Troy Woolfolk vs. Donovan Warren Inequality

Submitted by uniqenam on July 13th, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Do you disagree with this inequality?

Troy Woolfolk > Donovan Warren


In all honesty, I truly believe Troy Woolfolk was more of a shut-down corner last year than Donovan Warren, and I actually think that if he had declared for the draft he actually had a chance at being drafted.  Many of the "experts" seem to pick players as being monumental to a team's success simply because of their star rating or hype (see Stephen Schilling, Obi Ezeh, Donovan Warren) instead of what they truly put on the field.  I really think this made itself apparent when, at the end of the year, teams started to stay away from T-Wolf so they could target Warren.  Although (of course) I'd rather have a solid corner stay on the team, I don't think it's correct to say that Warren was a better corner than Woolfolk.


I've also heard that Warren wasn't very good for team cohesiveness, and that Woolfolk was a much better leader in the secondary than he was.


Victory Collins

July 13th, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

Woolfolk at least as the speed to be an elite corner whereas Donovan was barely as fast as an elite down lineman.  Other than that, Woolfolk can't get anything but an incomplete given he played part of the year at safety and was not really tested all that much in other games.


July 13th, 2010 at 7:32 PM ^

As we saw in Mr. Eisen's combine footage, even a dude in a suit can win some races with a big enough head start. 

I can't honestly say I've done the research that many have, nor have I poured in the effort to pen persuasive passages.  Scheme or not, personnel or not, I really hope not to see tons of five to seven yard quick hitches in front of cushions that should be reserved for Mssr. Bolt.

Frank Drebin

July 14th, 2010 at 8:18 AM ^

I also hope that we don't have to play our DB's 10 yards off of the line, as this will mean that we actually have competent safety play this year. Warren had to play that deep to prevent the big play from happening every play. If he plays press coverage every down and gets beat, it would be just the WR with Kovacs to beat, and most top big ten receivers will win that foot race. With Gordon and others playing deep this year, hopefully we can begin to jam some receivers at the line and limit a lot of the big plays we saw last year.

Greg McMurtry

July 14th, 2010 at 9:56 AM ^

and Michael Floyd had good games with Warren covering them in 2009.  Those are the two that stick out to me in my memory.  Also, Warren was covering the #1 WR, while Woolfolk (and others) covered the #2 WR.  This year, I'm assuming Woolfolk will take on the #1 WR.  JT Floyd did appear to be playing with added confidence from the spring videos I've seen however.  Will that translate to him playing better defense?  I don't know, but I'm hoping it will.


July 13th, 2010 at 5:32 PM ^

You honestly, truly believe Troy Woolfolk was more of a shutdown corner than Warren?  Putting aside how arbitrarily the word "shutdown" is thrown around for corners, it's going to take a lot...a lot of arguing on your part to show how a guy who switched between free safety, strong safety, and finally corner is better than Warren.  Warren was by no means spectacular, but the dude fucked.shit.up at times last year and that's more than we can say for anybody not named Graham and sometimes Martin.  Woolfolk showed promise, and he could be pretty good, but let's save the "shutdown" talk - or even the more absurd notion that he would have been drafted.  I don't think the NFL was starving for a first-year starter without a position on a terrible defense in the 2010 draft.

As for team cohesiveness, what kind of bunk is that?  We all know Zoltan led the team in TCQ(Team Cohesiveness Quotient) with a stellar 27.5.  Kevin Leach was second with 22.4 and, obviously, the Ghost of Scott McClintock united this team like no other with a solid 19.8.  Neither Woolfolk nor Warren scored very high - and that's ignoring the fact that I just made that statistic up and "being good for team cohesiveness" seems to be some sort of tactic used by those who want to be reassured that the loss of their 5-star cornerback is A-ok since he didn't get drafted and Woolfolk is so fucking jampacked with leadership it seaps out of every orifice in his body.


July 13th, 2010 at 5:41 PM ^

It could also indicate that, outside of Warren - who Michigan absolutely needed to play at corner, but his new team in the pros is tinkering with him at FS - Woolfolk was the only other DB on the roster who could backpedal without drooling on himself and getting beat like a 13 year olds ham while the parents are out of the house every time a QB threw his way.  I love his versatility, but let's not kid ourselves:  If he were Warren-level good as a corner, he would have stayed there.  He's a jack-of-all-trades, master of none - and he really hasn't proven he's so great at those trades yet.  Don't get me wrong, I have high hopes for him, but there's really nothing in his favor in a comparison with Warren, and that's what the OP was about.  His dad was awesome though, perhaps boosting his Team Cohesiveness Quotient, though.


