by David Syvertsen
I’ve devoted this week to shoring up my cornerback grades. Getting some of the final numbers in to my system has opened my eyes to a few players that present great value after round one.
Dee Milliner of Alabama and Xavier Rhodes from Florida State sit atop of my rankings for the position. I expect both to be taken in the first round, likely within the top 20. After them however is where my rankings start to get shaken up a bit.
Boise State’s well rounded cover man Jamar Taylor earned a first round grade on my board. He lacks the ideal size (5’11/192 with short arms) but Taylor is one of the quickest defenders in the class. He shows great reaction. Makes dual reads, can anticipate by watching the offense as a whole downhill. Physical tackler that delivers a pop. Wraps up consistently. Taylor is a violent press corner as well that brings attitude to his punch at the line.
Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State is next. He is long limbed at 6’2/185 but lacks the bulk I want out of a corner in today’s NFL. The trend is going towards bigger, more physical defensive backs that can control receivers in that initial five yard window. Banks is more physical than I initially thought. He will stick his hat in to the action with minimal hesitation. And for a guy with such long legs, Banks is nimble enough to play alone on an island. The question with him will be deep speed. Can he handle the receivers that can fly downfield?
Next up is a name that rarely gets discussed in the media. I watched the Georgia defense 7 times in 2012. As a whole, the unit was full of guys that underachieved in games when considering how much talent they had. However Sanders Commings is a guy that stood out to me time and time again. At 6’0/223, he hardly looks like a cornerback. But Commings moves well when turning his hips. He has enough speed to hang with most receivers. Will he need a position change to safety at the next level? Maybe. But in a defense that likes versatility for multiple packages, Commings is a guy worth looking in to. He does a lot of things well.
On the contrary, here are a few names that I graded much lower than what I’ve seen.
North Carolina State’s David Amerson was a media darling early on in the year. Another prime example of sexy stats swaying opinions while neglecting physical shortcomings. Amerson was routinely burned deep in 2012. Quarterbacks were never afraid to throw his way. He shows poor reaction skills when running downfield, as he does not locate the football well without losing speed. He excels when playing a downhill style, but he will be limited schematically in the NFL.
Same goes for Rutgers underclassman Logan Ryan. Of the game tapes I studied on him, he looked barely athletic enough against mediocre competition. Throwing him in to an NFL defense seems like a dangerous proposition. He is another corner that looks like a different player when left on an island to defend a speed receiver by himself. He is a 4th-5th rounder at best on my board.
Jordan Poyer of Oregon State lacks the fluidity in man coverage that I want to see out of a college cornerback. He is very hands on downfield, which simply won’t work in the NFL. He is an athletic player but loses his balance when tracking the ball. His catch up speed isn’t there either.
Desmond Trufant of Washington received some high praise from Mobile during the Senior Bowl week. However I saw more of the same from the 2012 season. Trufant has tight hips, and he knows it. He over-commits too soon and makes himself susceptible to the double moves that NFL receivers can run in their sleep. Trufant is another guy that got away with a lot of illegal contact in college and during the practices at the Senior Bowl. He struggles to cover guys with his feet and hips. Not a good combination. Another guy I have graded in the round 4-5 tier.