By Dave Te Thomas
Depth is evident at this position, with a handful of blue chippers expected to get a call in the first round. While some teams are ranking Phillip Buchanon at the head of this class, Quentin Jammer continues to impress most, both on film and in recent workouts. Until the recent signing of Bryant Westbrook, it was assumed that Dallas would grab Jammer with the draft's sixth pick. They may still go that route, but the need is not as pressing as it once was before the Westbrook signing. Buchanan has been getting serious consideration from both Jacksonville and Cincinnati. Expect this tandem to be gone in the first twelve picks.
Keyou Craver was exposed for his lack of explosiveness in the post-season and his 4.62 clocking at the Combines verified that he may have lost a step. Mike Echols could see his stock slide, as teams are concerned about a recent foot injury. Roosevelt Williams is the best from the small college ranks, but his slow times at the Combines will probably keep him by the phone until the end of the second round. Brian Williams is getting a lot of late attention, but some teams feel his size and lack of deep coverage skills could indicate a move to safety. Rashad Bauman is a powerfully built pass defender who is the best the West has to offer. Someone is going to get a great steal with that guy in the third round. Another Northwest product that will go in the mid-rounds is Omar Lowe, considered to be a safety by some teams.
Outside of Roosevelt Williams, the smaller colleges should kick out pro material in the likes of Dante Wesley, Tony Beckham, Joseph Jefferson and Bobby Sippo. Wesley recently timed at 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, could force his way into the second round picture. Sippio had a poor Combines, but made up for it with a 4.54 clocking recently. Beckham looks frail, but the man is really solidly built and has experience on the offensive side of the ball.
The mid-rounds will see Willie Ford, Sheldon Brown, teammate Andre' Goodman, Andre Lott and Kevin Thomas all go off the board. Even with Brown and Goodman considered two of the best in the SEC, their backup, Kevin House, had the best performance of the trio for scouts in recent workouts, checking in with a 4.33 timing.
Eric Joyce, Tony Okonlawon, Kevin Thomas, Kris Richard, Bruce Branch and Jermaine Chatman will all be gone later in the draft. Some free agent gems could possibly be found among House, Chris Cash, DeMarcus Faggins, Lavar Glover and Lenny Walls. Others that will get camp invites are DaShane Dennis, Todd Howard, Tim Wansley, Markese Fitzgerald, Antuan Simmons and Tony Lukins.
MAKING THE GRADE…A…Look for Quentin Jammer, Phillip Buchanan and Lito Sheppard all to be gone early in the first round.
Cream Of The Crop
Positives: Compactly built athlete who stays tight with receivers on deep routes…Has good play development recognition skills…Keeps a tight relationship with the receiver in the open and despite his size, is very effective jamming the opponent at the line of scrimmage…Can cover ground instantly with his closing burst…Plays good angles and shows top-end speed…Takes proper angles towards the ball and is willing to step up and fill the rush lanes…Makes proper body adjustments turning and flexing for the ball…Has the hip snap and body control to position himself low before delivering the hit…Has an instant burst after fielding punts, showing excellent sideline awareness and patience waiting for his blocks to develop…Has terrific balance and closes on the ball in a flash… Can play the bump-&-run or man coverage equally well.
Negatives: Can stay with the receiver deep, but struggles to much to get his head turned to track the ball…Hesitant to throw his body around when asked to step up and fill the rush lanes…Plays too conservative and stays too deep in the zone, which makes him late in handling the switch-off…Has very short arms and small hands for this position.
Classic speedster and an exceptional big-play producer who earned first-team All-American honors as both a cornerback (by ABC Sports Online) and a punt return specialist (Sportsline.com) in 2001, in addition to being one of three finalists for the Mosi Tatupu Award, awarded annually to college football's finest special teams player…Has scored on an interception, fumble and punt return during his career…Recorded 88 tackles (62 solos) in 32 games for the Hurricanes… Returned 32 punts for 477 yards (14.9 avg) and a pair of touchdowns, adding 235 yards and a pair of scores on seven interceptions.
REMINDS YOU OF…Donnie Abraham, ex-Buccaneer. Few players have the pass theft skills that Buchanan possesses.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Depending what happens with Jammer, Buchanan could end up in either Jacksonville or Cincinnati.
Best Of The Rest
Positives: Has a well-defined and muscular body, with long arms and well-developed legs… Smooth an effortless runner who steps up to fill up the rush lanes with ease…Tough and physical tackler who enjoys contact…Reads the quarterback's release quickly and redirects to the ball in a flash…Shows excellent zone awareness, striking and jolting the receivers with force in press coverage…Has the catch-up speed and range to get to the ball immediately in pursuit…Makes proper body adjustments and times his leaps to get to the ball at its highest point…Takes good angles and will hit hard to finish his tackles…Shows fluid transition out of his backpedal…Knows instinctively when to turn and go upfield…Displays very good plant-&-drive steps to sharply close on the receiver… Plays tight in man coverage, using his hands effectively to strike in the bump-&-run.
