The Cardinals employ the NFL's fourth- and fifth-highest paid safeties, but Arizona is still looking…
NFL Scouting Combine Preview: CBs
1. *Aqib Talib, Kansas, 6-2, 202 Draft Projection: 1st Round Talib is a big corner with playmaking ability. He displayed his tremendous ballhawking skills in the Orange Bowl when he returned an interception 60-yards for a touchdown. After that performance, Talib announced that he would declare for the draft and would test his skills at the next level. Talib has the potential to be a lockdown corner, but he tends to play too aggressively at times. He has to stay disciplined and show good awareness during drills at the Combine. His time in the forty will also play a huge factor in where he gets drafted. 2. Mike Jenkins, South Florida, 6-0, 200 Draft Projection: 1st Round Maybe the draft’s best cover corner, Jenkins is smooth in the secondary and transitions in coverage effortlessly. He enjoyed a solid senior year with USF and recorded 41 tackles, four for a loss and three interceptions. He was invited to the Senior Bowl, but pulled out at the last minute. Scouts want to see how Jenkins does in one-on-one drills and how physically he plays at the line of scrimmage. Troy CB Leodis McKelvin returns a punt for a 74-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State. AP Photo/Dave Martin 3. Leodis McKelvin, Troy, 5-11, 190 Draft Projection: 1st Round McKelvin started the season as somewhat of an unknown, but he’s gained momentum throughout the season and really impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl. He flips his hips extremely well, but he lacks playmaking production. His ability as a return specialist makes him an ideal selection for a team looking for versatility. McKelvin’s time in the forty and his anticipation skills during drills will be of most interest to scouts. 4. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State, 6-2, 183 Draft Projection: 1st Round Rodgers-Cromartie has enjoyed the fastest rise in the draft so far due to his performance at the Senior Bowl. He played well in coverage and displayed toughness tackling the opposition. He blanketed receivers all game and showed good anticipation diagnosing plays. Scouts and coaches were impressed with his ability to shutdown receivers and his instinctive style of play. With another solid workout in Indy, look for Cromartie to elevate his stock as one of the top two corners in the draft. 5. *Reggie Smith, Oklahoma, 6-1, 198 Draft Projection: 1st – 2nd Round Smith, who declared for the draft after his junior season and only one year starting at cornerback, provides versatility for a team at the next level. A franchise in need of a quality defensive back who can start at safety or corner will be interested in Smith. He had a good junior campaign totaling 78 tackles, seven for a loss, a sack and three interceptions. He’s a solid tackler and displays good playmaking ability, but his forty-time at the Combine will determine his future position. 6. Tracy Porter, Indiana, 5-11, 185 Draft Projection: 2nd Round Possibly the most athletic corner in the class, Porter is exceptionally versatile and possesses elite speed. He had a great senior season and posted 83 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, a sack and six interceptions. He’s also a threat on special teams and is a dynamic punt returner who can take it to the house any time he fields the ball. The one knock on Porter is that he’s not a physical player. He showed good instincts at the Senior Bowl, but didn’t play physically at the line of scrimmage or when tackling the opposition. This is a characteristic scouts will watch closely in Indy. 7. Antoine Cason, Arizona, 6-0, 190 Draft Position: 2nd Round Cason is a steady defender who possesses all the skills necessary to be a first-round pick, but will probably fall into the second round due to his questionable speed. He had an outstanding career at Arizona and finished with 15 career interceptions. If Cason is able to run a mid-4.4 in the forty, that will impress scouts and land this first-round talent in the first round. 8. Terrell Thomas, USC, 6-1, 197 Draft Projection: 2nd Round A big corner with playmaking ability, Thomas plays physically at the line of scrimmage and challenges the opposition. Thomas played well for the Trojans this past season and finished with 45 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, a sack and four interceptions. He fared well in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, but lacked closing speed and didn’t transition well on vertical routes. Speed is a big issue with cornerbacks, and Thomas’ speed in the forty is crucial. 