Trey Marshall (S, Florida State) – 79

There is definitely a place for Trey Marshall in the NFL, but teams will have to be careful to play to his strengths and mask his deficiencies.  He has, to an extent, been a victim of his own versatility at FSU, lining up almost everywhere in the secondary.  That has, however, enabled scouts to see him in all sorts of situations.  To my mind, his skill-set is that of a box safety, or strong safety, in the NFL.  He doesn’t have the cover skills to match up against NFL WRs; in coverage, he is scrappy, grabby, slow to turn his hips and has marginal ball skills.  You don’t really want him exposed too much against WRs in space.  He is, however, fast and physical enough to cover TEs and RBs effectively.  In run support, Marshall is really very good; he flies to the ball like a missile and hits very aggressively; in this part of the game, he reminds me of Keanu Neal, of the Atlanta Falcons.  I like a safety who looks like he bears a personal grudge towards the ball carrier and Marshall certainly falls into this category.  I will be interested to see if he can bed down in one position in the 2017 season and improve his skills in the cover game.  If so, he could rise quickly up draft boards.  Nevertheless, I’ve already seen enough from Marshall to justify giving him a Day 2 grade.


Tarvarus McFadden (CB, Florida State) – 82

McFadden is a fascinating prospect to scout.  He has the size (6-2, 198lb), speed, length and ball skills to be an elite NFL CB and it would not surprise me one whit to see him taken in the 1st round of the 2018 Draft.  Would I take him in the 1st round?  Probably not, unless I were the GM of a team like the 49ers.  He would have real value in the NFC West; I can see him handling the likes of Tavon Austin, John Brown and Tyler Lockett with aplomb.  If I were a GM in the NFC South, however, I wouldn’t touch him with the longest of the barge poles in my collection, for the likes of Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin etc. would have him for breakfast.  McFadden just doesn’t like contact.  He is a technically deficient tackler and, when he blitzes, his main aim seems to stay out of harm’s way.  In off-man coverage, however, he is really very good.  His closing speed is highly impressive, he stays in phase and he attacks the ball, showing excellent hands.  In press-man, by contrast, his punch is pretty weak and he can be overwhelmed by bigger, more physical receivers.  Against the run, he is really flawed, due to a reluctance to confront blocks and his inability to tackle with his head up and drive through the ball carrier.  If he can be more physical in 2017, he could end up being a top 15 pick, for he is a formidable athlete.  At the moment, however, I think he’s overrated.

Derwin James (S, Florida State) – 98

Derwin James is a simply outstanding prospect.  The thing that stands out most for me is his versatility as a safety; whether he’s blitzing, filling in against the run, covering TEs close to the line of scrimmage or playing the deep ball, he does it with remarkable aplomb.  He appears to be playing, at times, at a different speed to everyone else on the field and I can only imagine how intimidating it must be for a RB or TE to see #3 roaming the defensive backfield, like a lion with its eye on a gazelle.  He is one of those players for whom an offensive co-ordinator has to account on every play and there are really very few flaws in his game.  I particularly enjoy watching him blitz – he has great size for a safety (6-3, 210) but, even so, there is no way he should be able to run through Power 5 offensive linemen the way that he can; as an example, look at how ,as a true freshman, he split the LG and LT of North Carolina State in 2015 (6:37, 3rd Quarter).  When he gets home, he wreaks absolute havoc; see, again in 2015, his sack of Lamar Jackson and forced fumble ( 4:59, 3rd Quarter).  Just occasionally, he is overly reliant on his physicality to make a tackle and will not wrap up effectively; this is, however, a minor quibble as, for the most part, his tackling is both powerful and dependable.  He also had to redshirt the 2016 season, having torn his meniscus in Week 2 of 2016, and it will be important for him to show that he has lost none of his explosiveness.  These are my only two caveats – otherwise, I would have considered giving him 100/100.  Needless to say, therefore, James is, for me, one of the very top players in the 2018 draft.