Negatives: Needs to refine his footwork in his backpedal, as he appears a little too tight when trying to open his hips…Plays too aggressive at times in zone coverage…Shows inconsistent use of his hands when combatting receivers for the ball…Does not always recognize when his cushion is broken, as he seems to lose a step when turning in deep coverage…While he shows good timing going up for the ball, his leaping ability is only adequate…Learns and retain information well, but needs to take a few reps to get a grasp for the play on the field.
Big, physical and athletic cornerback who has the ability to shut down the opposition's top receiver or come up and make a big hit in run support…Widely considered the nation's top cornerback in college football…Became the school's 14th unanimous consensus All-American and the first Longhorn defender to earn such honors since Jerry Gray in 1984…Started 38 of 46 games he played in for the Longhorns, recording 195 tackles (147 solos) with two sacks for minus 15 yards and six stops for losses of 33 yards…Intercepted seven passes and set a school career-record with 57 pass deflections…Also recovered a pair of fumbles and caused nine others…Allowed only one touchdown reception in 38 games as a starter.
REMINDS YOU OF…Bryant Westbrook, Dallas Cowboys. Before Westbrook's Achilles tendon surgery. Fitting, as Jammer replaced Westbrook in carrying on the school's tradition of All-American cornerbacks.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Before the Westbrook signing, Jammer appeared to be a lock for Dallas. The Pokes may still go for him, unless the Lions opt to take Jammer to fill the void created by the Westbrook departure.
Positives: Well-defined athlete with a lean waist and a muscular upper body frame…Has the intelligence to make quick decisions on the field…Has a keen understanding for pass routes and blocking schemes…Very effective in using his quickness to recover, showing the deep speed needed to mirror receivers through their routes…Willing run supporter who will face up aggressively vs. the larger blockers…Displays the body adjustment skills to make a smooth switch-off in zone coverage…Has the large, soft hands needed to extend and catch away from the framework of the body…Strike-and-jolt tackler who stays low in his stance to deliver the hit…Closes quickly and with force, sinking his hips properly before making the play…Responds very well to "hard" coaching and makes that extra effort on his own to improve his craft… Consummate team leader who is looked up to by the other players.
Negatives: Seems hesitant in playing the deep ball in man coverage…Needs to show more suddenness in his movements in press coverage…Tight in his hips and tends to come out high from his backpedal, generally losing his balance when getting bounced around by blockers in tight quarters…Gets a little sloppy, stutterring with his footwork when attempting to plant and drive.
Began his collegiate career as a walk-on receiver at Arkansas-Fayetteville…Shifted to cornerback for the Razorbacks as a redshirt freshman, then transferred to Arkansas-Pine Bluff…Tough competitor, evident during the 2000 season, as he played the entire year with a cumbersome cast to protect a broken bone in his left hand…Has started every game he has played in during his UAPB career….Recorded 98 tackles (60 solos) with 35 deflected passes and seven interceptions during his time at UAPB.
REMINDS YOU OF…Bobby Taylor, Philadelphia Eagles. One of the hardest hitters you will find at this position.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Outside of Jammer, Buchanan and Lito Sheppard, I don't think there is a cornerback that I'd much rather have than this guy.
Positives: Lean with good muscle definition…Excels as a gunner on special teams and takes advantage of excellent leaping ability when performing as a punt blocker…His superb lateral agility and wrapup tackling skills could see him shift to free safety at the pro level…Hard-hitting defender with exceptional range & deep speed…Fearless taking on blocks…Does a nice job reacting to the inside routes…Playes physical with the receivers & works well in goal line situations…Smooth in his backpedal, taking no wasted steps coming out of it.
Negatives: Allows too much cushion underneath, showing more confidence in his recovery speed that warrants…Bites a bit on the receiver's head fakes…Needs to do a better job of turning and keeping track of the ball in flight…Not a natural hands catcher, letting the ball bounce into his body too much…Willing in run support, but lacks the leg base to prevent blockers from walling him off…Has had several brushes with off-field problems…Was arrested for driving without a license last March, after providing false information to police that pulled him over for speeding and spent one month in jail…Has struggled to maintain academic eligibility previously.
The Buckeyes most experienced returning corner, Derek shocked the team prior to the Outback Bowl when he not only declared to enter the 2002 NFL Draft, but quit the team after undergoing two surgical procedures (shoulder/toe)…A fine coverage back and a physical defender, he was regarded as one of the elite pass thiefs in the collegiate ranks… Finished his career with 91 tackles (82 solos) and seven stops behind the line of scrimmage in 35 games (12 starts)…Had nine interceptions and 20 pass deflections…His 217 yards via interception returns rank fourth on the school's all-time record list behind David Brown (218, 1986-89), Howard Cassady (230, 1952-55) and Mike Sensibaugh (248, 1968-70)…Also caused and recovered a pair of fumbles.
