After months of mock drafts and speculation on which linebacker or cornerback the Packers would take in the first round, Ted Thompson surprised just about everyone by selecting Arizona State safety Damarious Randall with the 30th overall pick in the draft.
After the initial surprise, it was easy to see that Randall was selected with the anticipation of being moved to a slot cornerback role, as Casey Hayward will likely be moved to outside corner. The biggest detractors were worried about his lack of experience at the college level (spending two years in Junior College and just two years at Arizona State) and his tackling mechanics.
After some film study, it's easy to see why Ted Thompson and company were so high on Randall heading into the draft, but the selection doesn't come without some question marks and areas of concern. Fortunately, the vast majority of the Randall's weaknesses can be ironed out through teaching of proper technique and repetition.
Let's take a look at some film by DraftBreakdown.com's Adrian Ahufinger on Randall that showcases both his strengths and weaknesses.
Randall was often asked to play in a slot corner role in Arizona State's scheme, so the transition to corner at the next level won't be too challenging from a schematic perspective.
Doesn't Give up on Plays
It doesn't seem like much, but most safeties either wouldn't have the speed to cut off a speedster like (now teammate) Ty Montgomery or would have given up on the play. Randall continued to pursue the play and limited the damage after a few missed tackles happened in front of him.
Great Instincts and Ball Skills
Randall flashes his natural instincts on this back-breaking play against Notre Dame in which he dissects the play quickly, jumps the anticipated route, and high-points the ball for a pick-six.
Excellent gunner on punt and kickoff
In these two plays, you can see Randall's ability to get down field, locate the ball, and hit the return man (Montgomery again) before anything can develop.
Arizona State was upset by Oregon State last season and some of Randall's weaknesses were exposed in that game. Let's take a look at some of the things that Randall will need to clean up if he is going to be a starter in the NFL.
In this clip, Randall bites on a double move doesn't quite have the top-end speed to recover in time to break up the pass.
In this clip, Randall isn't able to turn his hips quickly enough and nearly gives up a long touchdown pass.
Poor Tackling Form
In these two highlighted plays, Randall doesn't break down and wrap up the ball-carrier and has to resort to simply launching himself at the running back and hoping his momentum will take the ball-carrier down.
Takes bad angles
In this clip, Randall overpursues the ball-carrier and gets caught outside his gap leaving a giant cutback lane for the running back.
In this clip, Randall lets one blocker completely take him out of the play and force him to dive at the running back's feet instead of shedding the block and wrapping up the ball-carrier.
I think Randall will excel as a slot cornerback in nickel and dime packages as well as a special teams gunner, but his lack of experience with press coverages, technique against double moves, and tackling mechanics need some work if he is going to become an every-down player at the next level.
The overall theme of the Packers draft in 2015 was to add playmakers on defense and special teams and I think Randall is a perfect example of the type of hard-working player that the organization wanted to bring in. He still has room to grow and I think that high-ceiling of potential was what made him jump so high on the Packers draft board.