April 16, 2012

2012 - Cornerback Prospects

Another huge group of prospects here to have a look at from the corner back position. I have included pretty much each cornerback that I think is worthy. The one notable absence is Morris Claiborne who should go in the top 10. Some believe the corner back position is covered with the signing of Porter. Personally I don't think you can have enough quality cornerbacks. Plus with Champ's age, the releasing of Goodman and Porter's short contract there is room for a quality player to sit and be developed into that No 2 or possibly No 1 position. I am also of the opinion that Porter may struggle on the outside. Another corner is needed.

Scouting the Corners...
The corners are a hard position to scout because it is a very technique position. Most of these guys come in as incomplete players without proper technique and need a lot of coaching on that side of their game. A lot of projection has to be made on these guys and whether they can get to that level that is required. This means the numbers and athletic ability is important for a player to get noticed and project as a possible starter. For me the prototypical Cornerback is Champ Bailey and that is what I am looking for when evaluating corners. For me corners have to be close too and over 6 feet and weigh in that 190-200 pound range. A corner needs to run in the 4.4s and faster. Corners generally struggle at the next level if they run in the 4.5s. Broad jump is not important for this position but the vertical is. Corners need to have huge vertical jumps so they can meet the ball at the highest point in the air and win those jump ball situations. Longer arms is also generally a must but if they are huge the corner needs to show good balance and control in his cuts. Hand Size is irrelevant but big hands make it easier to catch the ball. For the 3 Cone drill these guys have to get under 7 secs. They need to show the ability to sink their hips and turn. The Bench is not a big need here but you like to see a prospect get in the teens to 20s.

On tape and position drills it is all about technique. What sort of balance do they have. Can the player flip his hips and run with the receiver. How does he do in the different coverages, zone, man, off and press. What techniques do their use in each. Where their eye placement is. Are they physical and tackle well. Are they a ballhawk, will the player fight for the ball and is able to knock it away. What sort of footwork do they have and what do they do with the ball. This is generally hard for us to see on tape as it is off the screen most of the time. But I will do my best, to the prospects.

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Height: 6-2. Weight: 186.
40 Time: 4.46. Official: 4.51 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.53.
Vertical: 35. Broad: 10-0. 120.0 Inch
Arm Length: 30 5/8.
Hand Size: 9 1/2 inch.
Projected Round (2012): Top-20 Pick.

Kirkpatrick is an early-entry junior who started for three years since stepping on campus in Alabama. He is a very lengthy corner, who will come into the league as one of the tallest alongside the Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Brandon Browning. These two players, coincidentally, showed why teams may want to develop Kirkpatrick as a corner at the next level, as they have found success at the position and been valuable by being able to cover the league's tall receivers in the red zone. Kirkpatrick could also be moved and developed at safety, where some teams might see his length and ability to play in zone more transferable, and he wouldn't be a tackling liability despite his thin frame.

There was never a doubt that the ever-confident Kirkpatrick could talk the talk, a natural ability he was not bashful about displaying on and off the field since high school. But what makes him special -- albeit even more irritating to opponents -- is Kirkpatrick can back it up with his play.

Only question is, will he?

There are plenty of game tapes that show Kirkpatrick has all the athletic ability, instincts and tenacity to be a great cornerback. Scouts need to watch the tapes because statistics don't tell Kirkpatrick's story. In three seasons he had only three interceptions -- all in 2010 -- but his strength is in how he plays the man more than how he plays the ball.

He denies receivers. He denies them a clean release. He denies them to get separation. And he denies them an opportunity to get the ball. He is physical to the extreme, both in coverage and coming up on run support, where he is perhaps too much of a hitter and not enough of a wrap-up tackler.

"We play a lot of man and zone and off coverage," Kirkpatrick said of Alabama's scheme. "The main thing we really play is man and bump and run but my zone skills I'm happy where I'm at with them."

However, some scouts are concerned about reports that Alabama coach Nick Saban worked to keep Kirkpatrick motivated and there was an arrest, and a dropped charge, involving possession of marijuana only days after Kirkpatrick declared for the 2011 draft. As usual, Kirkpatrick had the last word, via twitter: "For those who doubted: NO CHARGES FILED against me for the marijuana bust in Florida."

"It was me being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Kirkpatrick said at the Scouting Combine. "The guy that left the marijuana in the car turned himself in and didn't want to put me in a bad situation. He signed an affidavit saying that I was unaware of the marijuana being in the car and I was unaware of it."

Analysis
Strengths
Athletes like Kirkpatrick are able to defy the perception that taller skill players don't have the footwork and agility that shorter players do. Kirkpatrick will thrive initially within a zone scheme, where he can use his burst and length to cover ground and remain active in plays. He is so talented athletically that he could likely be tested early on an island in man coverage and excel, and he possesses the confidence and field presence necessary to take on such a task.

Weaknesses
Kirkpatrick has issues that surround all aspects of his prospects and overall value as he enters the draft. He is very thin and some will question his ability to play physically at the next level. Although technically not a tweener, as he has always played and been advertised as a cornerback, his size and athletic ability could encourage a transition to the safety position. It remains to be seen if Kirkpatrick can add weight to compete at that position after three years at Alabama where his physical development was minimal.

Man Coverage: Possesses prototypical size and strength combination to lock down NFL receivers on the outside. Long arms and attitude give him a chance to be very good in press role. Plays with natural bend and fair foot quickness in his backpedal. Hips are fluid for his size, opens them up quickly out of pedal to keep inside position while running down the sideline. Recovery speed from double-moves and pick plays is more than adequate, does not give much ground trailing on crossing routes. Can be overaggressive landing his punch in press, giving up inside position, losing his balance, or even falling down.

Zone Coverage: Mainly used in man, but flashes playmaking ability in zones, as well. Uses his size and length to close and wrap effectively after the catch. Reads quarterback when playing off, baits him to make the underneath throw then closes to make the interception or a big hit to dislodge ball from receiver. Uses length to knock away touch passes behind him and in front of the safety.

Ball Skills: Strong enough to win jump balls down the sideline or 50-50 balls over the middle. Good hand-eye coordination to knock away passes in front of receivers with off hand. Does not find the ball quickly when receiver turns to look, overruns plays too regularly. Gambles on interceptions instead of securing the tackle.

Run Support: Very physical outside, pushes aside smaller wideouts easily and does not back down from confrontations with larger players. Willing to add himself to piles. Good hustle and chase downfield to help teammates. Typically keeps outside leverage but will get aggressive, leaving the sideline vulnerable. Needs to consistently break down and keep his feet outside or NFL backs will evade him.

Tackling: Flashes pure strength to stop receivers and running backs in their tracks on the outside, should get stronger over time. Likes to throw his shoulder into receivers to force them out of bounds. Resorts to duck-and-swipe when unnecessary, which may work against college ballcarriers but will cause problems at the next level. Used on corner blitzes due to size/speed combination, forces a lot of quick throws. Willing to go for the strip, especially if ballcarrier already engaged. Negates special teams gunners on punts, stays with them with effort, physicality and speed.

Intangibles: Well-liked teammate who got the nickname "Swag" for his quiet but confident demeanor; referred to Texas as not having "swagger" during his college announcement press conference. Likes to talk on the field to teammates and get the crowd involved when at home. Praised for his strong will and work ethic. Won the team's Bart Starr Most Improved Player Award in the spring of 2011.

Kirkpatrick did not have that great of a Combine, and some are knocking him for it. He didn't look as smooth in the field drills compared to Claiborne or Jenkins. Kirkpatrick performed much better at his pro day. He looks likely to be the second cornerback selected.

Kirkpatrick recorded 30 tackles (24 solo) with nine passes broken up and two forced fumbles in 2011, but did not record an interception. He played well against LSU in both games. Kirkpatrick did an excellent job of virtually shutting down wide receiver Rueben Randle in each contest. On physical, textbook tackles, Kirkpatrick forced two fumbles against Penn State. He was a violent force against Arkansas.

Kirkpatrick did not play well against Florida as he was beat in man coverage for a 65-yard touchdown by speedy wide out Andre Debose. Debose did the same thing to Claiborne. Overall, Kirkpatrick was a good cover corner this season, but he was rarely tested by offenses.

Shortly after declaring for the draft in January, Kirkpatrick was arrested. However, the charges, for pot possession, were dropped. The marijuana, allegedly, was owned by a friend who was in the car with him. Having the charges dropped definitely helps Kirkpatrick, but NFL teams will still question his decision making and his off-the-field associations.