REMINDS YOU OF…Chris McAlister, Baltimore Ravens. Smaller than McAlister, but a blessed talent that really needs to mature.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…No one ever called this kid a rocket scientist, but he had to figure that a poor showing at the Combines and problems with the coaches at the end of the season would cause him to be downgraded.
First Day Possibilities
Positives: Exceptionally quick athlete who has outstanding range in deep coverage… Explosive out of his cuts, showing a strong drive on the ball…Excels in press coverage and is very effective coming up to jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage…Very smooth in the turn-&-run and positions himself well in run support…Reacts quickly to receivers' cuts, adjusting fluidly to the ball in deep coverage…Fluid in his movements, coming out fluidly from his backpedal…Fights off blocks tough and has a knack for getting his hands in the receiver's face to prevent the catch… Has the body control and turning motion to quickly redirect to the ball…Explosive return specialist who shows no hesitation in his movements heading upfield…Patiently waits for his blocks to develop on returns.
Negatives: Gets a little sloppy in run support, trying to strip the ball carrier from the pigskin rather than extending his arms to wrap and secure his man…Gets a good jump on the ball, but will allow a little too much cushion on underneath routes…Needs to use his hands with more authority to prevent blockers from attacking his feet.
A true junior, Lito is regarded as one of the the nation's premier cornerbacks and punt returners… He has started 22 of the 34 games he has appeared in, twice earning All-American honors…He became only the fourth sophomore in school annals to earn first-team All-American honors (2000 by the Football Writers Association of America)…He finished his career with 87 tackles (64 solos), 13 pass deflections and eight interceptions…He also has never allowed a touchdown reception in his time as a Gator…Returned 21 kickoffs for 472 yards (22.5 avg) and 49 punts for 559 yards (11.4 avg) with a pair of touchdowns…Only Ricky Nattiel (589, 1983-86), Ivory Curry (631, 1980-82) and Jacquez Green (766, 1995-97) gained more yards via punt returns in school history.
REMINDS YOU OF…Sam Madison, Miami Dolphins. Fitting, as Sheppard may be the best deep coverage corner in this class.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Falls into the elite few (Jammer, Buchanan) being eyed by both Cincinnati and Jacksonville.
Positives: Instinctive athlete who has the speed to stay stride-for-stride with receivers on deep routesl…Well-built, with quick feet and fluid hip turn…Plants and drives sharply on deep routes and has quick reactions on deflections…Has a sharp break to the reception point and the short burst to cover ground racing down the sidelines…Does a nice job of getting his head around and playing the deep ball…Very effective playing the bump-&-run and has smooth change-of-direction ability…Aggressive tackler with excellent balance going up for the ball, showing the temperament and strength to step up and fill the holes at the line…Shows good range dropping off in the zone…Has the long arms, hip snap and foot balance to excel in press coverage…Attacks the ball in the air.
Negatives: Tends to hang on and drag down the opponent…Lunges at times before delivering the hit…Will face up before making the hit, but does not extend his arms properly to secure the ball carrier in run support…Does not always times his jumps, which causes him to hesitate some when trying to locate the ball…Willing run defender, but can be walled off by the larger receivers as he does not extend his arms to prevent the opponent from getting into his chest…Seems to need that extra step to recover coming out of his backpedal…Has zone awareness, but keeps his eyes on the backfield too much.
Exceptional coverage cornerback who quietly enjoyed a spectacular senior season…Was overlooked by many observers because opponents rarely threw his way…On the rare occasions when opponents challenged Mike, seldom were they successful…One of the most gifted big cornerbacks in college football, he is highly regarded by the scouts for his press coverage ability…Finished his career with 167 tackles (117 solos), four stops behind the line of scrimmage, six interceptions and 27 pass deflections…Has never allowed a touchdown catch in his time as a starter (36 of 44 games he's played in).
REMINDS YOU OF…Troy Vincent, Philadelphia Eagles. Like Vincent, Rumph is known for being a sound technician.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Overshadowed by Phillip Buchanan this year, but the Colts are praying he slips into the second round (#42).
Positives: Has a well-defined upper body and muscular physique with very tight hips and waist…Possesses knotted calves and strong thighs…Called by the coaches the team's best coverage defender in the last five years…Smart player with the instincts to make quick reads and instantly react to the play…Shows proper timing moves to make plays on the ball…Maintains position on the receiver in man coverage, whether playing, trailing, covering or allowing cushion on the pass…Compensates when beaten long with great recovery speed…Has superb ball reaction skills, displaying exceptional timing and a break on the play, with excellent hand/eye coordination…Snatches the ball naturally on the interception, possessing the hands of a receiver…Strong and physical in run support, coming up explosively to make the initial contact… Loves the physical nature in the trenches and is always looking for someone to hit…Squares up and gets his helmet right under the ball carrier's chin strap to rock the opponent back…Special teams standout whose leaping ability resulted in four blocked kicks during his career.
