The Philadelphia Eagles selected Auburn defensive back Blake Countess with their sixth round pick (No. 196) in the 2016 NFL Draft. We've already profiled Countess, but I thought it would be useful to acquire an insider's insight as well. In order to learn more about the Eagles' defender, I reached out to both SB Nation's Auburn Tigers blog: College and Magnolia and Michigan Wolverines blog: Maize n Brew. Countess played three years at Michigan before playing for Auburn as a senior. Walt Austin (bio) and and Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) were kind enough to answer questions about Countess.
1) What’s your overall impression of his performance as a senior at Auburn? Strengths/weaknesses?
"I thought Countess performed quite well as a senior. He was targeted 71 times and only gave up a single touchdown. The one time I can ever remember being upset at anything he did was dropping an almost certain pick-6 in the Alabama game that would have given Auburn a 13-6 lead going into half instead of being down 6-9. He did manage to get two interceptions on the year. For how often the secondary had to defend well-thrown passes (because Auburn's line couldn't pressure the QB much), I think Countess acquitted himself quite well.
I don't know if I could point any specific strengths/weaknesses to highlight, because I just didn't notice him all that much. I don't consider that a bad thing, either, which is essentially what I was trying to get to above. He's a very good, but perhaps not great, defensive back. He's a good defender who doesn't really give up the big plays, but he's not necessarily going to make the flashy ones, either."
2) Is Countess more of an outside cornerback, slot cornerback, or safety?
"He played boundary corner and safety both at Auburn this past season. I think he has a decent chance to fit in at either position, but his height would be more indicative of a corner position, to me. He's not terribly fast, so he's not going to be someone you necessarily want covering the deep ball."
3) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
"I think he'll have a solid NFL career as a very good contributor. I don't think he's going to ever become a lock-down corner, but he'll put in a number of good years as a starter or second option in the defensive back field. He's not flashy, he's not someone who is going to get you overly excited about having him, but he's going to do good work and will rarely make you regret that he was on the field due to any poor play."
1) What are his strengths?
"I think the biggest strength is his versatility. Countess has played on the outside, in the slot and at safety in his career. He's a pretty smart player and I think that helps him to recover from his other deficiencies."
2) What are his weaknesses?
"Size is certainly a concern, especially in today's NFL. He was never the best tackler and was susceptible to getting beat deep at times. He is not all that fast, either."
3) Countess had six interceptions as a sophomore. Was there reason why he was so productive that year?
"Countess had a great year and made a lot of plays in his sophomore season. The interception numbers were certainly high, but I never really saw him as a great playmaking corner. Sometimes when your interception numbers are boosted, it means you are getting thrown at a lot. He was certainly good, but sometimes the numbers do not tell the whole story."
4) Why did Countess transfer out of Michigan? How did Wolverines fans react to that decision?
"When Jim Harbaugh was hired, they went to a more press-oriented defense in the passing game, which was never really has strength on the field. He would've likely played in the slot and it would have been a tough go of it there for him, even. It just was not a fit anymore. I think some fans were disappointed, but many accepted his departure as the casualty of a coaching change."
5) Is Countess more of an outside cornerback, slot cornerback, or safety?
"In the NFL, I believe Countess is a slot player."
6) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
"I can see him sticking as a special teamer or depth guy in a defensive back rotation. I think there is a fair amount of ability there, but I do not know what he will be at the next level."
Thanks again to Walt and Anthony. Make sure to check out College and Magnolia and Maize n Brew.