My Opinion: For his size Dre has short arms and is not overly big. He may need to add 10 more pounds but that could affect his speed. He has not been a ballhawk over his career. Plus there is some motivation and commitment issues. He is a good tackler and physical corner. I have the feeling he doesn't give 100% on every play and his technique suffers because of it. He comes up in run support. He doesn't play with correct technique often enough for me, he can be overconfident and that won't wash in the NFL. He often goes for the big hit instead of wrapping up. I would say he watches the QB more than he should and he needs to focus on his man more but some of these occasions are in zone coverage so that is OK. He does try to bait the QB to get an interception. He doesn't have the top end speed to match up with top wide outs or recover when beaten.

Dre is a solid corner but I don't see the first round talent. To me he is possibly a No 2 corner at best. I don't see that potential to be the number one guy and I have the feeling some have become over obsessed with his size. For the Broncos I see too much risk than possible return. I would leave this one alone but I may be being over critical.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Height: 5-10. Weight: 193.
40 Time: 4.44. Official: 4.46 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.47.
3 Cone Drill: 6.95 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 4.13 secs.
60 YD Shuttle: 11.23 secs.
Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 10-1. 121.0 inch
Arm Length: 32.
Hand Size: 8 1/4.
Projected Round (2011): 1.

Jenkins was a three-year starter at Florida before transferring to North Alabama after multiple run-ins with the law and the Gators' coaching staff. While there are some character concerns, Jenkins is a natural cover corner who has strong instincts and athletic ability to cover top wideouts. Size is also a concern for Jenkins, but he has shown the ability to match up with big-time SEC talent through the years. He looks comfortable with the ball in his hands as a returner and projects to contribute there, as well. If teams can overlook his off-field transgressions, Jenkins has the natural abilities to be a bonafide first-round talent and potentially could be selected in the first 15 picks.

After being dismissed by new Florida coach Will Muschamp following a second charge involving marijuana, Jenkins finished his career at North Alabama last season.

He might have qualified for the NFL supplemental draft last year, but preferred to take time to rehabilitate his off-field image -- and a shoulder injury -- so pro scouts would judge him more on his on-field abilities. And pro scouts think his on-field ability is extraordinary.

Jenkins has that rare combination of instincts, quickness and agility needed to be a truly great cover cornerback. Scouts at the Senior Bowl likened his play to that of several-time All-Pro Asante Samuel (Philadelphia Eagles).

Jenkins flashed his talents in 2010 at Florida when he held two players selected in the top six of last year's draft to an average of 38 yards a game -- Georgia's A. J. Green (No. 4 pick, Cincinnati Bengals) and Alabama's Julio Jones (No. 6 pick, Atlanta Falcons. At the Scouting Combine he was unofficially clocked at 4.46 seconds in 40 yards.

He should be able to step in immediately and cover those pesky slot receivers as well as help as a punt returner.

Analysis
Strengths
Jenkins is an explosive player who can stay with receivers and cover in man and zone alike. His ability to read plays and react to them allow him to be around the ball, where he uses his athletic ability, quickness, and closing speed to finish plays. Jenkins has impressive hips, and his fluidity stands out and makes him a natural at the position. A flexible athlete, he is quick-twitched and can ignite a powerful plant foot at any time or position to react on a ball or move by a receiver. He has shown the ability to completely blanket a receiver and effortlessly move in transition to stay with and on top of almost any wideout at the collegiate level. Despite size, Jenkins can jam and re-route the receiver well at the line and play with physicality in run support. He is a classic man-cover corner who uses his superior athletic ability and instincts to stay a step ahead.

Weaknesses
Aside from off-field concerns, Jenkins projects as an undersized corner. He could have trouble adapting to the size and physicality of some top NFL wide receivers, as his ability to tackle and provide support against the run has been a question mark up to this point and will remain so at the next level.

Read & React: Rare anticipatory skills. Sneaks a peek into the backfield and anticipates routes very well. Possesses as good a break on the ball as any cornerback in the country. Will get himself in trouble as he's highly aggressive and thus, susceptible to double-moves, but possesses the quick feet, loose hips and good speed to recover if the quarterback doesn't attack immediately. Quick to react to the run.

Man Coverage: Low, quick backpedal. Loose hips and smooth acceleration. Easily changes directions to mirror receivers. Doesn't have great size, but flashes good physicality in press coverage. Gets a good initial jam on the receiver and has the agility to turn and run downfield.

Zone Coverage: Good awareness for zone coverage. Has a good feel for the receivers and their routes due to film preparation and keeps his eyes trained on the quarterback. Can drift when he sees the quarterback focusing on an area and is therefore susceptible to savvy passers. Quick to react to the thrown pass and converge on the ball.

Closing/Recovery: Very good downhill closing speed due to his willingness to gamble by reading the quarterback's eyes as well as exceptionally quick feet. Times his leap well and has good ball skills for the INT. Can extend and pluck outside of his frame. Good vision and elusiveness for the return.

Run Support: An underrated component to his game. Reads run quickly and isn't afraid to go inside the box. Fights through the receiver block and is willing to take on bigger ballcarriers. Good lateral agility to break down in space.

Tackling: A bit inconsistent in this area, though he's more physical and typically a more reliable open field tackler than most at his position. Will lead with his shoulder trying to make the highlight reel hit and leave himself vulnerable to missed tackles. Will sell out for the PBU/interception and, if he misses, leave the receiver running away from him. Takes good angles in pursuit and breaks down to make the secure stop against elusive athletes in the open field.

Intangibles: Started 37 of 40 games over his career; missing only one (2010 Outback Bowl) due to injury. Showed his toughness by playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder nearly the entire season. Injury worsened throughout the year, forcing him to miss the Outback Bowl to have surgery to repair it. Arrested in May, 2009 for his role in a fight. Was tasered and originally charged with affray and resisting arrest without violence, both misdemeanors. The affray charge was later dropped. Was arrested twice in the span of four months following the 2010 season for marijuana possession. His second arrest prompted new Florida head coach Will Muschamp to kick him off the team, leading to Jenkins' transfer to North Alabama. Was ejected for throwing a punch at a Delta State player on October 13 and had to sit out the first half of UNA's next game (West Alabama).

After a strong Senior Bowl, Jenkins was excellent at the Combine with a strong 40 time and eye-popping mark in the 10-yard split. He was fluid and smooth in the field drills. His Combine has confirmed his first-round skill set. Jenkins biggest negative is the off-the-field concerns. His interviews with pro teams on pre-draft visits will be critical.

For those that may have forgotten about him, at the Senior Bowl, Jenkins showed why he was viewed as a top-15 pick in the 2012 draft before his arrests. All week, Jenkins had blanket coverage on receivers. He was very fast and athletic, demonstrating the ability to run with receivers in and out of their routes. Not one of the receivers at the Senior Bowl was a mismatch against him.

In 2011, Jenkins returned 18 punts for 390 yards (21.7 average) with three touchdown returns and a long return of 92 yards. He also put together 53 tackles with four tackles for a loss, six passes broken up, two interceptions and a fumble returned 49 yards for a score. Obviously, Jenkins dominated the weak competition as he was supposed to. His draft stock is dependent on him staying out of legal trouble and interviewing well with teams in the months prior to the draft.

A true junior who enrolled at Florida in January of 2008 … Has appeared in 27 games with 25 career starts … Totaled 77 tackles, five interceptions and 17 pass breakups his first two years on campus.



My Opinion: He is a little shorter than you would like but has all the other measurables. He has a solid body. His technique was great at the combine and fluid in the hips. He has good ball skills. He doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the shed but that doesn't surprise me. He is a good wrap up tackler but will struggle against the bigger backs/players. Looks tiny on tape but he is pretty physical. He has good use of the hands. He will fight for the football. I never saw him run as fast as he was timed but that may just be because there was never that situation.

If you only go off the on the field tape Jenkins is a good player. He may be a little small to be a true number 1 corner but he has a lot of talent and his technique is excellent. Do I think the Broncos draft him? I doubt it.

Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Height: 6-0. Weight: 190.
40 Time: 4.44. Official: 4.40 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.50.
3 Cone Drill: 6.61 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 3.94 secs
60 YD Shuttle: 11.15 secs
Bench: 15 reps.
Vertical: 36. Broad: 10-3. 123.0 inch.
Arm Length: 31.
Hand Size: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.

Gilmore is a dynamic athlete who made a lot of plays at corner for South Carolina. He has the skill set to move to safety but is talented enough to challenge for a starting role at the corner position as a rookie. He is a football player who makes big plays and was among the SEC's finest athletes.

Several NFL scouts were enamored with the mental and physical abilities of this athletic corner and looking for a reason to push him up draft boards.

He gave them reason at the Scouting Combine when he quantified his speed with an unofficial 40 time of 4.40 seconds and had the second best time among defensive backs in the 20-yard shuttle (3.94). He also measured a full 1/4 inch over six feet tall. Gilmore plays with an astute awareness that makes him a dangerous defender to test.

He is a vocal team leader who understands everybody's role on defense and is especially effective in zone coverage where he seems to triangulate well, tracking both the quarterback and receivers. Gilmore is aggressive both going to the ball and coming up on the run, although he could use a little more bulk to hold up in the NFL.

