03/22/2012 - Boston College Pro Day: With Kuechly performing just linebacker drills, the onus was on other BC and local products to create the buzz from this workout. Former Boston College cornerback Donnie Fletcher proved up to the challenge. Fletcher, who entered his senior season highly regarded by scouts but was shockingly not included among the 36 cornerbacks invited to the Combine, silenced doubters of his straight-line speed with times ranging from 4.38-4.44 in two attempts at the 40-yard dash. He was listed by Boston College at 6-1, 195 pounds and registered 35 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions in 2011 for the Eagles. He was also participated in the prestigious Senior Bowl, which made his absence from the Combine list all the more surprising. As you can read in the profile I wrote for Fletcher, I'm higher on him than scouts seem to be. Don't be surprised if this former BC Eagle winds up competing to be one of the first players drafted who wasn't invited to the Combine. Fletcher is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a possible sixth round pick. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
Some universities are known for producing NFL-caliber talent at certain positions. At Boston College, offensive linemen, for example, are churned out with regularity. Defensive backs, however, are another story, which is why Fletcher could prove all the more interesting to scouts this season.
It has been 22 years since an Eagle defensive back earned as high as a fourth round selection in the NFL. Rico Labbe was the Washington Redskins' fourth round pick (109 overall) of the 1990 draft. Since, DeJuan Tribble (San Diego, sixth round, 2008), Daryl Porter (Pittsburgh, sixth round, 1997) and Michael Reed (Carolina, seventh round, 1995) are the only Boston College defensive backs to have been drafted.
Fletcher appears capable of changing this enigma, however. Given a mid-round grade by scouts entering the 2011 season, the lanky field corner was coming off his first full season as a starter, registering 58 tackles and eight passes broken up, including five interceptions to lead the team. Though his 2011 statistics (35 tackles, five PBUs, two interceptions) were considerably less impressive, they are more a reflection of opponents steering clear of Fletcher rather than a poor season from the senior cornerback.
With good, not great speed and limited experience in bump and run coverage, Fletcher isn't an elite prospect. For clubs operating primarily out of a zone scheme, however, Fletcher's experience, size and reliable tackling skills should make him the highest drafted Boston College cornerback in decades.
Man Coverage: Wasn't asked to play in press corner though his length and physicality make him a potential fit in this role. Experienced in off-man coverage, demonstrating a low, quick back pedal with a relatively smooth hip turn. Appears to have only average straight-line speed overall, however.
Zone Coverage: Quality zone defender due to his recognition skills and an above average burst downhill to the ball. Understands where the holes in the zone are and reads the quarterback's eyes, breaking on passes as they're thrown to be in good position to defend the throw or at minimum make the tackle shortly after the completion. Will drop off his assignment and step in front of another receiver due to his understanding of zone coverage (INT vs. ND). Trusts his eyes too much, at times, and can be victimized when he tries to break on an underneath route and is beaten by a double move or scrambling quarterback (Nevada).
Ball Skills: Good ball skills for the position. Can extend outside of his frame to make the interception and catches passes that hit him in the hands. More instinctive than he is explosive in breaking on the ball, however. Times his leaps well to compete for jump balls. Good size, leaping ability.
Run Support: Quickly reacts to the run, slipping past most receiver blocks and attacking the line of scrimmage. Aggressively fights through receiver blocks when he is challenged, showing upper body strength and a swim move to escape. Willing to take on the bigger ball-carrier. Good effort in downfield pursuit.
Tackling: Generally a reliable open-field tackler. Brings his shoulder and typically wraps his arms securely, so that even when the ball-carrier is able to remain upright following the hit, Fletcher is able to trip him up by hanging on to his feet. Closes quickly on underneath routes, often timing his hit shortly after the ball arrives. Gets the job done, but isn't particularly physical.
Intangibles: Started four games as a true freshman, contributing three interceptions to Boston College's nation-leading 26 picks in 2008. Enrolled early at Boston College (January 2008). Enrolled in the Lynch School of Education. Was unable to play in the 2011 season opener against Northwestern due to back pain. Durable player. Played in 51 games for the Eagles, including starting 31 times.
--By Rob Rang