Analyzing Top 2009 NFL Draft Cornerback Prospects

Published on April 19, 2009 by     

malcolmjenkinsDoes size really matter? That what scouts are pondering after taking a look at the cornerbacks from the 2009 draft class.

With the league increasingly becoming a big man’s game on the edges due to the presence of bigger receivers, teams are looking to identify pass defenders with the requisite size and athleticism to match up in space.

By pro standards, big corners are best described as cornerbacks who measure in at 5-foot-11 or higher (6-foot or higher for some teams). They are coveted because they possess the height and length to hold their own in jump ball situations, and also have the size to be effective as run defenders. While big corners typically lack the footwork and movement skills of their diminutive brethren, scouts obsessively beat the bushes looking for these rare athletes.

It’s not a coincidence that Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis and Darius Butler are expected to come off the board in the first round, as each exhibits the necessary skills required for the position and also fit the mold of a big corner.

However, teams focused exclusively on identifying big corners are missing out on a host of talented, but miniature, corners with elite talent.

Alphonso Smith, D.J. Moore and Jairus Byrd are a gifted trio of ball-hawking corners who, unfortunately, measure in below the 5-10 standard. Though they combined for 50 interceptions during their careers, their lack of prototypical height and size is one of the reasons they are not at the top of some draft boards.

Smith, who finished his career at Wake Forest with 21 career interceptions, is one of the best ball-hawks available in this draft. He is an ultra aggressive route jumper who has a knack for reading the quarterback’s eyes and making plays on the ball. Smith’s penchant for coming up with the game-changing turnover is a skill coveted by many coaches, but his lack of ideal height will prevent some from pulling the trigger.

Moore is another playmaker who has seen his stock fall due to his lack of ideal height and speed. The two-time All-SEC selection tallied five interceptions this season and finished his career as a Commodore with 12 picks. A gambling playmaker with outstanding instincts and awareness, Moore has a keen sense of route recognition and isn’t afraid to take a chance when he has a strong hunch. Though some would fret at his risk taking, Moore’s ability to impact the game as a pass defender is undeniable.

In the case of Jarius Byrd, the former Duck not only lacks the requisite height for the position, but he lacks the elite speed to be deemed a top tier corner. However, judging the All-Pac 10 performer by his measurables would diminish the tremendous set of skills that he displays as a cover corner. Byrd’s natural feel for the game is astonishing and his ability to consistently get his hands on the ball is remarkable. In just 39 games with the Ducks, Byrd tallied 17 interceptions, which ranks as the second-highest total in school history.

However, the fascination with size doesn’t always work against draft hopefuls. Several unlikely prospects have benefitted from having the ideal physical dimensions for the position. Sean Smith, Donald Washington and Kelvin Barnes have shot up draft boards because of their prototypical size/speed ratios.

Smith, who played receiver at Utah for a season before moving to corner in 2007, has the size to match up with the league’s big receivers. Although the third-year junior is raw and unrefined in coverage, his athleticism has some scouts envisioning him blossoming into an Antonio Cromartie-type talent on the corner. With that thought firmly entrenched in their minds, it will not come as a surprise to see the former Ute come off the board before some highly productive, but undersized corners.

Washington and Barnes have steadily climbed up various boards due to their ideal size and athletic ability. Although both have red flags attached to their names (Barnes missed the last four games of the season with a shoulder injury; Washington was suspended for the first two games of the season and played primarily as a backup), they are on the cusp of moving into the first day of the draft on the heels of impressive showings at the combine and individual workouts.

Scouts and coaches are seemingly willing to ignore their inconsistent play because of their athletic potential. This is not to suggest that neither has the skills to make it in the league, but their ascension up draft charts is a byproduct of the emphasis placed on their measurables, rather than their collegiate production.

With big receivers dominating the game on the edge, scouts are searching for defenders to win those respective matchups. However, you have to wonder if the search for bigger corners will cause some teams to miss out on a few hidden gems, albeit small ones.

