Therefore, after practice I did some homework on the kid. Learned he was a 5-10, 186-pound defensive back who was said to have out and out wheels when asked to track the football. So when heading back on Wednesday he was the one prospect I was really excited to see. And again he did not disappoint.
Skrine had another very good practice, staying low in his back-pedal, cleanly opening up his hips and generating a real burst when asked to click and close. Now, he was/is raw and his footwork seemed to get a choppy at times and he would waste some motion when trying to close. However, the natural fluidity, balance and overall skill set to play corner in the NFL was there. Plus, when asked to turn and track the football vertically, the guy displayed impressive initial explosion, had a good get off and reached top-end speed quickly, making it really tough for receivers to get behind.
He did look narrow framed and because of some wasted steps/motion when trying to click and close he did have a tough time getting around bigger receivers and could be boxed out away from the ball. However, you expect a small-school corner to be raw and there is still some upside to his game from a technical standpoint.
Fast forward to this past week where Skrine ran the fastest unofficial 40 time of the defensive back group at 4.29 (which was later said to be in the low 4.4 range on the "official clock"). Either the way guy can straight-out run. Plus, he displayed quick feet, natural bend and balance during position drills.
He's going to need some time to develop both physically and mentally. However, he's a guy who has the talents to come in and compete for a spot in nickel situations and eventually could fight for playing time on the outside. But overall, he's made a nice jump up draft boards in the past couple weeks and at this stage I would certainly take a long look at Skrine during the 5-6 round range."
Skrine stepped in at cornerback as true freshman, starting the final three games on his way to 23 tackles, two for loss and two interceptions. He started eight of 10 games played as a sophomore, making 48 tackles, two for loss, and breaking up four passes. In his junior season, Skrine made 45 tackles, intercepted two passes and broke up eight others on his way to his first of two first-team All-Southern Conference accolades.
Track speed is one thing, and Skrine showed that in his all-conference 4x100 relay performance as a sophomore, but translating it onto the field is not always easy. His ability to run with any receiver, and recover on the fly, along his kickoff return ability (40 career returns for 891 yards) and willingness to make contact against the run makes Skrine an intriguing late-round pick despite his somewhat raw technique and playmaking ability.
Positives: Plays off coverage, press and press-bail. Has change of direction ability to handle nickel spot, as well. Generally low in his backpedal. Closes quickly and is flexible enough to attack plays in front of him as a zone corner. Willing cut or shoulder tackler behind the line of scrimmage, or even when engaged with receiver on a block outside. Good recovery speed, catches receivers down the sideline even after taking a false step on pump fake. Owns hand-eye coordination to knock away passes in front of receivers. Good vertical to battle for jump balls. Gives some kickoff return ability with good straight-line speed and enough elusiveness to make the first man miss to get to the open field.
Negatives: Only adequate size and build for the position. Lacks strength as a tackler, duck-and-swipe at legs on the outside. Aggressive corner who can be fooled on double moves. Loses his balance in transition at times, missing tackles and giving up too many catches. Only fair hands for the interception, needs to improve to be a playmaker. Allows too many receptions, as he gives a lot of cushion to slower receivers. Lacks great vision as a returner, will not bounce them outside as easily at the next level. Must work on ball security."
Positive: Athletic cornerback who displays a lot of next-level skills in his game. Breaks down well, plays low, and is flexible. Quickly changes direction, fleet-footed moving in every area, and smooth in his hips. Loses nothing transitioning with opponents off the line, easily runs downfield with receivers, and has a solid burst to the ball. Fast running laterally. Turns it on in a single step and fast enough to recover from mistakes. Quick up the field to help out in run defense. Effectively diagnoses the action.
Negative: Gives a large cushion, which results in a lot of underneath receptions. Is a bit quick out of his backpedal at times. Tends to get high in his backpedal.
Analysis: Skrine is a terrific athlete with elite speed and a great amount of upside. Still developing at the position, Skrine would be most effective in a system that uses him backed off the line of scrimmage. Should be able to contribute as a nickel or dime back during his rookie season and also be given an opportunity to return kicks."
Negatives: Did not put up great statistics in college, only recorded 155 tackles and five interceptions at Chattanooga... Is a little shorter than the average corner, but has adequate bulk and a solid frame... Will need to work on tackling skills if he is to be a solid corner at the next level, tends to lunge too often, but does a good job of hitting bigger backs low... Not a big playmaker in coverage... Not always in good position when running in man coverage, is seen too often giving up the inside, which will be a problem against NFL receivers... Will get out-muscled by bigger NFL receivers... Does not appear to have great leaping ability in pads... Looks a little stiff in the hips... Is still raw for a cornerback, not especially skilled in any particular facet of the position, will need some coaching to be successful at the next level."