Gilmore started at cornerback all 40 games the last three years and in 2011 made 46 tackles and led the team with four interceptions, giving him eight for his career. He was selected first-team All-SEC and third-team AP All American in 2010.

Analysis
Strengths
Gilmore has impressive footwork for his size which he uses well in a shuffle-shuffle-bail technique at the line of scrimmage. Although this isn't considered the most efficient technique, Gilmore makes it work, which allows him to use his huge frame to mirror and cut off receivers early in their route. He is a natural cover man who can jam at the line and stay with a receiver in his hip and use his strength and length to make plays on the ball and finish plays.

Weaknesses
Gilmore loses a lot of his fluidity when working in zone or off-man, and his eyes slow his feet in that he doesn't diagnose routes as quickly and will get his feet stuck in the ground prior to breaking. Gilmore was able to rely on size, strength and athleticism to cover in college and will get exposed by the veteran technically sound receivers in the league. He will struggle when forced to work within specific schemes that don't allow him to play freely.

Man Coverage: Plays mostly in press-bail or off-coverage. Flashes a tough, aggressive punch after the snap in rare press coverage occasions, but may not have the strength to knock NFL receivers off their routes. Not elite transitioning forward from backpedal, will take an extra step or loop a bit when closing on slants. Lacks elite recovery and straight-line speed to stay with faster wideouts down the field if beaten on a double move or losing a step off the line.

Zone Coverage: Fits best in a zone system like he currently plays. Knows his, and others', assignments on every play. Comes out initial read quickly to stop the underneath route dead. Quick feet in off coverage to adjust to inside routes, even when playing outside technique. Explodes to plays in front of him, cutting down his target or wrapping up if able to line up the receiver. Forces turnovers and dropped passes with his ability to arrive strong at the receiver with the ball.

Ball Skills: Makes quarterbacks pay for poor throws with centerfielder-like instincts and hands. Uses his height in full advantage on jump balls, make difficult catches with his hands extended away from his frame. Excellent elusiveness after the catch that shows as a punt returner. Has solid hands and typically makes the right decision to fair catch, but does not have breakaway speed and will dance or move east-west instead of heading straight upfield.

Run Support: Takes run support very seriously, seeking out contact. Chops down runs to his side when able, evades most receivers blocks with quickness and quick hands -- though NFL receivers will have regular success holding him up on the outside because of his slight build.

Tackling: Aggressive hitter in the secondary who plays without regard to his own safety. Best when coming downhill and cutting down ballcarriers with a low shoulder. Constantly looking to strip the football from ballcarriers while other defenders are making the tackle. Man-up tackling is a challenge for him, however, when facing a strong runner who lowers his pads or larger receivers with the length to stiff-arm him. Plays on coverage units. Brought on edge blitzes regularly when front four isn't getting there, uses quickness and big hits to create turnovers from the blind side.

Intangibles: Left after junior season with 40 career starts. Quiet, hard-working player who consistently gets praise from coaches and teammates for his work ethic and attitude. Puts in time in the film room, knows his opponents and defensive scheme inside and out. No worries about on-field effort, brings tenacious attitude on every play.

Gilmore performed well at the Combine with a strong 40 time. He was quick and flexible in the field drills. With Gilmore's size and speed, it is not surprising that he is a rising prospect after the Combine. Gilmore's stock has been on the rise, and he could easily be a first-round pick on draft day.

In 2011, Gilmore gave up some plays but also produced some big plays. He had 46 tackles with four interceptions, seven passes broken up and one forced fumble this season. Gilmore had a near interception and a 57-yard fumble return against Georgia. The junior flashed a lot of potential, but he needs to limit his mistakes and become more consistent with his coverage and splash plays. Gilmore looks like a better fit for a zone scheme.



My Opinion: Gilmore has had a number of takeaways in this career but not enough to say he is a ballhawk. Athletically and his body make up is everything you want for a number 1 corner. He could add a few pounds of bulk to get a little closer to 200. He has decent ball skills. He needs a little work on his footwork and turn but I thought it was pretty good. He is a physical tackler, leads with the shoulder a little too much just needs to extend the arms and wrap up. He has good recovery speed. He needs to be more violent with the hands to beat the receivers blocks.

Gilmore is the only corner I would be happy with us taking at 25#. For me he has more potential and could possibly become a number 1 guy for a team. If not definitely a very good No 2. He is not without faults and needs work on his technique and coverage ability. But the potential is there. Gilmore for 25#.

Jayron Hosley, CB/PR, Virginia Tech
Height: 5-10. Weight: 178.
40 Time: 4.38. Official: 4.47 secs.
Bench: 11.
Arm Length: 30 7/8.
Hand size: 8 7/8.
Projected Round (2012): 2.

Hosley is an early-entry junior who was statistically a very productive corner for Virginia Tech throughout his career. He is undersized but plays with tenacity and a sense of urgency when around the ball. Hosley is an extremely scrappy player who finds a way to make an impact from the boundary corner position. He could be a late riser in the draft and needs to prove that he can add weight to his frame to compete with NFL size, but he has late first-round value and should find playing time in nickel packages right away.

Hosley is entering the draft after playing through an injury-hampered junior season (hamstring, concussion), which followed a sophomore year (2010) in which he led the nation with 10 interceptions.

Hosley plays bigger than he measures and is very physical, both in coverage and in run support. B but at his size he would do better if he becomes more of a wrap up tackler. Over the past two seasons he had 12 interceptions and 20 passes broken up. He adds value as a punt returner, where he averaged 11.8 yards an attempt in three college seasons.

In games he appears to have better quick explosion than long term speed, but he had an unofficial 40-yard time of 4.47 seconds at the Scouting Combine, where teams were glad to see he added five pounds since the end of the season.

Analysis
Strengths
Hosley is an excellent zone corner who has a ton of range and play-making ability around the ball. He has good field awareness to sniff out receiver screens and is a quick reactor when the ball is thrown. He is consistently involved in the play and has good length to disengage receivers from the ball. Hosley is deceptive as a hitter and can deliver a serious blow for such a small frame. He has an impressive bubble and is a very bouncy athlete who can change directions on a dime. He is capable of smothering at the line using his hands and technique, and is good to stay in receivers' hip in-phase. He is a scrappy player who employs an unconventional shuffle step off the ball and technique in general, but he finds a way to make impact plays.

Weaknesses
Hosley is very thin and could get abused by the bigger, more physical Larry Fitzgeralds of the league. He has unconventional footwork that could get him in trouble against quicker athletes. He can get lost at times when working with his back towards the ball and needs to be placed within the right scheme to be an effective player.

Read & React: Gets better as the game goes on, picking up on small details and learning on the fly -- gets smarter as game progresses. Has very quick reaction skills and does a nice job using his eyes to recognize what the offense wants to do. Makes snap decisions and loves to drive on the ball. Will get caught with his eyes in the backfield at times, allowing the receiver to gain a step.

Man Coverage: A smooth athlete with fluid footwork and excellent quickness out of his breaks to drive on the ball. Has loose hips with above average foot quickness and balance to transition in a flash. Possesses the change of direction ability to be sticky in tight coverage. Will get too hands-on in coverage and his physical nature will attract penalties at the next level. Needs to stay under control through the whistle.

Zone Coverage: Shows exceptional feel in zone coverage, putting himself in ideal position to make a play with very good body positioning. Highly aggressive and competitive when the ball is in the air. Shows the ballskills and awareness to make plays on the ball. Lined up mostly in off-man coverage at Virginia Tech and has an obvious comfort level in this scheme.

Closing/Recovery: Hosley lacks elite speed and trusts his athleticism too much -- hasn't focused on developing his technique and footwork for the position. Doesn't have great long-speed to recover after a false step. Accelerates in a flash to close in a hurry.

Run Support: Has a physical playing style and never backs down in run support. Scrappy and loves to get dirty, attacking ballcarriers and never backing down. Very lean and lack of strength is a concern -- needs to spend more time in the weight room to add bulk. Inconsistent in run support because he's too easily blocked and knocked out of the play. Often overaggressive, taking inaccurate angles to the play -- undisciplined with too many self-inflicted wounds.

Tackling: Needs to become a better wrap tackler and not settle for simply throwing his body around -- missed too many open-field tackles. Undersized with a short, light frame -- lack of overall size against bigger ballcarriers is tough to ignore.

Intangibles: Has a feisty playing temperament and displays much needed confidence for the position. Adds value as a return man on special teams, averaging 11.8 yards per return as a three-year punt returner, including a pair of touchdowns over his career. Has been very productive with a combined 12 interceptions and 20 passes broken up the past two seasons as a starter. Struggled with injuries in 2011, battling a hamstring and then a concussion late in the season.

