1. Kyle Wilson, Boise State. 5?10?, 194 pounds.
Positives: Very aggressive, physical corner with good strength and speed. Rocked up physique packd with quick-twitch muscle. Has lots of experience playing on an island and likes the challenge. Great hands and feet, very advanced in that regard. Natural cover skills, very quick recognition and recovery ability. Can turn and run with any receiver. Loves to crash the run. Feisty and plucky and not afraid to show it. Ultra-competitive with a motor that does not quit. Has experience as a return man and a gunner on special teams and enjoys it. Demonstrated coachability and leadership during Senior Bowl week.
Negatives: Ball skills are good, not great. Too happy to fight with the blocker instead of shedding to make the tackle. Big, physical receivers (see Seji Ajirotutu of Fresno State) were able to get separation, and he has not faced off against much NFL-caliber competition. Got away with a lot of holding in press coverage, esp. when the receiver crossed his face. His aggressiveness can be used against him by patient offenses.
NFL Comparison: Darelle Revis
Forecast: Top 20 overall pick with Pro Bowl potential
2. Joe Haden, Florida. 5?11.5?, 193 pounds.
Positives: Exceptional athlete loaded with quick-twitch musculature that he understands how to deploy for football. Great reflexes and quick to react and change direction with control and power. Strong in run support and very difficult to block. Closes on the ball with authority and can highpoint the pass better than most receivers. Very smooth with an economy of movement. Has proven very adept in short coverage and can steer receivers off the line when asked. Not afraid to turn his back to the QB and reads eyes very well to find the ball, though he doesn?t pick off a lot of balls to his own man. Has shown some aptitude at blitzing. Confident without being arrogant. Well-liked and respected by his teammates and coaches.
Negatives: Played boundary corner behind a dominant pass rush that made life easier for him. Only average speed, though he does play faster than he timed at the Combine. Will bite on double moves and had some instances (see Ole Miss game) where he got lost when one receiver stayed short and one went deep and other combo routes. Peaked earlier than most athletically and has never had to really work hard to stay on top, though nobody questions his work ethic.
NFL Comparison: A slower, stronger Carlos Rogers
Forecast: Top 15 overall pick, though he?s far from a slam dunk success.
3. Devin McCourty, Rutgers. 5?11?, 196 pounds.
Positives: Excellent all-around corner and football player. Has experience and proven success at both zone and press coverage. Good feet, fluid hips, controls his hands nicely. Exceptional in run support; strong tackler with sound technique and will chase down all over the field. Quick out of breaks and has good form in and out of his backpedal. Sees the play and reads routes quickly. Translates film study to on-field action like a seasoned pro. Has strong hands and can peel off his man when he sees the throw is going somewhere else to help make more plays. Assumed a great deal of leadership and responsibility after Rutgers graduated two NFL players in the secondary in 2009. Very high character, intelligent student. His twin brother dramatically outperformed expectations and made an immediate impact, and Devin is significantly more highly regarded coming out of Rutgers.
Negatives: Not real big, only average size and strength. Not a real dynamic or explosive athlete. Gives up the inside on crossing routes a little too easily. Doesn?t have a lot more upside than what he is already, which some teams see as a limitation.
NFL Comparison: Ronde Barber
Forecast: Fits in the 30-40 overall range and is probably more ready to handle NFL duties than any other CB in this class.
4. Kareem Jackson, Alabama. 5?10.5?, 196 pounds.
Positives: Very quick, well-coached man coverage corner with innate cover skills and excellent instincts. Very physical for an averaged-sized corner, uses his hands and shoulders to steer the receiver as well as anyone in this class. Reads and anticipates routes and has a great feel for what the offense is trying to do. Quickly flips his hips and adjusts to cuts. Can make the acrobatic catch and has excellent ball skills. Confident, competitive, and poised. Highly respected by his teammates and opponents.