July 13th, 2010 at 5:56 PM ^

If Warren had been that good/fast in college or at the combine, he would have been drafted and the team that eventually picked him up wouldn't be planning on moving him to safety. 

Once Woolfolk moved back to his natural position at corner, I didn't really see all that much difference between their play.  Both were basically above average college corners (neither got beat with any regularity but neither one was all that productive a playmaker either), but Woolfolk has the higher upside thanks to his speed.

Greg McMurtry

July 14th, 2010 at 10:07 AM ^

definitely understands the defense, knows his role and rarely gets beat.  He may not be a route-jumping ballhawk, but I think he is very good at minimizing the big play.  I think he is best suited at safety or #2 CB, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, he may be forced to cover the #1 WR (where he may perform very well, but it is unknown.)   Unfortunately we know little about many of the defensive players and we only have the spring game to formulate opinons.  Taking only what I've seen from the spring game, it seems that Cam Gordon has a good grip on the deep safety spot which puts my mind slightly at ease.


July 13th, 2010 at 6:54 PM ^

Warren was the more Marlin Jackson-esque of the two.  But Woolfolk may have been more consistent throughout the season.  Watch the Iowa game again. There was a reason they were throwing at Warren all game; not because Warren't guy was open, necessarily, but because Woolfolk was in good position all game (especially for a guy that literally became a corner on a Tuesday and started on Saturday).

As for fucking.shit.up, perhaps you aren't familiar with Mr. Woolfolk's ethos...

Zone Read Left

July 13th, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

after Warren went undrafted. Warren was one of the best cornerbacks in the Big 10 last year. Woofolk was decent.

As for this year, I'm looking for big things out of Woofolk after spending an entire offseason at CB. A better question would be: 2010 Woofolk or 2009 Warren?


July 13th, 2010 at 5:56 PM ^

Does not indicate he was bad.  It indicates he perhaps wasn't one of the most coveted 33 cornerbacks(the amount of CBs drafted in 2010) in all of amateur football - which, like, okay.  But he's on an NFL team right now.  His pro status is irrelevant to his status at Michigan - at Michigan, he was our best corner.  Unless there's a metric that reveals Woolfolk's awesomeness that not even the coaches could detect for much of the year.

It just seems like this all stems from Warren spurning us - which is fine.  But I'm not buying anything about Woolfolk being better.  There's simply been no evidence. Yet.


July 13th, 2010 at 6:03 PM ^

The fact that no NFL team wanted to draft him is an indication of his natural ability and his play at Michigan.  The fact that his current team doesn't think he has the physical skills to play corner would also impact how he played at Michigan. 

I'm not saying Woolfolk was better last year.  I'm saying that Warren obviously wasn't as good as his recruiting ranking or the casual perception of Michigan fans would suggest, so there isn't any reason to think Woolfolk can't be as good or better going forward given his superior physical skills.


July 13th, 2010 at 6:16 PM ^

How the heck are you going to correlate someones NFL draft status with his contributions to his college football team? The NFL draft is not an exact science; it's probably the farthest thing from it.  Donovan Warren's career at Michigan was stellar, regardless of what the next step in his professional career is.  Basically, you're saying your argument would be complete bullshit if the Lions selected him in the 7th round, because - hey, HE WAS DRAFTED!  Perhaps that flies with casual fans on ESPN forums who piss on Donovan for leaving, but it's not enough for those of us who give these athletes a bit more credit.

(Also, the Jets are hurting for free safety help and they're having an open competition for the spot.  Not so at corner, with Revis and Cromartie locked in.  Warren has already proven able as a cornerback and would be moved if need be.  This is his best chance to stick with the team.)

Also also: Faster 40 time no equal superior physical skills.  We know that even in soviet Russia.


July 13th, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

The fact that no NFL team wanted to draft him is an indication of his natural ability and his play at Michigan.The fact that his current team doesn't think he has the physical skills to play corner would also impact how he played at Michigan. 