Hosley was another player who helped his stock with a strong performance at the Combine. He had a fast 40 and looked excellent in the field drills. Hosley moved well, and he showed the flexibility to flip his hips and change direction quickly.

Hosley had 59 tackles, three interceptions, 12 passes broken up and two forced fumbles for the 2011 season. He also averaged 12 yards per punt return. In their first meeting this year, he had an excellent game against Clemson and star freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Hosley also intercepted quarterback Tajh Boyd for the corner's third pick of the season.

In the rematch, for the conference championship, Hosley left the game early after getting a stinger. He ended his season well with four passes broken up and a few near-interceptions against Michigan.

Hosley did not perform well against Miami as he was beat for a touchdown and did not show up well in run defense. The early entry had his best game of the season with two interceptions, seven tackles and two passes defensed against Arkansas State. Facing Appalachian State, he returned three punts for 97 yards.

Hosley is a good athlete with great speed. He needs to add some muscle and become a more physical player.



My Opinion: He is a small player. He could be a returner at the next level. He is a ballhawk and has a nose for the ball. He needs to add more muscle. For me he stands too upright in his back pedal when flipping his hips. He needs work on his technique. He is physical for a guy his size but needs work on wrapping up tackles. He is solid in man coverage and generally a good cover corner. He has great ball skills. He has some moves when he has the ball. He struggles with blocks.

I like Hosley but his size will limit him to an inside role at the next level. I don't see how he could last on the outside against the bigger receivers. He will be a very productive nickel or dime corner but for us we already have three of those.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
Height: 5-10. Weight: 199.
40 Time: 4.29. Official: 4.33 secs.
3 Cone Drill: 6.55 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 3.97 secs
60 YD Shuttle: 11.65 secs
Bench: 17.
Vertical: 38.5. Broad: 11-1. 133.0 inch.
Arm: 31 1/4. Hand: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 2-3.

Robinson was a three-year starter with good ball skills and athletic ability. Has prototypical size and speed and has special-teams value. Will need to run well in the pre-draft process to stand out from countless other defensive back prospects; fifth-round value.

As the most conspicuous gold medal winner at the NFL's Annual Underwear Olympics known as the Scouting Combine, Robinson sent scouts and coaches back to game tapes to see what he is all about.

They already had some interest because he was a two-time All Conference USA first teamer with 10 interceptions and 36 passes broken up the last three seasons. But he demanded even more attention after clocking the Combine's fastest unofficial 40-yard time of 4.33 seconds. He also bested all defensive backs in the broad jump (11-1) and three-cone drill (6.55) and was third in the vertical jump at 38.5 inches.

"They told me I wouldn't be drafted in the top three rounds," Robinson said after his Indianapolis show. "So that gave me motivation. That made me want to prove that I could be drafted higher than that."

He convinced some people, evidence by his move from a fourth-round prospect to a second round possibility on this list.

Analysis
Strengths
Robinson has displayed superb zone skills. Aside from length, where he is only average, he has all the traits sought after in a zone corner. Not as polished in man, he can run with receivers in the open field and will likely run in the 4.4 range at the combine. A reliable tackler in run support.

Weaknesses
Robinson struggled at times playing man coverage. He will hesitate at times when diagnosing throws or trying to read his man's hips, and will guess on jumping routes which could be a risk at the next level. Struggles to make plays in run support after shedding his man, and will need to be more assertive in that area of his game.

POSITIVES: Possesses legitimate NFL cover skills. Has a quick, low backpedal with a fluid hip turn to cover receivers down the field. Has at least adequate straight-line speed and good balance, fluidity to change directions. Alert defender for zone coverage, showing good understanding of route progressions occuring behind him and a quick burst downhill to break on underneath passes in front of him. Very good hand-eye coordination and timing to knock passes away as the receiver attempts to secure the catch. Highly competitive. Raised his level of play against top competition. Emerged as a standout punt returner in 2010, earning honorable mention accolades by averaging 15.2 yards per return (ninth in the country) as a sophomore, though he did not return a punt for score over his career. Played in all 38 games of his UCF career and has had no known injuries.

NEGATIVES: Possesses only average height for the position. A bit high in his backpedal. Too often allows a free release to the receiver when in man-press coverage. Gets his hands on a lot of football but needs to do a better job of turning interception opportunities into actual interceptions, recording 10 despite breaking up 36 passes over his career. Struggled with fumbles as a punt returner, raising concerns about his ability to contribute in this role at the NFL level.

The Combine star for the defensive backs was Central Florida's Josh Robinson. He ran the fastest in the 40-yard dash with two unofficial times of 4.31 and 4.29. His official time was 4.33. Robinson also had the longest broad jump at 11-1, and his vertical jump of 38.5 was tied for second. Since the Combine, Robinson's stock has continued to rise and now sits in the second day of the draft.

In 2011, Robinson recorded 48 tackles with 15 passes broken up and two interceptions. Robinson played mostly man coverage in college, so that works to his favor as scouts like to see corners with experience in man. His 2010 production was similar as he logged 59 tackles with two interceptions and 13 passes broken up. The past two seasons Robinson was an All-Conference USA selection. Robinson had six interceptions as a freshman.


Old tape against AJ Green.

My Opinion: Josh gets his hands on the ball often but is not a ballhawk. He has a great build, solid, compact and muscular. He is a little shorter than you would like but he is really fast. He is a physical corner, he will come up and make a hit but needs to wrap up. He has pretty good coverage in man. His closing speed could be better.

Potential, that is what it is all about with Robinson. He is a project development player that has the potential to be a great no 2 guy and possibly be that number one guy. He would be great value in the 3rd round.

Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Height: 5-10. Weight: 204.
40 Time: 4.51. Official: 4.55 secs 10-Yd Split: 1.52.
Vertical: 37. Broad: 10-1. 121.0 inch
Arm Length: 30.
Hand Size: 9 1/2.
Projected Round (2012): 2-3.

Like his classmate Jared Crick, Dennard played alongside premier talent (New York Giants' 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukumara) early in his career and also missed some playing time as a senior due to injury (leg). But unlike Crick, Dennard was less tested as a senior once back from injury because he lost that elite player on the opposite side. He has some of the same traits as Prince in that he is smart, plays with instincts and understands how to support in run defense and play the role of a staunch football player at the corner who does more than just cover. While he is not particularly stellar with any singular trait, he has the size, athletic ability, and overall above-average skills that blend together to make a nice prospect. He is the type of corner who could contribute heavily on special teams in his rookie year, and although he has not been tested much working in the slot, could likely be picked in the late first or early second round.

Dennard is a tenacious, physical cornerback who has the ability to make it difficult to get a clean release off the line if he plays up.

If Dennard plays off he has the closing speed and toughness to make it difficult to catch or keep the ball. However, didn't look great playing off during Senior Bowl practice so teams that expect that of their cornerbacks probably took note.

He won the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award last season after getting four interceptions, six pass breakups, and 31 tackles, most of them loud. Dennard was the main reason opposing Big Ten quarterbacks were held to a conference-low 51 percent on completions. His career included 97 tackles, four for a loss.

Dennard led Wilcox County High (Rochelle, GA) to second place in the Class A State championships, stealing five passes as a cornerback, catching 39 passes for 780 yards, 14 touchdowns at wide receiver and returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. At the Scouting Combine, Dennard had an unofficial 40-yard time of 4.55 seconds and a 37-inch vertical jump.

Analysis
Strengths
Dennard is a strong all-around player, who doesn't shine with any particular skill, but that's his main strength: There are few weaknesses in his game. He is a heady player who plays on top of receivers and understands how to turn and run to not get beat deep. He trusts his speed and footwork in man coverage and can fill nicely as a run defender in both run plays and in zone. He is a solid athlete who has fluid hips and can adjust to make ball plays in mid-air. He understands how to play with leverage and jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage, as he is a very balanced and strong player who rarely falls off his stance or gets pushed off coverage by bigger wideouts. Dennard has a lot of experience starting games at a high level and is NFL-ready.

Weaknesses
Alfonzo is a shorter corner and could potentially get out-jumped at the next level. He can let himself get blocked by more physical receivers at times, but when the play comes his way he usually gets involved. He missed the first three games of 2011 with a pulled leg muscle.

Man Coverage: Physical player, tough to get off the line against and willing to mix it up downfield. Fluid hips and good short-area to stay with receivers after initial move. Solid if playing off the line, as well, quick feet allow him to catch up to receivers if failing to get a hand on them initially. Deep speed and recovery speed are average, adding that to below-average height could spell trouble against playmaking NFL receivers downfield. Gets too physical at times, gets flagged for grabbing and holding.

Zone Coverage: Could flourish in zone systems due to closing speed and secure tackling ability. Jumps underneath and slants routes quite well, baiting quarterbacks to throw in his direction. Regularly stands straight up in his backpedal, which causes trouble transitioning when receivers stop their routes short.

