AnalysisThe NFL is constantly looking to find bigger cornerbacks. One in this draft is Eric Rowe from Utah. He’s 6-foot-1, 205-pounds. At that size Rowe moves well. He ran 4.45 [forty] and 3.97 [short shuttle] at the Combine. Those are two very good times. Rowe’s 39-inch vertical jump makes him play even bigger than he already is. He played his first three seasons at Utah at both safety spots so Rowe will definitely bring versatility to the NFL. He’s smart and plays with very good instincts. Rowe recorded 261 tackles, 35 pass deflections, and three interceptions as a Ute.
Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation
Instant Analysis from Scout's Jamie Newberg:
Here’s a versatile pickup in a need area for the Eagles in defensive back Eric Rowe. The NFL is constantly looking to find bigger cornerbacks. One in this draft is Rowe from Utah. He’s 6-foot-1, 205-pounds. At that size Rowe moves well. He ran 4.45 [forty] and 3.97 [short shuttle] at the Combine. Those are two very good times. Rowe’s 39-inch vertical jump makes him play even bigger than he already is. He played his first three seasons at Utah at both safety spots so Rowe will definitely bring versatility to the NFL. He’s smart and plays with very good instincts. Rowe recorded 261 tackles, 35 pass deflections, and three interceptions as a Ute.
Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:Eric Rowe has always been the classic overachiever, especially since joining the Utah program. As a 175-pound freshman, he earned All-American honors at free safety after collecting 69 tackles with an interception and 10 pass breakups. He was named to the All-Pac 12 Conference teams the next two seasons, as the free safety posted 64 tackles with a pass theft and six deflections in 2012, followed by 69 tackles, seven breakups and a fumble recovery as a junior.
When Rowe returned for 2014 fall camp, the coaches decided to shift the defensive back with 4.39-second speed to left cornerback. He responded with 59 tackles, three for losses, as he scored on an 11-yard interception return, blocked a kick, recovered a fumble and batted away 13 passes.
Rowe has good field vision and intelligence. He knows his role in the defensive scheme and can play either corner spot, in addition to being physical enough to take on slot receivers as a nickel back or “man up” to tight ends at the free or strong safety slots. He has a good knowledge of coverage assignments and keys. He has no problems carrying out assignments in front of him.
While he did a fine job at cornerback, Rowe has a lot of athletic and performance similarities to the way that Seattle’s Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas perform, making him a nice fit to handle strong-side assignments in man coverage, slot corner duties in sub packages or shift back inside to handle zone responsibilities as a safety.
While he can get overaggressive at times, leaving Rowe susceptible to double moves and play action, he plays with the “edge” needed to openly challenge receivers in one-on-one battles. He’s the type that will do whatever he can to separate the receiver from the ball – all three of his fumble recoveries have been followed by Utah touchdown drives.
While aggressive, Rowe does have outstanding instincts, especially for a player who had to adjust to life as a coverage defender after spending three seasons attacking the ball, rather than the man. He is a savvy player and it is rare to see him take many false steps. He is very effective at reading the quarterback’s eyes and this allows him to get an early jump on throws. This is also a player much like a baseball closer – he immediately shakes off mistakes and gets right back into the game.
Some scouts say because of his tall frame Rowe might have some hip stiffness, but while he has not really been tested by a blazing speedster at receiver, he does have valid fluidity for the safety position, as he appears to be smooth out of his backpedal and shows minimal wasted motion in and out of his breaks. He’s agile and fluid enough to match up one-on-one vs. most NFL-caliber tight ends and slot receivers.
You can see that Rowe has an exceptional closing burst on plays in front of him and has the functional hip fluidity to turn and run with receivers, but he has had some issues trying to recover when he bites on double moves and play action. As a safety, he has the range to cover the deep half and excels when playing the centerfielder-type role.
While Rowe can close quickly when receivers catch the ball in front of him, you would like to see him demonstrate better knee bend in his backpedal, as there are times when he takes too long to transition out of it. While he is not used often in this category, he also showed the ability to hurry the quarterback’s decision process when asked to blitz in 2014 (all four pressures led to positive defensive results – two interceptions, one fumble and an incompletion). Rowe will never be confused for being a ball-hawk, as he has just three interceptions through 46 starting assignments. He does show very good reach-around agility, using his long arms and timing to deflect 35 other throws. He just needs to attack the ball better when it is in the air (great leaper, but needs to time it better, as he tends to leave his feet too early a result of biting on play action and pump fakes).
Rowe can track the ball well and generally looks it in, but he is not an adequate finisher at this point, thanks to inconsistent hands that see him drop the passes he should catch. He reads the quarterback’s eyes and is successful in getting depth in his drops and anticipating routes well, but he lacks natural hands to make the play vs. the thrown toss.
In run support, Rowe is the type that will try to rip the ball out when he gets to the ball carrier. He has the power to match up to bigger blockers when playing inside the box and does a good job of using his hands to disengage from blocks when reached, along with showing excellent moxie to mix it up physically when the need arises.
Rowe generates very good initial pop and takes solid angles in pursuit. He’s become a solid tackler in space, doing a nice job in attempts to break down and wrap up. He’s also a very good tackler when sifting through traffic, as he demonstrates a good flow downhill and never shies away from contact.
Even when Rowe plays too high, he compensates by using his long wingspan to keep blockers off his frame. He has above-average balance to be a solid performer when lining up in the box and is efficient at latching on with his powerful upper body swipes, so his lower body doesn't have to be in perfect position for him to make the tackle.
Eric Rowe Scouting Combine measurables
6-1/205 (4.45 forty)
31 1/2-inch arm length
9 1/2-inch hands
19-reps bench 39-inch vertical jump
10-foot-5 broad jump
6.70 3-cone drill (right calf strain)
3.97 20-yard shuttle
11.48 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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