After his standout showing at the Senior Bowl, it’s not hyperbole to say South Carolina CB Darius Rush could join his teammate in the early rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s a bit more uncertainty with Rush’s scouting report, but his upside might be just as enticing for certain teams.
Darius Rush NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: South Carolina
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’1 5/8″, 196 pounds
- Length: 32 3/4″
- Wingspan: 79 3/4″
- Hand: 9 1/2″
Rush’s background as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect is an intriguing one. There are selling points, like his ball production (three interceptions and 15 pass deflections since 2021) and his past as a wide receiver. In high school, in fact, Rush was a big-play threat with 47 catches for 863 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior.
That playmaking ability is clearly evident with Rush. And at his size — almost 6’2″, with arms nearly 33″ long — it’s even more intriguing. But Rush is also a 23-year-old rookie with three injuries of varying severity on his record, and he wasn’t a starter until his redshirt-junior season in 2021.
Rush’s path to the 2023 NFL Draft has been a winding one, with checkpoints that will have NFL teams debating his ultimate projection. But no one can deny the performance Rush put up at the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl. There, he displayed a potentially dominating set of traits and announced himself as a true player in the 2023 CB class.
So, looking at the traits themselves, let’s circle back to Rush’s tape. What does he have to offer? Where can he improve? And where should he hear his name called in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Darius Rush Scouting Report
- Intriguing athlete with great length, reach, agility, and corrective foot speed.
- Has good explosiveness and can also pinch angles using curvilinear acceleration.
- Can freely throttle up and down to match receivers in side-saddle coverage.
- Has the hip flexibility to suddenly snap out of phase and clamp down on comebacks.
- Can quickly swivel around after carrying upfield and close windows out of breaks.
- Employs patience and discipline in man, and can open his strides while playing low.
- Has flashed the zone awareness to swoop down and undercut curls and digs.
- Shows off extremely quick response to stimulus-matching movements in press-man.
- Can use his length to squeeze receivers to the boundary and reduce their space.
- Tracks the ball very well, uses body control, and actively contests passes with length.
Areas for Improvement
- Lacks quantifiably elite explosive capacity and top-end speed, which can limit range.
- Can be baited into overpursuing in coverage by double-moves and lacks elite recovery.
- Can be late to decipher intent in zone and lacks the elite speed to make up ground.
- Sometimes plays a bit tall at the line and can lurch when attempting to carry upfield.
- Feet can be more controlled at the line at times, as weight transfers can be staggered.
- Sometimes struggles to get off blocks in run support and can give up space.
- Pursuit angles coming downhill can be inconsistent, flushing himself out of plays.
South Carolina CB Darius Rush Current Draft Projection
Rush doesn’t grade quite as highly as his teammate Cam Smith off the tape, but he’s still part of a very strong 2023 NFL Draft CB class. For me, Rush grades out as a potential top-100 prospect, who could be a very solid mid-to-late Day 2 or early Day 3 option.
There’s an extensive injury history to take into account with Rush. He was forced to redshirt in 2018 due to a major injury, missed the spring in 2021 after undergoing shoulder surgery, and spent much of 2022 dealing with a hamstring issue. But if Rush’s medicals check out at the NFL Combine, he could garner substantial interest from NFL teams.
Rush might not have an elite athletic tool in his arsenal. But at 6’2″, he brings more than enough explosiveness and speed to work with. He’s also very agile and fluid for his size, with the hip flexibility to snap around and lock down the top of routes.
With his combined discipline, patience, and route recognition, Rush has versatility between man and zone, and he has the body control and coordination to make plays at the catch point as a former WR. At the very least, his extensive special-teams experience gives him some baseline security.
Run support is an area Rush certainly has to clean up. Faulty angles, poor block deconstruction, and missed tackles are all frequent on his tape. He’ll also be a 23-year-old rookie, which may set him outside certain teams’ age guardrails.
But as a coverage defender, Rush has the foot speed, length, physicality, adaptability, and sharp fluidity to grow into an above-average starter on the boundary, with flexibility across schemes.
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