To his credit, Marshall has embraced the possible position change but is also continuing to show teams that he could be capable of handling third-string clipboard duties with the quarterback unit. With 2,961 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground, Marshall could be a dangerous option to run the “wildcat,” and with a 58.71 pass completion percentage and an arm that generated 7,650 aerial yards and 52 touchdowns, trying to figure where it might be best for Marshall to play will likely be determined in training camp, but he appears as a practice squad member to see how he develops.
As a quarterback prospect, Marshall generates outstanding production as a runner and shows the arm needed to be equally effective throwing the ball. For a QB, he has excellent athleticism, speed, quickness, body control and change-of-direction agility. Still, he is not really a technically sound passer, as he sometimes throws off balance or fading an awful lot. He just needs to do a better job of setting his feet, as this causes some problems with his accuracy.
Yet, Marshall also shows the ability to make some throws most guys can’t. He looks to have a very lively arm, as he can put good zip and velocity on his throws. He is not as accurate on deep balls as he is on short and intermediate throws, but he has the arm strength to deliver the ball 70 yards downfield.
Marshall’s 33 interceptions and 25 fumbles in three seasons as a quarterback show that he inconsistent reading defenses, as he forces some throws into coverage. The Tigers do move him around, mostly a lot of play action and rollouts and he does throw well on the run, both right and left. To say that he is a very good runner and scrambler is an understatement, as he makes a lot of plays with his feet.
Marshall has excellent body control and change-of-direction agility. He is very elusive and it is easy for him to make lateral jump cuts. He is an exciting and productive player who just lacks ideal size for a quarterback, but has the frame to fill out more. A pro team may need to adjust their offense to fit his abilities, but as a runner he must be accounted for at all times on the football field or he will certainly hurt a defense. Right now he is a pleasant project, but if he can hone his passing skills he could be a mid- to late-round find for the versatility he can bring as a roster member.
While some teams (and even Marshall) think that he is better suited to play cornerback, his lack of coverage skills and just average overall quickness makes me see him as a better fit using his strength and quarterback’s experience as a centerfielder-type of free safety. You also have to look at the high amount of quality among the 2015 NFL Draft cornerback crop and a lack of that same quality at both safety positions.
In limited snaps during his 2011 season at Georgia and during 2015 Senior Bowl practices, Marshall appeared to have the overall instincts and diagnostic skills to make the move to the defensive backfield. He’s the type of player who can adjust on the fly, and even though he lacks reps he displayed above-average anticipation and route recognition skills in practices down in Mobile.
Marshall is a tough and aggressive player who never backed down from challenges as a quarterback and that moxie should carry over to the defensive side of the ball. He can flip his hips and turn and run with receivers downfield when aligned in press coverage, but I still need to see if he can maintain balance and momentum when having to make a sudden change of direction.
Marshall also needs to show that he will not take a few false steps when gathering at the top of his pedal or zone bail. However, his long stride should allow him to cover a lot of ground and he possesses above-average range. With his size and change-of-direction agility, as a safety he could be at his best when aligned in trail man technique. If he is to become a cornerback, his best fit will be as a press-man, where he can use his size and range to his advantage.
In limited passing situations, Marshall displayed just adequate playmaking ability and overall ball skills in Mobile, but that was to be expected from a neophyte defender, as teams were just looking to judge him on his willingness and athleticism to make the change permanent at the next level.
Marshall was aggressive attacking the ball in the air and showed a good feel for taking solid angles to the point. He also did a good job of using size well to hold up in one-on-one jump ball situations. Even with his high rash of fumbles as a ball carrier, he shows natural hands and flashes ability to make the tough catch outside of his frame. Still, he was a split-second late turning and locating the ball at times when caught in trail.
Nick Marshall Scouting Combine measurables
6-2/207 (4.54 forty)
32 1/8-inch arm length
9 1/4-inch hands
12-reps bench 37 1/2-inch vertical jump
10-foot-4 broad jump
6.96 3-cone drill (right calf strain)
4.15 20-yard shuttle
11.84 60-yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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