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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Amani Oruwariye CB Penn State

A Tall corner with quick feet and ball skills

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Amani Oruwariye CB Penn st 6’ 1 5/8” 205 lbs

Pronounced Or-ru-war-ea

It is funny how many things in life you take for granted. You just never know what is going to come next. Back in 2000 I went to a high school game to scout a running back named Lydell Ross.The kid was a stud, a stallion who could press the hole then dart to the left in a blink of an eye. His one cut ability belied his youth. I came away impressed, and he came away from that year with a full ride to Ohio State where he won a National Championship as a sophomore.

More than a decade later I was back at that same school with a friend of mine just to watch a high school game. While there a kid caught my eye, a skinny kid who was quick and fast. He blocked a kick that game, something he did 4 times that year. I had quite frankly forgotten about the kid until I started scouting this Draft last year. Much to my surprise I was scouting the same kid who blocked the kick.

I don’t count the hours, but I have probably spent at least 600 hours scouting this Draft if you count all the film study and research. I never look at stats until after the scouting report on a player is set. I will rework it slightly if new info comes to light, but usually the tape doesn’t lie. It is difficult to decipher how really good a small school player is considering the competition. Physical attributes do matter because the NFL is a big boy league. Little guys do well in college but will struggle with the pro size and strength.

That said, after it is all said and done (the printer is making up and shipping the scouting reports), my top five corners in this Draft are (all have some deficiencies, and it was close):

Amani Oruwariye Penn State

Byron Murphy Washington

Greedy Williams LSU

Justin Layne Michigan State

David Long Michigan

The kid I watched from the bleachers was my #1 corner for the year. I never would have thunk it. I was even surprised when I tallied up the rating, but there he was. Now how did I get there? A cornerback has a checklist of things he must do well, and Amani does most very impressively. As Warner Wolf would say, “Let’s go to the videotape.”

The first question for as a corner is: Can you flip your hips and stay connected to the receiver? Second: Can you stay in the hip pocket of the receiver and mirror him down the field? Third: Do you get your head around to find the ball while keeping contact with the receiver? Fourth: Do you have the ability to get up in the air while you are running (not standing still) to knock the ball away or make a play on the ball? Fifth: Do you have the requisite ball skills to make a play if you have an opportunity?

If you notice, Oruwariye has pushed the receiver into the boundary which severely limits the window the QB has to throw the ball into. Oruwariye has good strength and muscled the receiver to the outside giving him nowhere to go. He either has to run through Oruwariye or run past him, and the receiver does not have the ability to do either. This is the same play from a backside view.

Does Oruwariye have the speed to stay with receivers? He isn’t a blur by any means, but his 4.47/40 speed will keep him attached to most NFL receivers, and his 36.5” vertical will allow him to go up and get a lot of balls. Sometime the vert drill is overrated because I think they should do a running vertical jump. I realize the standing vert tests explosiveness, but a running vert lets you know is a guy can get up and have good balance with body control. That’s the kind of info that is important to me. You can see here that Oruwariye has the skills needed and then some to compete for balls.

How about some other skills needed by a NFL corner? Can he play in multiple schemes? How well does he do in off coverages, or is he just a press man corner? How strong are his hands? Can he use those hands to muscle receivers and attack the ball? How alert is he and can he make adjustments to his coverage?

This next play here is a trick coverage. The two corners to the left of the formation are both heads up on their receivers which screams off man coverage on the play. In reality it is a zone coverage as #7 drops his man and is guarding the short inside zone against slants and a RB screen or dump pass. The inside receiver has position on Oruwariye, and the rotating safety is late to get over on the play.

There is less than a minute to go in the game with Penn State up by less than a TD so this is for the game. Oruwariye reads the QB and realizes the throw is coming to the inside receiver. He has to break on the ball and somehow keep him from scoring. Now the same play from the backside again.

Being tall with good “hops” allows Oruwariye to outjump the receiver. and I really think the receiver thinks he is all alone on the play. I believe Oruwariye surprises the receiver (which definitely helped) and is able to wrench the ball away for an interception. Strong hands also had a lot to do with the interception as he literally just rips the ball from the receiver.

Next, how good are the corners feet? Are they quick? Can he stop and start in an instant or does he need time? Can he make contested catches, or does he need a wounded duck?

This next play is in off man coverage, and the receiver is trying a double move. Oruwariye is a taller corner, and one of the ways a receiver will attempt to beat a tall corner is to make him stop his feet. The QB is thinking right along with the receivers, and if you notice the QB waits for the receiver to make his move then lofts the ball to an area that he believes the receiver will be all alone.

