New York Giants 2008 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Backs
by KWALL for BigBlueInteractive.com
This position is currently the weakest unit on the 2008 team. We lost our best safety in Gibril Wilson. Very solid player but his price tag was just too high to bring back. With a weak free agency group at the position, Giants didn’t have a lot of options to replace Wilson. We settled for the old vet Sammy Knight. He is not the answer to replace Wilson in the starting lineup. Knight is a major downgrade in talent. Knight’s most obvious problem is he’s very slow. He’s could be the slowest safety in the NFL right now. And that’s the main reason he’s on team #5 in the past 7 years. A couple of years ago, his former coach in Kansas City, Gunther Cunningham, said Knight’s limited range restricted their ability to play different coverages. Last year in Jacksonville, he started because of an injury to another player but they had problems giving up big plays (the Jaguars had the highest number of 20+ yard pass plays in the entire league). After only one season in Jacksonville, they decided to go in another direction at safety.
With only Knight, James Butler, and Michael Johnson at safety, we need a to find an NFL ready player in this draft. We need another young player who can push for immediate starting time in 08. The best thing about the Knight signing is his experience can help bring along Johnson and help with the new player. Cunningham praised his ability to work with young players. He’s a good teammate and very willing to help younger guys. So let’s bring aboard a guy with some speed and let Knight tutor him.
Safety class is very weak at the top. Last year we had four safeties in rd 1. This year we won’t see any in round 1. There are five guys to take a hard look at in round 2. We also have some CB conversion projects in the mid rounds. Giants need to find a winner in this draft at safety. We need a guy who chases hard after the ball, someone who saves yards in the run game. Someone who can cover deep. We need an inexpensive and younger version of Wilson. Does that sound tough? In this draft class it will be. It won’t be easy to land one after round 2.
ROUND 2 PLAYERS:
Look for these five guys to come off the board in round 2. Phillips has the big name. Morgan is more explosive especially on the tackle. Johnson has the upside. Smith and Godfrey are experienced vs top competition and can chip in and play some CB.
Kenny Phillips, Miami
(6’2”, 212lbs, 40: 4.52, 20: 2.53, 10: 1.46, Bench: 19, Vert: 32.5”, Broad: 10’1”, SS: 4.27, 3 Cone: 6.97)
Considered the best defensive player in the country out of high school. Ranked #1 at safety. USA Today player of the year. Never lived up to his pre-college billing. I’m sticking to my 2nd round projection for Phillips. His combine could have moved him into round 1 but it wasn’t special. Some positives: He has ideal size and he has above average athletic ability. He’s also a young player. He works hard and studies. Good open field tackler. Just not special in any area. Doesn’t flash enough on the field. Not a big play guy. Rarely made plays on the ball. Seems to pick his spots to mix it up vs the run. I don’t think anybody takes him in round 1 before the Giants pick. We really need help at S so he could be the guy at #31. I think we’re better off passing on Phillips in rd 1. Pick another position and address safety later in the draft. Or trade down and grab Phillips, Dejaun Morgan, or Tyrell Johnson in mid round 2.
Dajaun Morgan, North Carolina State
(6’, 205lbs, 40: 4.50, 20:2.62, 10:1.43, Bench: 21, Vert: 33″, Broad: 9’11″, SS: 4.41, 3 Cone: 7.10)
Top high school WR prospect with offer to Ohio St after junior yr of HS. Also state champ in 400 meters. Started college career at WR. Morgan got a lot of playing time in 06 but he enters the draft with only 1 yr starting S experience at NC State. On a positive note, his play dramatically improved throughout 07. Several impact plays down the stretch. He’s a rising player with his best ball ahead of him. Morgan played SS and FS last year. He has the skills to play in the box or deep in the NFL. Supporting the run is his strength. Tackling machine in 07 with 100+ tackles. Explosive short area burst on the tackle. A blow up tackler and a yard saver. Very good athlete. Plenty of range. At NC State, he also played man in the slot. Looked smooth in combine DB drills. Gets a little too amped on the field. He needs to tone down the celebrations after the 5 yard tackle. #2 or 3 safety in this class. Versatile type Giants could use. Like Phillips and Johnson round 1 is too early. Round 2 for Morgan to the Giants would really work.
Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State
(6’, 207lbs, 40: 4.41, 20: 2.52, 10: 1.44, Bench: 27, Vert: 32″, Broad: 10’07″)
All time leading tackler in the Sun Belt conference. Long and lean athlete. I thought he would measure taller. Does have very long arms. Resembles Giants S Michael Johnson on the field. Comes with much better speed and strength. Played with #21 Barnes to form one of the top S tandems in college football. You’ll hear knocks on his competition but that’s a weak shot at Johnson. Arkansas State sends players to the NFL. 40 drafted players from the school. Arkansas State also played some tough teams the past few yrs. And Johnson played very big vs the top teams. He proved he can play with anybody. He was the best NFL prospect on the field vs Texas and Tennessee. [Texas: 14 tackles, TFL, and INT in a close game. TEN: Ainge at QB. 8 tackles, FF, 3PD, INT for TD (55 yards). Southern Miss: Played a lot of deep coverage vs 3-4 WR sets, 9 tackles, INT 1 yard from the sideline with a 40+ yard return inside as he ran past guys on both teams to get inside the 10]. Many draft sites have him as an “in the box” type. He’s much more than that. Versatile S has the range to play deep in the NFL. Excellent speed to the sidelines and shows a burst in pursuit. Runs through trash quickly. Aggressive. Hustles. Hurdles OL to get to ballcarrier. Very good open field tackler. He can cover too. Top 50 player. Could be the best S in this class. He’s got a private workout set up with Giants. Giants would be lucky to get him in rd 2.
