Draft Breakdown: Corners And SafetiesMarch 14th, 2011
There’s one thing NFL owners and players seem to agree on: the NFL Draft will go off as scheduled in late April.
And you can count on the best Bucs-focused draft coverage on the planet right here from NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowksi, The Commish of WDAE-AM 620.
Today, The Commish looks breaks down cornerbacks and safeties in his own unique Bucs-focused way. Look for more from The Commish every day this week, including his debut on JoeBucsFan TV.
By JUSTIN PAWLOWSKI
1. Patrick Peterson – LSU
6’0’’ – 219 lbs – 4.34
Why The Commish would draft him: Peterson’s one of the most complete corners to come out in a long time. He has the size to match up with big receivers. He has strength to play press coverage on the line. He has the speed to run with the fastest receivers in the NFL. He’s a very solid tackler. Hell, Peterson is even an elite returner.
Why The Commish would stay away: There just aren’t many flaws with Peterson. While he’s a solid tackler, he is not an elite tackler.
Impact on the Bucs: Peterson should have a great impact on whatever team selects him. With there not being as much a need at corner with the teams at the top of the draft, Peterson could slip a bit, but I don’t see him getting past the 49ers at 7.
Comparison: Darrelle Revis – New York Jets
2. Prince Amukamara – Nebraska
6’0’’ – 206 lbs – 4.43
Why The Commish would draft him: I like a corner that can match up physically with any receiver across from him. Amukamara has a good combination of size and speed, which he displayed at the combine. I think Amukamara is at his best when up on the line of scrimmage in press coverage.
Why The Commish would stay away: Although he displayed good speed at the combine, Amukamara might not play that fast as he tends to let receivers get behind him. When this happens, he can make contact and draw flags on himself.
Impact on the Bucs: I’m not sure Amukamara would slip to the Bucs, but he is a big physical corner that would fit the type of defense the Bucs run.
Comparison: Nate Clements – San Francisco 49ers
3. Jimmy Smith – Colorado
6’2’’ – 211 lbs – 4.46
Why The Commish would draft him: When you’re mapping out the ideal corner, you’d probably describe Smith’s characteristics. He’s big, fast, and aggressive. Smith plays with a ton of confidence and consistently comes up to make a tackle.
Why The Commish would stay away: There are some major character flaws with Smith. I’m still concerned about multiple failed drug tests and an underage alcohol arrest his freshman year. He reportedly also turned off many teams with his attitude at the combine. Some might be concerned that Smith is too aggressive at times, but I like my corners aggressive and going for the big play.
Impact on the Bucs: I think Smith could be a late riser as we near the draft. There is a lot to like about his ability. If a team gets passed the character concerns, like the Bucs have in the past, that team could end up with a special player. Yes, the Bucs have Ronde for another year and EJ Biggers and Myron Lewis waiting in the wings, but Smith opposite of Aqib Talib would be nice in what is becoming a quarterback heavy division.
Comparison: Aqib Talib – Buccaneers
4. Aaron Williams – Texas
6’0’’ – 204 lbs – 4.52
Why The Commish would draft him: Williams already has good size, but probably plays bigger than he already is. He’ll attack the line of scrimmage to support against the run. Williams is at his best when he’s close to the line of scrimmage in coverage as well. He has a lot of experience and football in his blood.
Why The Commish would stay away: I worry of how Williams will consistently do in space. He lacks elite speed and might see himself moving back to safety due to his liability in coverage.
Impact on the Bucs: Williams could be destined for the safety position and might already be the top safety in this class, but for the time being, we’re keeping him at corner. The only way I see Williams as an option for the Bucs is if he lasts to their pick in the 2nd round. I think the Bucs would view him as a safety if they drafted him.
Comparison: Michael Griffin – Tennessee Titans
5. Brandon Harris – Miami
5’9’’ – 191 lbs – 4.51
Why The Commish would draft him: Harris is the type of corner that just gets the job done. He’s probably best suited in the NFL for zone coverage. Harris seems to have very good instincts in space and good closing speed. Despite his lack of size, Harris is very tough and a very good tackler in space.
Why The Commish would stay away: The first thing that stands out to me is Harris’ lack of ideal height. Harris also lacks elite speed. The performance Michael Floyd had in the Sun Bowl when matched up with Harris continues to haunt me.
