Part two of my East-West Shrine Bowl prospect preview is similar to part one in that both players spent their college careers at the same university in the ACC, also playing the same position. Only this time we will be looking at a tandem on the defensive side, and we won't have to travel very far to do so, because they played their college ball right here in the great state of North Carolina.
FS Brandon Bishop 6'2" 210 lbs.
Brandon Bishop is one of those players who was able to thrive at N.C. State despite limited athleticism (relatively speaking). However, physical ability was never what defined his game anyway. Intangibles like leadership and work ethic laid the foundation for all he would become, and it will continue to be his calling card as his career moves forward.
What really sets Bishop apart, however, is the combination of all that he does well; not the least of which is his ability to diagnose plays. A student of the game, he rarely gets caught out of position and almost never bites on play fakes. Bishop also shows the ability to successfully audible coverage adjustments and takes excellent angles while playing in a zone scheme. Additionally, he isn't afraid to lay the wood, is an excellent tackler, and consistently looks to strip the ball. It's always a good sign when a prospect's numbers continue to increase with each successive season, and Bishop is no exception. Ultimately, he was able to turn that progression into being named 2nd team All-ACC.
Of course, Bishop isn't the perfect free safety by any stretch of the imagination. His backpedal isn't particularly smooth or fast when transitioning into full acceleration ,and that shows when matching up with slot wide receivers and tight ends in press man coverage. As a result, he is a liability in man schemes at times. Bishop may actually be pegged as having more potential as a strong safety at the next level.
Bishop would be a nice developmental pick-up in the 6th or 7th round, and could pay dividends several seasons down the road.
Junior Season Highlights
SS Earl Wolff 6'0" 207 lbs.
Former Wolfpack head coach Tom O' Brien called Wolff the heart and soul of the defense for a reason, and like Bishop, he is an extremely hard worker who got better with each passing season at N.C. State. No one wants to be great more than Earl Wolff, and his numbers are a testament to this fact. Perhaps he gets his discipline and drive from his mother, who is a master sergeant in the National Guard. Wherever this self-proclaimed momma's boy gets his inspiration, it sure has taken him a long way, and his journey is far from over.
The undersized first team All-ACC safety was dynamic in his final college season. Not only did he record 19 tackles at Clemson, but he also recorded at least 17 tackles in four other games. In addition to solid closing speed, Wolff possesses excellent instincts. He covers ground really well and this allows him to make plays all over the field. His route recognition is above average, and he also shows the ability to read a quarterback's eyes. Moreover, Wolff is an outstanding form tackler and is a big hitter.
Wolff will stand out at the Shrine Bowl and will post some nice numbers at the combine as well. This will propel him into 3rd round consideration, but he could still fall as low as the 5th round, where I wouldn't hesitate to select him. In the right situation I think Wolff has the potential to compete for a starting role his rookie season.
Now it's your turn CSR. Let me know what you think in the poll and in the comment section that follows.