Negatives: Rose Bowl contest vs. Miami's speedy receivers exposed his sloppiness coming out of his backpedal…Not as aware playing in the zone, preferring to operate in man coverage… Needs to show less confidence in his recovery quickness, as he tends to allow too much cushion (see Rose Bowl)…Needs to show better use of his hands, as he gets a little to swing-happy late in games, causing the receivers to slip off his tackles.
One of the strengths of the 2001 Husker team was the secondary, led by this All-American and Jim Thorpe Award candidate…Keyou (pronounced KEY-oh) has played in every game since his arrival as a true freshman in 1998, and started every game the last two years…He is always assigned the opponent's best receivers and has proven to be an excellent cover man, with good speed (4.56 40-yard dash time)…Since his freshman year, he played with calm confidence and intelligence…He was named to the Big Twelve Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll three times…He closed out his career with 192 tackles (113 solos) in 47 games, including 2.5 sacks for minus 16 yards and ten stops for losses of 26 yards… His 41 pass deflections rank second on the school's career-record list behind Ralph Brown (50, 1996-99)…His 192 tackles shattered the old school all-time record for defensive backs of 150 by Mike Brown (1996-99)…Also had seven interceptions while blocking four kicks in his four years as a Husker.
REMINDS YOU OF…Tyrone Williams, Green Bay Packers. Plays with smarts to compensate for a lack of explosiveness.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Will certainly go in the second round, but his lack of speed cost him a chance of moving up further.
Positives: Has a lean, muscular frame, but displays impressive strength for a player his size…Locates the ball effectively and has the hip snap and turn-&go motion to mirror the receiver's moves…Has a very good feel for the zone, making the switch-offs with fluidity to adjust and anticipate the play…Makes plays underneath, showing an explosive burst… Times the pass properly, using his outstanding leapoing ability to compensate for his lack of height, in order to reach for the pass at its heighest point…Natural hands catcher…Will come up to the line aggressively in run support, flashing the ability to drive up and contain the ball carrier…Position-&-wrapup type of tackler…Smooth and in control in his back-pedal…Shows the ability to break down in space…Takes proper angles in pursuit and will throw his body around like a linebacker to make the plays.
Negatives: His lean frame has no more room for growth…Lacks that "sixth sense" needed to immediately break down the play…Gets turned around at times on deep routes, moreso caused by his penchant to stay in his backpedal too long…Shows good hip snap, but still appears a little stiff in his change of direction movements…Despite his foot speed, he does not cover much distance when trying to recover…His lack of bulk makes it tough to defeat blocks at the line, relying more on his speed to elude the bigger lineman than facing up…Little late to react on the deep ball, needing to break quicker…Is a diabetic.
Unquestioned leader of the Badgers' defense, taking a "coach's" approach when on the field…Four-year starter with outstanding big play ability…An insulin-dependent diabetic, he volunteers his spare time to work for the American Diabetes Association…Recorded 219 tackles (180 solos), making his presence felt near the line of scrimmage with four sacks for minus 34 yards and seven stops for losses of 37 yards…Caused three fumbles and recovered two others during his career…Started 48 consecutive games…His 59 pass deflections broke the old school career-record of 57 by Jamar Fletcher (1997-2000)…His 12 interceptions rank fifth in Badgers annals… Two-sport standout who also ran sprints for the track team.
REMINDS YOU OF…Will Allen, New York Giants. Has great speed, but did not live up to his press clippings as a senior.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Recent foot injury could see him slide a few rounds.
Positives: Cut like a diamond, with thick shoulders, chest and arms…Very alert of the plays developing…Will shadow the receiver effortlessly on deep routes…Can turn and run after his man, opening his hips while taking proper angles to the ball…Fluid in transition, showing sharp acceleration out of his backpedal…Can play the ball behind him and is quick to pick up the switch-offs in the zone…Has sudden spring in his step when charging up to the ball…Times his breaks and displaying excellent leaping ability going for the ball.
Negatives: Not a classic tackler, showing inconsistency staying low to wrap and secure… Lacks the natural hands needed, as he tends to double catch…Tends to bite on the post corner too much…Makes too many submarine tackles (diving at the pile)…Needs to keep his weight under control, as added pounds has caused him to look sluggish in the past.