Reggie Smith, Oklahoma
(6’1”, 200lbs, no Combine workout )
Experienced starter at CB and S for Oklahoma. Started all year in 07 at CB with very good results. As a CB in 07, sub 4.0 YPA. Like the Patriots 07 first rounder Brandon Merriweather, Smith enters the draft as a safety with the added value of offering CB ability. Smith lacks Merriweather’s quick hips but he’s a much more powerful tackler. Excellent lateral agility for a S. Reliable open field tackler. No workout at combine because of broken toe in final game. Speed and overall athletic ability is not an issue for Smith at S. He’s got prototype size/speed/athletic ability/toughness for the position in the NFL. (April Proday update: Ran in the low 4.6s but complaints about a slow track. 39+” vert. Very fast shuttles. Short shuttle very close to 4.0 and a 3 cone in the 6.70 range.)
Charles Godfrey, Iowa
(5’11.6″, 207lbs, 40: 4.43, 20: 2.56, 10: 1.47, Bench: 14, Vert: 32½”, Broad: 10’01″, SS: 4.40, 3 Cone: 7.28)
A few starts at S in 05 before a move to CB the past 2 yrs. Really shined at CB in 07 (very low YPA and No TDs allowed). Physical CB. Nick Saban would appreciate the way he redirects, pushes, and hits after 5 yards. That kind of physical play at CB works fine in college. Godfrey will need to refine it in the NFL if he wants to stay at CB. Aggressive tackler. Impressed in one on one situations at SR Bowl. Could be best at S. Would give you an explosive 200+ lb with excellent range to secure the middle of the field. If you’re looking for this yrs Tanard Jackson it could be Godfrey. Last year, Jackson lasted until rd 4 because of off the field issues. Godfrey doesn’t have any and he’s much faster. He’ll go earlier than Jackson did in 07. Late rd 2/early 3 for Godfrey.
If we miss on our new starting safety in rd 2 we have a few guys to consider in rd 3-4. David Roach, Jon Hefney, and Michael Grant are 3 guys who can play a few positions for you. They stay on the field in any nickel/dime situation and handle coverage. It will probably take the Giants 3rd round pick to land one of these 3 players.
David Roach, TCU
(6’1”, 210lbs, 40: 4.53, 20: 2.59,10: 1.54, Bench:16, Vert: 38″, Broad: 10’03″, SS: 4.15, 3 Cone: 6.88)
Similar player/prospect to last year’s safety prospect from TCU (Bengals 4th round – Marvin White). Athletic kid who doesn’t hesitate to support the run. Slips blocks and makes a lot of tackles. Very good feet. Can turn and run with any TE. Can man up in the slot. Roach had an outstanding proday workout. From Sports Illustrated on the workout, “Scouts on-hand said Roach turned in one of the most impressive safety workouts they had ever witnessed. He is now being given consideration at cornerback, and a number of teams came away thinking this one-time middle-round choice could slide into the third round.” In a nutshell, Roach is a reliable tackler at safety with very good speed and CB coverage skills. Why not Roach to the Giants at the end of round 3?
Jonathan Hefney, Tennessee
(5’8”, 190lbs, 40: 4.52 , 20: 2.63, 10: 1.50, Bench: 14, Vert: 29, Broad: 09’09″, SS: 4.44, 3 Cone: 7.10)
Major negative entering the draft is height/weight/strength. Very short and light but plays bigger. Thinks of himself as a mini Bob Sanders. There are some legit comparisons with Sanders. Hefney quickly slips past blocks. He’s tough and explosive. Hard charging cut tackler. His hustle saves yards. Runs past teammates to get to the ball. However, he isn’t close to the physical player of Sanders when taking on blocks when filling the lane. He needs to add a lot of strength to get to Sanders level in this area. In 06 was also one of the top return guys in college football. Height will cause some matchup problems in the NFL. Tackling technique could be an issue. Doesn’t always wrap but plenty of guys get by using similar methods in the NFL. Seems very athletic and fast in coverage and in space. Makes play all over the field. Excelled at both CB and S for TEN. Will play S in the NFL but could probably chip in at nickel. I expected better times at combine. Improved vertical 10”+ at proday with a 39” jump. Size/weight hurts him on draft day. It’s the only thing keeping him out of round 1. Look for Hefney to come off the board at the end of rd 3.
Michael Grant, Arkansas
(5’10”, 190lbs, 40: 4.37, 20: 2.54, 10:1.50, Vert: 30½”, Broad: 09’08″, SS: 4.10, 3 Cone: 7.08)
Not just a track guy with sprinter speed. Physical football player. Solid tackler. Starting FS in 06. Injured ACL at the end of 06. Worked hard and quickly recovered from the injury. Moved to CB last yr and started all year playing press in SEC with good results. Also a top gunner on ST. Went to Shrine bowl and impressed in man situations. A lot to like. Why all the 5th-7th round talk? He looks like a rd 2-3 guy to me. Move him back to S in the NFL and you’ve got something. NFL comparison? How about Colts S Antoine Bethea with better man coverage skills. Could be a steal if he lasts until round 3.
Corey Lynch, Appalachian State
(6’1/4″, 202lbs, no Combine workout)
3-time All American at Appalachian State. Very smart. Instinctive. Coach’s son. Also has a burst and quick feet to get to the ball. Excellent ball skills and hands. Playmaker at Appalachian State. 24 Ints, 6 FF, and 8 recoveries. ST demon. A lot of blocked kicks including the game winner vs Michigan. Strong showing at Texas Nations game should have earned him the combine invite. Proday workout helped his draft value. Adequate size/speed for a starting NFL S. Ran in the high 4.5s with a 3 cone of 6.71 at his proday. Rare sub 4.00 in the short shuttle should open some eyes that this kid has the athletic ability to compete in the NFL. Mid rounds. Possibly bottom of round 4.
Thomas DeCoud, California
(6’1.3”, 205lbs, 40: 4.50, 20: 2.59,10: 1.50, Vert: 35½”, Broad:10’02″, SS: 4.27, 3 Cone: 6.85)
Former CB with one yr of starting exp at S for CAL. Very thin in the legs and arms. Needs a lot of strength work. A few good hits on defenseless WRs. Not the same hitter when staring down a RB. When filling the lane, not a lot of pop in his tackles. Seems a little slow to support the run. Hits and legs stop moving. Gets dragged for extra yardage. Smooth athlete who can cover but very few plays on the ball. Rarely got his hand on the ball (only 1 career INT and very few PDs). Excellent special teams player. I’ve seen some round 2 stuff. That’s crazy talk. NFLDraftScout has him as a rd 5 S. His versatility and ST play may get him drafted a little higher. Round 4.