Umm...really? You really need to hone up on your non-teleological reasoning skills. In no way can you logically look at what Warren did in the combine or in the NFL draft, or what he will do later in his NFL career, and judge his performance at Michigan. To do so is to revise previous outcomes based on later outcomes, other contexts, and a host of other variables. The future cannot edit the past.

Ask yourself if you would have a totally different opinion of Warren had he been drafted in the first, say, 5 rounds. Also ask yourself if RR would say that the draft determines or helps us interpret how a player performs in college football. 

EDIT - Sorry Huss - I left the editor up too long and just ended up repeating a bunch of stuff you already said. But glad to see we think alike. 


July 13th, 2010 at 6:39 PM ^

The guys who do this for a living and get paid big bucks to evaluate talent didn't think Warren was a good enough cornerback to merit even a 7th round draft choice.  I would imagine there is a strong correlation between Warren's physical ability (something that would have a large impact on his ability to play corner at Michigan or in the NFL), his play at Michigan, and the opinion these scouts had of him. 

Impartial people far more talented at scouting players than you or I (and a lot of them) didn't seem to think Warren was that good a player.  Acting like there is no relationship between his play/ability and his draft status makes zero sense.


July 13th, 2010 at 6:51 PM ^

For me the question is will Woolfolk be better next year than Warren was last year.  I'm just pointing out that doing so wouldn't be nearly as hard as some on here would have you believe.  Warren was an above average college corner with limited speed who rarely got challenged because teams had a cake-walk throwing to the other side of the field or over the middle against Michigan's defense last year.  The NFL was so impressed with his play/ability that they didn't even draft him.

Given his solid, if unspectacular, play so far and his superior speed, I think surpassing Warren's resume/performance should be a very attainable goal for Woolfolk.

Blue boy johnson

July 13th, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

All this stuff gets me to hoping JT Floyd is the most improved defensive player on the team this year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but JT seemed much improved this spring and maybe he should be lauded for his improvement, instead of chastising JT Turner, for his inability to nail down the other corner spot.


July 13th, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

If the Michigan secondary is going to be decent at all Woolfolk needs to have a big year and Cam Gordon needs that Spring buzz to be true. 

Kovacs will continue to be good against the run but he doesn't have the speed to cover WR's down field.   Maybe Justin Turner is a good fit for Kovacs on passing downs. 

JT Floyd or a freshmen is going to have a lot of balls thrown their way.   

Space Coyote

July 13th, 2010 at 5:51 PM ^

Last year Warren wasn't told to be a shut down corner.  It wasn't his job in the scheme of things.  His job was often to cover the deep half.  He was put more on an island with less help over the top.  Woolfolk's job when he switched to corner wasn't as complex, he was more focused on shorter routes and that is why he looked more like a "shut down corner" at times last year.  If Warren was told to do the same thing Woolfolk was told to do, Warren probably would have looked how you wanted him to.  No disrespect to Woolfolk intended, I think he can be good, but Warren was much better than you are giving him credit for, and if he wouldn't have been hurt during his 40 times, I think he would have been drafted.  I think Woolfolk can be a good corner, and probably a better safety, and it's great he has that ability, but to say he was better than Warren last year is not an accurate representation of what happened


July 13th, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

Anyway you look at it Warren was one of our best defensive players last year.  I think that people just had Leon Hall/Marlin Jackson/C Woodson dreams for him.  I think/hope that he will have a solid NFL career.  

I watched him in coverage pretty closely and rarely saw him get burned due to lack of speed.  Calling him slow is not accurate in my opinion.


July 13th, 2010 at 6:03 PM ^

Warren honestly has a long way to improve, but last year Warren was definately better than last year woffolk.  Now, whether or not this year Woffolk can repeat Warren's last-year performance and overall improvement (because Warren improved a LOT over last season, each game he played a little better) and where he will be at the end of it is an interesting question.  If you remember it, Warren was pretty much nobody at the beginning of last season and his first couple starts weren't that spectacular. 

Right now, Warren is probably a better player, but by Michigan State he should be all the player that Warren was towards the end of last season.

Its a bit sad because if Warren had stayed another year he'd probably have gone in the first round, and our defense would be pretty damn solid.  Warren + Woffolk looks like a pretty decent corner tandem. 


