AJ Marshall, S, Wake Forest (HT: 5’10”; WT: 196 lbs)
- Marshall is an experienced and versatile player coming out of Wake Forest, after he played in 44 games in his career and split time between cornerback and safety.
- In addition to his positional versatility, Marshall can line up at either safety spot as well. He was listed as a strong safety, but Wake’s defense had mirror safeties, which means both starters are able to fill the role of the other. This provides more balance to the defense and a sense of unpredictability, since the offense won’t be given as many hints pre-snap due to where the safeties line up.
- Aggressive at jumping underneath routes that slot receivers and tight ends run. The positive is this creates turnover opportunities or defensed passes.
- He played mostly in zone coverage, where he had to read the play quickly and react simultaneously.
- As a willing run defender, he crashed from a deep safety position to get involved in tackles often. He also didn’t hurt his team by taking bad pursuit angles, limiting the yards that the ball-carrier gained.
- Attacks the ball when he’s nearby. He acts as if he were the offensive player fighting for the ball.
- Possesses enough closing burst and range to be responsible for half of the field in zone coverage. He’d fit into schemes that run a lot of Cover 2 man or zone.
- After he broke his fibula midseason, he returned for the 2014 NFL Shrine Game, showing toughness and determination to be on the radar of NFL teams.
- Small frame and short for an NFL safety, he will need to add strength to fight through blocks, an area where he struggled at Wake Forest.
- Although his tackling efficiency percent is solid, he is more of an ankle biter, grabbing the ball-carrier by the ankle to bring him down. He needs to square up and drive the ball-carrier to the ground.
- Prone to jumping routes due to poor discipline and play recognition. On play-action passes, he freezes long enough to let the receiver get open behind him. The negative of his aforementioned aggressiveness is he leaves the defense vulnerable to giving up big, momentum changing plays.
- Distance speed is average, so he needs to keep plays in front of him to have a chance to make a play.
- Even while at Wake Forest, he appeared to be “JAG”, or just a guy. His ceiling is low, likely being a spot starter and good backup.
- 2014 NFL Shrine Game participant
- Broke his fibula midseason in 2013
- Former 4-star recruit from North Carolina
- Communication major, graduating this spring
Marshall doesn’t have great eyes, instincts or physical abilities on the field. He’s a good player that needs development and in time can be a special teams ace and solid backup, which has value. For a team looking for overall team depth that runs a defensive scheme with two high zone safeties, Marshall can make an impact.
Draft Projection: 7th Round-UDFA