There’s a famous Michael Jordan quote that’s always stuck with me. I thought about it a lot throughout the offseason because I think it’s something that could easily describe Eli Drinkwitz.
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
Missouri had a clear weakness a year ago, and it existed in the secondary. The starters were fine, but the depth was non-existent. By the end of the season the Tigers were starting walk-ons and quarterbacks in the defensive backfield. Spoiler alert: that’s not what you’re looking for.
Thanks to a strong showing in the transfer portal, it shouldn’t be an issue for the Tigers in 2022. Missouri was able to pick up multiple 3-year starters at corner, both of whom are considered legitimate NFL Draft prospects. Their names are Akayleb Evans and Allie Green IV, and they won’t be here for a long time but they hope to be here for a good time.
Evans and Green IV each spent three years as starters at Tulsa. Green was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s best defensive back. Evans was considered one of the highest profile transfers available in this year’s portal.
Both Evans and Green are listed at 6-foot-2, and both have the arm length that NFL teams desire.
It’s not just projection, either. Green and Evans have produced at a high level. They formed one of the most imposing cornerback duos in the country last year at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes allowed just 6.1 yards per pass attempt and 190 passing yards per game, both of which ranked among the top 20 nationally. How did they do it? By beating the hell out of opposing receivers.
Green and Evans play with a rare physicality for corners. It’ll get them into trouble from time to time. They can both get a bit grabby at the top of routes, and they aren’t afraid to push a receiver out of bounds a bit late if that gets a message across. That’s something you’re willing to live with because their physicality shows up in other ways, too.
You won't find many college cornerbacks as physical as new #Mizzou CB Allie Green IV. That'll result in some penalties. It'll also lead to some highlights in which receivers get thrown outta the club. pic.twitter.com/2XBR9qi5tV— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) August 25, 2021
They’re both completely unafraid in the run game, and they’re both willing and able tacklers. They pack a serious punch off of the line of scrimmage as they redirect receivers early in their routes. If that’s not enough, they have the speed to carry receivers up the field.
All of this is why Green and Evans are considered legitimate NFL Draft prospects. And it’s why they wanted to test their skills at the highest level, which landed them in the SEC. A big season at Missouri could result in the Tigers having a pair of corners drafted for the first time in more than 30 years.
Not bad for a team which saw its cornerback situation decimated by the end of the 2020 season. Drinkwitz saw a weakness, and suddenly it became a strength.