Began his collegiate career at Savannah State before transferring to Tuskegee for his final two seasons…A dangerous kickoff returner, he also excelled on the track team as a decathlete…A master at timing the pass, he finished his career with 61 pass deflections and 13 interceptions while making 97 tackles (74 solos) in 46 games…Returned 44 kickoffs for 1114 yards (25.3 avg) and a touchdown.
REMINDS YOU OF…Ken Lucas, Seattle Seahawks. Shows great ball anticipation skills, but needs to refine his wrapup tackling technique.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…His pass defense skills, coupled with his return ability will see him off the board late in the second round.
Positives: Compactly built, with a well-defined upper and lower body frame (stout)…Has a very strong hand grip, taking advantage of it to deliver a jarring jolt to the receivers in press coverage…Very capable in diagnosing the plays, knowing exactly what his responsibilities are… Uses his hands to reroute quickly in man coverage and shows explosive acceleration planting and driving out of his backpedal…Very disciplined with good movement skills, sticking tight with the receivers and has quick, rapid feet with excellent balance and body control through his backpedal…Forceful tackler who takes proper angles in order to spring into his hits…Stays low in his stance, displaying fluid hip swerve and head-turning abilities…Tracks the ball in flight very well and can transition on a time-&-burst to make the play on the ball…Switches off quickly in the zone, staying tight with the receivers, allowing no cushion between him and the opponent…Has natural hands and very good lift going up for the ball in traffic, much like a receiver, thus resulting in more than a fair share of interceptions and pass deflections…Breaks sharply towards the ball and will not shy away from contact competing with the ball carrier near the line of scrimmage in run support…Shows an explosive burst off the edge as a blitzer and is fearless in his tackling, as his hits truly stand out on tape…Very adept at avoiding blockers and extends his arms properly to secure the receiver after the catch…Despite his lack of bulk, excels at jamming the bigger receivers at the line of scrimmage… Fluid in reverse and excels at getting in to break up the slant patterns…Aggressive in run support and has a knack for penetrating the line to get to the ball carrier…His sudden burst could be utilized as a punt returner.
Negatives: Size is a big drawback, but he compensates with total aggression in his game and superb leaping ability…Loves attention and can talk "trash," but has the skills to back it up…Can be beaten on post patterns due to his lack of size and taller receivers generally out-jump him for the ball upfield.
Anchor of the Ducks' secondary, starting 47 games during his career…Owns the school's career-record with three interception returns for touchdowns…Tied for sixth in Oregon annals with twelve interceptions…Only Jake Lecht (298 yards, 1945-47) has gained more yardage on interception returns in school history than Rashad's 293…His 22 pass deflections in 2000 tied a school season-record…Finished his career with 188 tackles (146 solos) and eleven stops behind the line of scrimmage…Also deflected 55 passes.
REMINDS YOU OF…Antoine Winfield, Buffalo Bills. Proof positive that big things come in little packages.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Poor weight room workout at the Combines was compensated by his speed drills, yet teams talk about him as a third rounder.
Positives: Has the hip swerve and quick feet to explode towards the ball coming out of his backpedal…Adjusts to the switch-offs in the zone with good anticipation…Quick to close on the underneath passes, showing good range and acceleration on deep routes…Despite his slight frame, he will get very physical with the receivers in bump-&-run situations…Very coachable, spending time after practices tutoring the younger players.
Negatives: Too soft in run support, hitting rather than wrapup tackling, which causes him to bounce off his man regularly…Seems to be a little cautious when called upon for man coverage, allowing a big cushion…Needs to work on his transition coming out of his backpedal, as he tends to get too upright, resulting in him being a step late in getting to the ball…Even with his speed, he struggles at times to stay with the receiver deep…Lacks any aggression in run support…Not a natural pass catcher due to skinny fingers…Does not have the strength to prevent from being tied up on blocks.
Four-year starter who also excels as a kickoff returner…Two-time All-American who recorded 154 tackles (94 solos) with 31 pass deflections and five interceptions during his career…Also gained 831 yards on 37 kickoffs (22.5 avg).
REMINDS YOU OF…Deltha O'Neal, Denver Broncos. Jack-of-all-trades and a coach on the field to boot.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Teams talk about the lack of competition he faced, but he more than held his own in post-season all-star games. Look for him to go late in the third round.
Positives: Has broad shoulders and good upper body muscle definition…Instinctive, reading the routes and reacting quickly…Has the short burst needed to accelerate to the ball…Shows a strong charge when asked to step up and plug the rush lanes…Uses his solid frame properly when tackling, staying low in his pads to wrap and secure…Has the balance and explosive burst to recovery on deep routes…His energy type with the plant-&-drive agility to adjust to the receiver's moves…Has the strength to jam the larger pass catchers at the line…Smooth runner with the gallop to catch up.
