In this post I will preview 5 of my favorite CBs of the upcoming 2014 draft. The first 4 are going to be prospects I personally think could all be in play at pick 28. The last is a mid round guy I have become a bigger fan of since I started researching this piece, and I believe could turn into a starter. If you are one of those people who thinks a corner is worthless unless he is 6' 1", this post is probably not for you. So here we go...
Justin Gilbert-Oklahoma State
This one is admittedly a long-shot. I am of the opinion he will be long gone before our pick, but seeing as I enjoy doing this I figured it wouldn't hurt(did we really have a shot at Star at 15?) He might have the biggest impact ability of any of the 2014 cb prospects. Gilbert is an electric play maker with the ball in his hands and is a legitimate threat to score after forcing a turnover. The OK State product has long arms and great athleticism. Considering how raw a some of his technique still is, the player he could be in 2-3 years is hardly fathomable. Here are some of his strengths, followed by some things he needs to improve on.
- Quick/good instincts
- Tracks the ball well
- Press and off-man coverage, mirrors receivers well
- Fluid/efficient movement
- Overly aggressive
- Relies on athleticism over technique
Darqueze Dennard-Michigan State
Dennard is undoubtedly one of the best overall prospects in this years draft. He was the best cornerback on the top ranked pass defense in the country this past season and the winner of the Thorpe award. He seems to have a good understanding of the routes he has to defend, and also possesses the ability to react to the QB. What Dennard lacks in elite athleticism, he makes up for with veteran savvy and instincts. A few notes...
- Very good jam in press coverage
- Tracks the ball well
- Route recognition
- Solid fluidity in tracking and running with receivers
- Not afraid to hit
- Struggles to disengage in run support at times
- Lacks elite athleticism
- Lacks top end speed
Some people will argue that Verrett has no business being drafted in the first round because of his size, I personally don't get too hung up on that. If he measures in at the combine at 5' 8" that might be cause for concern, but until then I will hope he is closer to what he is listed at. On tape, there is no doubt that he should be a first rounder. From what I saw, he is the most well rounded corner in this year's class. He has the ability to play both press and off-man coverage, as well as being skilled in playing zone. The TCU product plays with tenacity and awareness. He might actually be the best corner in the draft...
- Good combination of quick and fast(both short area and top end)
- Fluid, loose hips
- Reacts well to routes and QBs
- Uses limited frame well against the run
- Ball skills/tracking ability
- Limited size
- Durability concerns
Bradley Roby-Ohio State
I am of the opinion that after the season Roby had in 2013, he probably should have returned for his senior year. That said, he is still a very rare prospect. Roby possesses the type of athleticism that literally jumps off the screen when you watch him play. His combination of speed and leaping ability is truly something to be in awe of. He doesn't shy away from contact and can run with the fastest players the nfl employs. Most of his struggles this past season appeared to be related to him taking too many chances and being overly aggressive, which led to him being beat deep somewhat frequently.
- SPEED(like 4.3 type speed)
- Leaping ability
- Mirrors receivers and recovers quickly
- Raw in press man due to college scheme
- Overly aggressive(leads to big plays)
- Minor off-field concerns
Cockrell will more likely than not be a day 2 or 3 selection. Although he might have played for a team that is generally not known to produce much NFL talent, he is definitely an exception to that trend. He was a large part of Duke's success this past season. He plays very alert and has consistently shown the ability to disrupt passes. Cockrell's strong suit is probably off-man coverage and overall athleticism. In his his last career game as a blue devil he played very well against a much bigger Mike Evans.
- Good NFL size
- Mirrors and reacts well to WRs
- Above average athleticism
- Fluid hips
- Top end speed(varied reported times, occasionally got beat deep apparently due to speed)
- Limited experience in zone
- Questionable tackling and run support
After spending some time looking at the CB talent in this years draft, this seems to be an incredibly deep position. I am of the opinion that this draft could produce 7-8 career starters. I also apologize for this not being up to the typical CSR standards in all likelihood. My only real experience in identifying these traits are just the basic things that I was taught as a young defensive back. It has been many moons since I have last played but I'm an avid a fan as ever and hopefully that will show. Go Panthers!