When deciding which players I wanted to feature in this five part series, I had a few in mind from the get-go. Chris Davis, Alden Darby, and Tenny Palepoi were shoo-ins. I also wanted to feature a couple of offensive players, and our own Robert Falkenberg contributed a great article on the undrafted rookie wide receivers. For the fifth and final profile of the series, I narrowed my choices down to Adrian Phillips, Branden Oliver and Greg Ducre. Philips was a star at safety for the Texas Longhorns, and Oliver is the greatest running back in the University of Buffalo's history. Ducre was a solid cornerback for Washington, but he lacks the star power and name recognition of Phillips and Oliver.
So, why am I choosing Ducre? Well, because I don't give a damn about star power and name recognition. And because Bolts From The Blue's Richard Wade already wrote a similar piece on Oliver. But mostly because collegiate success, or lack thereof, doesn't always predict a player's success at the professional level. Ducre is a fascinating prospect who may end up one day being the best player of San Diego's undrafted free agent class. Let's take a closer look at the 22-year-old from Los Angeles.
Ducre was not a star in college by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a immediate producer for Steve Sarkisian's Washington Huskies, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman and working his way into the starting lineup his sophomore season. He started six games in 2011 and racked up 37 tackles with an interception, but was inconsistent and didn't solidify himself as a full-time starter until his senior year. 2013 was his best season in a Huskies uniform, totaling 37 tackles to go along with two interceptions and a forced fumble.
With only a year and a half of starting experience, Ducre didn't cause much buzz headed into the NFL Draft until he participated in Washington's pro day, blowing away the spectators with a 4.32 time in the 40-yard-dash. The only player in the draft who ran a faster time in the 40 was Kent State burner Dri Archer, who was picked in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ducre ran track for the Huskies and finished second in the Pac-12 in the 60-yard-dash with a blistering 6.81. He has truly elite speed, which makes NFL coaches drool. That alone, added with his MVP performance in the College All-Star Game, made Ducre an intriguing prospect for NFL teams. He was projected as a fourth or fifth round pick, but in a deep cornerback class, Ducre didn't hear his name called. Luckily for the Chargers, he decided to come back to Southern California and signed with San Diego shortly after the draft.
Ducre possesses average height and size for a cornerback at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but he is much stronger than advertised (17 bench press reps on 225 pounds) and is a proficient open field tackler. He is fast enough that wide receivers will never be able to outrun him, and his closing speed and short-area burst keeps him in close company with the wideout. He doesn't have the height to consistently out jump his opponent but his 35 inch vertical helps him make up for any height differential.
In Eric Williams of ESPN.com's camp report for Thursday, he mentioned Ducre, who was playing with the third team.
"Undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Greg Ducre made a nice interception on an out route intended for receiver Torrence Allen thrown by Brad Sorensen. The former University of Washington player also had a nice pass breakup during team drills later in practice."
Ducre's first interception of the 2013 season came in Week 2 against Illinois, sleuthing out a trick play and undercutting the receiver for the ball. Watch Ducre at the top of the screen as he works his way to the other side of the field for the interception.
Ducre's speed and aggressiveness brought him another interception, this one against arch-rival Washington State.
The ball is clearly behind the receiver, but Ducre made a good adjustment on the ball and was able to corral it as he fell to the ground.
With those two gifs above, you've now seen the Greg Ducre highlight film from 2013. Yeah, he didn't have many highlights to show. The problem with Ducre is that he has had all of these physical tools for a long time but was never able to put them all together for a whole season at Washington. While strong for his body size, he still got pushed around by bigger receivers and struggled against blocks. If your running back gets past the secondary Ducre is the guy with the wheels to catch him, but Ducre's also likely the guy you successfully blocked to open up a hole in the secondary.
I like Ducre as a prospect, and if he were to be signed to the Chargers practice squad, it would be considered a win for the organization. He's an elite athlete who has shown flashes of NFL ability, although they were few and far between. What it comes down to now for Ducre is coaching. He has all of the physical tools to be a starting corner in the league, but his technique needs improvement, and he'll have to learn how to deal with larger receivers if he is to find a place in the NFL.
Chances Greg Ducre makes the final roster: 15%. Ducre's competition in camp is too great for him to realistically have a shot at making the team as a cornerback, and he didn't have any experience in college on special teams. With that said, Ducre is a candidate to be added to the practice squad, where he could develop into a good player who can eventually make his mark in the league. For now though, that's all speculation, and based on what we've seen on the field of Ducre, he'll have to dominate in the preseason to even get consideration for the final roster.