It wasn't that long ago that Senquez Golson was best known as either The Poor Soul From That Trent Richardson Highlight and/or The Guy Who Turned Down a $1.35 Million Signing Bonus From the Red Sox. But after a breakout senior year at Ole Miss that saw him haul in an SEC-best 10 interceptions and earn unanimous first-team All-American honors, the cornerback has made a name for himself -- one that might very well be called in the upper half of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Golson is an athletic DB with good speed, otherworldly ball tracking skills and a fearless aggression while attacking the run or screen game. Were he a couple inches taller, he might be in the conversation as a first or second rounder, but his 5'9 stature has some questioning his ability to play outside in the NFL. After posting impressive numbers at the combine, Golson's considered by most draft pundits as a fourth or fifth-rounder, though it wouldn't surprise me if he went off the board late in the third.
|Year||Int.||TD||Passes defensed||Solo tackles||Total tackles||TFL|
(comparison with other cornerbacks at the combine is in parentheses)
40-yard dash: 4.46 sec. (8/29)
Bench press: 15 reps (13/22)
Vertical jump: 33.5 in. (22/29)
Broad jump: 120.0 in. (20/30)
3-cone drill: 6.81 sec. (8/27)
20-yd shuttle: 4.20 sec. (15/27)
60-yd shuttle: did not participate
Tracking the ball
Golson never found much success with the bat during his one year on the Ole Miss baseball team (though we'll always remember that walkoff "hit" to beat No. 1 Florida), but he was one hell of an outfielder.
Just like an outfielder reading the ball off the bat, Golson reads the football well out of the quarterback's hand. He has an uncanny sense of deciphering exactly where the ball is heading, something that allows him to haul in jump balls against significantly larger receivers.
See Example A, the pick that sealed Ole Miss' historic win over No. 1 Alabama.
NFL Network's Mike Maycock went so far as to say Golson "tracks the ball in the air as well as any corner I've seen in the last five years."
Tackling in the flats
Golson can turn and run with the best of em, but even at 176 pounds, he's also not afraid to stick his nose in there. He's aggressive in the screen game, flying to the ball and bringing some pop once he arrives.
As spread concepts continue to gain prevalence at the NFL level, tackling in the flats is becoming an increasingly important skill among corners. Golson isn't going to be blowing up Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall, but he can more than hold his own.
For as well as he can play the jump ball and tackle in space, Golson will always be limited by his 5'9 frame. He's a liability to some degree against taller receivers on the outside (particularly near the goal line) and he'll struggle to play bump and run coverage against NFL wideouts. That could pigeonhole him as a nickel corner at the next level, something that's become a pretty common refrain among pro scouts.
Golson was a solid contributor during his first three seasons in Oxford (starting six games as a sophomore and 10 as a junior), but his other-worldly senior campaign was most definitely an outlier. NFL teams will have to determine whether 2014-15 was just the season that it all clicked, or whether it was a fluke.
His college coach would tell you it's the former. Hugh Freeze has said that commitment and disciplinary issues plagued Golson's first few years, climaxing with a disorderly conduct arrest the summer before his senior season. Jolted by that arrest (charges were eventually dropped) Golson finally committed himself to the team.
"Now that he has made the decision to be dedicated and to be a team player that buys into our core values and the way we want to do things, his talent on the field has really taken off," Freeze told ESPN after the Bama game.
NSFW music, because unedited Biggie was apparently the only choice here.