April 27, 2011 by
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The Top 30 Cornerbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft
By William Carroll-Special Contributing Writer-Football Reporters Online
1. Patrick Peterson, LSU At 6’0 ¼” 219 with 4.34 speed the sheer, pure, intoxicating nature of Peterson’s athletic potential would generate great interest even if he were a raw prospect from a NAIA school, however when it’s considered that he appeared in all 39 games LSU played during his three seasons at Baton Rouge, in addition he was productive with 135 tackles, 22 passes broken up and 7 career picks. While he is the most comprehensively impressive prospect in the draft class based on his combination of talent, production and level of competition. It’s true that he returned four of his 2010 interceptions for 134 yards, he had six pass breakups, a blocked kick, and 1.5 sacks, averaged 29.1 yards on 32 kick returns and averaged 16.1 yards on 26 punt returns, two of which he returned for scores. He won the Jim Thorpe Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Special Teams Player of the Year by the conference’s coaches. Despite the litany of honors and Peterson’s outsized body and athletic abilities, he is not quite a combination of Champ Bailey, Rod Woodson and ‘Night Train’ Lane yet.
Peterson is excellent in press and squat man coverage, even a receiver as long and powerful as Julio Jones he was able to nearly neutralize him while in press, but when in zone or off man he was not nearly as effective. He has the strength, length and size to redirect receivers at the line and disrupt routes. He is quick, violent and accurate in his hand usage which allows him to close the natural window on a receiver’s outside shoulder. It is when he is playing off or in zone against smaller, quicker receivers and double moves that the small but exploitable flaws in his technique are revealed. His aggressive, man CB persona carries over even in zone and he’ll break a bit too early on the ball, seeking the big play. As mentioned before he is susceptible to stutter-go, slant and go or wheel routes, he may have a slight tightness in his hips. He can be overzealous, will at times, move out of proper position or initiate too much contact downfield and may incur more penalties at the next level. His zone and off-man technique is still a work in progress; clearly he knows how talented he is and didn’t always work to win leverage, he was roughly 70/30 in terms of (man/zone coverage ratio) and will have to become a bit more polished and diverse.
Patrick Peterson 2011 Combine Results
9.2 out of 10, Peterson is so talented and has such a high ceiling and high floor that it seems likely that he’ll be a top 5 pick, top 10 at the very latest. He could start day one for some teams, however teams that use a variety of coverages, or do a great deal of stemming and disguising will need to give him more time and coaching but for any team he could bolster their return game and he is a natural play-maker. He is like a faster version of Raiders hall of fame CB Willie Brown but he will need good coaching to reach that stature.
2. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska 6’0 5/8” 206 4.43
Of royal lineage Amukamara has very fluid hips and has great change of direction speed, he has exceptional body control and tremendous agility, he comes aggressively in run support; is very ‘nosy’ for a corner. As a former running back, Amukamara also has really impressive run-after-catch skills; he is tough and makes solid run support tackles for a corner. He’s strong in zone coverage, but doesn’t have elite anticipation, and at times results in giving up a big play. He shows good awareness and football IQ. He is consistently able to recognize receiver’s routes; he is a dedicated film student. His attitude, work ethic and character are all at a blue-chip level.
It’s when he’s stacked against Peterson and each is examined against the best WR competition each faced that Peterson edges the Prince. When OK State faced Nebraska Justin Blackmon was clearly the better player, he abused Amukamara in that game, revealing what could be Amukamara’s largest weakness: not coming up with an effective plan B. In this particular game, once he was unable to effectively press Blackmon and even got burned on a couple occasions, allowing a touchdown and getting flagged for pass interference. He was a bit timid the rest of the day, while Peterson went toe-to-toe with Jones all day and in 2009 he faired reasonably well against A.J Green holding him to 4 catches, none of them game changers. In terms of technique like Peterson he was a really did get a few interference calls, and he has some trouble with placement of his lead hand coming through to break some passes up, which at times leads to him missing some tackles on wide receivers that catch the ball. He has good cover ability, but he needs to work on being able to stay in the contingent spot to the possibility of missing the break up but still can make the tackle. He has loose hips, he can change direction very well, and he keeps his hips low to the ground when breaking he makes strong, steady breaks on the ball.
As was stated run-support and tackling are strengths of his game as he’s competitive and does not shy away from contact in run support. An outstanding running back at Glendale Apollo High, Amukamara was dominant. He rushed for 2,106 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior and was The Republic’s Player of the Year. He was on three state-championship basketball teams and won state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
At Nebraska, he wasn’t a reluctant cornerback for long. He started every game his last two seasons, finishing his junior year with five interceptions. Amukamara didn’t have an interception as a senior, partly because opponents tried to avoid throwing his way.
Amukamara graduated from Nebraska in December with a degree in sociology. He is bright and engaging, he is somewhat similar to Peterson but Peterson’s elite change of direction, and straight-line speed and big play ability give him the edge in the minds of most evaluators. While Amukamara is a notch below Revis and Peterson in suddenness and ball-skills, he is a top10-15 talent and could be compared to a larger, smarter version of Johnathan Joseph.
Prince Amukamara 2011 Combine Results
9.0 Amukamara was a 3 year team captain whose instincts and anticipation as much as his athletic ability will make him a success at the next level. It’s possible that 2-3 CB prospects may have a higher ‘ceiling’ than the Prince, none have a higher floor.
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