I love a little outside infusion into defensive backfields. Whether it comes from the draft or free agency, it’s nice when the GM notices someone who may have potential and gives them a shot. Over the past two seasons we’ve seen Derek Cox show great potential, let us down, and then show a little more. Rod Issac, the 6th round selection from Middle Tennessee State University may just show us a little more of that potential.
Rod Issac comes in at 5′ 11″ and 196 pounds. Best part of that stocky frame is this. This man is not some Scott Starks (whom I love) who was a brilliant speed corner that excelled most (and hit his ceiling) at the nickel position. While Issac will come in probably playing 4th or 5th on the depth chart, I fully expect him to move ahead of Don Carey, William Middleton, and David Jones to play the nickel back or sub in for Derek Cox (if he starts to struggle) or Rashean Mathis (if his age catches up to him). I’m drawing these conclusions not from his excellent workout (4.44 4o yard dash, 22 bench reps), but mostly from the film I’ve looked at.
The film (highlights found here) show an athlete that hits well (not bad tackling either), has excellent awareness, and decently smooth hips/change of direction. But what really draws me toward this man is his anticipation. Issac has, even when the receiver catches the ball, a very very good read on the plays and can anticipate where they will be going very quickly. His strong frame means that he is able to play against the run quite effectively (more use out of the nickel package perhaps? Especially with such a weak LB corps currently?) and can jump routes rather well (often resulting in blocked passes, dropped catches, interceptions, or immediate tackles). If Issac is able to transition well to the speed of the NFL, I think that he has the athletic abilities and football instincts to be successful at cornerback.
BUT, I can’t say he impresses me. While I like the film, am intrigued by his workout numbers, and think he is an excellent athlete and could be a successful corner, Rod Issac bothers me. I don’t mind that he’s out of small school (I kind of like that he’s a diamond in the rough), I do mind his attitude though. After his workout on March 24th he said, “the conditions weren’t good. It was cold and windy. I normally run in the 4.3s and I did 23 reps last week.” Now I love a 4.3 40 time, and one more rep would have probably made me think just slightly more of his strength (or I wouldn’t have noticed), but why be so whiney? Blaming the conditions, while they could have been horrendous (even inside whilst benching?), is not something a winner does. He could have said he felt he could do better, he could have stated that he has run faster before and wasn’t satisfied. But don’t blame the weather, it’s frustrating, trivial, and makes me wonder what he’ll say after a game if the wind is gusting at more than three miles an hour.
I simply have to trust in Gene Smith and his excellent scouting staff that the man they chose mirrors his credentials (quite good All-Sun Belt Honors, but nothing really staggeringly impressive), rather than the small quote I dug out of a draft report.
In conclusion, I think Rod Issac has a chance to be a successful corner in his career and make some impact for the Jaguars in his first year. I think that, if there is a small concern of attitude, the current players and coaches will set him straight. But, if Rod Issac does happen to disappear/fade out of the defense, don’t be shocked. While I want him to succeed, I can’t be a glass half-full all the time. I love the potential, hopefully there’s no disappointment.
– Luke N. Sims