15 Corners And Safeties To Watch

April 20th, 2010

Here’s an analysis of a pile of cornerbacks and safeties Bucs fans should brush up on and watch closely during the draft.

And the Bucs surely need help at both positions.

NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowski breaks them down. You can enjoy all his extensive pre-draft coverage right here.


1. Kyle Wilson – CB – Florida
5’10’’ – 194 lbs – 4.43
1st Round

Why I’m taking him: I think a lot of people knew Wilson was a good player, but his play during Senior Bowl week solidified his place as a 1st round pick.  He has excellent speed and athleticism, while also strong enough to play tough and aggressively.  Wilson also is good in run support and tackling.  Wilson plays with a short memory and exudes confidence on every play.  He is a tremendous leader with a great understanding of the game.

Why I’m staying away: Wilson tends to play too aggressively at times and can be susceptible to giving up the big play.  He also struggles to get off blocks and make plays.  His ball skills need to improve to make more impact plays and interceptions.

Impact on the Bucs: Wilson would be ideal for the Bucs if he fell to the 2nd round, but that’s unlikely to happen.

NFL Comparison:   Antoine Winfield – Minnesota Vikings

2. Devin McCourty – CB – Rutgers
5’11’’ – 193 lbs – 4.48
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: I like the combination of McCourty’s size, athleticism, speed, and long arms.  McCourty can match up with bigger receivers, while also being able to run with the faster ones.  McCourty is very good in run support and is proven to be a reliable tackler.  He possesses all the intangibles: work ethic, good character, leadership, durability, and four years of experience in the Big East.  McCourty’s best attribute is his play on special teams.  Whether as a gunner, returner, or blocking kicks (7 at Rutgers), McCourty is the best special teams player in this draft.

Why I’m staying away: McCourty can be a bit inconsistent.  He struggles to get off blocks and lacks an elite jam at the line, which might prove to be a lack of strength. 

Impact on the Bucs: For some reason McCourty isn’t getting the pub that Haden and Wilson are getting.  I like him a lot.  If he is available at the top of Round 2, I believe it would be in the Bucs best interest to seriously consider him.  A combination of McCourty and Talib would be nice for the next 10 years.

NFL Comparison:   Darrelle Revis – New York Jets

 3. Joe Haden – CB – Florida
5’11’’ – 193 lbs – 4.41
1st Round

Why I’m taking him: Haden has a ton of experience against the best receivers the SEC has to offer.  He has excellent speed, athleticism, and toughness.  Haden has a short memory and a very strong work ethic.  He gets a great jam on receivers when matched up in man coverage.
Why I’m staying away: When I watch Haden’s film, he was always lined up to the short side of the field.  I’m not sure if this was by design, but to line up there every play is a little worrisome.  Were the Gators hiding something?  Does he have a tough time covering a lot of ground?  Haden also plays too aggressive at times and misses some tackles.  He is a raw prospect who will need to refine his mechanics.
Impact on the Bucs: Haden is a good prospect, but probably not realistic for the Bucs to draft unless they trade back from the 3rd pick.

NFL Comparison:   Dunta Robinson – Atlanta Falcons

 4.Kareem Jackson – CB – Alabama
5’10’’ – 196 lbs – 4.48
1st Round

Why I’m taking him: {+++}Jackson has the ability to play man coverage or in zone.  He is an excellent tackler and great in run support.  Like Haden, Jackson has a ton of experience against the best receivers in the SEC.  He plays the corner position very aggressively with excellent awareness.

Why I’m staying away: Jackson’s recovery speed is non-existent.  If a receiver gets a step on Jackson, you rarely see Jackson able to recover and make a play.  I think he times faster than he plays on the field.  Jackson will struggle when lined up against the smaller, quicker, and faster receivers.

Impact on the Bucs: I think the Bucs could deal with Jackson’s negatives.  Jackson would be a great fit for the “Tampa 2” with his great tackling ability.  Don’t get your hopes up though, because there’s a good chance Jackson goes in the 1st round.

NFL Comparison:   Quentin Jammer – San Diego Chargers

 5. Chris Cook – CB – Virginia
6’2’’ – 212 lbs – 4.46
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: The combination of size and speed is what sets Cook apart from the rest.  He is an excellent athlete with soft hands and very good ball skills.  Cook is also a very good tackler and will support the run.  He has outstanding range and a short memory, playing play-to-play and not harping on mistakes.

Why I’m staying away: Durability is one major concern.  Cook dealt with injuries in 2005, 2007, and in 2009.  He was academically ineligible to play in 2008.  As for his skills, for Cook’s size, he really lacks ideal strength and needs to get stronger.  With that strength, he’ll need to play more aggressive and physical. 