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
1.
Ohio State
6-0
204
1
Analysis: The former Buckeye is an aggressive corner with outstanding ball skills and awareness. Though Jenkins lacks elite top-end speed, he is a disciplined cover man who shines in a zone-based scheme. His ability to read routes is exceptional and allows him to maintain proper leverage on his receiver at all times. In addition, Jenkins is an aggressive run defender who possesses the talent and versatility to excel at safety as a pro. Regardless of his eventual position, Jenkins is a talented defender, who upgrades any secondary.NFL landing spot: Jenkins could play heir apparent to Al Harris or Charles Woodson in Green Bay (No.9) or he could give the Texans a legitimate corner opposite Dunta Robinson.


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
2.
Illinois
5-11
203
1
Analysis: The polished cover corner from Illinois possesses outstanding instincts, awareness and movement skills. Davis excels in man or zone coverage and has a for making plays on the ball. Though he is one of the best pure cover guys on the board, Davis’ for delivering big hits on receivers makes him the most complete corner available. Character concerns may alter his standing as the top corner in the draft, but his skills warrant consideration in the first round.NFL landing spot: Davis would fill a big void in the Texans’ line up at corner, so he would be a good pick up at the 15th selection. If he gets past the Texans, he could be a good fit for the Patriots (No.23) or Dolphins (No. 25).


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
3.
Connecticut
5-11
183
1
Analysis: The ultra-athletic Butler is an exceptional corner with outstanding instincts and awareness. The former Husky is a rare corner prospect with the ability to thrive in a man-to-man or zone scheme. Though he failed to come up with an interception during his senior season, Butler’s outstanding and impressive cover skills makes him one of the few rookies with the skills to start from Day 1.NFL landing spot: Butler could be the Texans’ man at No. 15 or fall to the Patriots (No. 23) or Dolphins (No. 25) at the bottom of the first round.


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
4.
5-9
193
2
Analysis: The former Demon Deacon is a sensational cover man with unbelievable ball skills. Smith finished his career with 21 interceptions and produced numerous game-changing plays. As a fluid athlete with outstanding quickness, Smith overcomes his lack of ideal size by relying on his superior cover skills and outstanding leaping ability to win matchups on the edge. Though Smith is ideally suited to be a nickel corner, he is a who will eventually earn his way into a starting lineup.NFL landing spot: The diminutive ball hawk would upgrade the Browns’ secondary, if picked at No. 36 or serve as a quality nickel corner for the Dolphins (No. 44), Texans (No. 46) or Patriots (No. 47).

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
5.
Vanderbilt
5-9
192
2
Analysis: The outstanding two-way performer is a natural with exceptional cover skills. Blessed with quick feet and outstanding instincts, Moore is an aggressive ball-hawk who finished his career with 12 interceptions. Furthermore, Moore is an outstanding athlete who brings dynamic return skills to the lineup. With the ability to impact the game as a corner/returner, Moore is a highly coveted prospect who could sneak into the first round.NFL landing spot: Moore brings unbelievable playmaking and versatility to a lineup. He should come off the board near the top of the second round.


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
6.
Utah
6-4
214
2
Analysis: The former Ute is a raw, unpolished cornerback prospect with rare size and intriguing physical tools. Smith tallied nine interceptions in two seasons as a starter,and flashed exceptional ball skills as a cover man. Though Smith’s shoddy technique prevents him from locking up receivers consistently, Smith’s outstanding gives him a chance to recover from early mistakes in coverage. With tantalizing size, speed and , Smith is a highly coveted prospect in spite of his “boom or bust” potential.NFL landing spot: The ultra-athletic corner could be a surprise pick at the top of the second round.

