Greetings MHR-ians. Welcome to the 2nd part of my "Introduction to the 2011 Draft" series. The first part of the series was about nose tackles. In my last post, I asked for a vote of what position you guys wanted to see next. The vote was extremely mixed. There was a pretty wide range of requests. Pretty much every defensive position got a vote. So I decided to do this section on an area of the draft that is very strong: Cornerbacks.
The Broncos face a lot of uncertainty at the position. Champ Bailey is a free agent, Perrish Cox has legal problems, and Andre Goodman was unable to stay healthy in 2010. Ironically, my favorite CB in 2010 was Syd'Quan Thompson. The 7th round pick played well in his time during the rookie season. The other young CB I like is Cassius Vaughn. He has proven himself to be a fantastic ST player. If he can improve his CB skills, he will certainly have a future here.
With so much uncertainty heading into the future, the Broncos might be looking to add more talent at the position. The 2011 draft is very deep in CB talent and the top end talent is fantastic. Let's take a look.
Patrick Peterson, LSU
There is not much to dislike about this guy. He stands at 6 ft 1, 222 pounds. He reportedly runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. He has had a fantastic career for LSU. He has shut down the top WR in the country week in and week out. When quarterbacks saw Peterson on the field, they threw the other direction. Despite that fact, he still got 7 interceptions in his collegiate career.
Great height/bulk. 6 f 1, 222 pound corner backs are not common. There aren't many players who have his blend of height, bulk, and athleticism. He can run a 4.4 40 and has a 39 inch leap. He has great ball skills. He is one of the best corners in man to man coverage. That is where his size and bulk become huge assets. He is able to redirect WR with relative ease. He has displayed good read and react skills.
Just like any other prospect, Peterson is not without fault. He can use some refinement on his technique such as his back pedal. When going against the run, he can be blocked or chipped without difficulty. He can improve in zone coverage. Per Mocking the Draft, Peterson is susceptible to double moves and can struggle against quicker receivers.
Bronco Rating: 9/10
Peterson has a lot of talent. He's big, fast and one of the best prospects to come out this year. He is going to be a top 5 pick. Denver has a lot of needs, but Patrick Peterson is the best player available IMO. He doesn't come with the risks that Fairley and Bowers do and he has plenty of upside. MaxBroncos says Peterson reminds him of a young Charles Woodson and it's not hard to see why. Peterson is a very talented player and is a very real possibility. Oh yeah, did I mention he is arguably the best punt returner in college football?
Patrick Peterson vs North Carolina
Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
Prince is often overshadowed by Patrick Peterson, but he is a very good prospect in his own right. He has shut down wide receivers his whole career. Prince has good measurables standing at 6 ft 1, 205 pounds. He's a physical corner who has had a lot of success at Nebraska. He has 5 interceptions in his career to go along with 3 forced fumbles.
He has really good mechanics. He is excellent and turning and running with opposing wide receivers. He has shown the ability to locate the ball and make a play on it. He has displayed very good instincts. He is a very physical corner. He has been very successful when tasked with re-routing wide receivers. He is better in run support then Peterson is. He may be an effective blitzing corner. He is definitely a playmaker.
There are some concerns with his top end speed. He may struggled against speedy receivers who will try to out run him. He has also been beaten by better receivers. Justin Blackmon really beat him up earlier this year. He also has some technique issues that need to be worked out. He also can use better angles.
Bronco Rating: 5/10
My rating is not a reflection of his talent. Amukamara is a very talented corner. He has been compared to Nnamdi Asamogha and However, I don't believe he is going to be a Bronco next year. The Broncos have the #2 overall draft pick. Amukamara will likely be drafted from 6-12. Unless the Broncos absolutely fall in love with him, I do not see them trading down to nab him. If they trade down, I expect it to be for a defensive lineman such as Dareus.
Prince Amukamara vs. Texas ('09)
Brandon Harris, Miami
Harris is a 5 ft 11, 195 pound corner from the University of Miami aka "The U". He is a physical corner who has the skills to be an effective corner in the NFL. He's a hard worker and has a good motor. He's been starting games since he was a freshman so he has plenty of experience.
He has pretty good speed for the position. He has good character as he has displayed a very competitive nature. He is very good in man to man coverage. He has very good athleticism to go with good mechanics. He has very good instincts and has displayed the ability to make plays on the ball. He has good body control and is a willing run defender.
