Davon House had seen this picture before.
It was the end of another season for New Mexico State, and the players were seated in the visiting locker room exhausted and silent after a humiliating 42-7 season-ending loss to the undefeated Boise State Broncos. House has been a part of just 10 wins in three years, and while the cornerback mentally replays a second consecutive three-win season, he can't help but admire what he saw from the opposition.
House was aware of his fellow dreadlocked nemesis and the hype he garnered. Everywhere he went he heard the Broncos' Kyle Wilson was the top cornerback in the WAC; House ignored the consensus and went about his business. But, during the week leading up to the finale last year, House wanted to see what the hype was all about and entered the film room to dissect the play of his competition.
|Kyle Wilson was drafted in the first round by the New York Jets. (US Presswire)|
House and Wilson had eerily similar 2009 campaigns. House recorded 68 tackles, three interceptions (one returned for a 58-yard touchdown) and broke up a conference leading 13 passes. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Wilson registered 43 tackles, a sack and three interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. For their efforts, they were both named First Team All-WAC.
It was the first time House was honored; while it was the second consecutive year that Wilson earned first-team distinction. Wilson was also selected to the second team as a sophomore in 2007.
House approaches fall practice as the No. 4-rated senior cornerback by NFLDraftScout.com, and currently a strong second-round prospect. He's rated behind only Nebraska's Prince Amukamara -- the top-rated senior prospect by National Football Scouting -- and a pair of potential first-rounders in Virginia's Ras-I Dowling and Texas' Curtis Brown.
"I feel like nobody can beat me," House said. "I may not show it on the outside as much as Kyle, but on the inside I feel like nobody can beat me. I give it my all on every play, and if someone manages to beat me, good for them, because it's not going to happen too often."
Physically the two are different, but bring the same mentality and swagger to the field. House is a lanky, rangy playmaker who uses his 6-foot, 190-pound frame to his advantage, and is surprisingly physical for a player of his slight stature. At 5-10, 194, Wilson is smaller, but has a compact build and isn't afraid to mix it up. He's also a dynamic defender who can quickly turn defense into offense.
Most scouts hold Wilson at a higher standard, but believe House has the potential to be a quality starter at the next level. In speaking with an AFC scout who observed Wilson and House last season, he believes Wilson is a special talent and landed with the right coach in Rex Ryan and team in the Jets. However, the scout felt that his height may limit him from becoming a front-line cornerback.
Meanwhile, despite being a bit raw, House possesses the desired dimensions, has tremendous upside for the position and if he were to land with the right team that's willing to invest in his development, he could easily become a better pro than Wilson.
"The comparisons between Kyle and I are becoming more frequent," said House. "People look at me differently now, because Kyle went in the first round, and since I play in the WAC, they figure that I will go in the first round as well. Kyle and I are two different players. He played some safety and also had experience playing in nickel situations, where I'm more of a cover guy that plays on the outside."
Entering the draft process, Wilson was considered to be a late-second, early third-round prospect. He had a solid senior campaign, but scouts were worried about his size and straight-line speed as they assembled in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl. However, what NFL personnel witnessed on the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium was a sound cover corner who possessed quick feet, outstanding instincts, strong hands and the leaping ability to challenge taller receivers.
It didn't take long for House to hear about how Wilson performed at the Senior Bowl and throughout the offseason events. Scouts made him aware of Wilson's success and told House that he could experience a similar rise in status if he were able to perform just as well.
"That's something I dream about; to play against the best players in the country," House said. "I know Kyle probably went into the offseason with a chip on his shoulder, and thought if he just did what he had to do, that it would be enough to be recognized as one of the top cornerbacks in the country. He did that and earned his way into the late first round. I'd love to do the same thing."
Chris Steuber is a Draft Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.