Pete Dougherty's Top 10 cornerback prospects

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by cowboyjoe, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Pete Dougherty's Top 10 cornerback prospects, information gathered from conversations with scouts and other N.F.L. personnel executives.

    DD.comment: Looking at the bottom half of Pete's article, it's easy to see why the official 40 yard dash averages for the cornerbacks were so mediocre at the Combine: 4.54 Hand Time/4.60 Electronic Time.
  2. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Draft preview series: Top cornerback prospects
    April 19, 2009

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    Del.icio.usFacebookDiggRedditNewsvineBuzz up!TwitterHere is a look at the top cornerback prospects in this year's NFL draft as compiled by the Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty. Information was gathered from conversations with scouts and other NFL personnel executives.

    ♦ 1. Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State 6-1, 204 1: An excellent athlete with good size and a winning background that included playing receiver and defensive back for a Piscataway High School team that won three straight New Jersey high school championships. Played mostly nickel back as a freshman at Ohio State, then was a starter the past three years. Won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s best defensive back last season, and is the top prospect at both cornerback and safety in this draft and a possible top-10 pick. His lack of straight-line speed knocks him down to the middle of the round for some teams. “I felt he’d be in the top 10,” one scout said. “He’s a physical corner and that supersedes his speed. I know initially in this league he’s not going to be able to bump and beat up guys like he did (at Ohio State), but he’ll learn as time goes to use his physicalnesss. So his speed, I don’t think it’s going to be a big factor. And he’s athletic enough that they’ll scheme him so he won’t be out there alone with a speed merchant.” Had career totals of 25 passes defended and 11 interceptions. Has good short-area quickness – his time of 6.59 seconds in the three-cone drill was the best of all players at the combine. Played some safety in nickel defense, and some teams project him to that position in the NFL, though others think he’s a cornerback who will move inside later in his career. “He’s going to struggle if he’s a true corner where you leave him on an island,” another scout said. “Now, if you roll the coverage and do some of those things and play where he can hinge and turn and keep guys in front of him and not get in these down-the-field foot races all the time, he can play corner. If it was me and I could just stick him anywhere, I’d play him at safety, and I think the guy would be a really good player. He’s going to be a good player wherever he plays but I think he’d be a really good safety.”

    ♦ 2. Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest 5-9, 193 1: Too short for some teams – the Packers generally won’t consider a cornerback who’s under 5-11 – but is strong and a natural cover man with good ball skills. Started most of his four years, knocked down 66 passes and intercepted 21, including 31 and seven last season. Also had nine an eye-catching sacks in his career. He’s a tough enough kid, he tackles well enough, I don’t think he plays small and he’s a good athlete,” one scout said. “It doesn’t really bother me. We look at it as if a guy can play, he can play. Obviously he’s going to lose some battles down the field, but every guy does. If he’s a good enough player the size doesn’t bother me at all.” Lacks elite explosiveness for the postion. At the combine ran the 40 in 4.57 seconds, had a 34-inch vertical jump and a 10-5 broad jump. His impressive interception total indicates he’s skilled and instinctive, though the size will matter to some teams. “I know he doesn’t run great times but he’s an exceptional football player, has a little (swagger) to him,” another scout said. “He likes to play, likes to prepare, likes the game, likes the coaches, has a good time. I like guys like that, has a great personality.”

    ♦ 3. Darius Butler, UConn 5-10 3/8, 183 1: Nephew of former Miami and New Orleans safety Gene Atkins, and cousin of Baltimore halfback Willis McGahee. Redshirted as a freshman and became a four-year starter who last year also caught nine passes as a receiver and averaged 23.5 yards on kickoff returns. Had 26 passed defended and 10 interceptions in his career. I liked him athletically,” one scout said. “He plays a little bigger than his size, more of a knifing-type tackler. He has good cover skills, good range, he’s a really good athlete, he played offense some. He’s got good upside as a guy that can be an off corner, (and) he can play some bump. He’s not the biggest guy but he can shadow-mirror people with his quickness.” Showed great explosion at the combine with a 43-inch vertical jump and 11-2 broad jump, and ran a decent 40 of 4.53 seconds. Not as physical as Jenkins and Alphonso Smith, but he’s a natural cover man. “He’s probably not as polished as those other guys but he can run and he’s got length,” another scout said. “He’s a fairly smart kid, and he’s got the measurables and has balls skills. You put them all together and he’s somewhere in the first round.”

