Damarious Randall: Former Sun Devil impressing with Packers


Heading into the NFL Draft earlier this year, the buzz as it relates to the Arizona State Sun Devils was all about Jaelen Strong and what he could accomplish as a big-time offensive piece at the next level. A potential first round pick, we all know the story of how things transpired and how Strong ended up in Houston as a third rounder. But through the first several weeks of the 2015 National Football League year, there is a different Sun Devil beginning to gain national attention.

Unlike Strong, Damarious Randall didn’t fall out of the first round. A pick at the tail end of the opening turn, the Green Bay Packers decided to bolster their secondary with the versatile defensive back, capable of logging time both as a corner and a safety. While the season is still relatively young, Randall looks like the real deal six weeks in.

In gaining regular playing time with a legitimate Super Bowl contender, Damarious Randall has been a key contributor on a defense that has been an underrated group. The Packers are 16th in the league in yards against per game (355) and 11th in the league, and sixth in the NFC, in pass yards against per game (236.5), even with the 500+ yards from Phillip Rivers on Sunday (aided by the fact that he threw the ball over 60 times). They’ve been among the best in the league in creating turnovers, with the fourth most fumbles forced (9) and interceptions (8), in the league thus far as well.

But Randall, perhaps more than almost any other defensive rookie, has made his mark week in and week out for the Packers. His seven passes defended are the fifth highest total in the league among defensive backs, and trail only Ronald Darby and Marcus Peters for the lead among rookie defenders. Perhaps even more impressive is that he’s seen significantly fewer snaps than each of them.

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At no point have Randall’s contributions at the NFL level been more evident than in the waning seconds of Sunday’s win over the San Diego Chargers. With the Chargers moving down the field and working toward a score that would have tied the game, Randall broke up a pass between Phillip Rivers and Danny Woodhead that preserved the victory. It was a brilliant play, as Randall got a great jump on the ball before diving in front of Woodhead to knock the pass down.

Even better, Randall admitted after the game that he lulled and baited Rivers into making the throw, thinking that he had Woodhead as an option. But Randall read it all along and make the leaping effort to knock it down and seal the win.

Although he has some competition for serving as the best rookie defender on his own team, with Quinten Rollins coming off of a multi-interception game a couple of weeks ago, Randall has certainly established himself as one of the better rookie defenders in this class. He continues to see his playing time grow, and the Packers have used his versatility to their advantage. From our perspective, it certainly is a great thing to see a Sun Devil at a skill position succeed so early into his NFL career, even if it isn’t Jaelen Strong.

Randy Holt is the managing editor for Devils in Detail. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.