Selected by the St. Louis Rams in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Travis Fisher came out of Central Florida as the seventh-best cornerback in his draft class, according to NFLDraftScout.com. Fisher was rated behind players like Quentin Jammer and Lito Sheppard, but he made his mark early in the NFL, starting 14 games in his rookie year. In his second season, he started the full year at right cornerback, tying for the team lead with four interceptions. The next three years were disappointing for Fisher, as he lost 21 games to injury from 2004 through 2006.
In 2007, Fisher’s first year with the Detroit Lions, he recorded a career-high 85 tackles, following that effort up with a different kind of disappointment when the Lions became the only team in NFL history to lose every game in a 16-game season. Still, he led all Detroit cornerbacks in percentage of Stops to Plays (14/40) and Adjusted yards Per Pass allowed (9.1). It was a defense that ranked 32nd in DVOA against the pass, and there are systems that are so bad, it’s difficult to extract player performances from team debacles. That Fisher was released by the Lions after the 2008 season may not be indicative of his actual ability.
To that end, I asked Tom Marino – good friend, longtime NFL scout, and former Scout.com contributor – for his take on Fisher. Tom was involved in personnel through the construction of the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams, and he saw the pre-professional Travis Fisher more than most.
“I was the only person involved in the drafting of Fisher,” Tom told me. “He was unranked by either Combine and when I went to the school that fall, I did not look at him. He showed up at the All-Star game (Florida vs. the rest of the country in Orlando) and was the star of the show. Totally shut everyone down all week. One of the eight fastest prep players in the country, top three JUCO sprinters, and was supposed to attend Baylor, but ended up back in Florida. (He grew up down the street from Florida State).
“One afternoon after practice, I went back to Central Florida and watched a touch tape on him (every play he was involved in during the season -- Tackles, asst, PBU's, Ints, Returns) and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We sent our defensive backs coach in to see him and he also loved him. I rated him a third-round prospect but when three or four cornerbacks went in the first round, we felt we had to step up and take him. It was a good thing since the Bears were going to take him. He started as a rookie and played extremely well into his second season.
“After that, it seemed like he was always getting banged up. He is explosive, tough and has excellent man cover skills. I saw him a little bit with Detroit and he looked okay. He should be a good nickel and dime package guy.”
Released by the Lions in late April, Fisher got interest from a few teams as a sub-package defensive back before the Seahawks signed him to a one-year contract on August 2nd. He will complete for time in the nickel packages in Gus Bradley’s new defense.
Doug Farrar is the Publisher of NorthwestFootball.net. He also writes for Football Outsiders, the Washington Post, ESPN.com, and the Seattle Times. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.