    ♦ 4. Vontae Davis, Illinois 5-11, 203 1: Brother of San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, the sixth pick overall in the 2006 draft. Tests well, though not as exceptionally as his brother. Junior entry who started all three seasons at Illinois and finished his career with 24 passes defended and seven interceptions, including 10 and two last season. At the combine ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds, had a 36-inch vertical jump and a 10-5 broad jump. Unusually strong for a cornerback and his 25 bench-press reps was a combine best at that position. “He does things athletically you can’t coach,” another scout said, “he’s at the end of the spectrum like that, some things that are pretty rare for how big he is, just like his brother.” Has a reputation for not taking well to coaching, and some teams are concerned he’s a workout wonder who won’t be a good NFL player. “When you look at the guy physically he’s probably got the best numbers next to Jenkins out of all these guys when you consider height-weight-speed,” one scout said. “But there’s some questions about him because you never see the guy in space playing one-man coverage, it’s always zone, it’s always into the boundary. He’s almost like a rover compared to a true corner. But I think he’ll go in the bottom of the first round.”

    ♦ 5. Sean Smith, Utah 6-3 ½, 214 2: Junior entry who redshirted his fresman year and then moved from running back to receiver to cornerback. Intriguing because he’s unusually big for a cornerback and could compete for balls with all the tall receivers in the league. Started 22 of 26 games the last two seasons and had 16 passes defended and nine interceptions in his career. Has long, 34 5/8-inch arms to go with his tall frame. Ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds at the combine and had a vertical jump of 34 inches. Cornerbacks his height have trouble making it because they’re usually not quick enough in and out of their breaks, and that could an issue with Smith, who also is unpolished. “Finesse guy, struggles transitioning, takes a long time to gather and get out of things,” one scout said. “He has some upside because of his size, but I don’t see him as a (great)-type athlete. You’d almost hope he could play safety but he’s not physical enough. I think he’s probably a late second-round guy.” Lack of experience and frame to add weight makes some scouts think he could develop in a good bump corner over time. “Raiders, Green Bay does a lot of that, turn and run and press,” another scout said. “That’s what he does. He’s got to fit the scheme, but he has value definitely.”

    ♦ 6. Kevin Barnes, Maryland 6-0 1/8, 187 2/3: Two-year starter who has the height and speed teams look for in a cornerback, though he needs to add strength and toughness. Sustained a broken shoulder blade in the seventh game that ended his 2008 season. In 20 career starts had 16 passes defended and six interceptions. As a high school junior in Maryland won the state 4A high-jump champion with a leap of 6-feet, 6-inches, and was one of the best testers among cornerbacks at the scouting combine. Ran the 40 in a decent 4.52 seconds, had an excellent 38 ½-inch vertical jump, a 10-2 broad jump, and his 20-yard shuttle at 3.96 seconds was tops among all cornerbacks. Is a much better athlete than a player at this point, but he could have a lot of upside. “He’s got pretty good size, smooth,” one scout said. “Could be more physical, but he’s a pretty well rounded guy, runs pretty well. Initially I’d have put him in the second (round), but he’s kind of a fringe guy there, probably more of an early third.”

