If you don’t want to believe Deion Sanders, that’s your funeral. Because when it comes to Penn State safety and Redskins draft pick Troy Apke, Mike Martz is singing from the same psalmody.
“I think the four years that I’ve coached that [NFLPA] bowl game, he’s the best player we’ve had,” Martz told Land of 10 when asked about the former Nittany Lions defensive back, one of nearly a dozen Penn State prospects expected to be taken in the 2018 NFL Draft.
“I think [Apke] will impact his team wherever he is. And I do think he’s an elite player and can be for a lot of reasons.”
We’ll start with the big four — namely: speed, pursuit, playmaking, special teams savvy. And the tape don’t lie:
— Penn State Videos (@PSUvids) January 21, 2018
Martz, who coached the St. Louis Rams to four playoff appearances from 2000-05, became an Apke fan in January when he coached the 6-foot-1 safety with the National side at the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Apke would go on to be named that game’s MVP after collecting 7 tackles, forcing a fumble and picking off a John O’Korn pass and returning it 56 yards to set up a touchdown during a 23-0 National victory.
— The Collegiate Bowl (@NFLPABowl) January 21, 2018
“The [other players] just loved the guy,” Martz said of the Penn State safety, who recorded 55 tackles, an interception and 5 pass breakups for the Lions as a senior last fall.
“Great leadership. Very athletic. And, of course, he can run like crazy.”
During the NFL Combine, former Penn State free safety Troy Apke ran a 4.35 40 & wowed Deion Sanders so much that he went and hugged Apke. Btw Troy has a 41 inch vertical jump pic.twitter.com/gSy6e7Gf4I
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) March 6, 2018
Apke followed up his impressive NFLPA performance six weeks later with eye-popping numbers at the NFL combine in Indianapolis — with the most pop coming from a 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash and a 41-inch vertical leap.
“Guys like that,” Martz noted, “jump off the tape on TV when you watch.”
Trying to watch film on LB Jason Cabinda but Troy Apke (#28) is everywhere. pic.twitter.com/28sl77hOdZ
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) April 20, 2018
SPARQ'd up Penn St safety Troy Apke showing off those elite agility scores. Matches with flat route, but shows off the change of direction to deliver a blow to the TE and force a PD pic.twitter.com/DB897RXOME
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) March 6, 2018
How much of a jump that tape does for his pro stock, though, remains to be seen. NFL.com projects the former Nittany Lions defender as a seventh-round selection or priority free agent. NFLDraftScout.com is far more bullish, ranking Apke as the No. 6 free safety prospect available and forecasting him to be taken in the fourth or fifth round.