Josh Barrett, Arizona State
(6’2″, 223lbs, 40: 4.34: 20: 2.50, 10: 1.50, Bench: 17, Vert: 31.5″, Broad: 10′, SS: 4.27, 3 Cone: 7.08)
Best size/speed in this safety class. Despite timed speed, he struggles in space. Not as fluid as you would like. Had problems breaking down to make tackles. Benched in 07. Has some durability concerns (3 different injuries in 07). Workout numbers should push him too high for the Giants to have any interest. Rd 2 or 3 for this player? No thanks. Maybe at the bottom of rd 4 or 5.
Quintin Demps, UTEP
(6’, 203lbs, 40: 4.39, 20:2.53, 10: 1.43, Bench: 16, Vert:31½”, Broad: 9’02″)
4 yr starter. Played in a lot of shootouts and picked off more than his share (17 career INTs). I watched a lot of UTEP over his 4 yrs and never became a fan of this guy’s game. Demps doesn’t flash the elite timed speed he showed at the combine. He shocked me with his timed speed. He doesn’t play that fast or athletic. At the Sr Bowl, Demps struggled in coverage drills. Matching up with Senior Bowl athletes was mentioned as a problem in many Senior Bowl reports. His tackling was never a big plus. Not a strong tackler and will miss in the open field. Combine really helped him and it will lead some team to reach for this talent too soon. I think he’s a mid to late day 2 guy. He’ll probably go in round 3 and that is too early for this guy.
Marcus Griffin, Texas
(5’10”, 201lbs, 40: 4.69, 20: 2.66, 10: 1.50, Bench: 13, Vert: 31.5”, Broad: 9’11”, SS: 4.32, 3 Cone: 7.09)
In December of 07, Griffin was Mel Kiper’s #1 S in 08 class. After his twin brother Michael left for the NFL, former walkon Marcus shined for Texas. 100+ tackles and 5 INTs in 07. Went to the SR Bowl and looked like a 2nd to 3rd round type talent. SF Head Coach Nolan had a lot of good things to say about him at the SR Bowl practices. Several Sr Bowl reports mentioned Griffins range and coverage skills. He isn’t at his brother’s level in coverage. He certainly can’t play CB in the NFL like Michael. Not the same athlete but I figured he was just a step down. His rough day at the combine was a surprise. Terrible 40 time. He plays faster than that combine 40 time. Improved numbers at proday (4.51 in the 40, 37.5” vert) could help him get back in the round 3 mix in a weak S class. My guess is round 4.
Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame
(5’11”, 211lbs, 40: 4.44, 20: 2.55, 10:1.49, Bench: 24, no shuttles)
Overhyped for a while with guys like Kiper projecting him in round 1 after 05 season. Up and down at ND. Plenty of big plays as a sophomore in 05. 06 was a rough year. He seemed faster in 07. Showed good straight line speed at combine. Surprisingly fast shuttles at proday. Despite some punt return success in college, not as explosive or agile as you want on the field. Open field tackling is an issue as well. Not a good player in space. Very short arms and struggles to get off blocks. He’s a mid day 2 guy at best for me. Not much of a ceiling entering the NFL. At best a fringe starter for a couple of yrs and a guy who can help with special teams coverage. Recently seen some rd 3 projections. That’s way too high for a S with his limitations. I’d say late rd 5 or 6.
Ron Girault, Rutgers
(5’11, 204lbs, no Combine workout)
No offers out of HS until Rutgers offered their last scholarship on signing day. Rutgers caught a break. Girault was an immediate contributor as a frosh. 4 yr starter at Rutgers. Tough player. Comes up hard vs the run. Good tackler when moving forward. Injured in 07. RU defense really suffered without him. Only question, and they’ve been there since high school, was his speed. I expected a mid 4.6. He came in the mid 4.4s. Lights out workout at RU proday (40: 4.46, Vert: 40”, SS: 4.15, Bench: 25 reps…for the Pat Kirwan fans a 75 on the power and explosion chart.). Across the board his workout can match up with any S in this draft. Is it manufactured speed? I think it is. The speed school training paid off. His workout was elite for the position. He doesn’t play up to that speed and explosion. Should get some late round consideration from the Giants but I think he’ll go too early. With this weak S class and those workout numbers look for some team to overdaft Girault in the mid rounds.
Simeon Castille, Alabama
(6’1/4”, 195lbs, 40: 4.63, 20: 2.65, 10: 1.53, Vert: 31½”, Broad: 09’11″, SS: 4.36, 3 Cone: 7.07)
Experienced SEC CB (25+ starts). Lack of speed will require a move inside to S in the NFL. Converted CB. Rod Woodson called Castille the smoothest guy out there on combine day. Woodson mentioned his quick feet in the DB drills. Suspended because of academics at Alabama. He’s a real CB/S tweener. Too slow for CB. Exposed in man situations at the Sr Bowl. Maybe not physical enough for S. A late round project.
Dwight Lowery, San Jose State
(5’11”, 201lbs, 40: 4.54, 20: 2.60, 10: 1.53, Vert:33½”, Broad: 9’08″, SS: 4.38, 3 Cone: 7.31)
Outstanding college CB but a player who simply lacks the speed to excel vs the top athletes in the NFL at that position. Ran in the 4.6 range at his proday. That won’t get it done at CB in the NFL. Some guys (Brandon Flowers) can overcome the lack of long speed with premier COD ability, quick hips on turns, and plant and drive skills out of breaks. Lowery isn’t one of them. He’s a playmaker with excellent ball skills but he’ll be overmatched in one on one situations on the outside in the NFL. He should add some weight and make the move to safety in the NFL. Lowery recently mentioned that S may be a better position for his skill set. I’m confident he can make the transition. Against Hawaii this year his physical play really stood out. He had 2 TDs in the game but his aggressive tackling on a wet field was also very impressive. In this game I think he showed some proof of his ability to handle the physical play and make a move to S. Late rounds as a versatile DB in the mold of Saints DB Kevin Kaesviharn.