Impact on the Bucs: Because of Cook’s blend of size and speed, I think he has to be considered for one of the Bucs’ 2nd round picks.  A duo of Talib and Cook would probably give the Bucs the biggest pair of corners in the NFL.

NFL Comparison:   Nnamdi Asomugha – Oakland Raiders

 6. Patrick Robinson – CB – FSU
5’11’’ – 190 lbs – 4.46
2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: Robinson’s biggest strengths are his athleticism, his speed, and his agility and movement.  He is a pure cover corner.  He has outstanding hands and ball skills.  Robinson plays tough and physical at the line of scrimmage and gets a good jam on the receiver.

Why I’m staying away: Robinson does not play violent and is average at best in supporting the run.  He is very inconsistent and some scouts have placed the title of “underachiever” on him.

Impact on the Bucs: I’m not sure Robinson is the best fit for the “Tampa 2” defense.

NFL Comparison:   Terence Newman – Dallas Cowboys

7. Amari Spievey – CB – Iowa
5’11’’ – 195 lbs – 4.51
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: First things that stand out about Spievey are his instincts, reaction time, and durability.  He has good bulk with long arms and outstanding ball skills.  Spievey has great strength, and gets good jams on opposing receivers and is a very reliable tackler in run support.  Spievey is a tough and aggressive corner.  He might be best suited for a zone defense.

Why I’m staying away: Spievey’s overall speed and quickness are only average.  Intelligence might also be an issue as Spievey was academically ineligible in 2007 and was forced to play for a JUCO.

Impact on the Bucs: Spievey would be an ideal pick for the Bucs in the 3rd round.  He is a great fit for the “Tampa 2” defense.  Learning behind Ronde Barber for a year would really help as well.

NFL Comparison:   Cedric Griffin – Minnesota Vikings

8. Brandon Ghee – CB – Wake Forest
6’ – 192 lbs – 4.37
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: Ghee has a lot of talent.  His speed and athleticism stand out the most.  Ghee tests very well and has long arms and big hands.  Ghee should fit into any secondary scheme.  He is a tough player who gets physical with receivers and also is good in run support.

Why I’m staying away: Inconsistency is the word with Ghee.  He also lacks in making plays after having just 1 interception in 3 years starting for Wake Forest. 

Impact on the Bucs: The Bucs usually don’t get wrapped up with these “workout warrior” types, especially at corner.  The lack of playmaking ability for Ghee is worrisome.  I don’t think he’d be a great fit for the Bucs unless we were talking as a 3rd round pick.

NFL Comparison:   Marcus McCauley – Washington Redskins

9.Perrish Cox – CB – Oklahoma St.
5’11’’ – 195 lbs – 4.45
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: I really like the physical nature Cox brings to his game and how he supports the run. He displays excellent hands and ball skills.  Cox can play in any type of coverage, and also excels in returning kicks.

Why I’m staying away: Character is my main concern with Cox after being suspended for the Cotton Bowl in 2009 following an arrest for driving with a suspended license.  He also needs to work on his quickness and technique in his backpedal.  Cox isn’t a great tackler and tends to take bad angles at times.

Impact on the Bucs: I actually think Cox would be a nice 3rd round selection for the Bucs if they do not go corner sooner.  He has some character issues, but nothing too serious.  The Bucs would give Cox an opportunity to come in and play nickel before taking over full-time for Ronde Barber.

NFL Comparison:   Aaron Ross – New York Giants

10. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah – CB – Indiana (PA)
6’ – 207 lbs – 4.47
3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: Ansah has an excellent combination of size, speed, quickness, and ball skills.  He is a very confident player who plays with great strength and aggression.  Ansah has a lot of potential.  He played both corner and safety at IUP.

Why I’m staying away: The first thing that stands out is the lack of competition or Ansah.  He is a very raw player who will need good coaching to refine his technique.  Ansah is much better in coverage than he is as a tackler.

Impact on the Bucs: Because of how raw he is and the depth of the corner class, Ansah could go as early as the 3rd round or as late as the 5th round.  If he falls to the 4th round, I think this would be a nice selection for the Bucs.  Raheem Morris is a very good defensive backs coach and could help Ansah reach his potential as a shutdown corner.

NFL Comparison:   Coye Francies – Cleveland Browns


1.Eric Berry – FS – Tennessee
5’11’’ – 211 lbs – 4.47
Top 10 Pick

Why I’m taking him: Berry is the most balanced safety and the best playmaker as a defensive back in this draft.  There is no sense in describing what type of an athlete he is, just know that he is one of the best in this draft.  Berry played both corner and safety at Tennessee.  He mastered Monte Kiffin’s defense.  Berry has also started 3 years in the SEC going against some of the best talent in college football.  He has impeccable character and leadership skills.

