WITH THE 138TH PICK IN THE 2023 NFL DRAFT, THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS SELECT: DARIUS RUSH, CORNERBACK, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Now here is a story: a big, long cornerback with freaky athleticism (testing in the 98th percentile of RAS) has a standout performance in the Senior Bowl.
Darius Rush is a CB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.81 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 43 out of 2212 CB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/iNgLhREvA4 pic.twitter.com/LQK4osRZPw
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 14, 2023
This causes him to rise up on draft boards as teams go back to watch the tape and see that this CB is an underrated gem. Fits a Cover 3 & man-match heavy coverage scheme. This makes him a favorite to land in a Gus Bradley-type Defense. Even gets comped to Richard Sherman by some pundits.
Then draft night rolls around and this corner is selected by… the Indianapolis Colts.
Wait a second. This story sounds very familiar… Oh I’m sorry dear reader, I must have copied and pasted my notes on Julius Brents to Darius Rush. Silly me.
Tongue-in-cheek 4th wall-breaking humor aside, the Julius Brents and Darius Rush pre-draft story have plenty of parallels. Gus Bradley and Chris Ballard’s prototype of CB has been analyzed plenty of times, and these two both fit the bill perfectly. No wonder the Colts decided to double-dip at CB at that point.
Considering he had a Round 2 Grade on my board and was drafted in Round 5? Tremendous Value Pick by Ballard.
What are my grades for the top remaining CBs (Big Board Rank)?
Joey Porter Jr. (15)
Cam Smith (24)
Kelee Ringo (30)
Clark Phillips III (31)
Darius Rush (38)
Tyrique Stevenson (43)
DJ Turner (46)
Julius Brents (47)
Garrett Williams (52)
Jakorian Bennett (58)
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) April 28, 2023
The former Gamecock has been one of the better coverage Corners in the last 2 seasons. In 70 targets Rush allowed just 34 catches with 15 Passes Defended and 3 INTs. This is in spite of him just becoming a CB his freshman year. The former WR cut his teeth at Special Teams as a gunner before being elevated as the CB2 behind Cam Smith in 2021.
Darius Rush’s career stats in press coverage:
❌ 12 Forced Incompletions
❌ 53.2 Passer Rating Allowed
❌ 87.3 PFF Grade pic.twitter.com/C4D3TLR8Mn
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 1, 2023
With very strong ball production, Darius Rush has used his WR past to be able to have a strong sense of route reading. Sticky in Man coverage, he can mirror opposing WRs and then contest the catch. His nearly 80″ wingspan certainly helps in the latter, and his 4.36 speed helps in the former. With some smooth hips, he perfectly fits a Zone Cover 3 and Man-Match with press system.
On Talkin’ Ball with Pat Leonard: ‘The Czar’ @FBallGameplan gave us Studs, Sleepers & UDFAs in the #NFLDraft, like Darius Rush @BleavSports @BleavNetwork @betonline_ag @instagram https://t.co/KnhvoVyCFd@YouTube https://t.co/EgbBAj93ns@spotifypodcasts https://t.co/HYFKdVbLCW pic.twitter.com/NAyQvWDTUu
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) April 27, 2023
His only major flaw on the field is his angles to the ball. Whether it’s after the catch or versus the run, Rush needs to learn the proper angles and routes to cut ball carriers off and make a tackle. His 14 missed tackles are predominantly due to this, but at the tackle point, he brings enough physicality to bring runners down. Experience and coaching could very well remedy this issue.
A personal favorite prospect of mine, the insane speed blended with size and length makes him an enticing athlete. Ball production despite inexperience, scheme fit, and coachable flaws give me an indication that his best football is yet to come.
2 Mocks from February & March,
2 Darius Rush Picks…
& we get him in the 5th 💙 pic.twitter.com/dToa4pGsY3
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) April 29, 2023
Adding Darius Rush to this CB room already consisting of slot Kenny Moore II, rising CB Isaiah Rodgers Sr., and fellow 2023 draftmate Julius Brents gives the Colts solid depth at the position. Should he reach his ceiling, this secondary could start to remind fans of Gus Bradley’s most famous one: The Legion of Boom.
More from The Blue Stable:
Learn more about another potential Day 3 steal in Northwestern’s DL, Adetomiwa Adebawore: HERE