04 Sep Preseason Scouting Notes: Marcelino Ball, CB/S, Indiana
Redshirt Senior | 6’0” 220 lbs | Roswell, GA
An extremely strong, run defending defensive back who shows promise as a blitzer, but will need to improve greatly in coverage
Marcelino Ball came to Indiana as a 3-star recruit and has been a starter for the Hoosiers’ 4-2-5 defense since his true freshman season. After taking a medical redshirt his sophomore season, Ball will enter his fifth year in the program starting at the “Husky” position, which asks him to primarily play in the slot or blitz off the edge. He plays a lot of man coverage or drops to the flat when he isn’t blitzing on obvious passing downs. He’s a two-time member of the Feldman’s Freaks list due to his absurd strength testing numbers. Ball reportedly benches 405, power cleans 365, and was clocked in at 22.74 miles per hour at one point on Indiana’s player tracking GPS system.
– Good wrap-up tackler who drives his legs and tackles with force
– Extremely physical in run support for a defensive back. Intents to unleash violence with his pads and wants to jump into the pile
– Shows the ability to man up with bigger slot receivers and tight ends well, maintaining a close hip-to-hip relationship while staying in position to make a play on the ball
– Fantastic combination of strength, length and straight line speed should make him an ideal special teamer
– Shows good burst off the line when blitzing off the edge. Closing speed and timing allow him to be effective looping inside
– Very good at fending off stalk blocks and navigating through trash due to his length and high-level upper body strength
Areas to improve:
– Not very anticipatory with his play diagnosis on runs. Mental processing skills can be a tick slow and keep him from reacting in time to make a play
– Needs to be more patient with his hips. Gets turned around by deceptive moves too often
– Remains physical with receivers well down the field and, but won’t throw smaller receivers off their path despite his strength
– Merely adequate mirror-match skills and reactive athleticism
– Doesn’t show oily hips. Loses a step when transitioning to turn and run out of his back pedal
– Below average route recognition leaves him covering grass in zone frequently
– Has some balance issues when trying to stop his momentum while defending curls and stop routes
– Needs to refine his hand usage and overall pass rush skills/moves to fully blossom as a blitzer
– (2017) Suffered an undisclosed season-ending injury 3 games into his sophomore season and took a medical redshirt
– (2018) Left Minnesota game with an undisclosed injury
Due to Ball’s struggles in coverage and with anticipation, his role at the NFL level will likely be limited to a core special teams player early on in his career. However, due to his rare combination of strength and play speed, teams will be happy to bring Ball into their system and see if he can develop into a meaningful role player. With some development in coverage, Ball could become an effective Big Nickel who is useful in smaller defensive packages as a DB who can more than hold his own against the run. Some teams may like to try Ball out as a linebacker as well, though his issues with diagnosing run plays may hinder his effectiveness there. At this point, Ball profiles as a late-Day 3 prospect or PFA, but a great performance at the combine (which is likely) could boost his stock significantly.
What to watch in 2020:
If Ball is able to play, teams will be looking to see him improve his coverage skills. Because of his limited coverage acumen and problems with run diagnosis, he is currently a man without a country. He is not quite big enough to convert to a full-time linebacker spot, and will need to improve his route recognition, hip transitions, and mirror-match skills to prove that he can thrive at defensive back.