    ♦ 7. Jairus Byrd, Oregon 5-10 1/8, 207 2/3: Son of Gill Byrd, a former Pro Bowl defensive back who served as the Packers’ director of player programs from 1999-2001 before becoming an assistant coach with St. Louis in 2003 and then moving on to his current post as the Chicago Bears’ assistant defensive backs coach. Jairus Byrd was in the Pulaski school district while his father worked for the Packers. A junior entry who is extremely polished but lacks catch-up speed. Was a redshirt his first year and then a starter the past three seasons. Had 17 interceptions in his career. Though he’s not tall, he’s big and strong for the position and has been trained by his father to be a cornerback all his life. Didn’t work out at the combine or Oregon’s Pro Day because of a groin injury, then in April ran the 40 in only 4.69 seconds. Showed short-area quickness, though, with a 6.75-second three-cone drill, which would have ranked third among cornerbacks at the combine. Had a solid 35-inch vertical jump. “He’s a lot like his dad, super smart, instincitve, knows how to play, has great ball skills,” one scout said. “He just doesn’t have elite long speed, which is going to be a limiting factor depending on what scheme he plays in. But he’s got versatility, he can play the nickel spot, he can play safety, he can play corner if you’re playing a lot of zone or man where you’re funneling guys with some help over the top. He’s a better football player than he is a test guy or athlete. That kind of guy in the right situation could play a long time.”

    ♦ 8. D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt 5-8, 7/8, 192 2/3: Junior entry and three-year starter who doubled as a punt and kickoff returner. Finished his career with 19 passes defended and 13 interceptions, including six interceptions each of the last two years. Plays the ball well and has some cover skill, but his speed is suspect for a short cornerback, and he might have a little too much gambler in him. Ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds and had an impressive 39 ½-inch vertical jump. Doesn’t have the long speed of a good NFL kickoff returner but averaged 14.4 yards on 17 punt returns last season. “I don’t think he’s a great tackler and he doesn’t run well enough,” one scout said. “He’s a great athlete, does some returning and all that stuff. But I don’t see him as I do these other guys as a true cover guy. And he’s little. (Alphonso) Smith is little but (Moore) plays little.” Said another scout: “He might be a nickel guy because he has some ball skills.”

    ♦ 9. Asher Allen, Georgia 5-9 ½, 194 2/3: Junior entry who started the past two seasons and also returned kickoffs and punts. Too short for some teams to consider, but he plays bigger because he’s well built. In his final two years knocked 12 passes and intercepted three. “He’s smaller and he’s going to struggle a little bit with transition to playing some off coverage,” one scout said. “He’s probably better rolled up on people even though he’s not the biggest guy. If he can play in a zone-based scheme it would be beneficial moreso than playing off-man on an island. He’s a real solid player that can also play some nickel, he’s got quickness. I think he’s more of a solid third-round type guy. But with the way he ran and the conference he played in, I could see somebody taking him late in the second.” Ran the 40 in a sluggish 4.65 seconds on FieldTurf at the combine, then on FieldTurf at his campus workout blazed it in the 4.33-second range. Also had a 35-inch vertical jump. “Doesn’t have a lot of production on the ball but he flashes,” another scout said. “Underclassman coming out, probably has some upside. Gets bounced around as a little guy though.”

    ♦ 10. Coye Francies, San Jose State 6-0 3/8, 185 3/4: Has good height and surprising strength for a player with a wiry build. Doesn’t seem as highly regarded now as he was last season. Attended junior college, then played at Oregon State for a season before being kicked out of school after his arrest for carrying a loaded gun, though the charges had been dropped. Transferred to San Jose State, sat out a season and then last year as a starter knocked down three passes and intercepted three others. Plays the ball well and is good in bump-and-run coverage, but he lacks top speed. Ran only a 4.65-second 40 at the combine and failed to improve on that at his campus workout (4.66 seconds and 4.63 seconds). “He doesn’t really run great so he’s going to struggle deep, turning and running with people,” a scout said. “He’s a solid enough tackler. He does everything pretty well, nothing great.”

    — Pete Dougherty,
  3. JonJon

    JonJon Injured Reserve

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    Do you have the link?

    edit: nevermind, I see you changed it.

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