Video: Ohio State CB Eli Apple 2015 Pass Targets With Stat Breakdown

With the 2016 NFL Draft now a month away, I have begun thoroughly breaking down a few of the top cornerbacks in this year’s class as it relates to how they performed when targeted in coverage. Last week, I compiled all of the targets that Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander faced during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Now, I have turned my attention to Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple and have all of his 2015 targets compiled for you in the video below in addition to a play-by-play rundown of each.

As you can see, I have Apple being targeted a total of 57 times in 2015 and that includes all penalty plays that included him. I should note, however, that I chose not to include a few screen passes well behind the line of scrimmage that he played way off on. Apple gave up 21 receptions for 304 total yards and two touchdowns in my viewing of his tape. I should point out, however, that Apple was penalized four times during those 57 targets. Additionally, all but 8 of the receptions that he allowed resulted in either a first down or touchdown.

You will notice in the video that unlike Alexander, Apple contested quite a few of the passes thrown his way. Even so, he only had 9 all season. While Apple is a willing tackler of sorts, he’s just not very good at it. I tried to pay some attention to his participation in the run game while reviewing all of his games and once again, while he’s willing, he certainly falls short in that area. Additionally, he struggles to get off blocks down the field.

Apple can play press, press-bail, off and zone as you will see in the video. You would like to see his technique improve in press and especially when it comes to him rerouting his man. He also needs to get his head around a bit quicker in coverage at times but for the most part, he does a good job at staying in phase with his man down the field.

Personally, I would rank Apple ahead of Alexander based on his 2015 tape but with that said, his inability to tackle the catch along with his overall tackling ability really scares me. While he’s likely to be drafted in the first round, I really don’t see the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting him if given the opportunity, which they are unlikely to have.

VT1Q3-9VT 31Isaiah FordI
UH1Q3-8UH 31Marcus KempI
NIU1Q2-17NIU 35 Tommylee LewisINT
NIU4Q3-16NIU 14Kenny GolladayI
WMU1Q2-5WMU 30Corey DavisI
WMU1Q1-10WMU 32Corey DavisC3
WMU1Q2-7WMU 49Corey DavisC12Y
WMU2Q2-24OSU 38Corey DavisC8
WMU3Q3-9OSU 11Corey DavisIYPI
WMU4Q2-7WMU 25Corey DavisI
WMU4Q3-12WMU 31Corey DavisI
IND2Q3-8IND 27Simmie Cobbs Jr.I
IND2Q1-10IND 21Anthony CorsaroI
IND2Q3-7IND 24 Ricky JonesIYPI
IND3Q3-12IND 30Ricky JonesI
IND4Q2-19OSU 44Ricky JonesIYPI
IND4Q2-14OSU 38Ricky JonesC14Y
IND4Q1-10OSU 24Ricky JonesC18Y
IND4Q4-GOSU 09Ricky JonesI
UMD1Q1-10UMD 37Taivon JacobsI
UMD2Q3-7UMD 43Taivon JacobsI
UMD3Q2-3OSU 24D.J. MooreI
PSU1Q1-10PSU 34Chris GodwinC45Y
PSU1Q3-5OSU 16Saeed BlacknallI
PSU3Q1-10PSU 22Chris GodwinC56Y
RU1Q2-5RU 30Leonte CarrooC18Y
RU1Q1-10RU 20Andre PattonC11Y
RU1Q3-10RU 31Leonte CarrooI
RU2Q3-9RU 46Leonte CarrooI
MINN1Q2-8Minn 41K.J. MayeC4
MINN2Q2-10Minn 32Drew WolitarskyI
MINN4Q3-6OSU 10Rashad StillC10Y TD
MINN4Q3-5Minn 45Rashad StillC10Y
MINN4Q1-10OSU 45Rashad StillC6
ILL1Q1-10ILL 20Desmond CainI
ILL2Q1-10OSU 31Geronimo AllisonI
ILL3Q2-10OSU 18Malik TurnerI
ILL4Q2-19OSU 36Geronimo AllisonI
ILL4Q4-12OSU 29Dionte TaylorI
MSU1Q1-10MSU 28Aaron BurbridgeC6
MSU2Q3-9MSU 26Aaron BurbridgeC14Y
MSU2Q3-14MSU 36Aaron BurbridgeC36YPI
MSU2Q3-14MSU 25Macgarrett KingsC8
MSU4Q2-7OSU 45Aaron BurbridgeC6
MICH1Q1-10Mich 36Amara DarbohC8
MICH1Q1-10Mich 47Amara DarbohI
MICH1Q2-6Mich 26Amara DarbohI
MICH2Q3-GOSU 06Amara DarbohI
MICH4Q3-8OSU 09Jehu ChessonI
MICH4Q1-10Mich 05Jehu ChessonI
MICH4Q3-2Mich 13Jehu ChessonI
ND2Q1-10ND30Chris BrownI
ND2Q1-10OSU15Will FullerI
ND3Q3-6ND09Torii Hunter Jr.I
ND4Q3-4ND38Will FullerC7Y
ND4Q1-10ND08Corey RobinsonI