Ball Skills: Breaks up passes with hits and by getting his hand on the ball before it arrives at his man. Make acrobatic interceptions by high-pointing or extending for throws, has excellent vertical jump to compensate for lack of height. Runs well with the ball in his hands, capable of winding his way through traffic to the end zone. Inconsistent adjusting to low throws.

Run Support: Often out on an island and not forced to support the run in 2010, but there's no issue with his physicality or willingness to stick his nose into the play. Showed capacity to attack screens and runs to his side as a sophomore, both cutting down and wrapping up ballcarriers reliably. Larger receivers can keep him from getting to the ball, though the effort to beat the block is there.

Tackling: Compact, strong build, tenacity and good closing speed make him a solid tackler on the edge. Rarely misses the tackle to stop receivers they catches passes in front of him in zone or when playing off. Wraps low and holds on to prevent yards after the catch. Good speed and angle gets him credited with tackles while ensuring ballcarriers get to the sideline.

Intangibles: Feisty player who asks to take on bigger number one receivers and likes to talk on the field. Earned more playing time as a junior due to better preparation. Missed most of two games in 2010 with a concussion. Played through a shoulder injury in 2009. Missed the first three games of the 2011 season with a right hamstring pull.

At the Combine, Dennard ran faster than expected, and he did decently in the field drills. It wasn't enough to send his stock back up to towards the first round.

Dennard had a rough Senior Bowl. He started out slowly and improved some before ending the week early with a hip injury. In Mobile, Dennard did not look good at turning his hips and running with receivers downfield, so perhaps the injury was bothering him before he stopped playing. Dennard had new coverage responsibilities in Mobile. In college, he always in press coverage, but in Mobile, he was lining up nine yards off the line of scrimmage.

To make matters worse, Dennard finished his collegiate career poorly by allowing some big plays at the Capital One Bowl to South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. In the third quarter, Dennard got in a fist fight with Jeffery and both got ejected from their final collegiate contest.

Overall, 2011 was an excellent season for Dennard as he had tight coverage throughout the year, although teams generally avoided throwing at him. Dennard missed the first three games of the season with a leg injury. After returning, he played very well and had an excellent senior year. Dennard completely shut out Michigan State receiver B.J. Cunningham in a dominant performance. Dennard had a great game against Iowa's Marvin McNutt, holding him to four catches for 29 yards.

Even though Dennard is undersized, he is solidly built and is dependable in press coverage. He jams receivers well at the line of scrimmage and his rerouting skills are very advanced. Dennard also excels in zone coverage, and that type of scheme may be his best fit in the NFL. He is smart and doesn't have mental mistakes that get him caught out of position. Dennard had 31 tackles in 2011 with six passes broken up.



My Opinion: He is a little shorter and not as fast as you would like but he has a great compact body. He needs work on all areas of his technique, his hips and footwork were surprisingly stiff. His ball skills could be better. He is a physical corner but needs work tackling in the run game. He is not a ballhawk. He doesn't have great recovery speed. He looks a little slow in coverage. His man coverage is good though.

I don't see it with Dennard. He will struggle on the outside at the next level and may be limited to only a nickel or Dime role. For us it is a no brainier, stay away.

Trumaine Johnson, FS/CB, Montana
Height: 6-2. Weight: 204.
40 Time: 4.50. Official: 4.61 secs
3 Cone Drill: 7.20 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 4.15 secs.
60 YD Shuttle: 11.68 secs
Bench: 19 reps.
Vertical: 35.5. Broad: 10-2. 122.0 inch
Arm Length: 33 1/4.
Hand Size: 9 3/8 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 2-3.

Johnson is arguably one of the best and most polished NFL prospects to come out of the Big Sky Conference in quite some time. He is a big, athletic cover corner who has completely dominated his competition to this point in his career. He has the speed and agility to stay with receivers and also the height -- a shade over 6-foot-2 -- to match up in the red zone. Despite playing in the Football Championship Subdivision, Johnson is an NFL-ready corner who is projected to be picked in the second round.

After an outstanding, multi-sport high school career, Johnson was recruited to play wide receiver at Montana, but was moved to cornerback the second day of practice.

He seems smooth and instinctive on defense, especially when going for the ball. His size and overall athleticism are impressive, but scouts question whether he has the quickness to compete with NFL receivers.

And that is still a question after had unofficial 40-yard times of between 4.50 and 4.61 seconds. But he confirmed his excellent leaping ability with a 35.5-inch vertical jump. Johnson had some off field concerns, including missing games for eligibility problems and an arrest last October when police were called to a late-night party and tased Johnson before taking him into custody.

In high school, Johnson played quarterback his senior year, throwing for more than 1,800 yards, running for more than 500 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns. But Johnson was selected to the school's Hall of Fame as a defensive back. He was also the team MVP and All-Conference pick in basketball as a senior.

Analysis
Strengths
Johnson is a lanky defender who has the athletic ability to stay in a receiver's hip and make plays. He uses his arms effectively in press coverage and jabs receivers to interrupt their routes and timing within the offense. He understands when to react in zone and possesses the long speed to take risks there and still recover. He is good at reading the receiver's hips, reacting to their drop and quickly making a play on the ball. He is a very effective tackler and imposing athlete at the position.

Weaknesses
Johnson could be knocked for not having experience covering receivers in top-notch conferences like other corners at the top of the draft board. There will undoubtedly be a learning curve for him at the next level. Although he is a good tackler against the run, he can get caught on blocks at times and needs to learn to shed more quickly.

Man Coverage: NFL frame makes it difficult for FCS receivers to make one-on-one plays. Quarterbacks often eat the ball instead of throwing in his direction. Quicker receivers can accelerate past him when near the line, needs to maintain contact to prevent separation. Needs work on using his hands in press coverage, plays mostly off and press-bail to prevent big plays. Relatively fluid and has fair recovery speed for his size but quicker NFL receivers will cause him trouble in transition with double-moves.

Zone Coverage: When playing off, displays ability to quickly close on underneath routes to make the interception or wrap up receivers with his length. Inexperienced in zone, must prove field awareness and quickness to adjust to switch men when needed. Looks a step slow to react to late releases to his side when uncovered.

Ball Skills: Possesses strong hands of former receiver. Makes the easy interception on underthrows or when quarterbacks stare down his man, high-points passes with height and vertical. Strong runner on kick returns, has a bit of shiftiness in the open field. Had issues with dropped interceptions in the past. Does not always find the ball in the air.

Run Support: Takes outside position when uncovered, swipes or wraps ballcarriers coming into his area. Strong enough to rip off pulling lineman blocks, though inconsistent getting off the block or feeling them so he can be moved out of the way by players from the side. Flashes strength and attitude to throw smaller opponents to the ground.

Tackling: Possesses strength and length to be effective preventing yards after the catch or swallowing running backs in the flat. Good hustle across the field to get involved in the play when uncovered. Does not attack ballcarriers or seek out contact as much as scouts would like. Runs past targets in the open field too often instead of breaking down to corral them. Gives effort to knock out gunners on return team when not receiving kickoffs.

Intangibles: Played with a broken bone in his forearm during 2009 season, but missed nine games in 2008-2009 due to injuries and suspension due to alleged fight outside campus fraternity house. Chose Montana over Arizona State and California-Berkeley.

Johnson held his own against Tennessee in the first game of the season with seven tackles, a pass broken up and a forced fumble. He had 54 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two interceptions and 12 passes broken up in 2011.

Johnson was a ballhawk in past seasons, but his interceptions declined this year. At the Combine, he looked a little stiff to play corner in the NFL. Johnson would be better off at safety as it didn't look like he had the quick hips to turn and run with speed receivers. Some teams will still consider Johnson at corner. He looks like a bit of a tweener.



My Opinion: All his numbers point towards Free Safety. All his speed drills say Safety at the next level. He has some off the field issues as well that need to be reviewed. He is a big body athlete, very long and lanky. His footwork needs to be quicker. His hips are a little stiff. He has good ball skills and was a ballhawk. He is physical with receivers. He is a physical tackler but needs to wrap up. He doesn't have great recovery speed for a corner. He is pretty effective on the corner blitz.

People love his size and want him as a corner. But I just don't see him making that transition. He doesn't have the raw athleticism that is required for the position. His ball skills, the ability to blitz and be physical all say safety to me. He is the perfect player to convert into a FS and he only needs to say add 10 pounds. As a corner I say 3-4 round value. If you looking at him to play safety that late 2nd to 3rd round is good value. But not for the Broncos.

Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Height: 5-11. Weight: 185
40 Time: 4.53. Official: 4.57 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.52.
3 Cone Drill: 6.76 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 3.90 secs
60 YD Shuttle: 11.10 secs
Bench: 19 reps.
Vertical: 34. Broad: 9-11. 119.0 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 2-3.