Unimpressive stats. Harris has just 4 interceptions in 3 full years. He also recorded just 44 tackles this year. He also needs to improve on his tackling. He misses more tackles then you like. He needs work in his zone coverage. Questions about his read and react skills.
Bronco Rating: 4/10
Just like with Amukamara, this rating is not indicative of Harris' talent. Harris is a gifted player with a bright future. Most websites have him as a 1-2 round prospect, but I would be shocked if he made it to round 2. I firmly believe he will be picked from 15-32 which all but eliminates him from the Broncos draft board.
Brandon Harris Highlights (CB, Miami)
Jimmy Smith, Colorado
Smith has quietly become one of the best shut down corners in college football. He has great size standing at 6 ft 2 and weighing 205 pounds. He is quick and has the potential to be a starting cornerback in the NFL.
Like I previously said, Jimmy's height/weight combo is uncommon. He is a big, quick corner who has a lot of experience in man to man coverage. In result, he is a very good man to man corner. He is a very solid tackler. He is very athletic and has shown good technique. He has also displayed good instincts.
Smith has not had a lot of experience in zone coverages. This is his weak spot and what could keep him out of the 1st round. He also doesn't look like he weighs 210. He looks thin on tape. I also have questions about how he will be able to go up against bigger, strong receivers in the NFL. He is easily blocked. He also only has 3 interceptions in 4 years at Colorado.
Bronco Rating: 8/10
Jimmy Smith is one of my favorite corners in this draft. He is big, fast and is a 1-2 round player. Due to our atrocious record, we have a high 2nd round pick. If he slips into the 2nd, he would be fantastic value. He is a great man to man corner who could be a starter in this league. Besides, he has been in Colorado the past 4 years. Why not stay a bit longer?
Jimmy Smith vs. Oklahoma
Aaron Williams, Texas
Williams is one of the most underrated corners IMO. He is another big corner (6 ft 1, 195 pounds) who has been a part of one of the top cornerback tandems in college football. He is a athletic corner who as all the makings of a starting caliber corner.
I cannot overstate how important it is that these top cornerback prospects have great size. Wide Receivers in the NFL are the biggest and the fastest. Williams is 6 ft 1 with good speed. He is athletic and has shown some pretty good technique. He has displayed the ability to turn and run. He is a willing run defender. He has good instincts and ball skills.
Inconsistent production. In 3 years at Texas, he had 13, 31, and 45 tackles to go along with 4 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks. He didn't have an interception in 10. Similar to Jimmy Smith, he looks a little thin and could put on some bulk. Needs to take better angles and is susceptible to double moves.
Bronco Rating: 8/10
Williams is another one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He is a 1-2 round prospect just like Jimmy Smith, but he might be the 3rd best corner, behind Prince and Peterson. He is a big corner who has all the tools to be a starter in the big league. He's also been praised for his maturity which is something that could be of much use in Dove Valley. If he is available at our 2nd round spot, he will be very tempting.
Aaron Williams vs. Nebraska ('09)
Brandon Burton, Utah
Burton might have more potential then any other corner in this draft. He has great size standing at 6 ft 1, 185 pounds and he is very fast. He can reportedly run a 4.35 40 yard dash. He's got a lot of upside that will have scouts drooling all summer long.
As I just mentioned, size and speed are big pluses for Burton. 6 ft 1, and a 4.35 40 yard dash will surely catch the eyes of the scouts this summer. He has displayed good athleticism and has good footwork. He has shown he can go up and get jump balls as you will see in his video. He is also a willing run defender who tackles pretty well..
He is easily blocked. He might have some trouble with big WR like Brandon Marshall. He can miss tackles, especially in the open field. Unimpressive stats. Just 97 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 3 interceptions in 3 years. He needs work in zone coverage. I have questions about his strength.
Bronco Rating: 7.5/10
He's big, he's fast, and he could be a steal. He is currently rated a 2nd round prospect. If he is on the board at our second 2nd round pick, he should get a phone call. Like I have said, he has got a ton of potential and I believe he could end up being one of the best CB's from this class.
