What are the Titans getting in the former Arizona Wildcats safety?
Player name: Dane Cruikshank
H/W: 6’1 209
School / Class: Arizona / RS Senior
Measureables: 4.41 40, 38.5” vertical jump, 10’01” broad jump, 25 bench press reps, 6.89 3 cone drill
- Athleticism - He tested very well athletically at the Combine. Top 5 in the 40 for safeties, sixth in vertical jump, fifth in the 3 cone drill. The 4.41 is not a joke. He frequently shows it on the field when chasing down the play from behind. He kept up stride for stride at corner against some of the faster receivers in the nation. Lateral agility is a plus. Well suited as a box safety. Plus athleticism off the edge. Can flip his hips on a dime to make the play. Cat like quickness.
- Versatility - He came in as a cornerback and left as a safety. Can play both adequately with little drop off at corner. Well versed in nickel and dime defense as Zona ran the staple Rich Rod 3-3-5 defense. Primarily used as a box safety and slot corner during his senior season. The versatility will come into play during roster cut down day as he can save a valuable roster spot for someone else to make it. The Wildcats even had him as a fourth linebacker on the field due to their severe lack of talent there.
- Physicality - Cruikshank is a physical marvel and has the frame for a in the box type of safety. He’s a big hitter that goes for the home run hit. The problem is, he has a lower batting average than Joey Gallo. Has all the tools to be a decent bet in help defense when covering backs and tight ends. He can play anywhere in the front or back of the defense, depending on the package. Rarely shies away from contact.
- Production - It increased both years that he played for Arizona. A minor increase but an increase nonetheless despite playing only one more game.
- Fundamentals - In a word, nonexistent. It appears that he solely relies on athleticism to get by but that will only take him so far. He’s a poor tackler that rarely shows any capability of wrapping up properly and goes for arm tackles frequently. He can keep up with receivers but is considered to be an automatic pass interference penalty. Doesn’t really know the sleight of hand that corners use to get away with PI and holding calls.
- Instincts - Below average. Often seen not in the play. I don’t know what Arizona was doing on defense but it seemed like he was a few steps slower than everyone else trying to diagnose what was going on. Maybe it was the constant moving around that did him in. He needs to settle down and learn one position in my estimation. Even when he gets the play correct, the play is already essentially done.
- Attitude / Ego - Let’s just say that it’s affected his team in a negative manner. In the Oregon game, he had an easy walk in pick six taken off the scoreboard because he was taunting the Ducks before he scored. Nearly every play that I saw him make, he celebrated like he just won the Super Bowl. The Titans team leaders will need to keep an eye on his brash behavior and coach him out of it. Dumb penalties often mean the difference between winning and losing. He has a penchant for being overeager to garner the ire of referees everywhere.
I specifically chose those linked games to watch because of the wide variance in offensive systems (and yes, Purdue is fun now with Jeff Brohm running things there). Cruikshank performed admirably but his weaknesses were present as well. He’s really inconsistent from play to play. He’s more of a strong safety than a free safety at this point and should be developed in that manner. The Oregon tape stood out to me the most. He was impressive in that contest. Another game that he stood out was the Wazzu tape. DC was a three star junior college recruit that signed for Arizona in 2015. Was the 29th ranked JUCO recruit in the state of California, 11th ranked at his position, and 99th ranked nationally. Native of Chino Hills, CA (the town made famous by another prideful and brash athletic family called the Lavar Ball Show). Funny note: He has picked off both Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.
I’m somewhat ambivalent on the pick. If it works out, then great. If it doesn’t, it’s not good but not a franchise altering disaster. Cruikshank is very raw and needs a ton of development time to even compete for a starting job in 2019. Fortunately, the current DC Dean Pees is well known for development. Not to mention to fact that he has great veteran secondary mates to learn from. He needs to settle down into one position and stick with it. Cyprien won’t have to worry about his job for the 2018 season but 2019 may be an entirely different story. At the least, he can be a decent bet to succeed on special teams. The best situation for him would be to sit and learn for the 2018 season. Athletically he profiles close to a former Titan DB in Michael Griffin. Another comp could be former USC safety Taylor Mays.