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
7.
Cincinnati
6-0
184
2-3
Analysis: The two-time All Big East selection is an instinctive ball-hawk with outstanding cover skills. Mickens aggressively jumps routes and shows a for coming down with the game-changing turnover (14 ). Although Mickens lacks elite top-end speed, he is a solid technician with enough explosiveness to match up with speed receivers on vertical routes. Due to a skill set that fits into any defensive system, Mickens is a highly regarded prospect who could go much higher than expected on draft day.NFL landing spot: The underrated ball-hawk would be an ideal fit in a zone-based scheme. Teams that utilize a tampa-2-type system will covet Mickens’ skills in the second or third round.


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
8.
Oregon
5-10
207
2-3
Analysis: The son of former All-Pro corner Gil Byrd is a natural with outstanding ball skills and awareness. Byrd finished his three-year career in Oregon with 17 interceptions and tallied numerous break ups due to his exceptional instincts. While scouts are concerned about his top-end speed (Byrd was timed in the 4.65 range during his Pro Day), his for coming down with critical turnovers has earned him high marks in the eyes of many. In addition, he is a dynamic returner who averaged over 12 yards per return during his final season at Oregon. With a versatile skill set and strong bloodlines, Byrd is an intriguing prospect who could develop into a standout nickel corner in a zone-based scheme.NFL landing spot: Byrd’s combination of skills as a corner/punt return will make him a coveted prospect at the end of the second round.


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
9.
Maryland
6-0
187
3
Analysis: A dynamic athlete with outstanding speed and movement skills. Barnes is an intriguing corner with good ball skills and awareness. Though he is ideally suited to play in a zone-based scheme, he has enough athletic ability to be effective in man coverage. Scouts worry about his aggressiveness, durability and experience (only one full season as a starter), but are intrigued by his size and upside. Don’t be surprised if Barnes comes off the board early on Day 2.NFL landing spot: Barnes’ size and will make him an enticing prospect at the early part of Round 3.


Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
10.
Ohio State
6-0
197
3
Analysis: A raw cover corner with exceptional and movement skills. Washington isn’t technically sound in all aspects of his game, but his ability to transition in and out of his breaks allows him to maintain proper leverage on receivers down the field. The knock on Washington is that he lacks the natural ball skills to come up with game-changing turnovers in the clutch. Scouts view him as a bit of a character risk after missing the first two games due to a team-imposed suspension. Regardless, Washington’s outstanding size, and potential make him an enticing prospect worth taking a flier on early on Day 2 of the draft.NFL landing spot: Teams will ignore Washington’s back up status during his final season and take a chance on the athletic cover man in the third round.

S

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

trufant (1)

Marcus Trufant to retire a Seahawk

Marcus Trufant will retire a Seahawk. On Wednesday, the Seahawks announced the former Seahawks cornerback had signed with the ...
140423wagner660

Seahawks schedule shows four primetime games, including Thanksgiving day feast with 49ers

The Seahawks are scheduled to play four primetime games in 2014, matching the primetime total from their Super ...
Russell-Wilson-divorce.final_

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson files for divorce from wife of two years

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has filed for divorce from his wife of over two years, the team announced ...
IMG_0826

A happy Beast Mode birthday to Marshawn Lynch

Tuesday is Marshawn Lynch’s 28th birthday, and his teammates are at a loss for just what to get ...
186158581_8

Report: Seahawks close to making Sherman top-paid CB

The Seattle Seahawks and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman are hopeful to reach a deal before next month’s NFL ...
pryor-throw2

Seahawks trade 7th Round pick to Raiders, land Pryor

The Seattle Seahawks front office has earned a reputation as an unpredictable lot. They furthered that Monday. The Seahawks traded ...
140421-harvin-600

Seahawks begin Phase One of offseason workout program

The Seahawks are one of 19 NFL teams to begin Phase One of the League's voluntary offseason workout program today, meaning several players ...
140418wilson600

Despite Super finish, there’s much more to come for Russell Wilson

Asked what he liked about the Seahawks’ 2013 season, Carl Smith smiled and offered the obvious. “I really liked ...

Shop for Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Champs Merchandise at NFLShop.com

Shop for Conference Champs and Super Bowl XLVIII Match Up Merchandise at NFLShop.com

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz