Issues with the Current Landscape of HS Evaluators
When reading articles or other sources I find that evaluate high school football players, we hear the same common words and phrases:
“He is a D1 corner”
“He is a dog”
“He can play”
“He is under the radar”
The list goes on and on. Any words or phrases you use when giving your opinion on any player are just that! They are YOUR words and it is YOUR definition. The more you study a particular team, league, and division, the more you’ll be able to log mental notes on the specific criteria required to play at a particular level. Effective player personnel departments at either the collegiate or pro level are going to have a rubric that is CLEARLY defined. The rubric will have an adjective with a numerical grade next to it. That adjective must be used by universally so that everyone is speaking the same language.
In addition, teams will also have certain positional parameters to help filter out players that do not fit their criteria. So when I hear someone say a player has Division 1 talent, I’m forced to ask “Division 1 talent to what team?” For example, Alabama has a set positional criteria for the cornerback position. Their height criteria may be between 6’0 and 6’2. A 5’11 high school cornerback may be highly touted, but if the player doesn’t fit the positional criteria, they may not be on Alabama’s Big Board. Is that to say, “they are being under-recruited or slept on?”. No. It means you don’t fit their criteria and possibly their system. There are exceptional players that just don’t schematically fit with a particular team.
Evaluators need to do better at using a clearly defined rubric and being able to explain their terminology and to be consistent in the usage of that terminology.
Below are some key questions I look to answer when evaluating Cornerbacks
Positional Traits: Cornerbacks
Man Coverage (Press, Soft-Press, Off-Man)
This is by far the most important positional factor.
1. What can the player do within 5 yards? Do they possess the lateral quickness, balance, and Play Strength to get a Jam and disrupt the release of the receiver? Can they execute a Soft Press or Feathering technique? Can they maintain leverage based on their assignment? A team may want a Corner that wins with physicality in Press. Another team may value a Corner that can execute a Soft Press and may not be as physical at the line of scrimmage.
2. Can they read the body language of a receiver and react? Do they have the mental processing to be able to read a route progression and react?
3. Does the player have the ability to flip his hips and remain in-phase? Can the player drop his weight and hips in order to quickly transition with fluid movements that do not waste steps?
4. Does the player have the ability to time, locate and high point the ball? You do not need to have great hands as a cornerback to have good ball skills. At the very least can they disrupt the catch?
5. Do they have a willingness to defend the run? Some schemes that “Cloud” their Corners may value players that may be a better tackler.
The above criteria is not everything I look for in a Corner but those are definitely things on my checklist. The most important thing for an evaluator to do is to find the things the player CAN do. It’s easy to find weaknesses. Identify what the player CAN do and find the best competition they've faced.