9. *Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech, 5-10, 190 Draft Projection: 2nd – 3rd Round Flowers is a smaller, but physical corner who’s a playmaker in the secondary. He decided to leave school after his junior season, a year where he amassed 86 tackles, eight for a loss and five interceptions. Flowers has to play under control, as he tends to gamble and allow big plays. Injuries are also a concern; he suffered a broken leg and shoulder during his career at Virginia Tech. NFL personnel will conduct extensive medical checks on Flowers prior to the draft. 10. Chevis Jackson, LSU, 6-0, 188 Draft Projection: 3rd Round Jackson is a savvy defender who always seems to position himself well to make plays. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s quick and displayed great instincts at the Senior Bowl. He plays physically at the line and matches up well with tall receivers. If Jackson continues his steady performance at the Combine and times well in the forty, he will solidify his status as an early second day selection. 11. Patrick Lee, Auburn, 6-0, 194 Draft Projection: 3rd Round Lee has all the tools to become a quality starting corner at the next level. He had a good senior season with the Tigers, as he recorded 55 tackles, one for a loss and four interceptions. He has good size and great speed, but is a little stiff in the hips — and it really showed at the Senior Bowl. He’s not very fluid and may switch to safety at the next level. He’s a straight-line runner who has to improve his lateral movement, and that’s what scouts will watch at the Combine. 12. Charles Godfrey, Iowa, 6-0, 207 Draft Position: 3rd – 4th Round Godfrey is a tremendous athlete who has great speed and playmaking ability. He has an opportunity to play corner and safety at the next level and displayed those abilities at the Senior Bowl. He has a nice frame and size, and his athleticism is obvious on the field. He has to play with more discipline and not bite on an initial move. He will run well at the RCA Dome, but it’s in defensive drills where he will be under a microscope. Boston College CB DeJuan Tribble prepares for action against Miami. Doug Benc/Getty Images 13. DeJuan Tribble, Boston College, 5-9, 190 Draft Position: 3rd – 4th Round Tribble was a dynamic playmaker at Boston College and finished his career with 13 interceptions. He’s also an experienced return man and offers a team a quality option on special teams. Tribble didn’t have a good week in Mobile and was exposed mainly because of his height — but it was surprising to see his lack of explosiveness. He will have to improve his cover skills in Indy if he wishes to improve his draft stock. 14. *Justin King, Penn State, 6-0, 186 Draft Projection: 3rd – 4th Round King should have stayed at Penn State for his senior season to improve his overall game. He has a lot of talent and playmaking ability, but he’s inconsistent and lacks physicality. He had a down year and only managed two interceptions. He struggled against some of the best receivers in the country, namely Indiana’s James Hardy, Michigan State’s Devin Thomas and Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie. King has to show scouts at the Combine that he’s technically sound and physical enough to compete at the next level. 15. Tyvon Branch, Connecticut, 6-0, 198 Draft Projection: 4th Round Branch is a versatile prospect who’s rising up draft charts due to his ability as a defender and a return specialist. He didn’t have any interceptions this past season, but he’s a quality, physical, cover corner. His ability as a return man will make him a high second-day selection. And if he runs well at the Combine, he may go a little higher. 16. Darnell Terrell, Missouri, 6-2, 200 Draft Projection: 4th Round 17. Terrence Wheatley, Colorado, 5-10, 187 Draft Projection: 4th Round 18. Trae Williams, South Florida, 5-10, 193 Draft Projection: 4th Round 19. Jack Williams, Kent State, 5-9, 180 Draft Projection: 4th – 5th Round 20. Dwight Lowery, San Jose State, 6-1, 185 Draft Projection: 5th Round 21. Justin McKinney, Kansas State, 5-10, 189 Draft Projection: 5th Round 22. Jonathan Zenon, LSU, 6-0, 180 Draft Projection: 5th Round 23. *Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin (Torn ACL), 6-1, 202 Draft Projection: 5th Round 24. Antwaun Molden, Eastern Kentucky, 6-1, 198 Draft Projection: 5th – 6th Round 25. *Orlando Scandrick, Boise State, 5-11, 188 Draft Projection: 5th – 6th Round 26. Wilrey Fontenot, Arizona, 5-9, 176 Draft Projection: 6th Round 27. Justin Tryon, Arizona State, 5-9, 179 Draft Projection: 6th Round 28. Zackary Bowman, Nebraska, 6-2, 200 Draft Projection: 7th Round 29. Brandon Sumrall, Southern Miss, 5-10, 193 Draft Projection: 7th Round - FA 30. Jonathan Wilhite, Auburn, 5-9, 187 Draft Projection: 7th Round - FA 31. Marcus Walker, Oklahoma, 5-11, 198 Draft Projection: 7th Round - FA 32. Glenn Sharpe, Miami, 6-0, 186 Draft Projection: FA 33. Matterral Richardson, Arkansas, 6-0, 192 Draft Projection: FA * Underclassmen A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.
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