Eli Apple still must improve, but would strengthen Redskins' CB corps

Taking a look at players the Washington Redskins might draft later this month.

Player: Eli Apple, Ohio State

Position: Corner

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 199 pounds

Notable: Apple’s last name was originally Woodard, but he changed it as a teenager to honor his stepfather, who had raised him since he was 2 years old. Apple was born in Philadelphia but lived for two years in Ghana, where his grandmother was the leader of a town.

Reading material:Some family background and some more.

Games I watched: Alabama (2014), Oregon (2014), Virginia Tech (2015), Northern Illinois (2015).

What I liked: He is excellent in press coverage and reacts well to receiver’s moves. Apple is so balanced at the snap and so patient that it enables him to mirror receivers and not open his hips to the first move (most of the time; it did happen once vs. Northern Illinois). Because of all this, Apple reacted well when receivers started in and cut back out or vice versa. He also played press zone coverages as well (Ohio State used quarters coverage a lot). He was fluid when he had to turn and run. Apple did a good job when matched vs. Alabama’s Amari Cooper (he caught a touchdown pass on Apple’s side, but that appeared to be a coverage breakdown by the safety as well). There were times in that game when the quarterback looked at Cooper off the line, but Apple’s reaction to a pivot route or a double move caused him to throw elsewhere. Apple did a nice job vs. the run, though he was sometimes a bit too aggressive (most teams would take that "problem"). He did not shy away from that responsibility. His interception vs. Oregon came on a desperate heave on the game’s final play. He has excellent feet and long arms. Improved during his tenure; competes.

What I didn’t: He didn’t always show the best awareness when the ball was in the air early in his career and sometimes lost sight in zone coverage, leading to big plays. He is a physical corner, which is good but also can be bad: He was penalized seven times for pass interference and four for holding. So he’ll have to cut out his tendency to be too handsy after initial contact. While he was good in press, he’ll have to improve his technique while jamming and had some issues against bigger receivers.

How he fits: Apple has played press man and zone coverages; the Redskins, like any team, will mix their coverages. Apple would give the Redskins an ability to play more press man coverage (alongside Bashaud Breeland).

Why he doesn’t make sense: Because the Redskins will have a choice of several strong defensive line candidates, an area they absolutely want to keep helping. Apple might be slotted below 21. The Redskins do have more options at corner already on the roster, but some of that assumes good health on the part of Chris Culliver. That’s tough as of now. Also, Apple’s strengths are mostly in press man and the Redskins like to use a lot of zone – an area where he must continue improving. He has the skills to do so and made a jump from his first year starting to the second, but the Redskins might want someone more polished in all areas. A number of experts mentioned him needing to add strength, too.

Why he does: Because there are some prime positions defensively you can never get enough of: pass rushers and corners. Apple is a good player and would be able to help immediately (likely as a third corner). That would ease the burden on Culliver to be at or near 100 percent by the time the season begins. And it would give the Redskins three potential excellent corners when Culliver is healthy. It also would enable Quinton Dunbar to continue developing while learning a new position. Will Blackmon and Greg Toler would add solid depth and make this a position of strength. If you ever need a reminder of how important corner depth is for the Redskins, review 2015. They were tested in a big way and were fortunate to have signed Blackmon after the season and to have moved Dunbar to corner.