Hayward is a highly regarded corner out of Vanderbilt. Although his team has had little success throughout his career, playing in the heart of the Southeastern Conference has put Hayward up against top talent every week, and he has made plays consistently for the Commodores. He can run with any receiver in the SEC and has shown that he can play physically at the line of scrimmage to disrupt receivers' routes. He brings a confident mentality that he can cover anyone in single coverage given the competition he faced each week in his conference. He has third-round talent.

Hayward was a two-star receiver/cornerback recruit out of high school, choosing Vanderbilt over Troy. He played in every game as a true freshman in 2008, recording 8 tackles, 3 pass break-ups and 1 forced fumble. Hayward became a starting cornerback in 2009 as a sophomore (12 starts), finishing with 58 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and two interceptions.

He again started all 12 games in 2010 as a junior, recording 70 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups, one forced fumble and six interceptions, earning Second Team All-SEC honors. Hayward started all 13 games in 2011 as a senior, finishing with 62 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups and a career-best seven interceptions (second in the SEC), earning second-team All-SEC honors.

Hayward was a hidden recruiting gem for Vanderbilt, starting all 37 games the past three years, and was very productive in college, collecting 15 pick-offs over his career. He is a very average athlete with ordinary speed and looks out of his element when flipping his hips in order to stay with receivers downfield -- obviously most comfortable in off-man coverage where he can face the action.

Hayward plays more like a free safety, struggling to find the ball and make a play after he's turned around and is ideally suited for a zone scheme where he can use his eyes and anticipation. He will be graded differently by every team depending on the scheme and he has NFL potential in the right defense, but teams know what they're getting with him.

Analysis
Strengths
Hayward can diagnose plays and be in position from the get-go. He will be physical when reacting to pass plays and has the speed to cover for extended periods of time in man coverage. He is a lanky player who can extend and secure interceptions when covering close. He is a reliable tackler when around the ball.

Weaknesses
Hayward is a decent player in zone looks but not the quickest reactor. He trusts his speed too much at times, which can get him in trouble when he plays too far off the receiver. He is a smooth athlete but not very quick twitched.

Strengths: A coordinated athlete with good footwork and balance. Heady cover player with above-average feel and anticipation in space. Trusts his eyes with very good awareness. Has very good reaction skills to break quickly on the ball. Savvy cover skills to recognize and anticipate routes, understanding what the offense wants to do. Has terrific ball skills with the focus and hands to secure interceptions in traffic. Very opportunistic with 15 career picks the last three years. Tough and aggressive to hold up against the run and work off blocks. Smart, aware and confident and has started every game the past three seasons at Vanderbilt (37 consecutive starts).

Weaknesses: Has only average height and length (30-inch arms) with a slender frame and lean muscle definition. Lacks top-shelf speed and doesn't have great acceleration. Doesn't have elite fluidity and struggles to recover after false steps. Lacks explosion in his transition with upright technique and has inconsistent backpedal, opening his hips prematurely to guard against vertical routes. Doesn't look natural in reverse and needs to keep the play in front of him to be effective. Lacks ideal strength and will be out-muscled by receivers. Inconsistent against the run and needs to improve his tackling fundamentals in order to finish. Too physical and hands-on in coverage, arriving early and attracting pass interference penalties. Lacks much experience in press coverage and appears scheme specific at the next level.

NFL Comparison: Jacob Lacey, Indianapolis Colts

Hayward had an average week at the Senior Bowl and did better than expected at the Scouting Combine. He recorded a faster 40-yard dash than many thought he would run. Hayward has size, speed and production. He is a sleeper who has starting potential.

Hayward was a pure ballhawk to start the 2011 season, snatching four interceptions in four games. After that, he cooled off, but his coverage all season remained solid. Against Arkansas, Hayward dropped three interceptions and totaled six passes broken up. He went out on a good note with two interceptions against Cincinnati in the bowl game.

Hayward had seven interceptions, 60 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 10 passes broken up in 2011. He has enough size and ball skills to fit any NFL defense. Hayward also is aggressive defending the run. He could be an underrated prospect who will reward the team that drafts him.

The SEC's active leader in career interceptions, Hayward also finished his career with 46 defensed passes, 148 solo tackles and three forced fumbles.



My Opinion: He has good height but needs to add a little more muscle to his frame. He doesn't have the top end speed needed for the top receivers in the NFL. He needs quicker footwork. He has great ball skills and was a dominate ball hawk in college. He has pretty fluid hips. He needs to be more physical when tacking on blocks and tackling. He also needs to work on his tackling and wrap up. He is great in the zone and makes very good reads from it.

His speed will limit him to the inside at the next level as a Nickel or Dime. He will make whatever team that drafts him very happy as he is a productive ball hawk that gets turn overs. He will fit nicely with a team running a zone defense.

Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
Height: 6-0. Weight: 197.
40 Time: 4.56. Official: 4.66 secs
3 Cone Drill: 7.09 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 4.23 secs
Bench: 14 reps.
Vertical: 33. Broad: 10-4. 124.0 inch
Arm: 32 3/4. Hand: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 3.

Norman is a solid prospect from small-school Coastal Carolina. He has great size for the cornerback position and parlays this with an ability to move fluidly and match up with big, athletic wide receivers. He reminds some of a young Ike Taylor, a tall and athletic big corner from a smaller school. Norman does not quite possess the blazing speed that Taylor did when coming into the NFL, however. Teams will be worried about the level of competition he has been playing at for the past four years, but look for Norman to be selected in the fourth round to a team looking to develop a young, big, athletic corner, and contribute early on special teams.

Though recruited by some bigger schools, Josh Norman followed his All-American older brother Marrio to Coastal Carolina, signing with the Chanticleer's as a non-scholarship walk-on. Proving himself to be an immediate standout, Norman started seven of the 12 games of his freshman season and all 34 the rest of the way, earning all-conference accolades after each of his final three seasons and a All-American honors as a sophomore and senior. Norman exploded onto the scene in 2009 by shattering the Big South league record and tying for second in the country with eight interceptions. Not surprisingly teams were much more hesitant to throw the ball in his direction over the next two years. He left CCU with 196 tackles (including seven tackes for loss), 35 passes broken up and 13 interceptions over his career. Strong efforts at the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl eased any concerns scouts may have had about Norman's ability to play with the big boys. With his length, athleticism and natural ball skills, Norman will be highly valued by press cover teams and could earn a top 75 pick -- or higher -- if he times well at the Combine.

Analysis
Strengths
Norman can play man and zone equally well and was a physical presence on the outside of the defense at Coastal Carolina. He understands when to take risks and when to play back, and he is physical when he makes his decision to come up. He supports the run well and is a reliable tackler. He works well to feel with his hands to stay on a receiver in-phase, and has the hip mobility to move with his man all over the field.

Weaknesses
Norman has not faced top-level competition at Coastal Carolina and could have an adaption period early on. He will need to contribute on special teams to stick, which he hasn't done much at Coastal. He is taller and can struggle with some hip/transitional movements moving to his left, but it's not a major concern and surely will be part of the adaptation process.

Strengths: Long-armed press corner with size, athleticism and ball skills. Gets an effective jab on the receiver and has loose enough hips to turn and run. Good agility and balance when shadowing his target. Competitive player. Plays the ball as if it was thrown for him, showing burst back to the ball as well as good timing for the jump ball. Good hand-eye coordination. Rips the ball out of the hands of receivers as they grasp at it (35 career PBUs) and shows good hands to make the interception (13 career INTs). Possesses long arms (32.5) and can extend and snatch the ball as well as track the ball over his shoulder. Cagey. Will bait quarterbacks to throw in his direction and shows a surprising burst downhill. Alert run defender willing to take on and discard receiver blockers to get to the action. Enjoyed a strong week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game and and a late call-up to the Senior as an injury replacement, impressive in both environments … Big play artist on special teams, registering a school-record four blocked kicks …

Weaknesses: At his best in press-man coverage as he has a high backpedal and loses a step turning without a cushion. Plays with adequate speed but there are concerns about his ability to handle the truly explosive speedsters of the NFL. Makes himself vulnerable to big plays on occassion by attempting to bait the quarterback. Was arrested in October 2009 for driving with a suspended license.

Norman was solid, but unspectacular at the Combine. Earlier in January, he was the star of the East-West Shrine. Norman was dominant in practices all week. At the Tuesday practice, he made an acrobatic interception, reaching behind his head while leaping into the air. The next day's practice saw him record two diving interceptions. Norman had good coverage all week and did not allow separation. That impressive performance made him a late add to the Senior Bowl.

In his collegiate career, Norman totaled 13 interceptions with 35 passes broken up, four forced fumbles, four blocked kicks and 196 tackles. He broke out with eight interceptions as a sophomore in 2009. Norman has the physical skill set to potentially be a starter in the NFL.

