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Tag:Morris Claiborne
Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Cornerback the strength of 2012 draft?

With a full month of the college and NFL seasons now in the books, we can now take a look at the talent likely to be available in the 2012 draft and compare it to the areas of concern for most professional teams.

Though I'd argue that none of the cornerbacks in the upcoming draft class appears to be as good as gifted as No. 5 overall pick Patrick Peterson (Cardinals), what is becoming increasingly obvious is that the cornerback class, as a whole, is much stronger than in most years.

Durability and off-field concerns have certainly reared their ugly heads at the position as Nebraska senior Alfonzo Dennard has struggled to return from a pulled leg muscle and two of the better ball-hawking corners in the country -- North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins and Oregon junior Cliff Harris -- had noteworthy run-ins with police during the off-season.

That isn't to say any of the three of them is likely to slip out of the first round should their issues be resolved to NFL teams' satisfaction prior to the April draft.

As everyone knows, the NFL has morphed into a league dependant on the passing game. This fact makes quarterbacks and strong passing attacks critical to offensive success. At the same time, it drives up the value of pass defenders -- whether they be pass rushers or defensive backs.

The 2012 class of safeties does not appear to be an overly talented one. At cornerback, however, there is a great deal of talent. Besides the three players I've already mentioned, I'd be surprised if Alabama's 'Dre Kirkpatrick, LSU's Morris Claiborne, Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosley -- all juniors -- aren't selected in whatever first round they choose to make themsevles eligible. I currently list six cornerbacks among my top 32 prospects for the 2012 draft.

Some argue that by spreading the defense out elite cornerbacks can be taken out of the game. There certainly is ample evidence to argue this considering that so many pro offenses are now utilizing three, four or even five receivers per snap.

My argument against this theory, however, is that spread offenses are only going to drive up the value of cornerbacks. Cornerbacks with Hosley or Harris, for example, while perhaps not ideal run defenders or possessing the size teams would like to slow the Andre or Calvin Johnsons of the world, might prove perfect cover options for the smaller, quicker slot receivers that are proving so integral to today's top passing attacks.

This doesn't appear to be a case of teams needing help at one position and therefore grading players at that position of need higher than normal.

These guys just might be that good.

For some NFL defenses weary of giving 300+ passing yards to even average quarterbacks, the help can't come soon enough.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Some surprises in Coaches Preseason All-SEC team

For the purposes of scouting for the NFL, whether a player makes an all-conference team or not is less important than how I personally grade a player off tape, how a player performs in an all-star game, and many other factors.

It is, however, a tool that scouts can and often do use to ascertain which players rival coaches feel are legitimate difference-makers.

This is especially true in the SEC. The reasons are simple. There is a great deal of individual talent in the conference and a high number of the elite talent leaves early for the NFL as underclassmen, often creating quite a turnover on the all-conference list.

The SEC announced their official Coaches Preseason First, Second and Third all-conference lists this week. There were some surprises.

Here were the five that raised my eyebrow...
  1. Alabama cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick, a Second Team All-SEC pick last year, only made the Third Team preseason polling this summer. Kirkpatrick, entering his junior season, is considered a potential elite prospect for the NFL and is currently NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated CB for the class of 2013.
  2. True sophomore Aaron Murray from Georgia was named the First-Team quarterback. This is a reflection of two things. For one, Murray flashed some serious talent last year and looks like he could be the next big thing at the position from this conference. Secondly, he has little proven competition. 
  3. Some will find it interesting that defending national champion Auburn and perennial talent hotbed Florida had zero 1st team selections. LSU, another annual contributor to the NFL, had only one player (junior CB Morris Claiborne) make the team. Quite frankly, after reviewing tape this summer of these three teams, I'm not surprised. While the schemes that have made each of these teams successful in recent years remain intact, the plethora of elite talent that had resulted in recent national championships simply isn't there... or at least hasn't proven itself yet.
  4. Don't look now but Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are loaded. They boast four first-team All-SEC picks in running back Marcus Lattimore, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Devin Taylor and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. None of whom are seniors. Each looks like a potential high round NFL prospect.
  5. The talent at running back in this conference is staggering. Typically, all-conference teams feature two running backs per team. There must have been a tie among voters, however, as the SEC lists three running backs for the Second-Team (only two for the First and Third teams, respectively). Hard to blame the coaches when you take into consideration the three backs that made the Second Team are Arkansas' Knile Davis, Florida's Jeff Demps and Auburn's Michael Dyer. Each of those who be a shoo-in for First-Team honors in most other conferences, though I agree with the coaches that South Carolina's Lattimore and Alabama's Trent Richardson deserve top-billing. 


 
 
 
 
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