Ryan Mundy, West Virginia
(6’1”, 215lbs, no Combine)
Highly touted out of HS. Rivals had him as the #5 safety in his class. Started 15+ games at Michigan. Played 1 yr at WV. Impressed in 07 vs Rutgers with several big plays in coverage. No all star games. No combine. Proday numbers will get him some late round looks. Ran in the mid 4.5s at 215lbs. Very explosive jumps. 6.81 in the 3 cone. Rd 7.
DJ Parker, Virginia Tech
(5’11”, 195lbs, 40: 4.59, 20: 2.64, 10:1.53, Vert: 29″, Broad: 9’03″, SS: 4.44, 3 Cone: 6.94)
No D1 offers out of HS. Needed a yr of prep. VT offered as a CB. Moved from CB after frosh yr to get playing time. Smart player with a lot of starting experience (30+starts). Made all of the calls. DB coach calls him another coach on the field. Plays fast and a reliable tackler in space. Very strong (highest bench on team at DB). Went to Shrine and had a good week. Combine could have moved him into rd 3-4 range. I expected a sub 4.5. Below average combine will hurt. Proday numbers weren’t any better. Solid college player but only a late round prospect at this point.
Matt Hewitt, Arkansas
(6’2.5”, 220lbs, no Combine workout)
New Jersey kid. No D1 offers out of HS because he did not qualify. JUCO. Has LB size and worked out like an Olympic athlete. Started at OLB for Arkansas in 06. Moved from LB into starting S position in 07. Effective blitzer with some big hits and a lot of QB hurries from S position. At proday, ran in the 4.4s at 220lbs. 35” vertical and a 3 cone in the 6.7s. Raw safety but his size/workout will get him drafted.
DJ Wolfe, Oklahoma
(5’11”, 205lbs, 40: 4.61, 20: 2.59, 10: 1.47, Vert: 28″, Broad: 9’04″, SS: 4.32, 3 Cone: 7.02)
RB recruit for OKL. Rated #5 RB in the country by Rivals. Moved to defense after realizing he won’t play with Adrian Peterson in the same RB class. Played CB last yr. Moved to S in 07. Showed some range at the Sr Bowl. Probably not starting material in the NFL. Late round ST help and backup S.
Caleb Campbell, Army
(6’2”, 229lbs, 40: 4.57, 20: 2.64, 10: 1.56, Bench: 24)
I heard all the hype before the Rutgers game about the hard hitting S from Army with size and 4.4 speed. Watched him closely in that game. He was awful. Didn’t show the speed or agility. Easily blocked by small college WRs. Seemed uninterested in getting off the blocks. Met the QB in the hole on a draw and was dragged for 7 yards to the goal line. No pop in his tackles. O n contact his legs drop and he just holds on for a ride. Athletically he didn’t measure up to the Rutgers players. NFLDraftScout has him in rd 5. I don’t think he’ll get drafted. He’ll struggle to make a roster as a safety.
Craig Stelz, LSU
(6’1”, 215lbs, no Combine workout)
Solid college career but his NFL potential is limited to short term backup. Tackling and overall athletic ability are sub par. Both issues will be problems in the NFL. Short area burst and agility are also problems. In open field lateral movement is weak. Excellent size for the position but doesn’t play up to it. Not a downhill player. College RBs easily ran through his tackles and juked him in the open field. NFL DraftScout has him in the round 3 range. That’s off. He’s got the package of an undrafted player. Not the type of versatile safety with range and tackling skills the Giants need. Shouldn’t be on the Giants draft day board.
Joe Fields, Syracuse
(6’1″, 203lbs, no Combine workout)
Highly rated HS S (top 15). Passed on several SEC schools including LSU to play QB at SYR. Moved to S after 2 yrs at QB for SYR. Immediate starter at S in 06. Started every game over 2 seasons after the position change. Fields is a guy with some upside. Still raw after only 2 yrs at S in college. Rd 7/undrafted FA.
Justin Harrison, Illinois
(5’10”, 215lbs, no Combine workout)
4 yr strarter. Frosh All American. Looked very good vs USC in Rose Bowl with several impact plays. Big hitter. Sound tackler. Has his share of FF. Questionable athletic ability and speed to make the jump to the NFL means rd 7 or undrafted FA for Harrison.
James Silva, Boston College
(5’11”, 204lbs, 40: 4.78, 20: 2.70, 10: 1.53, Vert: 31.5”, Broad 9’4”)
Only 1 D1 offer out of HS. Developed into a big time playmaker the past 2 years at Boston College. Intelligence and instincts got him to the ball fast. His problem is foot speed. Workout at combine hurt his draft value. Proday ran another slow 40 at over 4.8. Smart player. Tough. Excellent hands and made a lot of plays on the ball the past 2 seasons. But the lack of speed is a real issue. It was exposed at the Shrine practices. Somebody may take a shot in rd 7. Probably undrafted.
Bobbie Williams, Bethune-Cookman
(6’, 214lbs, no Combine workout)
A lot of INTs at small school. Pretty good proday workout in the mid 4.5s. From Scouts Inc “Williams is tough run defender and a big hitter capable of holding his own in zone coverage but he’s a straight-line player who is going to have problems matching up in man coverage. In addition, he could struggle to make the transition to the NFL so he projects as a seventh round pick or rookie free agent.”
FOUR TO WATCH LATE IN THE DRAFT:
They may be a little undersized but they can play. Nakamura, Sumrall, and Burns bring a lot of starting experience. Smart players. Strong tacklers. Warrick is a raw guy with tremendous potential.
Haruki Nakamura, Cincinnati
(5’11”, 203lbs, no Combine workout)
If you watched CIN the past 2 yrs you had to come away impressed with this player. Always around the ball. Small but physical player. Sure tackler with pop. He’s got that short area burst to secure tackles in the open field. Intelligent and spends a lot of time watching film. Head coach raved about his game prep. He made a mistake adding weight before proday. He needed a fast 40 to get drafted as an undersized S. Added 15+lbs and ran in the mid 4.5s. I still like him a lot as a late round option. He’s a tough guy and he’s quick. Despite only average timed speed, he won’t be overmatched in one on one situations in the NFL and he will support the run with urgency. Also did some return work at CIN. In the NFL, he’ll help all of your ST coverage teams. He’s a gamer with a lot of the same traits as Chargers 07 2nd round pick Eric Weddle. A late round steal. It wouldn’t surprise me if he steps in as a 7th rounder and starts as a rookie.