Negatives: Too deliberate in his backpedal, stumbling a bit when he tries to turn and shadow the receiver…Seems stiff in the hips, lacking the fluid turn to accelerate to the ball…Does not seem to have the leaping ability to combat receivers for the ball at its high point…Lacks natural hands for the interception…May have problems digesting a complicated playbook (see Wonderlic score)…Has too much confidence in his recovery speed, as he tends to play the receivers loosely…Has very small hands (7 ½ inches).
Three-year starter who was the unquestioned leader of the Wolfpack defensive unit…A consummate team player, he also excelled on special teams (coverage unit, kick blocker)… Finished his career with 262 tackles (166 solos), a 12-yard sack and nine stops for losses of 39 yards…Recovered two fumbles and caused another…Blocked five kicks… Deflected 20 passes and intercepted five others.
REMINDS YOU OF…Anthony Henry, Cleveland Browns. Has experience at each secondary position.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL…Some teams have him rated as high as a second rounder, but he does not have the foot speed to man the corner position and may have to move inside to safety.
Second Day Possibilities
Positives: Willing tackler in run support…Does a fine job of staying with the receivers tight, using his hands effectively to jam the opponent at the line…Shows no hesitation when closing on the ball…Sharp cutting in and out of his breaks…Turns his hips properly and maintains acceleration coming out of his backpedal…Can stop and drive with good velocity…Has the deep acceleration needed to recover…Has a good feel for the zone, displaying the range to find the dividers…Uses his leaping ability very well to keep track of the ball in flight and knows how to get his hands into the receiver's face to block the opponent's view…Stays low in his tackles, displaying excellent leg drive and lower body strength…Physical tackler who can read and recognize the plays effectively…Can also handle return duties.
Negatives: Needs to develop better foot technique as he tends to get up on his heels in his backpedal…Has to work in the weight room to add upper body strength to match his lower body power…Has had a history of right knee problems…Not as fluid in transition as one would like, appearing mechanical in his open field movements.
Unheralded athlete with impressive physical ability…Aggressive tackler who began his career as a free safety before the coaches took advantage of his coverage ability by moving him to cornerback as a sophomore…Finished his career with 222 tackles (181 solos), including 3.5 sacks and 12 stops behind the line of scrimmage…Deflected 32 passes and had eight interceptions for 167 yards in returns (fifth-highest total in school history)…Also excelled on special teams, returning 25 kickoffs for 579 yards (23.2 avg) and 53 punts for 809 yards (15.3 avg) and a pair of touchdowns…Only Bill "Jelly" Green (1294, 1967-70) gained more yards in school annals…His 15.3-yard average broke Green's school career-record of 13.5 yards.
Positives: Smart player who quickly reads and diagnoses the plays…Has the ability to latch and trail the receiver in deep coverage, shadowing his man with aggression…Has very smooth hips in transition from his backpedal…Plays the zone well, effectively keeping the ball in front of him… Has the range and recovery speed to compensate… Makes proper body adjustments and times his leaps going up for the ball…Active run supporter who has the strength to come off blocks to make the plays…Plays with patience and shows good hands going for the ball.
Negatives: Seems to struggle playing off the receiver, needing to maintain contact in order to contain…Gets a little sloppy in his open field tackles, as he tends to lead with his shoulders rather than extending to secure…Lacks fluidity in his hip swerve, which makes him look choppy in his motions playing in space…Can get turned around by a receiver's head fakes and will take false steps based on the quarterback's pumps…May be better suited for safety, as his lack of lateral agility could pose problems in isolated deep coverage…Not that much of a textbook tackler…Will go low in his stance and extend his arms properly, but needs to show more leg drive while securing…Marginal stepping up to fill the rush lanes…Tends to body catch, resulting in missed interception opportunities.
Three-year starter who was the unquestioned leader of the Volunteer secondary…A Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist in 2000, he was having a banner 2001 campaign before a nagging hamstring injury hampered his play late in his final year…Still managed to record 152 tackles (118 solos) with a pair of interceptions and 22 pass deflections during his career.
Positives: Lean and lanky pass defender with a well-proportioned body…Intense competitor with the ability to easily diagnose and react to the plays…Uses his hands effectively to jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage…Has the open field quickness to mirror the receivers' moves… Shows the recovery speed needed handling the switch-offs in the zone and that explosive drive coming out of his backpedal to run down receivers anywhere on the field…Gives a solid effort in run force, staying low in his stance to extend, wrap and secure the ball carrier…Has great hip flexibility turning out of his backpedal, which gives him better quickness in his turn-&-go…Shows timing and leaping ability going up for the pass…Displays soft hands to pluck and snatch the ball…Has a fearless attitude and a willingness to play with pain…Top gunner on the special teams coverage units.
Negatives: Needs to add more muscle definition and power in the weight room…Will lunge at the ball at times in run force, as he tries to compensate for the strength needed to handle the more physical blockers…At times, will bite on fakes, but utlizes his superb quickness to immediately recover.
