.

Some will want to sign someone like Devin McCourty, I don't have a problem with that. However if you want to build through the draft, then there is something about Eric Rowe that makes me think he's set to be an elite safety in this league. Most people don't think so, which is why he is rated as a 4th or 5th round prospect. Personally I have a 2nd round grade on him and if he really does fall down into the 4th, that to be represents superb value.

I'll often go to bat for 2-3 prospects each year who I project a lot higher than most, Eric Rowe is most definitely one of those guys.

Measurables

Height: 6'1

Weight: 205lb's

Class: Senior

Projected 40: 4.4

Statistics

Year Tackles For A Loss Sacks Pass Defenses Interceptions
2014 59 3 0 13 1
2013 69 1 0.5 7 0
2012 64 0.5 0 5 1
2011 69 2.5 1 2.5 1

Positives

  • Good size, bulk, broad shoulders, muscle tone.
  • Exceptional straight line sped, sideline to sideline.
  • Instincts are excellent. Knows when to drop, when to come up and reads the QB well.
  • Very good length, allows him to be physical and knock a lot of balls away.
  • Plays the run very well, very quick to diagnose and support in the run game.
  • Positioning is excellent, good timing on defensive pass break-ups
  • A sound tackler who lowers his shoulder and goes for safety over style.
  • Very physical in every aspects of his game, plays with a controlled aggression.
  • Good hips, smooth in transition when turning to run with his back to the QB.
  • Plays the ball when it's in the air, and plays the hands of the receiver when he can't make a play.
  • Played in a pro defense that uses man coverage almost exclusively (similar to Todd Bowles)
  • Hard working, no red flags on his character.

Negatives

  • Needs to work on his hands, dropped a few interceptions throughout his time at Utah.
  • Can be too physical with the receiver, may draw flags at the next level.
  • Can be prone to biting on double moves, and falling for QB baits with the eyes.

Conclusion


I'm a lot higher on Eric Rowe than a lot of people and I don't mind sticking my neck out for him. I think he shows a lot of traits that would be ideal for the modern NFL free safety. I like his instincts, I think his situational awareness, route recognition and positioning make him a very good prospect at the next level. He's got a hard working character and according to coaches, he's an easy guy to direct. I like him as a roaming free safety, but also like the fact he can come up and play the run well or rush the QB. His straight line speed has been timed at under 4.4 and that flashes in his film.

For a team like the Jets, who are rebuilding and trying to put together a roster capable of competing with the likes of the Patriots, you're going to have to find value and talent in the lower portion of the draft, just like Seattle did with the likes of Wilson, Sherman, Maxwell and Chancellor. Draft experts and scouts were very wrong about all of them and personally I think they may be wrong with Rowe, rating him as a 4th or 5th round prospect.

I would 100% draft Rowe anywhere from the 2nd round to the 5th. I'd hope to get him in the 4th but be willing to take him earlier if I got wind others were very interested. I hope the Jets take a very serious look at him.

Draft Grade: 80

90-100 = Exceptional Talent

80-90 = Impact Player

70-80 = NFL Starter

60-70 = Solid NFL Potential

50-60 = Draftable - Lot of work needed

>50 = Undraftable, - Long Shot To Stick