I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can. Find all the profiles here.
Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio) - 5'11, 195 - RS Senior - 4.57 40
Nobody knows for sure what can make a player one of the more "talked about" prospect stories in a given draft season, but Quinten Rollins is easily the winner of this spring's contest in the defensive back division. Rollins was a basketball star for Miami for 4 seasons and was quite successful at point guard. But, having reached the end of his basketball road, he decided to give football a whirl a year ago, discussed how serious he was to play in the NFL 12 months ago, won defensive player of the year in his conference 3 months ago, and then dazzled at the Senior Bowl.
Clearly, a guy who has played just one season of college football is a bit of a curiosity, but his point guard skill-set that allowed him to rack up massive steal totals is transferable to some degree to playing cornerback in football. Can he make the jump to Sundays? Yes. But, how much of a cinch is he to be worth a top pick? We looked at a bunch of his college work to figure that out the best we could. Michigan, UMass, Ohio, Northern Illinois, and the Senior Bowl.
What I liked: He is definitely a player that looks the part. He is athletic and up in the face of the man he is covering and seems to prefer press coverage. He wants to get up in his man and not give him space to breathe. He has very impressive short area quickness and often runs the route for his man - provided he recognizes what he thinks he sees and knows the route. He is very willing to tackle and put his head and shoulders in there to bring a guy down. This is key for a basketball player being asked to bring down a 240 pound RB, and Rollins has no real issues about doing that. He also has what appear to be ball-hawk instincts with a nose for the ball and then the ability to grab the ball and then turn and run with it. He is very fluid. He has great hips and can move nicely. I really like how he looks on the field, his makeup to create big plays, and his attitude to mix things up and attack what he sees.
What I did not like: Well, there are a few things that we have to consider before any team runs to the podium with his name on the card. First, Rollins has been taken to school on a number of occasions at the college level because he has really poor instincts for a corner. Much of this is a lack of experience and not really being a student of the game all these years. He jumps routes and opposing QBs are clearly targeting him with these deceptive looks to get him to take a false step and then try to make him pay. For a defensive player of the year, he saw a ton of action. I would believe the number of targets a player sees is a much better indicator than season awards that are likely given by someone who read Rollins had 7 interceptions. If the opposition is always throwing his way, it is because he is worthy of attacking. That isn't to say Rollins isn't talented, but it does say that he has plenty of work to do. The other issue - perhaps connected to problem #1 - is that his long speed is rather suspect. He ran a 4.57 and when he gets beaten, he does always not have the jets to recover as often as you would like. I don't think it is a deal breaker, necessarily, but it will raise the urgency for how quickly he can fix his first issue. If you don't have make-up speed, then you cannot get beaten so quickly on the pump portion of the "pump and go". He also gives up inside leverage on press coverage which is a major no-no, but also easily correctible with technique clean-up.
Summary: Rollins is a very interesting prospect, there is no doubt about it. If you were simply asking whether you want him to be signed to a free agent deal, this is a no-brainer. But, if you have to take him with one of your top 2 picks, then you are basically guaranteeing that the negatives are no big deal and that the positives will be the calling cards of a long and fruitful career. Projecting what a guy who is 23 years old (in July) can be in a few years with hard coaching is very difficult to say without knowing what staff gets him and how much you plan on playing him in 2015. If you need him for this year, I fear he would be barbecued by NFL offenses who see what he is susceptible to underneath even in the MAC. But, if you can afford to hide him until he is ready and maybe even "redshirt" him altogether, I definitely see the interest and project upside of this all. He looks like he has plenty of upside. I like him, but it is with a fair amount of caution.