My Opinion: Norman has the Perfect body for a corner but just lacks the top end speed required to be a true number one guy. He has really long legs, he looks lanky for only 6 foot. He has decent footwork but is stiff in the hips when turning. He has great ball skills and can be coincided a ballhawk. It was hard to find tape on Norman since he played at a small school. But he comes across as a solid tackler and is willing to be physical.

Norman is a project player. I think his speed will limit him from being the top guy on a team but if developed correctly he could be a solid no 2 corner in the leg. I like him in the 4th.

Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
Height: 5-11. Weight: 206.
40 Time: 4.43. Official: 4.53 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.57.
3 Cone Drill: 6.71 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 3.97 secs
60 YD Shuttle: 10.75 secs
Bench: 23 reps.
Vertical: 34. Broad: 10-5. 125.0 inch.
Arm Length: 31 1/4.
Hand Size: 9 1/2.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4.

Fleming lines up in the boundary for Oklahoma and has a great combination of size, speed and technique that makes him a premier prospect at corner. His speed and athletic ability allow him to recover quickly off the line of scrimmage. He can get caught looking at the quarterback at times, but he usually can stay with receivers in man coverage. He is a physical and explosive athlete who can jam receivers and bring down running backs with ease. Fleming has played at a high level for the past four years and projects to start early at the next level as a second-round selection.

The NFL success of former Oklahoma cornerbacks has been mediocre at best. 2003 first-round pick Andrew Woolfork and hyped players like Dominique Franks, Derrick Strait, Antonio Perkins and Reggie Smith were drafted lower than most expected and haven't made much of an impact at the next level. If Fleming's junior season is an indication of what's to come, however, he could break that trend.

He spent his redshirt freshman (23 tackles) and sophomore (14 tackles) seasons starring on special teams, also providing depth at corner while waiting behind Franks and the rest of the team's usual veteran depth. But his production in his first year as a starter (71 tackles, 8.5 for loss, five interceptions, 14 pass break-ups) earned him first-team All-Big 12 accolades from league coaches and turned a cornerback group people thought would be the Sooners' weakness into a strength.

Fleming's not the biggest or fastest corner, and missed spring practices in 2009 and 2011 due to academic misconduct. But as long as he plays this fall with the physicality and ball skills he displayed during his break-out 2010 campaign, NFL teams will have a tough time passing him up as a potential starter in the top half of April's draft.

Analysis
Strengths
Fleming is superb in man coverage. He is reliable on an island and can stay with any receiver in the Big 12. He is not technically sound, but his back pedal and hips are naturally fluid. He can backpedal for an uncommonly long amount of time, even by NFL standards, which allows him to stay on top of receivers and plant, driv, and react to plays. He has the speed to catch up to receivers if beat and the ability to run down plays from the backside or provide help in zone. He makes the play every time as a tackler, and he can drive through his hips to deliver a blow to a ball carrier. When the ball is in the air he has the body control to turn and make a play on it. He is thick for the corner position and it is apparent that he understands his role in the run game. He is a prototypical athlete for the position.

Weaknesses
Fleming is not technically sound, and it hasn't hurt him up to this point. At the next level, he will need to work on his technique when using his hands and feet to jam receivers and turn at the line of scrimmage. He can be undisciplined in various aspects of his play, but it usually hurts him more in zone coverage than it does in man, where he is a natural cover corner.

Positives: Should excel as a zone defender because of his closing speed to wrap receivers after the catch. Can deliver the big hit and isn't afraid to jump inside to slow the ball. Transitions well from coverage to close on the ball. Strong hands, quick reactions for the interceptions. Former high school receiver with good ball skills. Willing and successful blitzing off the edge. Consideration for move to safety with combination of range and sure tackling.

Negatives: Body type similar to 2003 first-round bust from Oklahoma, Andre Woolfolk. Questionable technique and he gets lazy with fundamentals, high in his backpedal and will breach the coverage call seeking flashy plays.

Fleming's stock has risen after an impressive performance at the Combine. He showed a nice combination of size, speed, strength and overall athletic ability.

Overall, Fleming had a decent season and improved his draft stock. He had 60 tackles with 10 passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and fumble returned 56 yards for a score. Fleming was solid in pass coverage throughout the season. He had a big game against Texas A&M with six tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and two passes broken up. Fleming did not perform as well against Baylor and Oklahoma State. Those games hurt his cause to be a second-day pick.

Size and speed were never Flemming's strong suit, so scouts were more mindful of his memorable play during the Senior Bowl practices than they were his largely forgettable data from the scouting combine. In college, he was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 player because of his impressive combination of tenacity and natural man coverage skills. Even when coaches asked him to play off in Senior Bowl workouts, it was easy to see his instinctive movement and great ball reaction. At the combine, Flemming had a pedestrian unofficial clocking of 4.53 seconds in the 40, but his 60-yard shuttle time of 10.75 seconds led all defensive backs. His college career included some academic issues that forced him to attend junior college and miss spring practices in 2009 and 2011.



My Opinion: He may not be the smartest but he has the perfect body for a corner. His speed while not the best was decent. His short area quickness is amazing. His footwork was good and he posses good ball skills. All corners this late in the draft need work on their technique and Fleming is no different. He had a number of intercepts over the last few seasons but not enough for me to coincide him a ball hawk. He needs to be more physical, he stays away from contact. He looked quicker on tape. He has OK closing speed. He is a good special teams player. He is a pretty good tackler. He is good in man to man coverage.

Fleming I like, again like most corners he lacks the elite athleticism but he could develop into a solid no 2 and can contribute on special teams and nickel & dime situations right away. The Broncos may take a look a him later in the draft.

Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M
Height: 6-0. Weight: 194.
40 Time: 4.44. Official: 4.48 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.51.
3 Cone Drill: 7.33 secs
20 YD shuttle: 4.25 secs
Vertical: 37. Broad: 10-6. 126.0 inch.
Arm Length: 30 1/4.
Hand Size: 8 3/4.
Projected Round (2012): 4-5.

Judie has been a two-year starter for Texas A&M but struggled with injuries in 2011 and will get rotated out at times. He is a man cover corner who does not play instinctively. He has good length in his arms to make recover plays and is effective working out of press. He would be a good player in a man scheme and makes flashy plays on the ball. Judie could compete to make the team based on his reliability as a return man, and has sixth-round talent because of that.

A high school track star who finally turned onto football in his senior season, Judie's short career has already included many highlights. He was considered the most talented player as a freshman at Fort Scott Community College, intercepting six passes and breaking up seven others. Judie was a 2008 junior college All-American despite the fact opponents stayed away from him during his sophomore season. He also averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return and 15.1 yards per punt return, including one score.

Judie was, as one would expect, very popular among major college programs as a JUCO recruit. A&M's proximity to his hometown of Marlin gave them the edge in that battle, though his career in College Station got off to a rocky start. He came to pre-season camp late to wrap up his academics at Fort Scott then had shoulder surgery, which caused him to redshirt.

It didn't take long for him to show his skills at the FBS level, however, as he intercepted four passes, made 57 tackles (two for loss) and was dangerous as a kick returner, averaging over 30 yards an attempt with two touchdowns.

Though he has only average size for the cornerback position, Judie's toughness, exceptional ball skills give him a chance to start at the next level. The fact he didn't grow up playing football in gridiron-starved Texas may give NFL teams some pause because they'll wonder about his love of the game.

The other factor they'll investigate because of his speed is a hamstring injury that kept him out of several games in 2011. If Judie is healthy and his coaches at A&M convince scouts of his willingness to live and breathe the game as a professional, there's no reason to believe he can't be a very high pick in the 2012 draft.

Analysis
Strengths
Judie excels playing man coverage. He can stay with his man throughout the play but will need coaching on making plays once the ball is thrown. He can make interceptions but is not aggressive to squeeze the route when running close. He has been a good zone player as well throughout his time at Texas A&M. He has value at the next level as a returner, where he has been productive in college.

Weaknesses
Judie struggles at the end of plays to finish on the ball. Injuries have led him to regress throughout his senior year and turned from a serious return threat and a guy who could press to start in the NFL early into a guy who would now just be serviceable at the position. He needs to rekindle the aggressiveness he displayed throughout his junior year.

Positives: Fits best in a zone system at the next level due to size and ability to close to the ball. Has good awareness and quick feet. Fluid backpedal, aggressive attacking the receiver from the snap, and flashes spectacular ball skills. Savvy using his hands to get to the ball without drawing flags. Willing tackler and high-effort leader with a special teams personality. Has potential as a blitzer.

Negatives: Only average size for the position. Late start in football creates questions but Texas A&M credited him for his dedication and quick rise from raw athlete to football player. Can leap but his size will be detrimental in box-out situations. Bites on play-action and isn't always in tune with rest of secondary.