Negatives: Looked uncomfortable playing off-man. Steps in the bucket coming out of his backpedal and has a tendency to over-stride on his first step. Receivers that are physical back to him can hinder his aggressiveness (see Brandon LaFell). Needs improvement at tackling and overall run support effort; too often half-heartedly dives and reaches for tackles and is too easily blocked. Body is only average size and could use some weight room work.
NFL Comparison: Ronald Bartell
Forecast: Has major momentum up draft boards at the right time, which could vault him into the latter half of the 1st round, but probably belongs in the 2nd.
5. Amari Speivey, Iowa. 5?11?, 195 pounds.
Positives: Long-limbed late bloomer that really turned up his game as a senior. Plays with a ball-hawkish style and great confidence. Strong jam at the line that is unusually difficult to shake. Can turn and burst with most receivers and effectively steers them to his help. Reads and reacts quickly to combo routes. Very quick to step up in run support and has sound tackling fundamentals. Good hands and has good timing to make a play on the ball. Came up big in big games and at critical junctures, did not back down from challenges. Loves playing special teams and has shown real proficiency as a gunner.
Negatives: Lacks the long speed and agility to play straight man coverage beyond short range, strictly a press/zone corner. Has a strange, unathletic build: knock-kneed with small calves and a slender upper body. Had trouble turning and running with faster downfield receivers; when playing with a big cushion his first move is almost always standing straight up. Could stand to hit the weight room and play a little more physically. Had self-discipline and motivational problems early in his career that led him to leave the program before returning.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Flowers
Forecast: I?m much more bullish than most and am admittedly projecting he?ll hit his ceiling. Will be drafted in the 75-100 overall range, but I really like his potential as a zone corner and special teams ace.
6. Chris Cook, Virginia--very big corner/safety hybrid with long arms and strong hands. Not real physical esp. for his size but has good enough instincts and awareness that his length is an asset. Quicker than he looks and explodes out of breaks impressively. Lacks ideal coverage skills but flows and reacts quickly in zone. Willing to attack the run and can make the tackle reliably. Has had some injury issues and missed the 2008 season due to academics, but showed maturity and dedication by coming back prepared and exhibited some leadership in the process. His measurables are similar to Sean Smith from last year, though Cook is not as physical. 2nd rounder.
7. Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt--bigger corner with long limbs and natural athletic fluidity. Sound fundamental football player with experience playing both press man and zone. Decent top-end speed with quick acceleration. Good ball skills with nice timing. Uses his hands well but must curb using them down the field so much. Not as strong as other corners his size and is more of a dancing tackler than a hitter or wrapper. Lewis is one of those players that rarely stands out for doing anything real well but almost never lets his man have any big plays either. His size, athleticism, demeanor and football IQ make him a safer pick in a sea of boom/bust corners in this draft class. 3rd-4th round but could outplay a lot of guys taken much earlier for a long time.
8. Jerome Murphy, South Florida--very athletically gifted size/speed/strength prospect with a gambler?s mentality. Uses his hands frequently and effectively. Good and willing tackler in run support. Decent hips, bursts out of backpedal low and controlled. Closes on ball quickly and can make the tough catch. Will bite on double moves and gets caught peeking in the backfield. Tries to intercept every ball when often the more prudent play is to wait a beat and dislodge the ball or make the tackle. Dwells on mistakes and can be taken off his game, which led to a benching in 2009. Has the tools and proven ability to fit any scheme, but will need close watching. 2nd-early 3rd rounder that could start right away or flame quickly.
9. Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest--has all the physical tools and early in his career he looked like a surefire 1st rounder and lockdown corner, but he has not consistently played to that level since. Great size/speed with decent strength and he is comfortable in his body. Generally sees the play develop well and anticipates routes nicely. Has decent burst but his long stride requires a few steps to really hit top gear. Willing in run support but needs work on fundamentals; surrenders the outside too readily and fails to finish his hits. Appears passive and disinterested at times. Really struggled with physical receivers despite his size. Had just one INT in 3 seasons despite playing in a league with marginal QB play. 2nd-3rd rounder with boom/bust potential.
10. Dominique Franks, Oklahoma--Long, rangy, off-style corner with exceptional ball skills. Great burst and timing to break up the pass. Good long speed. Fluid out of his backpedal and can plant and burst better than most. Great balance; rarely missteps and can quickly adjust to moves and cuts. Effective drag-down tackler. Anticipates combo routes and double moves. Has some punt return experience. Not real physical and needs work on using his hands in coverage. Lacks upper body strength. Has real trouble getting off blocks to make tackles. Not as aggressive as many coaches will like. Intelligent, dedicated worker with very strong character. Fits in the 50-75 overall range to a zone team, though his passivity in run support could cause him to flop.
11. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Indiana PA--small school stud with great size and physique, good enough speed and hips to make the transition. Shows big-time burst and closing speed. Late bloomer athletically that learned fundamentals first and then became a great athlete. The receivers training with him all marvel at how innately good he is despite being less than 100% with his shoulder, raving about his quickness and mirror skills. Coming off a shoulder injury that has not allowed him to do full workouts. Needs work on using his hands, staying lower in his backpedal, and anticipating moves. Really needs work on tackling, where game film reveals a player that had trouble bringing guys down in D-III ball despite being bigger than pretty much everyone who touches the ball. A developmental project with a lot of Ike Taylor to his game. 3rd-4th rounder that will require patience.
12. Devin Ross, Arizona--up-and-down speedster with nice hips and good ball awareness. Needs work on anticipating routes and studying his opponents, and he?s not very physical or real adept at using his hands in coverage. Surprisingly tough hitter and tackler despite being light (183 pounds). Had games where he looked like a 1st rounder (see Oregon games and Oregon State game in 2009), others where he really struggled (Iowa, Stanford). Adds value as a gunner and return man on special teams. Fits anywhere from bottom of the 2nd to middle of the 4th, depending on how the draft flows, to a predominantly zone team like the Colts or Bears.
13. Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State--in terms of physical talent, Cox is no worse than 3rd in this class. Great ball skills, dynamic playmaker, physical tackler with good technique, confident, speedy athlete with exceptional PR/KR potential. But he?s got major flag-raising maturity issues that led to suspension, and he likes to gamble in coverage a lot; i.e. a more physical Dre Bly with maturity issues. Could entice a needy team in the 2nd, but will likely fall to the 3rd-4th.
14. Patrick Robinson, Florida State--overrated prospect with nice measurables but sloppy technique. Good initial jam and he?s fine when he can use his hands, but his feet are slow, lazy, and unrefined. Gets lost in off coverage and lacks the closing burst and proper footwork to compensate. Decent tackler but appears afraid to lower the shoulder. Was embarrassed repeatedly in Senior Bowl workouts by later-round receivers who avoided his jam. Could thrive in a press coverage system with a good safety behind him, but is not for a Cover-2 scheme. Likely to be drafted in the 30-45 range but could sneak a little higher.
15. Javier Arenas, Alabama--ballhawking undersized scrapper blessed with very good timing and loads of confidence. Great fight/size of dog ratio. Excellent ball skills. Lacks explosive athleticism and really gears down to change direction. Got away with a whole lot of holding and illegal contact that won?t fly in the NFL, but there is enough talent there to clean it up and turn him into a very effective inside nickel CB, if he is humble enough to accept that role. 3rd-4th round with added value as a return man.
16. Rafael Priest, TCU--undersized, hyperactive, aggressive corner that can play man or zone. Good short-area quickness but lacks long speed. Packs a surprising pop to his hits but rarely wraps up and will charge with his head down. Decent ball skills but he?s short and not a leaper. Has the makings of a good slot/nickel corner and will work to make it. Size/speed limitations will keep him below the 4th round.
17. Syd?Quan Thompson, California--plucky playmaker that is all-or-nothing. Undersized but plays bigger than his height, good leaping ability and timing on the ball. Very fluid athletically, can quickly change directions and has decent burst. Technique is wildly inconsistent. Timid dive-at-the-feet tackler that is very easily blocked. Not as good as he thinks he is and does not appreciate being told that--ask the coaches at the Senior Bowl. Has good potential as a nickel back if he gets tougher and shows more consistency. 4th-5th rounder in part because he can return punts and kicks.
18. Sherrick McManis, Northwestern--straight-linish CB/S tweener. Smart, hard-working quick learner that gets by on excellent anticipation and knowing his opponent. Good speed and acceleration. Solid tackler. Very tight ankles and stiff hips. Backpedal is ugly and high, and he struggles to change direction or stay balanced against sharp moves. Adds value on special teams as a gunner and return man. 4th-5th rounder for a zone coverage team.
19. Brian Jackson, Oklahoma--physical, experienced press corner with good length and hand strength. Good instincts and route recognition, but he really struggles to change direction and lacks fluidity. Good tackler with solid technique. Speed is marginal and he doesn?t sustain it downfield. Better football player than athlete who might be better served switching to safety or covering flexed TEs. Jackson is fortunate that those are a growing breed. 5th-6th round.
20. Kevin Thomas, USC--has intriguing size and sound instincts. Sees the play and reacts quickly. Lacks great speed and has a funky backpedal. Straight-linish and not fluid. Has a lengthy injury history that could keep him off some boards. Might be better as a safety, except he?s not a good hitter or tackler. 5th-6th round though he appears to be gaining late momentum.
21. Jamar Wall, Texas Tech--solid all-around zone corner with decent size. Big-time hitter with good timing to dislodge the ball. Decent ball skills. Thicker build than most corners. Good awareness and anticipation in coverage. Runs stiff and upright, lacks fluidity and will take false steps. Much more of a hitter than a tackler that will whiff (see Texas game). 5th-6th rounder.
22. Crezdon Butler, Clemson--long, leggy, athletic competitor with decent size. Quick to react, but his hips and feet are rarely in concert and his instincts are average at best. Can be a big-time hitter but dives too much. Has lots of athletic tools but needs someone to help him put them all in the right box. 4th rounder that needs some work but has higher upside than most in this realm.
23. A.J. Jefferson--good late-round sleeper with great size and decent instincts. Still far from a finished product and must hit the weight room hard. Offers immediate value as a very good kick returner with developmental upside as a #3 or #4 corner. 6th-7th round.
24. Joshua Moore, Kansas State--skinny ballhawk with very natural cover skills and good quickness. Savvy in coverage and rarely gets beat deep despite only average speed. Extremely slight, only benched 225 twice at the Combine and is visibly and significantly less developed than his counterparts. Missed a year to academics and was not noted for being the hardest worker at KSU. Decent sleeper potential if he can bulk up and wants it bad enough. 6th-7th round.
25. Donovan Warren, Michigan--leggy, straight-linish hitter that has a lot of experience matching up against bigger, NFL-caliber receivers. Strong and knows how to use his hands and arms. Good ball skills. Locked up Golden Tate and Arrelious Benn for long stretches. Willing in run support, though he?s a sloppy, dive-at-the-feet tackler. Lacks instincts and his confidence fluctuates wildly. Very inconsistent technique; at times he shows good balance and proper feet, other times he looks clueless and very raw. Will be drafted in the 4th-5th round but needs some work to live up to that.
Marshay Green, Ole Miss--small, skinny, quicker-than-fast baller with some savvy
Walter Thurmond, Oregon--would be a lot higher if he wasn?t injured
Trevard Lindley, Kentucky--skinny, overhyped draft board plummeter that will be lucky to get drafted after appearing in many preseason top 100 lists.
Thad Turner, Ohio--great undersized athlete with an exceptional choice in colleges, will need to make it on special teams
Alterraun Verner, UCLA--overaggressive grabber that is more of a safety, except he doesn?t tackle well. Has diamond-in-the-rough long-term potential.
David Pender, Purdue--great size/speed but needs lots of work and toughness
Via Jeff Risdon/RealGM
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