Brandon Sumrall, Southern Miss
(5’10″, 195lbs, 40: 4.60, 20: 2.67, 10: 1.50, Vert: 30½”, Broad: 10’03″, SS: 4.10, 3 Cone: 6.76 )
One of my favorite late round guys in the 08 draft. Lacks ideal height but makes up for it with a very physical style. Thick lower body. Powerful hitter. Very quick feet. Played safety for So Miss in 05 and 06 and was a hard hitting machine. Hits produced fumbles. Does not slow down while going through the ballcarrier. All conference S in 05 and 06. Moved to CB in 07 because of injuries at the position. Played a lot of press. Voted All Conference at CB in 07. Overall combine workout was solid. Looked very fast and smooth in DB drills. 40 time a bit of a concern at slightly over 4.6. However, 3 cone was elite range for a CB. He should move back to S in the NFL. Despite the lack of height , he’s got the overall skills to become an above average starter in the NFL at S. He can chip in and play some slot CB. Has some punt return exp.
Khayyam Burns, Arkansas State
(5’11”, 195lbs, no Combine workout)
I watched Arkansas State to check out Johnson but I kept seeing #21 Burns flash across the screen to make plays. Plays very fast. A little undersized (could use more weight) but resembles and plays the game like Gibril Wilson. Like Wilson, a versatile S who can play SS or FS. Very sudden and reckless. Flies up to support the run. Flashes as a blitzer. Made a lot of tackles near the LOS. Did some research on Burns. Recruited by Arkansas and Iowa out of HS but choose the small school route. Finished his career as the Sun Belt’s No. 2 all time tackler behind teammate Tyrell Johnson. Also a 4 yr starter. Burns made the calls and checks. Arkansas St will have 2 players drafted in 08. Burns will get the call late on day 2. No proday numbers available but he clearly has the athletic ability to play in the NFL. I’d estimate Burns as a sub 4.5 guy with excellent times in the quickness shuttles. He’s a player.
Nehemiah Warrick, Michigan State
(6’1”, 210lbs, 40: 4.51, 20: 2.60, 10:1.46, Bench: 16, Vert: 29 ½”, Broad: 9’11″, SS: 4.09, 3 Cone: 6.98)
Peter Warrick’s cousin is an interesting late round sleeper in this draft. A hitter with size and plenty of range. Punishes WRs over the middle. Had his best games vs Ohio St and Wisconsin. Wisconsin game included a KO of a WR (one of the hits of the year in college football). A lot of upside for the former Jr college WR. Only a couple of yrs on defense so may not be ready for full time S duty in the NFL. Immediate help on ST coverage. May need some time to help at S on the NFL level but could be a late round steal. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio likes his potential. “He’s a big hitter, who provided great run support. I honestly believe that (Warrick) has enough athletic ability and runs well enough to play cornerback at the next level.”.
Entering the 07 draft, this position was a mess. Big change in one year. We found a player with 07 first round pick Aaron Ross. He’ll be an upper echelon starter for many years for the Giants. Webster is more than adequate as a #2 CB. Madison will help for another year. Dockery is a solid reserve. Not a pressing need here. However, with the Giants pass rush at the top of the league will the Giants look to add another fast young talent at CB? We could have a few good ones sitting there at #31.
This draft has two small school guys in the hunt for CB #1. Both guys are premier athletes with return skills. Both will be gone in the top 15. With Asante Samuel out of New England, Patriots are in the market for CB help. I’ve seen a lot of mocks with NE taking a CB at #7. They’ll have their choice of any CB in the draft in round 1. It won’t happen. Belichick just passed on paying big money to Samuel. He won’t pay big money for an untested rookie CB. NE will continue to use filler material at CB position and use the high pick on an explosive front 7 player. Look for the Saints and Bills to go CB early. CB #3 and 4 could be there for the Giants at #31. After the top 2, Jenkins and Cason seem to be in the next group. With possibly another small school CB sneaking into round 1 (Molden). Jenkins, Cason, and Molden have the skill set the Giants are looking for at CB. I’d like to see the Giants pass on another round 1 CB. A lot of depth at the position in this draft after the top 4-5 CBs. Several CBs drafted at the bottom of round 2 and into rd 3 have the ability of many of these late first to early second round prospects.
Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State
(6’1”, 185lbs, 40: 4.29, 20: 2.51, 10:1.41, Bench: 17, Vert:38½”, Broad: 10’11″, SS: 4.17, 3 Cone: 6.74)
Late bloomer picked up football as a Senior in high school. A few yrs later, he’s the top CB in the 08 draft. Has the most upside of any DB entering the NFL in 08. Very long. Quickness of a much smaller player. Thin but very strong. Obvious knock is level of competition atr Tennessee State but he dominated in man coverage vs the top players at the Senior Bowl. That kind of performance at the SR Bowl carries a lot of weight with scouts. Played some safety at Sr Bowl as well. Will be an elite return guy. Like his cousin Antonio Cromartie, DRC is a threat to score from anywhere. His former DB coach Randy Fuller on DRC: “The biggest question everyone had is how physical is Rodgers-Cromartie? That’s the main question I’ve gotten from all 32 teams. I think in the Senior Bowl, he proved he could tackle guys. He needs to continue to improve on his physical play. The rest of the game will come to him. He’s a potential All-Pro player…I think he can come in on Day 1, learn the scheme, because he’s a smart player, and I don’t think it’s problem playing right away…With ability and smarts that he has, the sky’s the limit…” The sky is the limit. Could be the best defensive player in the draft. A rare game changer at CB. Top 10. Won’t get past the Saints at #10.
