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2015 NFL Draft: Ronald Darby Scouting Profile

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We take a closer look at one of the fastest corners in the class, Florida State's Ronald Darby.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers are in good position in the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft. Picking at 15 should give them an opportunity to consider filling a need from the top of several position groups including: wide receiver, offensive lineman, cornerback, defensive lineman, and linebacker (both outside and inside).

Even more good news: just about each one of the aforementioned position groups (and perceived positions of need) provides good depth and solid value through at least round two. This means the 9ers should be able to fill two needs with prospects considered in the top five or ten of their position group.

Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters are the top corners in this class and there's a chance both are available when the 9ers pick in round one. But if they wait until round two to consider addressing the depth at corner, there's a chance (albeit a small one) that speedy Ronald Darby could be available.

Basics

School: Florida State
Class: Junior
Height: 5-11
Weight: 193lbs
Arm Length: 31 3/8"
Hands: 8 5/8"
Bench: 12 reps
40-time: 4.38
Vertical Jump: 41.5"
Broad Jump: 129"
3-cone Drill: 6.94
20 yard shuttle: 4.14

Pros:

  • Darby's 4.38-forty was the second fastest time by a corner posted at last months combine.
  • A former sprinter (100m & 200m), Darby is more than just a one trick pony. Darby has plus coverage skills with a quick, smooth backpedal and fluid hips.
  • Smart player with ability to read intermediate and deep routes well.
  • Shows uncanny ability to stay in receiver's hip pocket throughout the route.
  • Can play both press, off coverage, and zone well enough to fill a need in just about any scheme.
  • Showed improvement in areas where he struggled as an underclassman. (vs. the run and tackling technique)
  • He's not a big hitter by any means, but he's sound enough in the tackling department where it won't be a concern.
  • Saw very few targets in college despite starting opposite another first/second round corner, P.J. Williams.

Cons:

  • Relies on speed to often sometimes losing his technique. Coaches at the next level can clean this up.
  • Can be susceptible to comeback routes or other routes where receivers can use his speed against him.
  • Ball skills aren't the greatest. Many of the big plays he does give up can be chalked up to not being able to find the ball. Especially when he's forced to turn and run.
  • Can he hang with physical receivers? At 193lbs, Darby didn't have too much trouble with that in college but the NFL may be a different story.

Doing your homework:

You can watch Darby below vs. Oklahoma State from August 2014. You can also check games vs Miami, Oregon, and Virginia over at DraftBreakdown.com.

Why he fits the 49ers:

The 49ers desperately need speed and athleticism in their defensive backfield and Darby certainly fits that bill. He'd have the opportunity to start from day one but the 9ers have enough depth to allow an incoming prospect time to learn the system and play when he's ready. (Which for Darby, likely won't take very long.)

He's versatile enough to play inside and out and could give the 9ers another option at nickel corner. In addition to be fantastic cover corner, Darby is a willing and capable special teams player.

Why he might not fit the 49ers:

As mentioned, the 9ers should be in prime position to grab one of the top two corners in the draft in the first round. Obviously addressing the need with a better prospect would be the main reason Darby wouldn't end up a 9er.

GM Trent Baalke does have a tendency to prefer corners 6' and taller and his affinity for arm length is no secret. I suppose those could be two factors working against Darby. {Kinda-sorta sarcasm font}

What they're saying:

  • Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo noted that no corner in this class has seen fewer targets than Ronald Darby.

Conclusion:

It's tough to get a read on Darby's true draft stock as you'll see him listed as high as second or third by some and as low as seven or eight on others.

Some are afraid of the lack of production and, yes, only two career interceptions leaves more to be desired.  BUT, when you consider he averaged just one target every 10 snaps, it's clear opposing QBs had little success looking Darby's way.

I think Darby has his most value in the second round. There are only two or three corners that will rival his speed and athleticism. If he refines his technique and stops relying on his speed to bail him out, Darby has the opportunity to be the best cover corner in this class.