Impact on the Bucs: It seems like Harris would be a good fit for a “Tampa 2” defense, but I don’t think he’s a logical choice for the Bucs. If the Bucs go with a corner early, it should be a flashy corner with potential to dominate. I think Harris is solid, but not flashy.
Comparison: Ronde Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Curtis Marsh – Utah St.
6’0’’ – 197 lbs – 4.52
Why The Commish would draft him: I really like the upside with Marsh since he just started playing corner full time as a senior in 2010. He switched from running back to corner in 2009 and started the final 4 games there. Utah St. didn’t have the best competition, but against Boise St, Marsh played extremely well. Marsh is also very tough and willing to support against the run.
Why The Commish would stay away: As much as his lack of time playing corner gives Marsh upside, it also concerns me. He does not have much experience at the position and will need time to develop.
Impact on the Bucs: Marsh doesn’t seem like the most logical choice for the Bucs. If the Bucs take a corner in the first couple rounds, it would have to be someone that could impact the team soon. I don’t think Marsh is ready for an immediate impact in the NFL and will need some time to develop and get experience at the corner position.
Comparison: Vontae Davis – Miami Dolphins
7. Curtis Brown – Texas
6’0’’ – 185 lbs – 4.54
Why The Commish would draft him: I really like Brown in coverage. I think he can play in both man and zone equally well. I also like Brown’s height to match up with taller receivers. Brown is also very good on special teams.
Why The Commish would stay away: Despite his decent size, Brown is not very physical. He is not very good in press coverage, and does not stick his head in against the run.
Impact on the Bucs: I’m not sure this is the type of corner Raheem Morris looks for. If the Bucs are going to draft a corner, that corner will have to be an upgrade over EJ Biggers and Myron Lewis. I don’t think Brown would be.
Comparison: Mike Jenkins – Dallas Cowboys
8. Brandon Burton – Utah
6’0’’ – 190 lbs – 4.51
Why The Commish would draft him: I really like how physical Burton can get. It was impressive seeing him matched up with Jonathon Baldwin at the beginning of the season. Baldwin scored on a botched coverage by the safety, but I thought Burton matched him physically. Burton is also excellent in open-field tackling. Burton adds extra value on special teams.
Why The Commish would stay away: Because of how physical he is, I think Burton is much better in press coverage, but I’m worried he could be a liability in regular zone or man coverage. I also see Burton getting blocked fairly easy by bigger receivers that engulf him.
Impact on the Bucs: I love the intensity Burton brings. He seems like a high energy and charismatic player. With that said, I wouldn’t draft him until the 3rd round if I were the Bucs. If he fell to my pick in the 3rd round, I would at least think about him, but not before that.
Comparison: Courtland Finnegan – Tennessee Titans
9. Johnny Patrick – Louisville
5’11’’ – 191 lbs – 4.55
Why The Commish would draft him: I really like Patrick in zone coverage because he seems to have good vision of passes underneath, and has the ability to get to the ball carrier and tackle him. Also, despite having 4 different defensive coordinators while at Louisville, he continued to show improvement which shows his personal work ethic. He also has really good strength to match up in press coverage.
Why The Commish would stay away: There are some character concerns with Patrick with an arrest in 2010 for assault. He’s also very raw and still has a lot to learn at the corner position.
Impact on the Bucs: Coming in as a rookie, I don’t see Patrick as an upgrade to either EJ Biggers or Myron Lewis for where he’ll be drafted. If drafted by the Bucs, he’ll compete with the aforementioned duo for the nickel corner job.
Comparison: Charles Tillman – Chicago Bears
10. Ras-I Dowling – Virginia
6’1’’ – 198 lbs – 4.46
Why The Commish would draft him: Dowling’s been up and down, but I wouldn’t mind having a player of his talents in a zone defense. I think he has very good instincts and tackling ability. He has a very nice blend of size and speed.
Why The Commish would stay away: Health is a concern with Dowling. After struggling with a knee injury last season, he hurt is hamstring running his only 40-yard dash at the combine. I’m also worried about Dowling in man coverage. Even with his speed, it seems like receivers can beat him deep.
