Benjamin Morrison (DB, 6’0” 172, Brophy College Prepatory, AZ)
This week we’re breaking down a guy who could be UW’s latest stud CB from Arizona, Benjamin Morrison. After earning an early offer before the end of his sophomore school year, the smooth-moving Morrison has been a top DB target for our Huskies for over a year now, and it’s easy to see why.
Watching both his sophomore and junior season tape, Morrison’s best trait is that he’s a natural and fluid athlete who just glides around the field. In his vertical coverage plays, he never panics because he can stay with a receiver in transition with fluid hips, a quick backpedal/shuffle, and excellent recovery speed. In plays where he’s breaking on underneath routes, he exhibits smothering change-of-direction and closing speed. As a 2-way HS player, this same athleticism translates well on offense as he’s simply 1 or 2 steps faster than everyone on the field. If he was a WR prospect, he’d have “separation speed” as well as YAC skills.
Measuring in at 6-0, 172 lbs, Morrison is also in the perfect size range to be a premium inside-outside CB prospect. He’s got sufficient length and strength to match up on most outside WRs at the collegiate level, but he’s not so big/tall that it hampers his lateral agility and burst. I’d expect him to add another 10-15 lbs naturally as he continues to fill out his frame, improves his conditioning, and works to improve his explosiveness in the S&C program, but adding weight is not something that he’ll need to worry about. Some may still be concerned with his ability to keep up with more physical match ups on the perimeter or flexed TEs even at his size since we’ve just seen a decade of 6-1+ DBs who have been inspired by the Legion of Boom, but Morrison’s a bit of a throw back to the days when a guy like Darelle Revis was the prototype. Back then, elite movement skills, sound technique, and physicality allowed sub-6’ DBs to dominate football.
A more recent and relatable comp with similar in size and play-style to Morrison is fellow Arizona DB Byron Murphy. Like Morrison, Murphy was able to leverage a combination of press-bail techniques, off/catch coverage technique, and solid ball skills to be physical through the catch rather than in transition or off the snap to stay in control of their coverage positioning and avoid box-out situations. This also allowed them to leverage their ball skills in coverage because they were so often in position running step-by-step with the receiver.
Now when I say “ball skills”, it should be understood that for Morrison and Murphy this involves a wider definition of the term than simply snagging interceptions. In my opinion, good ball skills include being able to quickly identify the ball in-flight, tracking the ball, and getting hands on the ball. Whether getting hands on the ball means catching it, batting it, or ripping it out of an opponent’s hands, it does not matter. Having quick enough reactions and coordination to make an impact play on the ball is all that matters. For Morrison and Murphy, this often ended up meaning PBUs, but when paired with their aforementioned physicality through the catch, this also leads to a lot of forced fumbles, big hits, and timely tackles.
Morrison’s press-bail technique and vertical coverage is shown better in his sophomore tape where he was also able to show off his comfort flipping his hips against an outside release, turn his back to the QB, and either relocate the ball in-flight or very patiently play the hands of the receiver as they extend for the ball. His off/catch coverage technique is very prominent in his junior tape where it allows him to sit on routes, keep his eyes in the backfield, and make plays in the run game or on underneath passes. That junior tape doesn’t have as much of the high-value coverage skills on display, but the consistent tackling in space, physicality in the run game, and rapid processing of the play in front of him are traits that earn DBs playing time and are sought after traits in our nickels, who often are the fulcrum of our run-pass defensive responsibilities.
Projecting Morrison into our defense, his perimeter coverage value is likely too great for him to immediately project into the nickel, but his skill set and limited experience in the slot could put him in a position where he could earn early playing time depending on how the other pieces in our backfield fit alongside him. Rounding out his skills in the slot could be a developmental selling point to him as our nickelbacks have consistently earned shots at the NFL due to their versatility and ability in both run and pass defense. Another route to playing time and the NFL for Morrison is on special teams where I believe he has huge upside as both a returner and as a coverage gunner due to his speed and open field tackling.
Morrison is a guy to keep an eye on.
Let me know what you guys think in the comments , and don’t forget to check out the rest of the UWDP Recruiting Notebook series in the stream below.