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2016 NFL Draft Player Breakdown: Eli Apple

The Miami Dolphins still need help at cornerback and Eli Apple appears to be everything the team desires. He is big, he is physical and he has the skill-set to succeed in the NFL. With the 13th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select; Eli Apple, cornerback, THE Ohio State University.

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Who is Eli Apple?

Eli Apple was born in Philadelphia, PA.  He later moved to Voorhees, New Jersey where he attended Eastern Regional High School.  After graduating in 2013, Apple was one of the country’s most highly sought-after cornerbacks.  He later committed to Ohio State, to play under head coach Urban Meyer.  It wouldn’t be long before Eli Apple started to show the world his unique skill-set.

The Buckeyes chose to redshirt Apple in 2013, delaying his highly anticipated debut until the 2014 season.  As a redshirt freshman, Apple started 14 out of 15 games contributing significantly to the Buckeyes National Championship run.  He recorded 53 tackles in 2014.  He also added 3 interceptions and 10 passes defended, quite the feat for his first collegiate season.  The following year, Apple recorded 33 tackles, recording one interception and 7 passes defended.  He was named defensive MVP of the 2016 Sugar Bowl.  Eli Apple would forgo his redshirt junior year to enter the 2016 NFL draft.

The Good

Eli Apple is a big, tall, physical cornerback, who proved he could hang with the best receivers in the Big-Ten. With some fine tuning, he should have no problem continuing to do so in the NFL.  Apple is physical at the line and uses his long arms to rattle a receiver.  He is great in man coverage and has the ability to mirror a receiver's route.

In this play, Apple disguises himself very well.  He begins to cover the receiver on the outside before passing him off to the outside linebacker.  He quickly back peddles, finding himself in perfect position to make the interception.  It also helps that the ball was severely under thrown.

Here, Apple shows off his physicality, in addition to his great coverage skills.  He bumps the receiver at the line, forcing him off his route and towards the sideline.  Western Michigan’s quarterback has no choice but to force the throw, resulting in an incompletion.

In this play, Apple lines up in the slot.  The receiver gets a clean release off the line and Apple is forced to chase the speedy wide receiver.  He uses his body to shield the receiver from the inside, forcing the route closer to the sideline.  Apple is able to run stride for stride with the receiver, forcing an incompletion at the last second.  Yes, this was borderline a pass interference call.  However, Apple begins to turn his head at the last second, resulting in a "no call" from the referee.

When Apple gets beat, he does whatever it takes to force the incompletion.

The Bad

Eli Apple is a physical corner, a little too physical.  Throughout his two year career, Apple was penalized 11 times.  Four of those penalties were for holding, the other seven for pass interference.  At the snap of the ball he immediately uses his hands to knock the receiver off his route.  The problem, however; is that he continues to do so as the play progresses.  Although the penalty was not called here, the opposite is most likely in the NFL.

Here is another example of Apple's physical play.  He appears to knock the receiver off his route, remaining in good position for the entirety of the route.  Apple does a nice job of forcing the receiver inside, though he becomes a bit too hands on.  Although it appears to be good coverage, he would likely get penalized for this in today's NFL.

Here, Apple appears to be in good position with his eyes on the quarterback.  What he fails to recognize is the receiver breaking off his route, open for the touchdown.  He needs to be more aware of where he is on the field, defending the end zone at all costs.  Apple reacts quickly, albeit a bit too late.

The Skinny

Miami visited with Eli Apple several times throughout the draft process, showing significant interest in the 20-year-old cornerback.  The 6-1, 199-pound corner has the perfect skill-set to compliment Byron Maxwell in Miami’s secondary.  It will be up to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to decide whether or not Eli Apple is the right cornerback for the Dolphins at 13.  One thing is for certain, Apple’s best years are still to come and whatever team chooses to draft him must remain patient. After all, Cornerbacks rarely make a seamless transition to the NFL and Apple should be no different.  Nonetheless, Eli Apple is an intriguing prospect.  His ideal size allows him to match up against the best receivers in the NFL, an attribute coaches desire in the pros.  He may not be my favorite cornerback in this year's draft, but the Dolphins could do a lot worse than drafting Eli Apple in the first round.  Whether selected by Miami or elsewhere, Eli Apple has a bright future ahead of him.

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This article was written by Josh Houtz.  Follow him on Twitter!