At this point, it is far from a rarity to see an Alabama defender selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. In terms of defensive backs alone, the program has produced a draft pick at that position in the past 5 consecutive drafts – Marlon Humphrey looks to keep the trend going and make it 6 years in a row.
For a guy who isn’t even old enough to legally order a drink at a bar, Humphrey has done quite well for himself. A redshirt sophomore, Humphrey started both years for the Crimson Tide at corner and played a key role on their way to consecutive National Title appearances. He has built a winning pedigree at both levels thus far, coming out of the prestigious Hoover high school football program down in Alabama as a 5-star recruit. In high school, he was a standout track star who built a nationwide reputation and won 7 state titles in both outdoor and indoor track.
As if the high school and college accolades weren’t enough, Humphrey comes from untoppable bloodlines. His father, Bobby Humphrey was an All-American running back at Alabama and went on to be a 1st round draft pick, be named a Pro Bowler and play in a Super Bowl. As for his mother, she was also an elite track star as she still holds records at UAB.
In a rich cornerback class, Marlon Humphrey projects to be selected anywhere from the mid-late 1st round range. He presents tremendous athleticism at the corner position and has a knack for providing a forceful presence in run defense. Still very young, Humphrey has a lot of untapped potential left to be developed at the next level.
Name: Marlon Humphrey
Class: Sophomore (RS)
Comparison: Prince Amukamara (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Draft Grade: 1st Round
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 27, 2017
Positives: Prototype CB with ideal speed and size. Statured with a filled out frame. Long arms. Tremendous skillset in run defense. Displays a quick break on the ball. Reads and reacts to plays well and efficiently. Physical, hard tackling corner. Attacks the ball carrier like he’s shot out of a cannon. Sheds block and adjusts quickly to make stop in close proximity. Works well in space and can get to the ball. Hard hitter who can lay the wood. A pure blazer in downfield pursuit. Shows good instincts and awareness in zone coverage. Lengthy stick with hand at point of attack. Plus ball skills. Quick turnaround and can defend the pass at the drop of a hat. A lot of explosion off the interception. Will reach arms out to impede ball carrier’s path when closed off on pull blocks. Served as a gunner on Alabama’s punt team.
Negatives: Despite sprinter speed, allows man to beat him on vertical routes frequently. Doesn’t have the stop-and-go ability to mirror routes. Hand usage could use some improvement. Lacks strength and will get pushed around by bigger opponents. Pushed back by blocking WRs against the run – doesn’t get consistent separation. Occasionally looks confused on initial drop back against bunch sets. Struggles against slants and allows the receiver to get their back facing him with a lot of room to work with off their release. Not a favorable matchup in jump ball situations downfield as he is liable to let receivers body in front of the ball. Unreliable wrap-up tackler. Tends to lunge towards ball carrier when they approach with full head of steam.
Outlook: It’s not a surprise that Alabama has produced yet another standout at the cornerback position. We’ve seen guys like Kareem Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dee Milliner come out of Alabama and be drafted in the 1st round – but Humphrey could prove to be the best at the position come out of Tuscaloosa in the past decade. At just 20 years old, Humphrey has a sky high ceiling. His combination of size, speed and instincts present a great package to NFL teams. Along with that, Humphrey is among the top run support corners in this year’s draft class as he plays with physicality, scrappiness and ability to deliver big hits. I like him better in zone schemes due to his ability to read and react and play in space. If he doesn’t pan out at corner, there’s always the possibility of shifting him back to free safety with his length, range and ability to close on the ball. Regardless, his versatility, athleticism, ability and upside are too good to pass up in the 1st round.