Displays good man-to-man cover skills as well. Has experience playing in the slot. Does a nice job recognizing routes, driving on passes and using his long arms and body control to get his hands on a lot of footballs. Exhibits good click and close ability and looks impressive when asked to simply drive on throws in front of him.
However, he isn't the most instinctive of defenders in the deep half and is still working on his read and react skills. Rarely gets a great jump on the football and always seems to be the second safety moving on the play. Isn't a real physical tackler either, struggles to consistently break down, drops his head and doesn't always see what he wants to hit. Will take himself out of some plays in both the run and pass game with some false steps and still has a ways to go from a mental standpoint.
Impression: A fluid, rangy defensive back with some natural cover skills, but his lack of ideal instincts will pop out on tape at times. He's a gifted athlete who has some versatility, but strikes me more as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none nickel type guy in the NFL."
Scouts are confident that the athletic Culliver can make the jump to the NFL. He signed with South Carolina as a wide receiver and even started one game (Tennessee, 2007) early in his career on offense. His next 24 starts came at free safety for the Gamecocks, and he averaged 61 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 pass breakups per season as a defensive back.
Culliver's lanky frame and good speed make him an intriguing candidate as a press corner or potential option to be moved back to free safety. Either way, his versatility and return skills (South Carolina's career leader with 2,476 kick return yards) should result in a mid round selection, if he's able to reassure teams of his health.
Positives: Showed good instincts as a free safety. While aggressive, Culliver was rarely out of position and showed the discipline to stay home on trick plays and misdirection. Reads the eyes of the quarterback and gets a good break on the ball. Normal acceleration with a late burst to close. Quick, active hands in press coverage. Understands zone concepts and due to his experience at free safety and cornerback, understands the role of each member of the secondary. Has quick feet to stop, pivot and accelerate quickly. Competes for the jump ball well, showing an explosive vertical and good timing. Shows a late burst to close. Has natural return skills. Prefers to cut the legs out from under the ball-carrier for his tackles, but is more than willing to lower his pads and lead with the shoulder.
Negatives: Flashes good hands for the press, but gets off-balance and can allow the receiver too easy of a release. Loses a step as he turns to run. A bit grabby with his hands in man coverage. Backpedal is high and choppy. Generally a reliable open-field tackler, but can get out of control in his pursuit and leave cutback lanes. Questionable ball skills despite being a returner and former receiver. Has only intercepted three of 14 passes broken up over his career, including zero of his 11 opportunities the past two years."
Positive: Versatile defensive back with adequate size. Breaks down well, displays effective footwork in all directions of the field, and plays with good quickness. Effective facing the action and displays good recognition of routes in zone coverage. Physical, fights hard to defend the throw, and shows aggressiveness in run defense. Displays a good burst of straight line speed and quickly closes to the action.
Negative: Struggled at cornerback last season, reacting slowly to receivers moves' off the line and struggling to stay downfield with them. Does not always play to his timed speed. Not a strong or sturdy defensive back. Struggles getting off blocks to make plays. Coming off an injury.
Analysis: When healthy and at the top of his game, Culliver can be a productive defensive back who is best lined up in a zone system facing the action and can help in the return game. He must get back to full health but is worth developing for the future."
Negatives: Durability may concern some scouts, missed a lot of games in college due to a plethora of different injuries... Not an especially physical player, is not a very solid tackler, does not take on blockers with good leverage or pop... Instincts are below average, appears to be lost at times, needs to read keys better and improve reaction time at the snap... Takes poor angles far too often, will get out of position to defend running plays in the open field... Will get caught looking in the backfield a little too often, reads QBs well, but is susceptible to double moves and play action... Started his collegiate career at wide receiver."
Chris Culliver boasts blazing Long Speed, smooth Verticity ~ Turn + Burn Velocity ~ and great Range.
However, his Diagnostic Skills are poor, and he doesn't have the greatest Instincts.
This a guy who's got raw skills, but needs a lot of work. His blazing "40" time has, in this historically desolate Draft Class, driven his Stock far beyond that which is justified by his Game.
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