Displays some natural bend at his waist, but sits into his stance with one foot in front of the other and really struggles to keep his pad level down and maintain his balance into his bump/press and out of his breaks. Lacks ideal fluidity when asked to turn and run and struggles to get back up to speed vertically. Isn’t a burner by any stretch, doesn’t possess a real second gear and fails to quickly make up for a false step. Plays on the boundary side typically where he isn’t responsible for covering as much ground, and could be exposed even more in space.
Exhibits an above-average feel in zone coverage. Gets his head around quickly, can locate the football and displays pretty good ball skills when asked to go up and make a play. Isn’t as physical a tackler as his frame would indicate, but he can free himself from blocks on the outside and isn’t afraid to stick his head in vs. the run.
Impression: Possesses good size and does have some natural coordination and body control when asked to go up and attack the football. However, he needs time to clean up his footwork and lacks ideal fluidity/straight-line speed when asked to turn and run down the field. He’s a guy you can’t trust on the outside vs. NFL-caliber receivers at this time and simply isn’t quick enough to play in the slot. Will get a chance to compete in an NFL training camp, but his skill set might be better suited for the free safety spot."
Positive: Nice-sized cornerback with a solid overall game. Quick footed moving in reverse, fluid turning his hips, and loses nothing transitioning to run with receivers down the field. Jams opponents at the line, bumps throughout the route, and plays with physicality. Shows good awareness in zone assignments.
Negative: Does too much face guarding, slow getting his head back around, and at times late locating the pass.
Analysis: Rucker has been a solid cover man for the Spartans and offers the skills that translate well to the next level. He needs to improve his playmaking ability when his back is to the ball, but he could be very effective in a zone system or if backed off the line of scrimmage."
Negatives: Had some off-the-field character issues including being charged for a fight in 2009 which resulted in a suspension from the team, was also charged with a DUI... Instincts are not great, gets out of position too often and does not look very disciplined at times... Gets a little too upright in the backpedal, needs to stay lower and keep a good center... Is a little raw in general, plays well in run support, but often gives up too much separation at the break... Will need a good amount of coaching in the NFL, has upside, but looks like a project/special teamer right now."
Strengths: Great frame and could likely carry 210, uses his hands well and has fine ball-skills.
Weaknesses: Not extremely fast would need to be in a Cover 2 scheme to stay on the corner. May project to FS."
Character issues aside, Rucker is a NFL prospect with NFL-ready size and speed. He is adequate in man coverage and could be much smoother in his hips. His technique will need to improve at the next level, as he allows receivers inside leverage on slant routes too easily and can be beat deep due to poor transitions when playing deep ball. Often plays the man, rather than the ball, when his back is to the quarterback.
Rucker will likely slip a round due to his recent off-the-field issues. Heading into the season he was one of those borderline players trying to earn his way into the second tier of cornerbacks. Due to issues and mediocre play, he is slipping on draft boards.
Rucker currently projects as a sixth round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft."
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