Leodis McKelvin, Troy
(5’10”, 190lbs, 40: 4.38, 20: 2.52, 10: 1.43, Bench: 17, Vert: 33½”, Broad:10’01″, SS: 4.10, 3 Cone: 7.06)
It looks like another small school player at the top of this position. It’s 1A and 1B for DRC and McKelvin. Outstanding cover CB. Can mirror WRs all over the field. Explosive athlete in the mold of DeAngelo Hall. Top flight return skills add to draft value. McKelvin had 8 return TDs which tied the NCAA record. He’s going in the top 15 picks. Out of reach for the Giants.
MID- TO LATE-FIRST ROUND:
Antoine Cason, Arizona
(6’, 190lbs, 40: 4.45, 20: 2.53, 10: 1.51, Bench: 20, Vert: 35½”, Broad: 10’08″, SS: 4.08)
A lot to like for the Giants here. A good match of skills and scheme for Cason and the Giants. Big CB with press skills. Can man up vs quickness or size. True frosh starter at CB in the PAC 10. Started every game over 4 yrs. Also ran track. Smart kid. Long. His defensive coordinator coach called him a “natural… very fluid for his size…confident…versatile…he’s going to be able to do a lot of things. He can sneak up on you and play man, but he’s also a good zone corner. The game’s very important to him, and he has knack for making plays.” Cason played his best ball vs the top teams in the conference (CAL, USC). Only allowed 3.5 YPA in 07. Consistently gets his hands on the ball. Highly competitive player with some of the best hands and ball skills in the draft. Outstanding body control. Looks like a veteran WR tracking down the ball. 15 career INTs and a dangerous threat on the return. Cason could be the pick at #31 for the Giants. He’ll be ready to play as a rookie. Cason and Ross would set us up for the next 4-5 yrs at CB. Also a returner. Late round 1.
Michael Jenkins, South Florida
(5’10”, 197lbs, 40: 4.38, 20: 2.53, 10: 1.47, Bench: 18, Vert: 34″, Broad: 9’09″, SS: 4.40, 3 Cone:7.21)
As a high school player, he was ignored by the big 3 in Florida. Offers from LSU and Auburn but stayed in state. Very fast but shuttles were some of the slowest at the position at the combine. Well rounded and experienced CB. Can play off or man. The 2 South Florida CBs were a big part of the success of that defense. Outstanding coverage from both CBs allowed them to effectively attack the LOS with an undersized front 7. Recent article had TB Bucs coaches with a lot of positive comments about his versatile coverage skills. Has some safety and kick return experience as well. In 07, Jenkins helped to shutdown Rutgers stud soph WR Kenny Britt (0 catches) and WV WR Reynard. Plenty of praise from his college defensive coordinator. DC who said he handled Falcons first rounder Roddy White (“Mike shut him down completely”). Also said Jenkins has “ loads of talent…He’s got closing speed – let me tell you, he can close on the ball. And he can run as fast as you’d ever want him to…He’s so explosive, he’s got good ball skills, he’s got all the qualities…He can play press man, off man, zone, the deep third, all the things you’d ask of a corner. And he’s a good tackler…There’s no doubt he gave us flexibility, he and the other corner, Trae Williams. We’d load box up and play a lot of man-free. He could match up with anybody, and that gave us tremendous flexibility…he has good hands, not great hands”. His college DC said he needs to work harder. He said Jenkins needs to “learn that every play has an impact, whether it’s in practice or a game.” Jenkins is probably in that 20-30 range in this draft. I heard his interviews weren’t the best so it could drop him to the Giants at #31.
Antwaun Molden, Eastern Kentucky
(6’1”, 200lbs, 40: 4.39, 20: 2.55, 10: 1.43, Bench: 23, Vert: 37½”, Broad: 10’09″, SS: 4.14, 3 Cone: 6.85)
Versatile defender can play outside CB, slot, and safety. Very physical CB at the line of scrimmage. Excellent tackler especially the open field. Aggressively supports the run. Strong. Long armed. Recovery speed. Ideal press CB skills. Very good in off coverage as well. Effectively handled the slot at Texas-Nations all star game. Impressed on the outside in press situations vs UTEPs Joe West (6’1, 215lbs, and top WR prospect at game). Consistently jammed him at the line. Ran him down in the open field (West ran 4.52 combine). Played safety at Toledo before transfer. Toughness, size, and skills to move back to S in the NFL. NFLDraftScout recently had him in the round 5 range. TSN says Molden “isn’t worth a draft pick’. Both are very wrong about Molden. His versatility, press cover skills, and top flight athletic ability will be in high demand. Molden is one of the fastest post season risers in this draft. Elite measurables at the combine. Also very impressive in position drills. Top 50 player. Could go as high as CB #4 or #5 and early rd 2. Molden would be an excellent pick for Giants at the bottom of rd 2. Will not be there in rd 3.
Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech
(5’10”, 190lbs, 40: 4.55, 20: 2.60, 10: 1.47, Bench: 14, Vert: 30″, Broad: 9’09″)
I’m certainly no fan of Virginia Tech after the way they bailed on the Big East but Flowers and the fast VT defense was one of the best things to watch in college football in 07. LB Adibi, CB Flowers, and S Parker are the 3 guys who stood out for VT. Flowers is one of the toughest players in football. Very aggressive CB. He closes fast on the ball. Doesn’t back down vs bigger ballcarriers. Always hustles to the ball and saves yards with his aggressive play. Loves contact. On the small side but a very strong tackler. Flowers is the top run support CB in this draft. Best NFL comparison is the Vikings tough CB Antoine Winfield. Both guys are undersized but they play the game like bigger players. I thought of Flowers as a late round 2 guy before the combine. Just prior to combine, Mike Mayock listed him as his top CB and in his top 20 overall. Mayock raved about his physical play. While I agreed with everything Mayock said, the CB #1 ranking was a bit of a surprise. Combine was a disappointment for Flowers. He was a little smaller than expected and his 40 time was not the stuff of first round CBs. With a slower 40 time he’ll enter the draft with questions about his ability to hold up in one on one situations vs NFL speed. It will cost him a round or two. After the combine, Mayock dropped him down to CB #5. However, plenty of reputable mocks, including the guys on NFL Network, still have him in the round 1 mix. I think the combine, specifically the 40 time above 4.55, will keep him out of round 1 and out of the top 40-50 picks. He should be in our range at the bottom of rd 2. He could drop further if some of the off the field stuff is a bigger issue. Late round 2.
