Senior Bowl week is a great opportunity for lesser-known talents to make a name for themselves and improve their draft stock. You may have heard of a guy named Ziggy Ansah, who surged his way to a top-five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft after an impressive Senior Bowl performance. This year's version of Ansah could be Miami (OH) cornerback Quinten Rollins. Despite playing entirely different positions, I have already seen a few comparisons between the two. Like Ansah, Rollins is extremely raw and relatively new to the sport. He also has an immense amount of upside and won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year award in his first season as a collegiate football player.
Rollins played four full seasons at point guard for Miami's basketball team. After realizing the limited options for his basketball career, Rollins decided to try out for football as a walk-on and earned a job as their starting CB. He finished the season with an impressive 53 solo tackles, good for sixth in the MAC. You just don't see stats like these from a one-year player. Rollins is special, and his tape will show you why.
Once a playmaker, always a playmaker. After finishing his basketball career with 214 career steals (second in school history), Rollins transferred his pickpocket ability over to the football field.
In just his second career collegiate football game, Rollins recorded his first interception (above). He's matched up against a 6-foot-5 receiver and still manages to turn his head, high-point the ball and secure it for the turnover. I guess four years of basketball goes a long way to improve your leaping ability.
Despite playing just one year of football at the college level, Rollins shows tremendous ball skills for a CB. He led the MAC with seven interceptions (third in the NCAA) and displayed the instincts of a four-year starter.
Rollins keeps his eyes peeled on the quarterback and times the throw perfectly. His ability to plant his foot into the ground and quickly change direction is impressive.
Just another example of Rollins making an incredible play on the ball.
Great Tackler in the Open Field
I'll admit, I tend to bash the NBA and NCAA basketball from time to time for how soft it's become over the past few decades. But I have a ton of respect for a guy who can make the transition into a more physical sport and make open-field tackles look easy.
Here is a perfect example that displays Rollins' aggressiveness versus the run. On second-and-1, Northern Illinois goes for the read-option and sends a receiver in motion to lead-block. Rollins does a great job of shedding the block while keeping his eyes on the ball carrier and eventually makes the tackle for no gain.
Not only is Rollins a willing tackler, but he's also not afraid to deliver big hits. He will need to work on being more consistent with his technique and his angles, but for the most part, he possesses good tackling fundamentals.
While I consider Rollins to be more of a CB prospect, there may be a few scouts who believe he is more suited for the safety position. 53 solo tackles is an impressive feat for a CB, and it's not often that you see a CB with the ability to pursue the ball carrier and make huge plays downhill.
Rollins will have some work to do if he wants to earn a starting job in the NFL any time soon. Having just one year of experience at the college level is definitely concerning. You hear all the time that cornerback is the hardest position to play and one of the hardest to learn, and I tend to agree with that sentiment. Rollins has plenty of tools to work with but will need to work on his technique.
In this play, Rollins gives up the inside release to his assignment and allows the receiver to get open across the middle of the field for a touchdown.
If I had to sum up Quinten Rollins in one play, I would use the one below:
Rollins peaks into the backfield a little too early and loses sight of his man. By the time the ball reaches the receiver he's about 7 yards away and gives up an easy first down. Luckily, he doesn't give up on the play and lowers his helmet to pop the ball loose and force a turnover.
How He Fits
Normally I wouldn't condone selecting such a raw prospect at a position like CB in the first or second round. But when you pair Rollins' upside with
the DB Whisperer Teryl Austin, I'm already sold. The Detroit Lions would be in a perfect situation if they were to re-sign Rashean Mathis for another year and let Rollins develop behind him. He obviously has a lot to work on, but on the bright side, having only one year of football experience since high school doesn't often give you enough time to develop any bad habits. Rollins has the natural playmaking ability and ball skills that Austin has been preaching about since he arrived in Detroit.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any suggestions of prospects you would like to be profiled in the comments below.