Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Damarious Randall (3) intercepts a pass intended for Washington State Cougars wide receiver Robert Lewis (15). Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Randall’s Ability in Coverage
Despite being a playmaker, Randall’s calling card is his ability in coverage.
Randall was perhaps the top cover safety in the draft and the move to cornerback should be relatively smooth because he was asked to play man coverage on a regular basis at Arizona State.
The Sun Devils blitzed a majority of their snaps on defense, but they were able to do this because they had safeties like Randall who could match up one-on-one with a receiver.
Check out this clip from the Stanford game. Randall is asked to cover the slot receiver in single man coverage so the nickel corner can blitz.
He tracks the receiver to the sideline on the out route, and his coverage is so tight it forces the quarterback to aim low with his throw, leading to an incomplete.
What this play highlights is Randall’s ability to stick with his man through the entire route progression. He’s right on the receiver’ s hip the entire way, and when the pass is thrown, he’s right there.
This is a big third-down stop, and a play that won’t show up on the stat sheet, despite being an excellent play on Randall’s part, nonetheless.
Let’s look at another play from the Stanford game. Watch how Randall stays stride-for-stride with the receiver down the seam on the go-route.
Stanford is going for the home-run shot, but Randall is right there and the pass falls incomplete.
The receiver isn’t able to gain separation from Randall and make the catch.
Randall has the speed (4.46) to track receivers downfield, but what isn’t shown in the clip is Randall’s ability to flip his hips and turn and run with the wideout.
Any defensive back who can do that can play corner in the NFL.
Lets look at a third play from the Stanford game where Randall has to cover the slot in man coverage.
In this clip he moves up to the line of scrimmage to cover the slot receiver, Ty Montgomery, who was the Packers third-round pick in the draft.
Randall gets his hands on Montgomery early on in the route and sticks with the explosive wideout all the way to the end zone, nearly picking off the pass as he gets a step on the receiver.
This clip also highlights his excellent anticipation when reading and covering routes. He seems to know exactly where the ball will be placed and gets there before the wideout can make a play.
Randall does drop the interception, but you have to like how he seems to stay a step ahead of the offense.
However, despite his ability to defend downfield, the strength of Randall’s game is dropping in zone and breaking on underneath routes.
In this next clip from the USC game watch how he waits in anticipation in the middle of the field, tracks the quarterback’s eyes, and then breaks on the ball to bat the pass away.
This type of play is pretty common in Randall’s film, demonstrating his excellent instincts in coverage.
All-in-all, Randall is a savvy player in coverage who can roam the middle of the field in zone or match man-to-man over the slot. From a coverage standpoint, he’s the ideal nickel corner.
Next: Playing up at the line