  • kev4heels

    he doesn’t look like a 1st rounder to me. his feet and COD are fine down the field. problem is that he is grabby and doesn’t get his head around to find the ball. i wouldn’t touch him until rd 2. JMO


    Nice work as usual Dave, looks like you’re UN-checking boxes. The more I see on the CB prospects the more I would like DL in the 1st rd or safety. The CB position is hit or miss at best. Maybe better off double dipping in rounds 2-4 for a corner. Besides why break the streak.

  • jconeoone C

    I kind of get the feeling watching cb play like this is helpful but at the same time will make you wonder how they are graded so high. What I mean is if you did this exact tape with the number 1 cb vh3 I wonder what kind of impression you would come away with? Bc I’ve watched some breakdown of him and he seems to get beat a fair amount as well. I suppose it basically comes down to their perceived ceiling and/or floor

  • Lambert58

    Good work, Dave. Thanks for putting that together. I see Apple as good but not great. Not elite and not a first rounder.

  • PittsburghSports

    He’s not turning his head around, because he’s playing the receivers pocket. That’s considered a good thing when not in phase with the receiver.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah you’ll see that with all these guys. It comes down to what you want in a CB, and trying to see the traits that translate.

    For me Alexander just doesn’t have the ball awareness to succeed, and he’ll continue to struggle giving up separation to better WRs until his footwork is fixed. Apple is a little better and plays the ball well. Have to worry about how grabby he is. I’ve grown on his run defense, but he’ll need to work on tackling. Jackson is my favorite because I love his ball skills, if he is near the WR, he breaks it up and I think that translates really well. He has to tackle better as well and close a little faster underneath. Hargraves won’t be there, but is great. Great at staying with his man, great ball skills, really physical against the run and tackles well. He does get beat quite a bit in 2 specific areas. 1, he is ultra aggressive and can bite on double moves, I can live with that and either keep S over the top or try to coach him up when to take those chances. 2, on jump balls he doesn’t play big, this is a bigger concern, but the rest of his game is great.

  • kev4heels

    yeah…but uh, he is in phase in many of these clips. he is simply not locating the ball. sorry, i want a guy that is going to be able to locate the ball and make a play on it.

  • PittsburghSports

    I didn’t think so, and on a few of them I thought he played the pocket beautifully. Slightly behind the receiver is not in phase. If he turns his head there he’ll immediately allow separation. I guarantee he’s doing exactly what he’s been taught to do.

  • kev4heels

    they are teaching him to play the man to the point that he doesn’t turn around to locate the ball? hmmmm….don’t think so man. look, i get playing the pocket and staying in phase so you don’t keep lateral coverage on the main at the catch point. but, you can’t convince me that they don’t want him trying to INT the ball.

  • jconeoone C

    Yea noticed the double moves issue on certain plays as well. I really need to watch wj3 tape bc he’s getting a lot of love.

  • PittsburghSports

    I love these breakdowns. Not sure why everyone is so down on Apple. It’s like they’ve been fed this narrative and are just running with it. He’s got length and speed. His footwork looks great. Not the best click and close, but he does appear to have good closing speed. I like his jam at the LOS. He sticks with receivers and competes for the ball. A little grabby for sure. I’m not a huge fan of 1st rd CBs, but I’d be real happy with Apple in rd 1, and I agree I think he’s better than Mack Alexander.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah it’s man coverage technique. You don’t have to believe me. Look it up for yourself.

  • falconsaftey43

    Haven’t watched the video yet, but Pittsburgh Sports is right, often taught to play the pocket and not the ball when in trail technique. Better to breakup the pass at the catch point than to look for the ball and allow the completion.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah I agree with you here. A lot to like with Apple, and his work against the run in the Michigan State game did a lot to convince me he will become a good all around player. My personal rankings are Hargraves, Jackson, Apple. I’ve got a pretty big gap then till Alexander and or other CBs as I get through more. Think those are the 3 guys I’d be ok with at 25.

  • Michael James

    I can’t speak for the others, but I watched the available tape on draftbreakdown and for me he just didn’t pass the eye test (for a first rounder). I really hated his tackling for example. I’m fine with everyone who likes him, but for me his tape is a little bit worse than Alexander’s and a lot worse than Jackson’s. I would take him in the second round though.

