Photo of Eli Apple
5.68 ?
  • 4.40 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 13 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 6'1" Height
  • 31 3/8" Arm Length
  • 199LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands


Though Apple was highly-recruited out of high school, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer wasn't sure of what he had during the New Jersey native's first year on campus. But Apple was diagnosed with an iron deficiency that prevented him from giving full effort on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom. Once that was under control, Meyer and the rest of the coaches saw Apple begin to fulfill his potential. Apple (whose given surname was Woodard, but changed it to honor his stepfather) started 14 of 15 games as a redshirt freshman during Ohio State's run to a national title. In fact, he sealed the Buckeyes' win over Oregon in the championship game, intercepting Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota's final collegiate pass. For the season, he totaled 53 tackles, 5.5 for loss, three interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Although Apple's statistical production decreased in 2015 (33 tackles, two for loss, one interception, eight pass breakups), Big Ten coaches recognized his ability to shut down opposing receivers by voting him second-team all-conference.



Good height, weight and arm length combination. Clean footwork in transition with natural ability to mirror and match from press coverage. Won't open hips early and rarely turned around off line of scrimmage. Has foot quickness in short spaces to maintain feel for his man. Extremely competitive when ball is in the air. Has play strength to redirect receivers from their routes. Aggressive hands in coverage and fights hard to disrupt the catch by any means necessary. Finished with 22 passes defensed over last two years. Scouts praise him for work ethic and technical improvement over last two years. Will come downhill against run and is diligent with contain responsibilities.


Can be slow to diagnose and anticipate quarterback's plans. Average reactive athleticism. Doesn't feature the balance or twitch to rocket forward and challenge throws if he's not shadowing his man. Won't always play to his size as a tackler. Dragged 18 yards after a catch against Penn State. Shows some stiffness as an open field tackler and allowed four broken tackles this season. Slow to turn head and find ball on deep throws. Becomes Mr. Grabs if he senses receiver is getting over the top of him or when he's trying to crowd the top of routes. Had four holding and seven pass interference penalties from 2014­-2015.

NFL Comparison

Trumaine Johnson

Bottom Line

Highly recruited two­-year starter who is entering the draft as a draft eligible redshirt sophomore. Apple's size and strength allows him to compete against physical receivers, but he also has the talent to mirror and match as a man defender. Covering for longer could be challenging early on after playing with talented defensive fronts who ravaged quarterbacks. Apple will have to learn to trust his feet rather than grabbing so often or he'll find that quarterbacks and refs will find him often.
-Lance Zierlein
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.