Every now and then, there comes a gem in NFL Draft that did not attract much attention until late in his collegiate career. University of Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis, the nephew of former Pitt and NFL defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, has remained relatively overlooked for a player of his caliber and value until announcing his intention to declare for the draft.
Dubbed "Player of the Year" by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2003 as a high schooler, Revis was recruited to the Panthers by former Stanford head coach Walt Harris. He immediately made his mark on the Panthers defense during his freshman year, accumulating 49 tackles and two interceptions en route to earning Freshman All-American honors. He continued to shine during his sophomore season, collecting 41 tackles and leading the team with four interceptions before earning All-Big East first-team honors.
In his junior, and last, year at Pitt, Revis took back two key interceptions for touchdowns while continuing his stellar defensive play. One highlight of his 2006 season occurred when he returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against the University of Virginia, aided by a key block. He was a candidate for both the Jim Thorpe Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award.
Revis is such a good football player primarily due to his natural athletic ability. At 5-foot-11, 204 pounds, Revis has a solid physical build with very long arms that contribute to his tackling and coverage capabilities.
Also fast (4.38 in the 40-yard dash) for his size, Revis is able to use his speed both to make great open-field tackles and to play vertical coverage well. He has an excellent sense of balance and agility, helping him play well against the run while proficiently mirroring opposing receivers' routes.
Revis' other main asset is his ideal football mindset. On the gridiron, he
displays strong, natural instincts for the game, especially against the run.
Revis is extremely tough, aggressive, highly competitive and sometimes even
plain nasty; his game often lies more on the physical side.
The 21-year-old Revis will definitely be able to contribute his versatility to his team. Great against the pass and excellent in run support, Revis even averaged 11.6 yards per punt return during his sophomore year. His experience as a returner will be a bonus and will add to his value.
Revis' game relies heavily on his natural athletic ability and instincts, so he may need a little more work on his coverage technique. Coupled with his aggressive play, his unrefined play has drawn more than his fair share of penalty calls.
Revis often gives opposing receivers too much space by relying on his speed and agility to recover. At times, Revis has trouble dealing with bigger receivers because of the separation he offers them. His future NFL team will need to spend time refining his technique in order for him to use his natural physical ability to its full potential on the field.
As arguably the best cornerback available in the 2007 NFL Draft, Revis is expected to be selected near the middle of the first round. He has the coverage capability to be a starter at the professional level, and his special teams experience will be a definite plus.
Other cornerbacks in the draft that are close to Revis' level of play include Michigan's Leon Hall, Texas' Aaron Ross and Arkansas' Chris Houston. Teams that could select Revis based on need as well as position include the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
About James Li
James Li has been a KFFL contributor since 2006.
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