PFF scouting report: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Sam Monson and the PFF draft analysts breaks down Ohio State's Eli Apple ahead of the 2016 NFL draft.

| 9 months ago
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

PFF scouting report: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State


Here is the PFF draft profile for Ohio State’s Eli Apple, which incorporates PFF’s college grades and scouting intel from our team of analysts. To see all of PFF’s 2016 scouting reports, click here.

Position fit:

Outside corner in a man-coverage scheme.

Stat to know:

Allowed 44.6 percent of targets into his coverage to be caught in 2015.

What he does best:

• Sticks to receivers like glue: Apple is a smooth mover and can follow a receiver all over the field in man-coverage, effectively erasing even the best athletes from the game.

• He fits the size and speed profile that NFL teams are looking for. Apple is over 6-feet tall in a draft where many of the top corner prospects are not; this will likely see him drafted higher than he would have been otherwise.

• Apple will keep working to dislodge a ball after it arrives, and doesn’t just settle for catches because the pass hits his man in the hands—he isn’t finished until the play is whistled dead.

• Well-rounded player: Apple has earned strong, positive PFF grades in coverage and against the run.

Biggest concern:

• Apple has an almost pathological aversion to the football. He often doesn’t even attempt to look for the ball and make a play on it, instead choosing to stay focused on his man and play with his back to the quarterback. Last season, had just one pick and four pass breakups; there could have been many more INTs but for this flaw.

• Apple will whiff completely at times in the run game. He earned a solid grade in that area this season, so overall it’s a strength, but when he misses, he tends to miss badly for big plays.

• He’s out of his comfort zone (pun intended) playing in zone-coverage at the moment for Ohio State; prefers being able to lock onto a receiver.

• Apple can get too grabby in coverage; he likes to get hands on receivers and ride them through the route. He doesn’t need the contact to cover, so that should be fixable, but it will cost him flags early in the NFL.

Bottom line:

Eli Apple may be the main beneficiary of a cornerback class lacking a lot of size at the top end. He displays the ability to play man coverage extremely well, and has the size and speed profile NFL teams are looking for, but he has never earned PFF grades that match the best cover corners in this class, and has enough flaws in his game that he is not a surefire top pick. He’ll likely be drafted higher than his play suggests he should be, but the potential to become an excellent corner at the next level is definitely there.

  • BlackKnightofthePacific

    Eli Apple’s size is a lie. Despite being 6’1” his arms are only 31 3/8” the same length as Mackenzie Alexander and shorter than most corners the same size. Why does this matter? Well anyone who wants to check this out themselves, but every 1st team All-Pro corner over the last 5 years has an arm length of 32” or more.

    • CP72

      That’s a great find. I went through maybe 20 guys in the NFL right now. I found 5 that had less than 32″ arms that are considered at least Pro Bowl caliber. I know you said first team all pro, but I went a little deeper. Here’s the five I found:

      1. Jason Verrett
      2. Desmond Trufant
      3. Stephon Gilmore
      4. Marcus Peters
      5. Ronald Darby

      • BlackKnightofthePacific

        The thing is that all the guys you listed are smaller than Apple, but have similar arm lengths. Which is sort of my point. Everyone’s talking him up because of his size, but his arm length is average. And something I learned this past year is how important scheme is to a corner. I mean look at David Amerson in Oakland and the improvement he made going to a scheme that fit him and conversely you had guys like Byron Maxwell playing like ass in a new system. So here you have Apple who’s supposed to be a big corner, but lacks some of the physical tools that have made big corners successful and some sucker team who likes big corners is going to pick him because of his height and get burned because he doesn’t fit the big corner mold everyone wants him to fit into. That’s why I think his size is a lie.

      • Raymond

        Peters the best CB from last year…

        Tyrann Mathieu is under 32 and many thought he was the best CB in league last year and in DPOY discussion before injury

    • M_B_M

      Official combine weigh-in listed Apple at 6′ and 5/8″, So, he’s three eighths of an inch shorter than his 6’1″ listing. Technically, you’re right but Apple just has shorter arms than others. Also, based on your analysis, both Alexander and Hargreaves won’t be all-pro.

  • P-Macaveli

    Apple + Peters would be incredible in KC!!!!