Birthday: October 13, 1978
Strengths: Mike Echols is Wisconsin’s “boundary” cornerback, which means he plays the short side of the field. In that capacity, Echols is expected to step up and be an active participant in stopping the run and he’s expected to deliver tight, man coverage on receivers running shorter, quicker routes.
“I think that is a difficult spot to play. It is closer to the quarterback. All the balls are coming hot, right now. We spill the ball back that way a lot (in the running game),” explains secondary coach Todd Bradford.
To make matters worse, last year, Echols played that spot opposite All-Everything Jamar Fletcher, so he was thrown at a lot. The second team All Big Ten corner responded with a terrific year, including 25 passes defensed (a new new school record) and five interceptions.
The battle-tested Echols is very fast (4.32./40) and an excellent, technique-conscious tackler — the guy loves to tackle. He made great strides last year in his coverage skills, helped by the position Wisconsin has him playing, which requires quick reactions, and leaves little room for error. He learned how to turn and locate the thrown ball quickly, adjust to multiple moves from a receiver and, most importantly, how to defend the pass.
Areas of concern: Echols isn’t very tall, and isn’t very thick. In the NFL, the bigger receivers could have a field day with him, though he certainly doesn’t lack the confidence to line up across from them. We’ll know a lot about Echols by season’s end: he finishes the year against Illinois’ Brandon Lloyd (6’2″), Iowa’s Kahil Hill (6’3″), Michigan’s Marquis Walker (6’3″) and Minnesota’s Ron Johnson (6’3″).
Echols is diabetic and must constantly monitor his blood-sugar level. During games, he has to eat just prior to kickoff and at halftime to ward off lightheadedness or worse, fainting spells. He also has to give himself daily insulin shots. As a freshman, Echols was fairly lax about his condition, and learned the hard way he has to be diligent. That he’s able to play is a testament to his dedication, but it should still rate as a concern.
Is he sponge-worthy?: Echols has used his status in the Wisconsin community to reach out to others suffering from diabetes. He’s a great kid who’s mature beyond his years because of the struggles he’s had to overcome. He works hard, is well-liked by his teammates, and has the speed and instincts necessary to play the corner in the NFL… if only he were bigger.
Last year, Echols projected to be a third rounder; it’s doubtful he’ll move up past the second round even with a great season (which he’s in the midst of ) because of his size. But a guy with his speed would be very enticing to a team with two picks in the round, don’t you think?
Mike Echols Return to The War Room
Diabetes can’t slow Wisconsin’s Echols The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles Mike Echols’ battle with a potentially harmful disease.