Three-year starter who originally was recruited to play strong safety, but the coaching staff wisely shifted him to cornerback, to take advantage of his outstanding quickness…Regarded as one of the top deep coverage defenders in the East, he totaled 184 tackles (110 solos) with three interceptions and 33 pass deflections (fourth-best career total in school history) during his career…One of four true freshmen to letter from the school's 1998 recruiting class.
Positives: Very instinctive reading and reacting to the play…Shows incredible toughness in man coverage, shadowing the receiver very tight…Smoothly switches off in the zone, anticipating the pass while playing the ball high…Has a sharp burst coming out of his backpedal and the range to quickly recover…Displays superb flexibility and leaping ability, easily adjusting his body to the ball in flight…Possesses sure hands for the interception and a sharp burst to escape after snaring the interception…Very physical coming up to support vs. the run, reading the play with strong determination…Plays at a nice, low pad level, which allows him to easily wrap tackle…Shows confidence in his ability, high energy in his movements and impressive intelligence, as he is rarely caught out of position…Very smooth in his backpedal and has a knack for getting his hand on the opponent to quickly disrupt the receiver's routes…Has the long arms needed in press coverage…Dedicated to his craft, putting in the extra work in the weight and film rooms…Classic wrapup tackler with a knack for sticking his nose into the action when supporting vs. the run.
Negatives: Has a smaller than ideal frame, but compensates with quickness and a well-defined physique..Tends to stay high in his backpedal and shows a slight hesitation with his hip turn coming out of it, but shows the ability to plant quickly and the deep acceleration to recover.
Outstanding athlete who was the unquestioned leader of the Gamecocks' secondary… Also performed for the school's baseball team as a desigated hitter and right fielder…A semi-finalist for the 2001 Jim Thorpe Award, he collected 204 tackles (151 solos) with ten interceptions and 37 pass deflections during his collegiate career…Only player in school history to lead the team in interceptions in three seasons (1999-2001)…His 206 yards in interception returns rank behind school record-holder Patrick Hinton's 240 yards (1987-90).
Positives: Has a well-built physique with split thighs, long legs and solid overall muscle definition…Natural hands catcher who uses his size and high school track hurling ability to easily combat the smaller receivers for the ball…Plays and reacts to the pass in an instant, showing no hesitation in his movements…Shuffles his feet and opens his hips properly while maintaining speed running with the receivers deep…Shows good ball recognition ability and takes on his assignments with explosiveness during switch-offs in the zone…Tracks the ball well, keeping eye contact while showing the range to recover when beaten…Will go up for the ball at its highest point and shows a sharp break in transition…Uses his hands effectively to shed and will come up to plug the rush lanes… Physical tackler who breaks downs, squares his shoulders and explodes into his hits.
Negatives: His poor foot shuffling and stiff turn-&-go action was exposed in the bowl game vs. Texas, as he was constantly beaten deep…His size and hitting ability may be better suited for safety…Little too confident in his recovery quickness, allowing more than the usual cushion on underneath routes…Works better in space than in man coverage, as he lacks suddenness in his acceleration turning upfield.
One of the best deep coverage cornerbacks in the West…Versatile defender with experience at every secondary position…Special teams standout who also got a taste of life on the offensive side of the ball as a senior…Recorded 100 tackles (79 solos) with five interceptions and a school career-record 24 pass deflections, breaking the previous mark of 23 by Dana Hall (1988-91)… Started 24 of 40 games he played in.
Positives: Solid diagnostician who rarely gets beat on the play because of being out of position… Shows fluid hip turn and quick feet coming out of his backpedal…Aware covering in the zone, handling the switch-off effortlessly…Short strider with the burst to recover on deep routes…Does a nice job coming up to support vs. the run…Stays tight with his man on deep routes, mirroring the receiver's moves to prevent the catch…Stays low and extends his arms properly when making the wrap tackle…Has superb leaping ability and keen field vision to keep track of the ball in flight.
Negatives: Gathers himself at times before changing direction…Needs to become more physical with the receivers in press coverage…Needs to control and vary his speed, as he tends to break down the plays at times and sometimes will overpursue the play…Has trouble maintaining balance when having to cut sharply laterally…Major knee surgery in 1998 may still be a concern to some teams, but has worked hard in the weight room and with his rehabilitation program to steadily return to pre-injury form.
Emerging talent who is fully recovered from knee surgery that hampered him earlier in his career…Two-year starter at the demanding left cornerback position, generally facing up against the opponent's top receiver…Credited with 86 tackles, four interceptions and 20 pass deflections during his career with the Gamecocks.
