NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
I am back again with another player breakdown. If you have read any of my previous reports (shame on you if you have not) you can see that I have concentrated on the Cornerback position so far this season. The Patriots have held up okay at the position so far, but this weekend will be the first real test since week 1. Regardless of how the game against the Giants goes or the rest of the season for that matter, corner is a position that will need to be addressed. With that said, here is my thoughts on KeiVarae Russell out of Notre Dame.
Name: KeiVarae Russell
School: Notre Dame (JR.)
Weight: 190 Lbs.
|2015 Game Log||Tackles||Interceptions|
|9/19||Georgia Tech||W 30-22||3||2||1||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2|
Russell has good size for the position and when you watch him he looks bigger than he is listed and seems to have a long upper body and arms. He is big enough and physical enough to hold up against outside receivers and has adequate straight line speed. Russell shows good timing on his jumps as well as his hands to break up passes without getting too physical with receivers that would warrant a flag. He is an above average tackler and does not shy away from contact. He is willing to come up and take on runners and will fight through blocks on bubble screens.
Russell was forced to sit out all of last year because of an academic scandal. This issue may be behind him, but his character and reliability will be questioned by teams and could raise a red flag for some. On the field he must improve his footwork and technique. He bends almost at his shoulders rather than at his knees and he looks top heavy and off balanced at times. Russell must work on his lateral agility as well. Wide receivers that are good route runners are able to get separation from him. The other thing I noticed that I did not like is that he struggles to look back for the ball. He gets so focused on running with his assignment that teams can run to his side and he is oblivious to it. He has to work on his field awareness so he can help out when the play is not directly at the guy he is guarding.
First off, I hate watching and scouting secondary players. Corner is not as bad as Safety, but it takes a lot of time to watch enough of these guys to get a feel for what the do well and what they need to improve on. Guys like Russell may only have a few plays that he is thrown at or is directly involved in for an entire game. Enough with the crying.
From everything I have read on Russell and the academic situation is that he is doing everything right to make up for the mistake and has become a good leader in the locker room, so I am not overly concerned with that aspect of this report. I like a lot about what Russell brings to the field. He has a nice combination of size, speed and physicality to bring some versatility to the position. Due to his aggressiveness and his lack of agility he will struggle with receivers who run good route combinations or are quicker and shiftier receivers. I really like his willingness and his ability to tackle. I don’t think he is an elite corner prospect but I think he could be a very good corner in the NFL and I think his style of play and his skill set does fit what the Patriots look for in their corners. I think there is a chance he is around when the Patriots get on the clock (it really sucks not have a first round pick by the way.)
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