Brandon Burton vs. Pitt (2010)
Johnny Patrick, Louisville
Patrick is a big kid from a small school. He has been by far the best player for Louisville. He's got good size coming in at 6 ft 1, 190 pounds. One of the biggest problems with him will be his learning curve going from Louisville to the NFL.
Good size and adequate speed. He had a very productive year in 2010. He totaled 49 tackles and 5 interceptions on the year. He's a willing run defender. He has no problem closing in and going head to head with opposing rushers. He plays pretty physically. He has shown very good read and react skills. Very solid tackler.
Was arrested for assaulting a woman and plead guilty. Reportedly, he pushed a woman down. So character is in question. He is a little thin and would be best if he added on 5-10 more pounds. Susceptible to play fakes and double moves. His technique needs refinement as he is still a raw prospect.
Bronco Rating: 4/10
He is currently rated a 2nd round prospect. He is a talented guy and could be a sleeper. However, I do not want to draft another corner with character issues, especially in the 2nd round. He's got talent, but not enough to warrant my support in the 2nd. Pass.
Johnny Patrick Highlights
Dowling is going to be under drafted due to a season ending injury he suffered, bu make no mistake, he is extremely talented. The CB from Virginia has the look of a potential starter in the NFL. He has plenty of potential and can make a big push this summer.
6 ft 2, 200 pounds. Dowling has the size and speed necessary to go up against the best. He has good athleticism and has displayed the ability to win jump balls. He's physical at the line of scrimmage can be an asset in run support. He is a pretty good zone defender as he has very good instincts.
He had numerous injuries in 2010 so he will have to show that he doesn't have a durability problem. He can improve on his man to man coverage. His technique can use some refining. His back pedal and footwork can use some fixing.
Bronco Rating: 8/10
Dowling currently holds a 2-3 round grade which is too low. He should be a fringe 1st rounder and it would not surprise me if he ends up being that high by draft time. He's got all the tools to succeed. He is an option in the 2nd and a must take in the 3rd.
Ras-I Dowling vs. North Carolina ('09)
Davon House, New Mexico
The first thing you question about house is his level of competition. New Mexico isn't exactly a powerhouse school. He will likely have a big learning curve going into the NFL. However, he is a physical corner who could turn into a starter with some good coaching.
He stands at 6 ft, 190 pounds. He's got good speed and adequate bulk, although could serve to add a little muscle. He has been very consistent in his production totaling 11 interceptions in his career. He does a good job in man to man coverage as he overpowers smaller receivers. Willing in run support. Pretty good in zone coverage.
He needs to do a better job of locating the ball when it is in the air. He has given up too many passes that could have been deflected. He has technique issues that need to be fixed. He might not be the best leaper as he has struggled in jump ball situations. Questionable instincts.
Bronco Rating: 4/10
He's a talented kid, but he's going to struggle going into the NFL. He has a lot of technique issues to work out and it appears his best asset is his athleticism which won't be better then the WR he faces in the NFL. He's a 2-3 round prospect, but the Broncos would be best off looking elsewhere.
Davon House vs. San Diego St. (2010)
These are just 9 corner backs in the upcoming class. There are plenty more great prospects in the 3-5 rounds. I'll try to cover those guys another time. For now, these are the best that the 2011 class has to offer.
My Cornerback Rankings
1. Patrick Peterson (Round one)
2. Jimmy Smith (Round two)
3. Aaron Williams (Round two)
4. Brandon Burton (Round two)
5. Ras-I-Dowling (Round two/three)
6. Prince Amukamara (Round one)
7. Brandon Harris (Round one)
8. Johnny Patrick (Round two/three)
9. Davon House (Round two/three)
Once again, these rankings are not reflective of just talent. These rankings are based off of talent, round projection, and potential. Patrick Peterson is the prize of this class. However, he will cost a high 1st rounder. Jimmy Smith, Aaron Williams, and Brandon Burton are very attractive options if they make it to the 2nd round. My favorite scenario would be for us to pick Peterson, but you won't hear any complains from me if we pick Williams, Smith, or Burton in the 2nd.
There are your top corner backs for the 2011 NFL Draft Class. Next up: Whoever you want. I will likely due a position that is scheme specific such as 3-4 DE, 4-3 DT, etc. So who do you guys want to see next? Leave me a comment and I'll see you next week.