The Baltimore Ravens need to draft a cornerback in the 2023 NFL draft. One name that is gaining a lot of attention is South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush. Should the Ravens consider him, and how would he fit?
Baltimore Ravens Draft Profile: South Carolina Cornerback Darius Rush
Darius Rush came to South Carolina in 2018 as a wide receiver. He suffered a season-ending injury, then redshirted, and switched positions. By 2021 he was in the starting lineup on the opposite side of the ball making him a two-year starter for the Gamecocks. Last season he had two interceptions and six pass breakups. He finished his college career with 1,264 snaps, 623 of them in coverage, almost all of them coming as an outside cornerback.
Darius Rush slow to gain attention, but got a Senior Bowl invite that opened a lot of eyes. Then, he went to the NFL combine and improved his draft stock even more.
From there he went to the NFL combine and improved his standing even greater. Below you can see his athletic profile.
Darius Rush has the size that you want to see from an NFL cornerback. Look at that length. His vertical jump is lacking, but the 40-yard dash shows deep speed, and the 10-yard split shows there is some explosion in his profile.
What South Carolina Cornerback Darius Rush brings to the NFL
An interesting note with Rush is that while he has those long arms, he is much better at playing off of the football. Rush has the deep speed, and he shows well running across the field to break up crossing routes. Rush is also a former wide receiver, and you can see at times when he anticipates the route coming he can run it as well as the opposition.
This allows him to pick up routes down the field, and when the ball is in the air he can use his length to shield the ball away and stay within reach of receivers.
However, his press technique is sloppy and is often his biggest issue. Shifty wide receivers can beat him off of the ball and he can lumber to recovery and struggle with double moves. At times Rush will show willingness in run defense, but he does not maintain setting the edge well and can flail as a tackler.
The physical attributes are there and he has shown moments of high-end play. He is still new to the position and could really come into his own soon. Still, he is going to be a 23-year-old rookie, and right now there are questions about if he can play in a press-man scheme.
NFL Comparison for Darius Rush
The best NFL comparison for South Carolina Cornerback would be Alontae Taylor.
They compare to each other physically, but they also were both wide receivers coming out of high school. When Taylor was coming out there, were questions about whether he would move to safety, because he was athletic enough, but did not have the technical skills down.
Rush can see similar talk but is likely to stick around at cornerback. Taylor was a third-round pick but now is expected to start for the Saints. Rush has similar upside in the NFL and could be a find in a similar part of the draft.
Should Baltimore Ravens draft Darius Rush?
The Baltimore Ravens have an obvious need for a cornerback, the question is when they should draft Rush, and whether he would be a fit. The Ravens need their cornerbacks to step up and defend the run, so they would have to bring him and grill him about why he was not more aggressive. Beyond that, his skill set is also similar to Jayln Armour-Davis.
He would probably come in and compete with him for depth, and you would like a slightly better option to start next season. However, if the team cannot address cornerback in the first or second round, and Rush is available, they should certainly consider him.