Ronald Darby Can Cover Any Wide Receiver In The NFL

I took a look back at the performance of the Eagles’ offense Thursday night against Green Bay in my Friday night column, and I’ll do the same in the coming days for the defense. However, there’s another topic I should hit on first.

The Eagles traded wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a future third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby, a 23-year-old former second-round selection with outstanding top-end speed and a reputation around the league as one of the up-and-coming corners in the NFL. What does Darby bring to the table and how can he help this Eagles defense in 2017? I went back to my notes on him coming out of Florida State in 2015 and went through a boatload of his tape from his NFL career to help tell the story.

With the Seminoles, Darby was an immediate impact player on a team destined for glory. After being named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 as a true freshman (on a unit that led the conference in points and passing yards allowed), Darby started nine games for the BCS National Champions in 2013. He was a third-team All-ACC pick as a junior in 2014 when, according to, he allowed fewer than 42 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be caught.

At Florida State, Darby played a ton of press man coverage, and that’s where he looked at his best. They played some Cover 3 and some quarters, but he looked like a pure man-to-man corner in college. Whether he was at the line of scrimmage or backed up in off coverage (which he is also capable of doing at a high level), his athleticism allowed him to consistently compete at the catch point in man coverage. He’s a top-level athlete at the cornerback position, and it starts with his recovery speed.

At the 2015 Combine, Darby ran a 4.32 40-yard dash. Exactly three cornerbacks picked in the last 10 (!) seasons have bested that time, and all of them were Day 3 picks. This, to me, says that none of them were anywhere near the kind of football…

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