Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Cornerbacks

Right, finally, eventually, better late than never, here's my take on some of the Corner Back class for the 2011 draft. In no particular order:

- Patrick Peterson. As a punt/kick return man, I'm very impressed. As a corner? I just get the feeling we're going to be hearing a lot of "Pass interference, Defense, number...". Not a bad corner, but I'm really struggling to find where the justification as a first round pick comes from? Compare to Chiefs Safety Eric Berry from last years draft, who was head and shoulders above the other safeties and clearly stood out as a first round pick. I don't think Peterson is on that level.

- Prince Amukamara. Lacking a little in strength, but not afraid to get stuck in. Play recognition is pretty good and he he's pretty quick. Might make a good zone corner. But playing in the trail position in man coverage he often looks outclassed even at the college level. Most of the time he doesn't look back for the ball until it's too late and again I can see him drawing more than a few flags. Mixed bag really. I'm not convinced.

- Jimmy Smith. Tackling in the open field is hit and miss. Run support - how do I put this politely - needs some work, mainly learning how to shed blocks from receivers. Pass coverage on the other hand is head and shoulders above anything else I've seen from this group. Had some character concerns early in his career but has apparently put all that behind him, learned from it and moved on, even assuming something of a leadership role this past year. Better than Amukamara and Peterson.

- Aaron Williams. Good mix of pass coverage and run support. Good tackler, physical, prepared to get stuck in and help out his team when needed. Pass coverage was generally very good. A solid pick.

- Brandon Harris. Quick feet, excellent play recognition, good pass coverage, excellent run support, high effort. Another corner who - like Williams and Smith - should be above Amukamara and Peterson. Draft analyst and former Texans GM Charely Casserly has supposedly rated Harris as nothing more than a fourth corner, which by my book means he should make a fine starter.

- Davon House. Good pass coverage, gets his hands to the ball well, comes down well in run support, tackles well and is overall a good corner.

- Ras-I Dowling. Good coverage, a hitter, plays very well in run support and looks back for the ball well in man coverage. Impressive.

- Curtis Brown. Was impressive in the drills at the combine, but couldn't get any film so can't really comment.

- Brandon Burton. Excellent open field tackler, though perhaps gets blocked a little too easily. Tracks the ball well in the air and has excellent timing on his jumps. Solid overall.

- Johnny Patrick. Fast, strong, generally good in pass coverage, good break ups. Probably a little better in zone than in man. Run support is good. Has the talent to be used as a blitzer off the edge. Seems more versatile than most of his fellow prospects. With a little bit of coaching will become an excellent corner.

- Kendric Burney. Tackling is a major issue, far too inconsistent. Surprisingly good in pass coverage despite his smaller size.

- Curtis Marsh. Pass coverage not bad and has good speed.

- Jalil Brown. Maybe I just got unlucky and saw all his low lights, but he looked awful. Pass coverage was bad, as was tackling.

- Shareece Wright. Good run recognition. Good tackler. Pretty smart. Another probably better suited to zone coverage than pure man. Under those conditions, I think he'll do well.

- Rashad Carmichael. Rubbish tackler - like Antonio Cromartie bad. Coverage not great, looks unbalanced in his back pedal and often gets lost.

- DeMarcus Van Dyke. Disgustingly skinny, your sister could have him in a fight. I'm interested to see him play just because I want to see him try and tackle someone like Brandon Jacobs... and get trucked.

- Buster Skrine. Very impressive tackler. Fast, agile, great concentration, possibly something of an overlooked little diamond. Had a great time in the field drills at the combine.

- Brandon Hogan. Pretty physical. Decision making ok. But I don't see much else. Pass coverage is average at best. Multiple character concerns.

- Byron Maxwell. Pretty good instincts, physical, tough, closes quickly, not a bad late round prospect at all.

- Anthony Gaitor. Looks a little slow in a straight line (beware the pro day 40), but play and route recognition is excellent. Shining example of "game speed" versus "track speed". Solid tackler. Plays the ball really well in the air. Will probably go late in the draft and be an absolute steal. A good example of everything that is wrong with NFL scouting. Should be a top 5 corner.

- James Dockery. Excellent coverage. Sticks with the receiver all the way down the field. Plays the ball well in the air. It should be noted here that I have no problem with corners batting down passes that appear very difficult to catch - and would in fact encourage it - but everyone else seems to get upset by that. Quick, agile, reads the play really well. Should be up there with Gaitor.

- Darrin Walls. Didn't see a whole lot. Seems quite good at adjusting to the ball in the air.

- Darian Hagan. Good speed, good recognition, plays the ball well in the air. Generally a good corner.

- Da'Mon Merkerson. Not bad in the trail position. Sometimes loses receiver a little but seems to recover well. Breaks up plenty of deep passes.

And there you go. There's your corners for 2011. There's probably some names I missed, but tough. Next up is the safeties, then hopefully a bumper post which will go back and look at some of the names I missed in other early groups that have since been rustled up. That last one will depend on if I can squeeze it out in time for the draft which draws ever closer!

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