Matchup: Southern California Vs. Notre Dame’s KeiVarae Russell (CB)
Reminds Us Of: Vontae Davis (CB, Indianapolis Colts)
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Following graduation from Mariner High School, and on his way to South Bend, KeiVarae Russell came to Notre Dame considered to be among the elite all-purpose running backs in the country.
Competition from future NFL talents in the form of Theo Riddick (Detroit Lions), Cierre Wood (Houston Texans) and George Atkinson III (Oakland Raiders), created a rotation in the depth chart which would be difficult for the Everett, Washington native to break into.
However, prior to the start of the 2012 regular season opener in Dublin, Ireland, against the Naval Academy, Russell was needed with a different position group, on a different side of the ball.
With former No. 1 cornerback Robert Blanton joining the Minnesota Vikings in the 2012 NFL Draft, Bennett Jackson, who is now with the New York Giants, was slated to start at the No. 1 spot, opposite potential first year starter at the No. 2 spot, Lo Wood. But during late August of fall camp, an achillies injury ended Wood’s entire season. By the time the 2012 campaign was set to kickoff, Russell had switched to cornerback to compete for that No. 2 position, and was named a starter in this slot against the Midshipmen.
He ended up starting all 13 games that season, including against Alabama in the National Championship. The following year, Russell made starts in all 13 games once again. After missing his entire junior campaign due to an academic suspension, Russell was cleared to return to the football program for this past fall’s 10-win run. And following a 2014 season without him, the Irish had Russell starting opposite Cole Luke before suffering a fractured tibia against Boston College in late November. Even though Russell missed the entire 2014 campaign, there is still enough tape which proves he belongs in the NFL.
We believe Russell has athletic traits that are as good as most, if not, all of the prospects in the upcoming draft. Same can be said for the vocal leadership shown on the field and on the sidelines. Throughout his college career, he did prove to show some raw tendancies at cornerback. With that being said, this is a prospect who will continue to develop at the next level. There is verstaility as well. Russell not only covered both sides of the field, he also was used at the Nickel CB spot for both edge pressure and cover situations. In time, Russell will have his chance to start in the NFL.
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