In the fourth of our ‘Small School Sleeper’ articles we’re going to take a closer look at someone who was fortunate enough to be able to play in the Senior Bowl at his home stadium – South Alabama linebacker Riley Cole.
Every time Cole was in on the play at the Senior Bowl we definitely knew about it. The mostly home town crowd made a lot of noise in support of him and he definitely seemed to feed off that – finishing with 6 tackles, 1 TFL and a pass defensed as well.
With 211 tackles during his South Alabama career, Cole has shown that he’s a sure-fire tackler and one of the things he’s added to his game more recently has been the impact plays – the TFLs, sacks and the passes defensed when dropping into coverage.
Cole doesn’t match up well against the quicker slot receivers as he lacks that initial burst, and nor is he fully able to compete against the bigger tight ends due to his size (6’2, 225lbs) but he can hang with what I’d describe as intermediate athletes – those without the elite traits I’ve just described.
What he does do well is anticipate and make good reads – as you might expect from someone with such high tackle numbers. He’s smart, understands his roles in a number of situations and coverages and you can almost guarantee he’ll never let you down when he’s on the field.
I can definitely see him making a roster and being a contributor on special teams from the very start. He’ll work incredibly hard in practice and do whatever he’s asked to make the team, and wherever he goes his coaches are going to love him. For those reasons, don’t be surprised if he’s a late round pick – and if your team is the one who drafts him, then you should definitely be happy with the choice.