Impact on the Bucs: For the Bucs, I wouldn’t even consider Dowling until at least the 3rd round. With that being said, don’t be shocked if the Raiders draft him in the 2nd round. Dowling should be at his best in zone coverage which is why I wouldn’t count the Bucs out in either the 3rd or 4th round. He’d compete with Biggers and Lewis if drafted.
Comparison: Chris Cook – Minnesota Vikings
1. Rahim Moore – UCLA
6’0’’ – 202 lbs – 4.62
Why The Commish would draft him: I like Rahim Moore in coverage. He seems to have good ball skills and instincts. Moore also takes good angles when getting to the ball.
Why The Commish would stay away: Moore doesn’t offer much of anything in stopping the run. He will not lay the big hit. If he does get a tackle, it’s a drag down tackle. Moore also does not have much speed if needed to get deep.
Impact on the Bucs: There is uncertainty with Tanard Jackson, but I don’t think it’s enough of an uncertainty to reach on an average safety in this draft. If drafted by the Bucs, Moore would take over the role left by Tanard Jackson. The two are very similar.
Comparison: Louis Delmas – Detroit Lions
2. Quinton Carter – Oklahoma
6’1’’ – 208 lbs – 4.62
Why The Commish would draft him: Plays so much bigger than he actually is. Carter will come down in run support and lay big hits on the ball carrier. He also seems to recognize what the offense is doing rather quickly including routes run by receivers. As much as character hurts other players, it should help Carter. He has been associated with numerous charities and even started his own non-profit organization.
Why The Commish would stay away: With how aggressive Carter is, he can tend to be overly aggressive at times. He can get caught in double moves by receivers and get sucked in by playaction. Carter also tends to go for the big hit when he should just make sure the ball carrier goes down.
Impact on the Bucs: Carter’s over-aggression could drop him to the 3rd round. That would be the earliest I think the Bucs should even start to consider a safety. Carter would be a nice fit in the Bucs defense. The Bucs defense has struggled being strong up the middle, so a hard hitter at safety like Carter, might be a nice addition in the 3rd round.
Comparison: Donte Whitner – Buffalo Bills
3. DeAndre McDaniel – Clemson
6’0’’ – 217 lbs – 4.65
Why The Commish would draft him: McDaniel is one of the more balanced safeties in this class. He is excellent at reading a quarterback and in coverage down the field. McDaniel is also very reliable as a tackler who will go for the knockout hit at the right time. He played through a broken hand last season which showed his overall toughness.
Why The Commish would stay away: Character is a major concern. McDaniel was arrested and charged with assault and battery after being accused of choking his girlfriend, punching her in the head and chest, and pushing her down a flight of stairs. The case was resolved after McDaniel agreed to participate in a pre-trial intervention program. Enough said.
Impact on the Bucs: I know the Bucs have looked the other way at times when it comes to character, but this is a little much. Now, if a team, like the Bucs, does there homework and determine that there are no major long term concerns, then McDaniel could be a steal in this draft.
Comparison: Brandon Meriweather – New England Patriots
4. Deunta Williams – North Carolina
6’2’’ – 205 lbs – DNP
Why The Commish would draft him: Williams has good overall instincts in pass coverage and run support. He matches up well in man coverage. Williams seems to diagnose plays quickly.
Why The Commish would stay away: Zone coverage is a weakness for Williams. Although he seems to diagnose plays quickly, he doesn’t react to them as quickly as he should. Williams is also not an elite tackler and has to be more consistent in that area.
Impact on the Bucs: Williams is a decent safety, but not really a great fit for the Bucs. His inability to read and react in zone coverage is a concern. Also, the Bucs need safeties that can tackle well.
Comparison: Roman Harper – New Orleans Saints
5. Chris Culliver – South Carolina
6’0’’ – 199 lbs – 4.40
Why The Commish would draft him: After moving from safety to corner last year at South Carolina, Culliver should return to his natural position in the NFL. He is a great cover man and matches up well in man coverage either against the slot or a tight end.
Why The Commish would stay away: Culliver was moved to corner last season mainly to protect him from hurting his shoulder, which became a concern at South Carolina. He’s also not the greatest tackler coming from the safety position. Culliver can also take bad angles at times.
Impact on the Bucs: I view Culliver as a developmental player who will give a team depth until he’s ready to step in and play. I don’t think this is what the Bucs need at the safety position.
Comparison: Tanard Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers