Cornerback Eli Apple Will Visit The Buffalo Bills Before The Draft
Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple will head to Buffalo for a pre-draft visit. Apple is 6’1″ and 199 pounds according to NFL.com. He is one of the top corners in the entire draft along with Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves III, and Mackensie Alexander.
Apple made a name for himself with an interception that sealed the 2014 National Championship Game against quarterback Marcus Mariota in what would be Mariota’s final pass of his college career. Eli has good speed for a corner running a 4.40 forty yard dash time. He is relatively tall for his position at 6’1″ and has great arm length which allows him to play even bigger than his height would suggest.
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Apple clearly rises to the occasion in big games. In addition to sealing the 2014 National Championship Game with an interception, he also was the 2015 Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP in their 44-28 win against Notre Dame.
Critics of Apple think he is slow to anticipate plays, that he has average athleticism and that he is not a great tackler (he aims a bit high). He uses his physicality to make up for any athleticism he lacks but it has caused him to be called for more penalties than a team would want. With NFL wide receivers being more athletic than the ones Apple faced in college, you might expect the penalties to increase at the next level.
He is better in man to man coverage than in zone mostly because of his ability to use his size and physical nature to slow down receivers near the line.
Apple was involved in another story which received quite a bit of media coverage when Atlanta Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel asked him if he “liked men” during an interview at the NFL Combine according to ESPN.com. Manuel has since apologized for asking the question but it was still completely inappropriate to ask in the first place.
Eli Apple has the height, weight, length and confident attitude to be a premiere coverage corner at the NFL level. Only time will tell whether he realizes his full potential in the pros. Apple might be a reach at #19 but he could be a huge steal if he slips to the Bills in the second round at 49th overall.