  • T R

    Hey Boss, you just getting down right fancy with this breakdown.. Excellent work as always.. but I guess I’m somewhat bias to 🙂

  • SteelersDepot

    I should have probably noted this but 5 of the catches Apple gave up came VERY VERY late in games in which OSU was winning by a nice margin.

  • PittsburghSports

    Exactly. You have to actually be in phase to even play the pocket of the receiver.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Looks like Sherman, as he’s always grabbing and pushing. Except Sherman always gets away with it. If Apple becomes a Steeler he will get called on every bloody play. Forget him.

    I wish I knew what the refs would let you get away with as a CB. It seems hard to gauge. If they would all call games the same, then I would want the Steelers to play much more man coverage and clutch and grab all the way down the field, just like Sherman. I just don’t think that will work.

    D Lineman or OLB in the 1st? I don’t think there’s a safety that’s worthy of that first round pick. Oh, how I wish they would trade down.

  • Tim Goetz

    I officially have no idea what we will draft in the first round. At this point I don’t even know what I want them to do.

  • dkoy85

    Awesome job again. The target and stats breakdown with film is now my favorite thing on this site. You guys continue to go above and beyond, and help make Steelers Nation the most educated in football. Thanks!

  • Ahmad

    Sorry, but I’m not seeing first rounder tape. I like his fluidity and COD, but his tackling and constant grabbing worries me a lot. Fortunately for him, I see an aggressive mentality and his tackling and grabbing can be coached up. I think he will turn out to be a pretty good CB, but as of now, I have a mid second round grade on him. If you’re team that runs a lot of man coverage then yeah I can see taking him at the tail end of the first. But for a predominantly zone team like the Steelers, it would be a mistake to take him at 25.

  • MattHat121

    Agree. It increasingly seems the case that the CB’s available to PIT at #25 aren’t worth taking at that slot. One of the worst things a team can do in the draft is take a player too high. Every pick is a gamble, to one degree or another, so taking a guy too soon ON TOP OF that gamble compounds the problem. I’m for PIT taking the best-player-available, with a bias towards addressing any of the top 4-5 needs. Best player available strategy works because the needs of today might not be the needs of tomorrow. For me it’s CB, Safety, DL, and OT. If for some reason there is an even better player available at OLB or WR, go for it.

  • Jonathan Ferullo

    I’m not sure if the CBs are worth the 25th spot or not either, but what makes me nervous is that all the sports “experts” have the Steelers taking one of them in round one, so that usually means Pittsburgh will go to some other position.

  • Ask Questions Later

    CB’s are rarely worth taking Round 1 anyway’s unless they have become experts in the basics and advanced procedures of locking or manning down on receivers. For that matter, as I stated before, Pittsburgh is not taking a cornerback round one anyway.

    It is going to be either Billings, Butler, or someone else anyway. Pittsburgh’s new “Eagle” 3-4 concept has them taking their lineman one gapping and having the outside ‘backers (Sam usually) two gapping. If anything, Billings literally IS that missing piece to help take Pittsburgh’s defense from good to great. A line with him, Tuitt and Heyward is the equivalent of what the Jets had with Harrison (now gone), Williams, and Wilkerson.

  • Big Joe

    He’s just another example of a CB being pushed into Rd 1 by people who want to compensate for the needs of a passing league

  • popsiclesticks

    I think he actually looks pretty good here…this video raised my opinion of him. Yes he’s grabby at times (kinda like Darqueze Dennard) but his actual coverage looks better than any other corner I’ve seen this year. I’m high on Jackson III but he’s like a poor man’s Marcus Peters – for all the big plays he makes, he’s also going to give up a few. Apple is a different type of CB.

  • kev4heels

    I didn’t say it’s not a technique or that it’s not effective. What i’m saying is that I VERY rarely saw him get his head around. You can play the pocket, but my goodness man, don’t you want your CB’s at least attempting to intercept the ball?

  • PittsburghSports

    I didn’t notice it as an issue is what I’m saying. The plays I did notice it, he looked like he was using it properly. A lot of those were man coverage too, and it’s much harder to be in a position to make INTs in man vs zone.

  • kev4heels

    Fair enough. I would agree that he plays the pocket well. And I can tell he is coached to do it. However, I would hope that they don’t want their CB’s doing this all the time at OSU. Heck, they may…I don’t know. I just want my CB’s to have ball skills. What do you think of him as a rd 1 CB? I think he has upside. But guys like Jackson and Alexander already show some of the skills that you hope Apple turns into.