Ceiling: 7.5 Ranking: 4.5 Floor: 3
School: Thomas Jefferson (Clairton, PA)
Size: 5'8" - 175 lbs.
Composite: 3 Star, #94 S
Composite: 3 Star, #94 S
Rivals: 3 Star, 5.5
Scout: 3 Star, #69 S
Favorites: Indiana, Iowa St, Michigan St, Syracuse
Very good athlete, very quick and has good top end speed. Quick first step and lateral movement. Reckless when tackling, not afraid to throw his body around. Good instincts when coming down in run support. Breaks down well when runners try to side-step him. Runs through QB or RB upon contact.
Very, very small. Not only short, but does not possess long arms. Tends to leave feet and launch into ball carriers. When he doesn't launch, he tends to bend at the waste and put the crown of his helmet down; when he does this his feet stop and he typically gets run over and takes ball carrier down with him. Plays OLB in high school, will have to really work on his pass coverage techniques and responsibilities.
CommentsPlays OLB in high school and is sent blitzing a lot. He is very gifted athletically. His speed and quickness are superior to high school offensive linemen (not to mention pretty much every other player on the field by a long shot) that tend to struggle with pass-pro technique at that age, so his 11 sack number isn't surprising. I think some caution also needs to be taken when moving kids back in the defense. It tends to be easier to move players from safety to LB, for instance, than back into coverage. Question marks about Cotton playing in space, seeing the field, and coverage. Really needs to work on tackling technique, especially as he is always going to be smaller. He needs to bulk up, especially with the mentality he plays with. He flings his body around and isn't afraid to tackle or hit somebody. He does tend to leave his feet though, and his size and leg drive tend to result in him getting pushed back when tackling, even at the high school level.
He has the athletic tools to play at either safety spot at the B1G level, but will need a lot of refinement once he hits a campus. Needs to work on wrapping up after initial contact, needs to bring his legs more when he tackles, needs to learn coverage responsibilities, and needs to get bigger.
At his size and height it will likely take him a few years to see the field at any major school, and probably even a couple to make it on special teams outside of potentially returning the ball himself (similar athlete as Dennis Norfleet from Michigan). He could be a very good coverage person after that, where he can use his athleticism and ruthlessness with his body to his advantage.
A move backward is a must if he stays on defense - where he won't have to stick a player in the hole or see over tall linemen in a limited space - but can use his athletic ability to make plays on the ball and in the open field. His height is a concern at free safety, where his athletic ability would be better displayed, and size at strong safety would be a question mark. CB is an intriguing option as well, though his strengths as a relantless tackler and his weaknesses, such as height and lack of comfort in coverage would get exploited. I think SS is his ultimate position if he stays on that side of the ball, as he is a willing tackler and would be quick to get down into run support, you just have to accept the fact that most RBs will fall forward and he will struggle covering taller slots and TEs (will need LBs help). At FS he would need more time to get acclimated to playing in space and understanding his role within the defense.
Potentially he could also see time at RB, as he has the physical tools to do that as well, and height will be less of a concern.
This is the definition of a low floor, high ceiling player. If he is capable of picking up coverage responsibilities and improves his tackling, he could be a ball hawk with his athletic ability. There's also a legit possibility that he isn't capable of picking those things up and he's stuck as a special teams guy. Questions about getting bigger and his lack of height leave him without a true defined position, and regardless of where he plays he'll always be able to have his lack of size exploited.