July 13th, 2010 at 8:45 PM ^

Honestly, I don't think either one of them are that fluid at corner.  They don't really have the "loose" hips you look for in a corner.  Troy has GREAT speed which will allow the DC to take more chances with him on the island without worrying about someone running past him, but overall he is not a better corner than Donovan at this time in his career.  Donovan has very natural instincts at corner and knows how to position himself as the offensive play developes.  Donovan has MUCH BETTER ball skills and knows how to make a play on the ball.  Also, Donovan is a better open field tackler.  Donovan was probably the 2nd best player on the defense last year.  Anyone that mentions he got burned IS WRONG.  He may have given up a catch here and there, but he was playing against the best player from the other team in most cases.  If it seemed like he was being picked on is, b/c GERG trusted him enough to line him up to the oppositions strength ALL THE  OF TIME.  Troy should be noticebly imporoved over last year, being that he had ample starting time last year.  THE MOST IMPORTANT thing for any CB is EXPERIENCE!  I think the ceiling is limit for Troy.  In addition, I think the defense overall will be much improved, which in turn, individual players should have more onfield success.


July 13th, 2010 at 8:44 PM ^

...Woolfolk will be better than Warren this year, but T-Wolf is definitely a more interesting personality. 

Reacting to reporter's questions about the broken finger he suffered during spring practice:

"I’m going to introduce you all to something. Y’all know me, myself, Troy, but I have a split personality named T-Wolf. When I’m on the field, T-Wolf comes out. T-Wolf doesn’t know how to cry, that’s only a trait that Troy does. Right now, this is Troy. T-Wolf, he’s crazy and I can’t bring him out all the time, I only let him come out on the field. T-Wolf doesn’t have that ability to cry, so that would never happen."

"If it would have happened to Troy, he would have cried, I’m not going to lie. Troy would have cried. You can ask the people. I was mad because they were rushing up to me trying to touch it, and I don’t want nobody to touch my bone sticking out. I was about to punch them with my other hand, but I had to calm T-Wolf down."

Woolfolk said coaches thought the injury was a jammed finger when it first happened.  "Then they saw the blood on my glove. He was like 'Oh, it must be just a nail that got torn back or something.' So like I took it off slowly and I saw the bone sticking out. I was like, 'Oh, jeez.' I wanted to put it back on and act like nothing happened."

Here's what Michael Spath had to say about him in Rivals' list of Big Ten Breakout Defensive Performers.

Michigan fans may not like this choice, but the rest of the Big Ten probably still doesn't know who Woolfolk is. The senior from Texas started 12 games last year, including the first five at safety, the next six at cornerback and the final game again at safety. He's a full-time cornerback now and the heir to Donovan Warren as the shutdown coverman (if Warren was ever truly that). The coaches have great confidence in the 6-0, 186-pounder. He may not be a dynamic playmaker but he's strong one-on-one and won't get beat deep often with his 4.3 speed. 


July 13th, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

does a better stand-up routine.  At least that's what I remember from a post-game press conference early last season.

[Okay, in fairness I don't remember hearing Warren doing a post-game press conference.  I just remember Troy was a stitch.]


July 13th, 2010 at 10:58 PM ^

Last year was Warren's worst at Michigan.  It appeared to me that he was being asked to play a different role in the secondary, often floating toward the middle of the field in zone instead of man and often playing "soft" coverage.  He admittedly struggled.  Combine that with the losing and the inconsistent pass rush from anyone not named Graham and you are going to have a hard time looking good.  On top of that, Warren was expected to be a star and didn't meet those standards.


Wolfolk was also inconsistent last year, but exceded modest expectations and generally played decent.  Thus he seems perhaps even better than he may have been.  I do think that having Wolfolk at safety last year really settled down the defense and I'm concerned that he's moving back to corner out of need this season.  His speed and instincts seem perfectly suited for safety.  I think he'll be okay as a corner, but far from a lock-down player. 


Warren could turn out to be fine.  I think he has the skills of a solid corner.  He is more similar to Marlin Jackson as someone mentioned, except that Jackson was always an excellent tackler.  Warren has never been a very physical player and thus I worry about whether he can cut it at safety.  I wish him luck and think he's better than the Draft showed, but I also wish he stayed. 


July 14th, 2010 at 8:23 AM ^

I really think Woolfolk was solid for us last year, and we can do alot worse at corner than him.  However, our secondary is still lacking, so he may be asked to do more than he can.  Hopefully Cullen Christian can come in and make an impact.