With each teams requiring a minimum of ten defensive corners for training camp each year, drafting and finding quality free agents becomes a daunting task. From experience, I can say without hesitation that there are never enough to go around.
Malcolm Jenkins was clearly my number one ranked corner for the 2009 draft, but his lack of top speed got me to thinking that he may well be better suited to move inside. He certainly can and will be an effective cover two corner, but I would have real concerns about him being out on an island matched up against the leagues race horses.
With Jenkins no longer heading up the list of premium corners, the torch passed to Illinois' Vontae Davis. On paper the declared junior has everything necessary to become a top performer (speed, explosiveness, strength), but that being said I was disappointed in this players overall game. He's certainly not a criminal in any way shape or form, but I've been told by far too many veteran scouts that he is a DeAngelo Hall clone who is not easy to coach.
He can run in a straight line, is physical, has a closing burst and has the quickness one looks for at the position, but I also thought he was tight in the hips (struggles on his turn and go and with multiple moves receivers) and I didn't see awareness and instincts in zone coverage. His hands are typical of most corners within the league (marginal), but I felt his ball skills were more than adequate. Based on the lack of quality performers at this critical position, I would estimate he will be gone before you can say Vernon Davis (Vontae' older brother) and major draft snafu of the San Francisco.
I though my second ranked player at the corner position Darius Butler was a good but not exceptional football player. Darius is not very physical in his play and lacked strength and body mass to take on and or play off blocks. Was a grab tackler who didn't involve himself to any degree. What he can do as well as anyone I have seen in recent years is catch the football. He tracks the ball well, will high point and has very firm hands (compares favorably with Dre' Bly - former No Carolina and Rams corner). That being said, I didn't see a single interception in any of the four games viewed. His feet, balance and transition skills were good, but I just didn't think he made enough plays on the football.
Alphonso Smith is flat out the best corner I say during the 2008 season. He's fast, quick, athletic, tough as a two dollar steak, highly competitive and has excellent ball skills. He's an excellent tackler and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has the absolute turn and go skills of any corner I saw during the 2008 season. On press coverage, I thought his hand checking skills and ability to re-route people was exceptional. I liked him a great deal as a punt return man, but due to his size, but because of potential injuries, I would be hesitant to have him back there returning kickoffs in the NFL.
My only problem with this player is that he is under 5' 9" and I don't expect him to be any taller tomorrow, in his rookie season, or five years down the road. Remember gang, the good big man is always at an advantage when matched against the good little man.
Sean Smith of Utah is a very interesting prospect, in that he is an amazing six foot three and a half with long arms and good speed. In a cover two look, he has a real advantage re-routing receivers and playing in the under zones. My problem with him is that he doesn't appear to be very tough or physical. He looks more like a high jumper than a cornerback and with his high center of gravity, I have some real concern about his transition skills and or quick speed.
Keep your eyes on two state of Virginia athletes, who had their coming out parties during the spring college workouts, Derek Cox of William & Mary and Greg Tolar of little St Paul's College. Booth are size speed prospects who really impressed coaches and scouts alike over the past six weeks. Both are sure to be drafted and I expect Cox to go as high as round number three.
Since declaring for the draft back in January, I have seen numerous publications and amateur draft "experts" (if you don't believe it, just ask them) expound on the virtues of Vanderbilt corner D. J. Moore. All in lock step have ranked him among the top six corners in the country and one (the guy with the great hair) actually ranked him as the 23 player in the country. Well, maybe the game has totally passed me by, but if he is a first round selection, I will refrain from ever commenting on any future college draft!
He does have good ball skills and is very much an athlete (played offense versus Wake Forest and caught four balls for eighty yards), but that is where it all ends. He's acutely undersized and flat out can't run; a very bad combination when ranking players at this critical position. He is a poor tackler (reach and grab – shoulder blocker) and was screened and knocked around when coming up to try and defend the run. He has some body quickness and balance, but he was not sudden in his close to the football. On press coverage is going to have a particularly tough time re-routing big people not to mention his lack of speed when trailing.
|4||Smith, Alphonso||Wake Forest||5086v||193v||4.52v||1.25|
|5||Webb, Lardarius||Nicholls St||5096v||181v||4.42v||1.31|
|8||Lewis, Keenan||Oregon St||6012v||208v||4.49v||1.43|
|11||Cox, Derek||William & Mary||6012v||189v||4.43v||1.47|
|12||Tolar, Greg||St Paul's||5110v||191v||4.48v||1.51|
|13||Hughes, Brandon||Oregon St||5104v||182v||4.43v||1.53|
|15||Lacey, Jacob||Oklahoma St||5097v||179v||4.47v||1.62|
|18||Lankster, Ellis||West Virginia||5094v||190v||4.52v||1.67|
|19||Burnett, Joe||C Florida||5093v||192v||4.59v||1.68|
|22||Wright, DeAndre||New Mexico||5106v||198v||4.56v||1.71|
|23||Pegues, Derek||Mississippi St||5095v||199v||4.69v||1.72|
|24||Washington, Donald||Ohio St||6002v||197v||4.54v||1.73|
|25||Biggers, E.J.||W Michigan||5110v||187v||4.36v||1.74|
|26||Munnerlyn, Captain||So Carolina||5084v||182v||4.52v||1.75|
|27||Johnson, Domonique||Jackson St||6013v||197v||4.52v||1.76|
|28||Brown, Arkeith||Texas A&M||5114v||179v||4.50v||1.77|
|Francies, Coye||San Jose St||6003v||181v||4.68v||1.80|
|Carey, Don||Norfolk St||5112v||192v||4.54v||1.80|
|Butler, Vincent||New Mexico St||5096v||187v||4.41v||1.80|
|Gorrer, Danny||Texas A&M||5115v||186v||4.46v||1.80|
|Carter, Tony||Florida St||5086v||178v||4.47v||1.90|
|Garvin, Michael Ray||Florida St||5075v||174v||4.23v||1.90|
|Word-Daniels, Jahi||Georgia Tech||6000v||197v||4.62v||1.90|
|Quin, Glover||New Mexico||5106v||204v||4.52v||1.90|
|Pace, Michael||No Carolina A&T||5093v||176v||4.48v||1.90|
|Gerald, Kevin||Northern Arizona||6016v||197v||4.55v||1.90|
|Lloyd, Darrell||Northern Iowa||5105v||195v||4.52v||1.90|
|Lambert, Terrail||Notre Dame||5102v||188v||4.39v||1.90|
|Sargeant, Lydell||Penn St||5087v||190v||4.51v||1.90|
|Jones, Reggie||Portland St||5117v||193v||4.43v||1.90|
|Owens, Christopher||San Jose St||5096v||181v||4.48v||1.90|
|Williams, James||So Connecticut||5111v||182v||4.51v||1.90|