Now to be honest the receiver does a poor job on the fake and never makes Oruwariye truly stop his feet. Nevertheless Oruwariye plays it perfectly and keeps ideal body position on the play. He forces the receiver outside which makes the QB throw over top of him, something he neglects to do.

From another angle...

The receiver does everything he can possibly do to avoid the INT, even committing a vicious face mask. This is of no use, and Oruwariye comes away with the ball. You would like to see him high point the ball, but we will make an exception because he was being mugged on the play. BTW that play counts as a contested catch.

Other important areas are how good his the pedal is (backwards while head forward) and how well he breaks on the ball.

How quickly does he read the play?

Does he have the quickness to make a play?

Oruwariye has only been starting for a year although he played quite a bit as a sub in 2017. On this next play he does some good things and has a technical flaw that his NFL coach will need to correct. In this play Oruwariye is in off coverage.

The play has three short routes. All are in the same area and are trying to get #6 the ball with a clear out by #87. But #87 takes his time on the route. The area is congested so the QB has to hold the ball so #87 can clear the area. Now it is hard to see the pedal, but Oruwariye does two things well. First he keeps his chin down which in turn keeps his pads down. If you want to stop your backward momentum and explode back to the ball you need to have your pads down. Scouts call this “click and close,” the ability to break on a ball from a backward momentum which he does well.

The bad on the play is Oruwariye has his feet way too far apart at the back of his pedal. This is the reason he stumbles slightly. They have drills he can work on to clean that up. He also has a bad “T” step (his left plant foot is making a T instead of being straight ahead), but I don’t know whether they even correct that anymore. That wouldn’t fly a few years ago, but I heard some college DB coaches teach that technique now.

On the next play Oruwariye is in head up man coverage but not in press mode. He is playing the man to the inside because he believes he has linebacker zone coverage there. But this is a read option, and as the linemen fire out the LB crashes the play leaving the inside zone unguarded.

Oruwariye has a decent pedal (and that T step again), but he is able to click and close by adding another technique I see him use often. You see plays where a receiver goes up for a ball, and the DB sticks his hand in between the receivers hands to knock the ball away. This is similar as Oruwariye brings his left hand around to try and block the pass while at the same time he brings his right hand around the back directly between the hands of the receiver. He then uses that left hand that missed the ball, and rips it down on the receiver’s arm to make sure the pass is incomplete. Size and length are not trained skills, but they help a corner a great deal.

This last play I put in because I am obsessive and want to show that Oruwariye is a work in progress like all these kids in the Draft. This again is off coverage and is about the “click and close.” He does some things better but others worse.

Okay let’s nitpick.

First, what does Oruwariye do better? He keeps his feet much closer together in his pedal, and he closes on the ball well to knock down the pass.

What does he do worse? He is too high up on his toes which brings his chin up along with his pads. He has to have better knee bend to get lower, which will drop his chin and put “his nose over his toes.” This allows you to explode to the ball. There you can also see that “T” step and how he almost comes to a stop before going forward. He then has to take an extra step. He makes the play but mainly because the throw is late and high.

I neglected to point out that in all of these clips. Oruwariye has excellent position on the receivers and is always in great leverage position. This is not a trait that is easily learned and shows how much work Oruwariye has done to perfect his trade. Like I said earlier tape don’t lie, and it is impressive the position he has on so many plays.

A lot of things I point out are just technical flaws that can be cleaned up in training camp if he works on them. He is said to be a smart kid and comes from a good family. His mom is a career Navy woman and knows about discipline. He understands his strengths and said so in a recent interview.

“I have God-gifted size, which you obviously can’t teach,” Oruwariye said of his strengths as a player. “Then I think my mentality has made a tremendous change from when I first started playing corner, from a confidence standpoint and just destroy your opponent, that type of mentality. It’s definitely gotten a lot better. Then just my playmaking ability – just go get the ball in the air.”

Oruwariye has some skills to be a great player, 2018 was his first year as a starter. He made 50 tackles, but I would say that tackling is the weakest part of his game. It will need to be improved. His 8 INTs and 20 PBU attest to his ball skills.

I think he is an ascending talent and will get better with NFL coaching; Gregg Williams will make sure he knows how to tackle. He would be a huge improvement for our secondary, and I am pretty sure I am higher on him than most of the so-called experts. He is only an option in a trade down scenario but one that I think is worth pursuing.

What do you think?