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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CB Emmanuel Rugamba

  • The Draft Network
  • January 22, 2021
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Emmanuel "Manny" Rugamba originally started his career at Iowa where he spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Playing in 22 career games with the Hawkeyes (11 starts), he opted to transfer to Miami (OH). Sitting out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he returned in 2019 to start in all 13 games. Finishing his first season there with 85 tackles, eight pass breakups, and an interception, his shining moment came in the MAC Championship game as he was named Defensive MVP. Only playing in three games during his final season, he mentioned at the Tropical Bowl that COVID-19 had a major effect on him in 2020. The 2019 version of Rugamba was a completely different player than what we saw last season for many obvious variables. The battle for the team that drafts or eventually signs him will be discovering and permanently getting the 2019 version of him, which was certainly a draftable prospect.

Ideal Role: Developmental nickel cornerback.

Scheme Fit: Attacking press-man scheme (Cover 1).


Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: Central Michigan (2019), Ball State (2020), Akron (2020), Buffalo (2020)

Best Game Studied: Central Michigan (2019)

Worst Game Studied: Buffalo (2020)

Man Coverage Skills: A fluid mover in man coverage, he excels when afforded opportunities to challenge matchups at the line of scrimmage. Not an overly long type of defender, but he's aggressive with his jams and when wanting to get hands on targets. Thriving in man coverage has been his forte, as he has adequate enough movement skills in order to keep up in multiple directions during the route stems of wideouts. Displaying patience at the snap of the ball, he’s aware of the timing of when to react to the direction that matchups want to attack. Grabbiness will be an area that needs to be addressed though, as he’s a cornerback that can let his competitiveness get the best of him and it results in grabby tendencies. 

Zone Coverage Skills: There are some strides that need to be made as a zone defender, as he doesn’t show comfort with having his body to the sideline. From the backpedal process to knowing when to read and react, Rugamba is raw in that aspect. Levels concepts into his zone can be advantageous against him as he’s been the frequent target that’s been put in a bind when operating as the boundary corner.   

Ball Skills: When the ball has come in his direction for turnover opportunities, he’s looked comfortable with prying the ball out. Rugamba is a cornerback that elects to play the hands of receivers instead of getting his head around to find it in flight. Having mixed results with that technique, it seems to be one that was taught to him by position coaches over time. 

Tackling: Rugamba has a linebacker mentality when entering tackling opportunities. A high-level tackler that embraces the tackling process, he has zero hesitancy when contact opportunities present themselves. He deploys different techniques, but he’s a wrap-up-and-bring-down tackler that’s extremely physical at the point of attack. Detaching from wideouts and entering different domains to make tackles is seen in nearly every game studied. 

Versatility: Playing primarily outside during his career at both Iowa and Miami (OH), Rugamba proved to have plenty of value there, but he may be best suited at nickel. Even though he hasn’t gained experience inside, his traits and what he does best translate well to the nickel spot. Considering his hip fluidity, football intelligence, and consistent presence as a tackler, there are a lot of attractive traits that could lead to the intrigue of seeing him inside. 

Competitive Toughness: His competitive notch is always turned up to the maximum point. Rugamba is a highly confident prospect that isn’t afraid to engage in back and forth chatter with the opposition. Properly backing it up, he possesses an alpha mentality that’s a requirement at the position. As a tackler, he displays a lot of heart and the thought of possible contact from any sized ball-carrier hardly ever forces him to alter his approach.

Functional Athleticism: Rugamba's biggest improvements must come at the top of his pedal just prior to the plant and drive portion. While guarding receivers in man coverage, quick movements or the change of directions can catch him by a little bit of surprise. Then forced to play catch up, that's where he relegates to his emergency thoughts of becoming a grabby corner.

Football IQ: Possessing plenty of football intelligence, Rugama is able to use that to his advantage as both a run defender and when in various types of coverage. Quick to notice and react to route concepts, he thrives off of trusting what his eyes originally see. Unafraid to attack with his original train of thought, he’s a quick processor that can drive downhill on passes in a hurry. Keen with noticing the block plans of wideouts, he attacks them with full force and has surprised many with his tempos and the force behind his intensity levels when engaging,

Run Defending: One of the better parts of Rugamba’s game is his welcoming of contact. He is infatuated with the physical portions of the game. A trait that can be difficult to find in cornerback prospects, he welcomes the possibility of him consistently showing up as an exterior defender against the run. Possessing a well put together frame, he uses his armor to his advantage by throwing his body around in order to make contact on tackles as he’s also consistent with wrapping up runners. 

Length: Having more of a compact build, Rugamba isn’t an overly long corner. The lack of length has hurt him on occasion at the catch point, but it hasn’t shown up as a frequent problem that causes significant amounts of worry due to his ability to still make plays on the ball. Despite having average length, he’s able to still remain a consistent tackler that can extend and win on attempts to bring ball-carriers down.


TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Jordan Reid: 71/100

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