Justin King, Penn State
(5’11”, 192lbs, 40: 4.31, 20: 2.46, 10: 1.40, Bench: 14, Vert: 34″, Broad: 10’07″, SS: 4.31, 3 Cone: 7.14)
Every school wanted King out of high school. King was the #1 CB recruit in the country. You just can’t teach the kind of speed he brings to the football field. Immediate acceleration. Gets to top speed as fast as any player in the draft. 30+ starts at Penn St. His college career is probably viewed by most as a disappointment. Very good player but more was expected. He can mirror any WR. Shut down blazers such as Ted Ginn at Ohio State but struggled vs bigger WRs. Everybody knows about the numbers Indiana’s WR Hardy put up on him. I think the abuse in this game is a bit unfair. Hardy caught a lot of balls but Indiana threw 24 passes his way. King had 5 PDs in the game. Coverage was there but he struggled with jump balls. In the red zone, the enormous size disadvantage with the 6’6” Hardy was a problem for King. Struggled again vs Mich St WR Devin Thomas. Hardy and Thomas are first round talents with size. However, how do you explain a WR from Buffalo lighting him up for 7 catches for 134 yards? Simply not as physical as you want and it shows vs stronger players. However, he is very young and has plenty of upside. Return game will be a big plus in the NFL. His speed could help on offense on reverses and screens. Combine workout was elite and moves him up. Not a guy the Giants want in rd 1 because of his issues vs bigger WRs and questions about his ability to effectively jam NFL WRs. If they feel they can coach him up he could work in rd 2. Late round 2.
Terrell Thomas, USC
(6’1”, 201lbs, 40: 4.45, 20: 2.54, 10: 1.45, Bench: 14, Vert: 30½”, Broad: 10’03″, 3 Cone: 7.18)
Tall. Long armed but also a long strider. Lack of top shelf speed may lead some to label him in the cover 2 CB group. He had some trouble on deep routes at the SR Bowl practices. Very good tackler. Possibly a move to S in the NFL. Played S early at USC. Durability is a major red flag. Several surgeries on shoulders and knee. If his health checks out he’ll go late 2/early 3.
Aqib Talib, Kansas
(6’1”, 202lbs, 40: 4.44, 20: 2.56, 10: 1.50, Bench: 10, Vert: 38″, Broad: 10’11″, SS: 4.25, 3 Cone: 6.82)
Came out of HS with very little D1 interest because of his lack of speed. Improved his speed at Kansas. However, questions remained before the combine because of players like Jordy Nelson and Maurice Purify pulling away from him in the open field. At the combine, he ran a very respectable sub 4.5. He followed it up with sloppy work in the DB drills. Looked very stiff in the ‘W’ drill and his backpedal and turns were a mess. Doesn’t smoothly transition out of turns. Gave up plenty of big plays in college. With that footwork he’ll give up a lot more in the NFL. In college, he rarely played man coverage. They were strictly a zone team. He sat in zones. Freelanced and took risks. Made some big plays but gave up plenty. Talib comes with excellent ball skills but he lacks press skills and it will cost him on draft day. Bigger CB at over 6’ but not nearly as physical as you would expect. Some have him as high as top 10. No chance at top 10. He will not go round 1. Giants won’t take him at the bottom of 1. And he’ll slide to the bottom of round 2.
Tracy Porter, Indiana
(5’11”, 188lbs, 40: 4.37, 20: 2.52, 10: 1.46, Bench: 18, Vert: 34″, Broad: 10’03″, SS: 4.07, 3 Cone: 7.20)
A lot like King from Penn State. Excellent speed and quickness but lacks toughness. Can turn and run with anybody. Tackling is a major negative. Porter tackles like a kicker. Backs down from contact. Turns away from the ball carrier. Doesn’t wrap. Absolutely no power on contact. Had a shot to answer some of the critics at the SR Bowl but refused to step up. I think it says a lot about Porter. Questionable work ethic has been mentioned in some reports. Does he really like the game? Speed and coverage skills will still be in demand but not as high as many think. Forget any shot at round 1. Probably not going on day one. Early rd 3 because the toughness issue is legit.
Tyvon Branch, Connecticut
(5’11”, 203lbs, 40: 4.31, 20: 2.49, 10: 1.43, Bench: 19, Vert: 34″, Broad: 10’00″, SS: 4.40)
Won a couple of games for UCONN in 07 with his return ability. He’s more of a kick return guy than top CB prospect. Not sure about his punt return potential in the NFL. This isn’t Devin Hester. Very fast in a straight line. Not a lot of wiggle on the returns. I’ve seen negative comments about his backpedal and hips as a CB. Best position could be safety. The guy has the one thing you cant teach. Speed. Won national meet in the 60 meters. Ripped up the track on the 40 at the combine. Short shuttle was not nearly as impressive. Early day 2 as a returner/reserve CB. If they feel he can move to safety he’ll move up.
Terrence Wheatley, Colorado
(5’10”, 190lbs, 40: 4.37, 20: 2.50, 10: 1.48, Bench: 17, Vert: 36.5”, Broad: 10’8”, SS: 4.2, 3 Cone: 6.75)
Top NFL prospect on Colorado. Elite speed and quick feet. Short arms. Very physical at the line of scrimmage. He’ll come up fast vs the run too. Some big games in 07 (Oklahoma and Texas Tech). Up and down reviews of play at Sr Bowl. Struggled with some of the bigger Wrs. Round 3 nickel help.
Justin Tryon, Arizona State
(5’9”, 190lbs, 40: 4.42, 20: 2.56, 10: 1.50, Bench: 21, Vert 32.5”, Broad: 10’, SS: 4.28, 3 Cone: 7.41)
JUCO. Only 2 yrs at Arizona St but started every game. Short but very strong especially the upper body. Can bump and run. Some kick return work. Has the explosive speed to make an impact on returns in the NFL. One of the top players at the Shrine. Best CB there. Locked down all WRs at Shrine in one on ones. Very quick feet. Height is the only negative. Will be an effective slot CB. Good match to mirror smaller and quicker WRs in the NFL. More than held his own vs the explosive WR Desean Jackson from CAL. Some kick return experience. Rd 4-5.