Positives: Plants and drives with good velocity…Has the speed to close and make plays near the line…Keeps his assignments and shows acceleration to catch up and defend in the deep zone…Efficient zone defender who makes proper switch-offs and understands how to find the dividers…Has natural instincts playing the ball, recognizing the play and actiong instantly…Has the lower leg drive needed to be efficient in run support…Reliable open field tackler who stays low in his pads…Natural hands catcher who uses his fine leaping ability to combat for the ball at its highest point.
Negatives: Lacks balance turning out of his backpedal, as he plays too high and seems to play on his heels…Has good range, but lacks explosion to mirror receivers on deep routes (may be moved to safety due to lack of foot speed)…Has a tendency to lead with his shoulder before tackling, taking him off his feet a bit…His transition lacks fluidity…Looks tentative coming up to jam the receivers at the line.
Three-year starter who is one of the best pass thieves in the nation…Holds the school's career-records with 19 interceptions for 357 yards in returns, topping the previous marks of 17 thefts by Bob Morehead (1971-73) and 250 yards by Mike McCoy (1970-73)…His average of 18.8 yards per interception return is surpassed only by Virgil Livers (19.2 avg, 1971-74) in WKU annals… Recorded 179 tackles (107 solos) with 41 pass deflections, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 33 games.
Positives: Good athlete with a quick burst off his backpedal…Very smooth in transition… Is not afraid to combat for the ball…Shows superb jump ability going after the pass and has natural hands to make the interception…Athletic in the open field, driving with his legs with arms extended to wrap and secure as a tackler…Very aware of his responsibilities in the zone…Makes proper reads and shows good field vision…Covers the short routes well, breaking on the ball quickly.
Negatives: Despite his quick burst in his backpedal, he lacks the deep acceleration needed to stay with the receivers…Gathers a bit in transition and that takes away from his explosion to the ball…Bit slow to react on underneath routes, seeming hesitant to close on the cushion…Takes very poor angles in run support and his lean frame allows blockers to engulf him instantly at the line…Gets beat by double moves…When he gets out of his backpedal late, he has a hard time recovering…Takes this drop step on his breaks that causes him to struggle on post and corner patterns…Hates tackling near the line, generally ducking his head and missing on his hits.
Four-year starter with a knack for making the big play…Has scored six times via fumble returns or interceptions during his career…Has good power for a player his size and relishes his role as the defensive leader…Also lent his expertise to the kickoff coverage unit…Started 46 consecutive games for the Rebels, recording 184 tackles (149 solos)… His 14 interceptions are topped only by Marlon Beavers (17, 1973-76) on the school's career-record list…Joined Beavers (367) and Patt Medchill (303, 1970-72) as the only players in UNLV annals to gain over 300 yards via interception returns (327)…Also deflected 62 passes, shattering the previous school career-record of 27 break-ups by Anthony Blue (1983-86).
Positives: Has the short area quickness to cover ground in the zone…Shows good anticipation skills combating the receivers for the pass, keeping himself between his man and the ball… Despite his slight frame, he can deliver forceful tackles when he stays low in his stance…Has a sharp closing burst…Quick reactor to the deep ball, showing natural hands to make the interception…Not intimidated by the larger blockers, readily stepping up to fill the rush lanes.
Negatives: Has a very lean, almost frail looking frame with slender legs…Not natural in his movements coming out of his backpedal, keeping his feet too narrow and his hips tight… Seems to be very conservative, allowing too much cushion for fear of being beaten long… Sloppy tackler at times, allowing his feet to give out from underneath him…While he lends support in run force, he's not an effective wrapup tackler and will generally lunge at the ball carrier rather than get caught on the bottom of the pile.
Versatile player with experience at both cornerback positions, in addition to handling nickel back duties…Possesses blazing speed and a knack for always being around the ball…Recorded 93 tackles with four interceptions and 13 pass deflections while starting nine games during his career.
Positives: Well-toned athlete with long arms and a muscular chest and arms…Has very quick feet and fluid hip turn…Smooth in transition and has that burst needed to close…Strong driving on the ball and has quick reactions on deflections…Does a nice job of getting his head around and playing the deep ball…Fastest player on the team…Very effective playing the bump-&-run and has smooth change-of-direction ability…Aggressive tackler with excellent balance going up for the ball…Maintains contact with the receiver at the line, using his hands effectively to contain and ride out…Stays at a low pad level with arms extended to wrap and secure in run support.
Negatives: Plays too deep in the zone, which makes him late in handling the switch-off…Will extend for the ball in traffic, but his slight frame sees him get bounced around quite a bit in those attempts…Collegiate safety whose sharp burst and man coverage ability is better suited for cornerback at the next level.
Unheralded athlete with tremendous quickness and superb leaping ability…Has played every position in the secondary…Did not allow a touchdown catch in his last two years and had a stretch of eight games in his last twenty contests where he did not allow a first-down reception.