By Dan Durkin—
(CBS) The old NFL adage that you can "never have too many pass rushers" remains true, but given the prevalence of spread offensive sets, it may need to be amended to add "or cornerbacks." It's a three-receiver league, so a team needs to have three trustworthy cornerbacks on their roster. Those that don't will be schemed for by opposing offenses who will isolate receivers against the weaker corner and target him mercilessly.
Today we take a look at a cover corner with elite speed who's a second-tier prospect at the position: Florida State's Ronald Darby.
CB Ronald Darby (5-foot-11, 193 pounds, 21, Florida State)
40-yard dash: 4.38
Vertical: 41 1/2"
Arm: 31 3/8"
Bio: Darby arrived in Tallahassee as a four-star cornerback recruit and the 100- and 200-meter dash prep champion in the state of Maryland.
Darby appeared in all 14 games as a true freshman in 2012 and led the Seminoles with eight pass breakups, earning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. In 2013, he again appeared in all 14 games, making nine starts on the nation's top pass defense, finishing with four pass breakups, two interceptions and not allowing a touchdown. In 2014, Darby registered a career-high 43 tackles to go along with four pass breakups earning All-ACC third-team honors.
In total, Darby appeared in 43 career games, making 23 starts, finishing with 16 pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He elected to forgo his senior season and enters the draft as a true junior.
How he fits the Bears' scheme: Darby could immediately step in and contend for a starting nickel corner role, given his twitchy, explosive athleticism and elite change-of-direction skills. He plays with fluid footwork and has loose hips to swivel and pattern match.
Darby's top-end speed allows him to recover in just a few steps and makes it difficult for opposing receivers to "stack" on top of him vertically. He played a lot of press- and off-man techniques at Florida State, showing a physical one-hand jam to disrupt and re-route at the line of scrimmage. He was frequently asked to play on an island without safety help over the top, and for the most part he held his own.
Darby needs to improve his fundamentals and technique. At times, he was so assured of his ability to recover that he would get caught peeking into the backfield or guessing which way a receiver would break at the top of a route stem, which left him in an undesirable trail position. However, he was typically able to make up ground, given his rare straight-line speed. Scouts will question his toughness against the run and knock him for not making more plays on the ball, evidenced by two career interceptions.
Draft projection: Darby's athleticism and top-end speed are coveted for any pass defense. He should be a second-round selection.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.
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