Jack Williams, Kent State
(5’9”, 186lbs, 40: 4.43, 20: 2.53, 10: 1.47, Bench: 19, Vert 35.5”, Broad: 10’1”, 3 Cone: 6.91)
Giants attended Kent State proday where Williams ran in the low 4.3s with a 41” vertical. Better in 06 when he lead the nation in forced fumbles. Injured in 07 with some nagging leg/ankle problems. Size/strength could hold him back in the NFL. Another guy, like Tyron from Arizona State, Wheatley from Colorado, or Scandrick from Boise St, who can give you an effective slot CB in the mid rounds of this draft.
Orlando Scandrick, Boise State
(5’10”, 192lbs, 40: 4.32, 20: 2.49, 10: 1.46, Vert: 33.5”, Broad: 10’5”, 3 Cone: 6.83)
Early entry. Speed is his biggest plus. Lack of strength his biggest negative. 3 year starter. Needs more upper body strength to handle NFL WRs. Added 5+’ on proday vertical. Probably could have used another year to add some bulk and strength. His overall workout, especially the 2nd fastest time in the 40 at combine, have moved him up in this draft. From NFL Scout Tom Marino “This is a solidly built player with outstanding speed and easy acceleration. Gets from point A to point B very quickly. Has good hips and showed the ability to plant and drive on the ball underneath. I liked his foot quicks, balance points and ability to turn-and-go when defending the deep ball. I didn’t see outstanding ball skills and zone zone play was inconsistent. Returner skills (punt) are a plus.”
Trae Williams, South Florida
(5’9”, 192lbs, 40: 4.51, 20: 2.59, 10: 1.50, Vert: 29½”, Broad: 9’02″)
This guy impressed me every time I watched So Fl. A lot of plays on the ball. Plenty of INTs. Tough smaller CB with good feet and quickness. Maybe not starter material in the NFL but potentially a valuable #3 CB who can play the slot. Rd 4-5.
Patrick Lee, Auburn
(6’, 200lbs, 40: 4.41, 20:2.53, 10: 1.46, Bench: 15, Vert: 31″, Broad: 10’00″, SS: 4.30, 3 Cone: 7.07)
Only 1 yr starter. Has the size and the timed speed you want at the position. However, not as smooth as you want at CB. Doesn’t quickly change directions. Struggled throughout the week at the SR Bowl in coverage situations. This year’s crop of WRs at Sr Bowl wasn’t special so it says a lot that he struggled to cover. Sr Bowl performance cost him on draft day. Could have dropped him a round. Mid round backup CB prospect. Will help on coverage units. Kick return skills give him a little more value. Has the size to move to S. Late round 3.
Chevis Jackson, LSU
(6’, 193lbs, 40: 4.56, 20: 2.58, 10: 1.50, Bench: 13, Vert: 36”, Broad: 10’5”, SS:4.15, 3 Cone: 6.96)
39 starts in the SEC. Physical LSU CB with the size and triangle numbers to match former LU CB Travis Daniels (05 4th round to Miami). Daniels has been a CB/S tweener for Miami the past 3 seasons. Jackson gets the same label. Like Daniels, the big knock on Jackson is his below average speed (proday 4.57-4.6). Most likely it will be an issue on the outside in man situations on an NFL field. He has good hands. He can find the ball and pick it off. Stronger tackler than Daniels. Daniels failed in an effort to move to S last year. Jackson has the toughness to make the move. Jackson can be your 3rd or 4th CB and eventually give you some depth at S. Round 4+
Darnell Terrell, Missouri
(6’2”, 203lbs, 40: 4.46, 20: 2.59, 10: 1.50, Bench: 15, Vert: 34”, Broad: 10’5”)
Intriguing size/speed for the CB position. Very athletic for his size. Strong with long arms. Has the tools to effectively press in the NFL. Scouts asked him to run WR drills at proday. He played S and WR at junior college before moving on to Missouri in 05.
Brandon Carr, Grand Valley State
(6’ 205lbs, No Combine workout)
Proday should have the NFL interested in this small school player. Ran in the low 4.4s. 35” vert. 6.8 range in the 3cone.
Justin McKinney, Kansas State
(5’9”, 190lbs, 40: 4.51, 20: 2.58, 10: 1.51, Vert: 29.5”, Broad: 9’1”)
Small CB with marginal athletic ability. However, played big vs some top players including Sweed from Texas. Also the teams leasding tackler in 07. Could stick as a late round option as a nickel back and kick returner.
TWO INJURED PLAYERS WORTH CONSIDERING:
Both guys coming off serious knee injuries.
Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin
(6’, 200lbs, no Combine workout)
While undersized CB Justin King struggled to handle guys like Hardy, Jake dominated them. He was a round 1 talent when he declared early for the draft. Serious knee injury at the end of the year will cost him millions. He’ll be out at least 1 year. Where do you draft him? I’d say late 4th round. Let him rehab for one year. Come back strong in 09. And you just might have a first round CB for the price of the 08 4th round pick.
Zach Bowman, Nebraska
(6’, 198lbs, 40: 4.39, 20: 2.54, 10: 1.46, Bench: 18, Vert: 39.5″, Broad: 10’2”, SS: 4.21, 3 Cone: 7.1)
Big time athlete but big time injury risk because of his knee problems. At one time considered a potential first round CB. Played in 07 but not 100%. Went to Shrine game and continued to struggle in some DB drills. Picking up some predraft momentum with the workouts. Ran in the mid 4.3s at his proday. A mid day 2 pick could pay off big here.
Note: The vertical numbers were much lower at the Combine this year. Too many great athletes jumped under 32″. Very few above 37″. It seems there was a problem measuring and it lead to much lower jump numbers. Many players improved the verticals at their proday. Several by more than 5+”. Keep that in mind when comparing the 2008 Combine numbers against some of the past performances.