A player who needed a solid showing at the Combine and got it was Judie. He ran well in the 40-yard dash and checked in bigger than expected. If Judie's physicals and interviews went well then the Combine really helped his stock. He sat on his Combine numbers at his pro day.

Judie missed six games this season, including those against Oklahoma State, and the chance to show his coverage ability against star receiver Justin Blackmon; and Oklahoma with its receivers Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds. In the other games, Judie had mixed performances. He did not fare well against Baylor and its dynamic passing attack.

For the season, Judie had 22 tackles with a sack and five passes broken up. This season hurt his stock.

Defensive back Coryell Judie finished with just 22 tackles last season after missing almost half of Texas A&M's games with a hamstring injury. That didn't stop him from hoping to impress some NFL scouts. Judie, who was expected to be one of A&M's top defensive players in 2011, worked out for scouts on Wednesday at the school's pro day, hoping his speed and athleticism would help them look past his injury-plagued college career. He says the adversity he faced at Texas A&M made him stronger and he's encouraged that several teams have shown interest. Still some are weary of his injury history which includes a broken wrist and three shoulder surgeries. "Most teams are iffy and wonder if I'm injury-prone, but I just tell them that I've been doing good rehab and getting my shoulder and hamstring well so I feel fine," he said. He was happy with his 40-yard dash times at last month's combine, where he ran a low time of 4.38, so he didn't run again on Wednesday. But he participated in many of the other drills and his 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump was the second best of the day. Some have projected Judie, who also returns kicks and punts, to be a third or fourth-round draft pick. He's the healthiest now that he's been in quite some time and is looking forward to the draft. "When the challenges came my way, I overcame them and I feel good about the position I'm in now," he said.



My Opinion: He has the make up of a corner and enough speed to possibly be a top guy for a team. His short area quickness wasn't very good but he is recovering from injuries. His injuries may mean he slips through the cracks and he could be a steal late in the draft. He has extra value as a returner. He has great ball skills. He is physical enough for a corner. His recovery speed is solid.

Judie is the corner I would love to see us draft late in the 5th round. He is a steal here. Judie will need time to develop but he has big time potential written all over him. The Broncos need to be thinking about this guy later in the draft.

Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian College
Height: 6-0. Weight: 200.
40 Time: 4.53. Official: 4.58 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.56.
3 Cone Drill: 6.79 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 4.30 secs.
Bench: 19 reps.
Vertical: 39.5. Broad: 10-11. 131.0 inch.
Arm Length: 32 3/8.
Hand Size: 9 3/4.
Projected Round (2012): 6-7.

Bethel has started four years for the Presbyterian College Blue Hose. He is athletic and possesses good size for the position, but is also regarded as a very heady player who influences receivers with physicality from the boundary corner spot. He is an interesting late-round prospect based on his athletic ability and skills supporting the run.

Analysis
Strengths
Bethel is a very effective pass and run defender, and is physical when tackling and also when up working on the line of scrimmage in man. He has athletic ability that translates well to reacting to the ball in man, and the explosiveness to come down field and make plays in zone.

Weaknesses
There are concerns about the level of competition Bethel faced in college and how much of a learning curve he will have at the next level. He is a smart player but can get caught flat-footed at times in man. He takes false steps off the snap and labors into his back pedal, all things he will need to work on while transitioning into the NFL.

Bethel ran pretty well at the Combine, but looked a little stiff in the field drills. He has some tools to work with, but will require some developmental time. Bethel held his own at the East-West Shrine against better competition. He led his team in tackles with 88 and also recorded four interceptions with six passes broken up this season. Bethel could be worth a late-round pick.

Justin Bethel of Presbyterian is the first player from the tiny Clinton, S.C., school to be invited to the Scouting Combine. A 5-11, 196-pound defensive back, he projects to cornerback but has the range to slide to safety. But bet your socks the Blue Hose star -- yes, that's the Presbyterian team name -- will find his way into a role on special teams. He blocked nine kicks in four seasons and said he was just as prolific in high school with his 76 3/4-inch wingspan. "My senior year I had four or five blocks," he said. "I don't know. It's just something I've had a knack … I get a real good start-off coming off the edge, two or three steps I'm jumping. Because of my kind of long body I can get there. So it's just a knack for it. It's something I've been doing." Football has almost always been secondary for Bethel. He was more interested in carving chicken than dissecting Xs and Os. "To tell you the truth, I got a half-scholarship (offer) from Charleston Southern. But I was like, I'll wait," he said. "It was funny, because I wasn't even planning on playing football after high school. I was going to go to Johnson & Wells for culinary arts. Because I had taken culinary classes for the past three years in high school. But I would have had to pay for it. Football was free. Football vs. having to pay for it. I said, I'll take the free."

My Opinion: He has the body and his measurable where fairly good expect for his 40 time. His short area quickness was good. He was a little stiff and upright in the hips. He has good ball skills. He needs to get quicker with his foot work. Hard to find tape on this guy.

There is some talk that he could possibly be moved to FS at the next level. He has the size to be a safety but lacked the speed to be a corner therefore it is a logical fit. Bethel has some ability and a late round flyer on him could be a possibility. There are also some commitment issues but those will need to be looked at further. He is a late round development player.

Another big group all done. That leaves offensive line and defensive end for the prospects I will be looking at ~ Aussie.

16 comments:

  1. She's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!! dun dun dun lol

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  2. Sheesh, looks like someone's been busy writing a few books lately. Good grief man. You're worse than me!! haha

    Good thing I like to flip through the posts I miss when I'm gone otherwise I would've missed Aussie wishing me a happy Bday (which I did) and then Digger saying, "on TAX DAY??" LOL I correct you... the day BEFORE tax day. Aussie had it right, its the 14th

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  3. Had a blast out there but now I'm back here and all bummed out. I miss those Rocky mountains SO bad, you have no idea. Went on a horseback ride on Thurs for an hour & a half and all I could do was stare at the mountains as we went along. Our guide, who by the way was SMOKIN HOT!!, kept trying to talk to me and he'd ask me a question and I heard it but I'd have to snap out of my mountain gazing lol and quickly answer.

    Man, that was a cute cowboy. Woo Hoo!! LOL

    Had a great Easter, joined in on the Easter egg hunt was a lot of fun. Left for the mountains on Tues stayed through most of Thurs. Went to the Denver zoo with my 3 little cousins on Friday, had a great time. Then my Bday on Saturday... guess who's halfway to 50!? haha

    Will have to upload the pics from my phone.

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  4. Did I read it right... did we really sign Stokley back???!!!

    Happy face if we did!! lol

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  5. Haha the princess is back, glad you had a good holiday and nice birthday.

    Smoking hot cowboy...lols haha sounds like you really enjoyed the mountains :P

    25...man we are getting old, digger must be ancient :)

    I am a little surprised we are releasing McBean, he had been productive.

    I am happy we are bringing back Stokley but not sure he will offer much. This could mean the WR corp is now full.

    Plus we continue to try to sign Thomas which I think would be really good.

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  6. Also we resigned Ninja Willis who was a RFA, very busy day today.

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  7. Offseason workouts started today.

    Love the photos

    http://www.denverbroncos.com/multimedia/photo-gallery/Offseason-Workout-Program-Begins/d8409914-3d40-4194-bcb2-1643fde1539c#start

    Thought photo number 9 was cool. Walton and Beadles are best buds.

    12 was pretty cool. Harris and Clady come in together, the big boys. I have high hopes for Harris this year.

    13 is probably my favourtie photo. Kuper back in the gym.

    The last photo 22 was the funniest. Champ was like 'Child please, what is this' he is champ bailey haha.

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  8. Cool workout pictures.

    Welcome back from god's country BP.

    Ancient huh. Listen here you little whippersnapper, I'm not 50 yet. A little closer to it than you two though.

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  9. Only poking fun at ya :P

    Been a surprisingly busy day in Bronco news. They must have waited until Princess good back.

    Also we get the 2012 schedule tomorrow which will be really interesting.

    Then the draft is so close! I can't wait.

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  10. Schedule day. Cool. I don't think a high round CB anymore now that Porter is in. 4th round I would start looking for a CB that is over 5'11" and not a CB/FS. Norman, Menzie, Flemming or Judie. Coty Sensabaugh is another.

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  11. I like Judie. If healthy he may have gone in the first round.

    I also like Robinson as a project player.

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  12. Schedules out, the first 8 weeks are going to be really tough.

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  13. Your rotoworld thing is still broke.

    Open with two primetime games. Gotta love that.

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  14. Yeah I figured as much, does it show for you? All I get is the Julius Thomas news. It hasn't updated. I will take a look on the weekend.

    We get 5 in total over the year. I am really pleased. I hope to see a ton of games this year.

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  15. I get to watch most games on my TV instead of my computer this year:)

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  16. I am hoping the same thing.

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