Why I’m staying away: I’d be slightly concerned about taking a safety as high as Berry is going to go.  Top 10 safeties include Michael Huff and Laron Landry, while players like Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed were drafted later in the 1st round.  Berry has shown on occasion to miss a tackle.  He also plays very physical, which might affect his long-term health.

Impact on the Bucs: It seems like a natural fit with Berry coming from Monte’s defense in Tennessee to come and fit right in with the “Tampa 2” defense with the Bucs.  I see defensive tackle being a much bigger need, but Berry should at least be in the discussion.

NFL Comparison:   Ed Reed – Baltimore Ravens

 2. Earl Thomas – FS – Texas
5’10’’ – 208 lbs – 4.34
Top 20 Pick

Why I’m taking him: Thomas might be one of the best coverage defensive backs in this draft.  He is an incredible athlete with great speed and quickness.  His ball skills are 2nd to none in this draft.  Thomas is a smart player with the versatility to play corner or safety.  As a redshirt sophomore entering this draft, Thomas is a young player with a lot of upside and potential as a safety or shutdown corner.

Why I’m staying away: If he plans on being a safety, you’d like to see him fill out a bit and have his body mature.  He tends to miss some tackles.  Thomas has limited experience, and with a lack of strength, struggles to get off blocks.

Impact on the Bucs: Thomas isn’t really a fit with the Bucs unless they play him at corner.  I think there is an extremely slim chance the Bucs have Thomas on their roster in 2010.

NFL Comparison:   Michael Griffin – Tennessee Titans

3. Taylor Mays – SS – USC
6’3’’ – 230 lbs – 4.43
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: I don’t think there is a player in this year’s draft with a better blend of size and speed in this draft.  Mays has unbelievable talent and a ton of potential.  Mays has outstanding closing speed and is a big hitter coming from the safety position.  He is a very hard worker with a great work ethic, has a ton of experience, and proved to be very durable.

Why I’m staying away: The instincts are lacking for me.  As a safety, the instincts might be the biggest attribute; whether it’s reacting to a run or a pass, a short or long route, or the quarterback tucking the ball and running.  With that, Mays tends to take bad angles and misses tackles at times.  He struggles in space and with one-on-one tackling.  Mays also looks to deliver the big hit rather than take the tackle.

Impact on the Bucs: The talent is too good to ignore.  If Mays were to drop to the 2nd round, I think the Bucs would have to consider it.  It would be a nice battle between the goat and Mays.

NFL Comparison:   Sabby Piscitelli – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. Nate Allen – FS – USF
6’ – 207 lbs – DNP
2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: I’ve known and watched Allen for a while, since I work for USF as well.  The first thing that stands out about Allen is his leadership and incredible character and work ethic.  He is a true centerfielder who has outstanding ball skills.  Allen’s technique is excellent.  When USF needed a play late in the game, Allen was the guy to come away with it. 

Why I’m staying away: I think Allen’s potential and upside might be limited.  He’s also not much of a big hitter or a big time tackler.  I’d call him adequate.  Allen struggles at times when matched up in man coverage, and might be a good fit for a free safety in the “Tampa 2” defense.

Impact on the Bucs: I view Nate Allen in the same mold as Tanard Jackson.  Since the Bucs already have Tanard Jackson, I can’t really see the Bucs spending a 1st or 2nd round pick on another free safety.  Jackson’s status with his suspensions is concerning, but not enough to forfeit a 2nd round pick for a position that already has a talented player in it.  Especially since the Bucs lack talent everywhere else.

NFL Comparison:   Tanard Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 5. Major Wright – SS – Florida
5’11’’ – 206 lbs – 4.48
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: Wright has nice bulk and speed, but his biggest attribute is his physical play and his aggression.  Wright belongs down in the box to stop the run.  He is a reliable tackler, but will also deliver big time hits.  Wright can make an impact on special teams as well.

Why I’m staying away: Sometimes Wright goes for the big hit rather than wrapping up the ball carrier.  This can lead to some missed tackles.  Wright also struggles in man coverage, and is much more comfortable in zone.  His aggressive play can lead to him having bad angles or over running plays.

Impact on the Bucs: As a 3rd round pick, I think Wright would be a nice addition to the Bucs defense.  His biggest attribute is tackling and stopping the run.  For a defense that has been near the bottom of the league in stopping the run, I’d imagine Wright would be welcomed with open arms.

NFL Comparison:   Bob Sanders – Indianapolis Colts

One Response to “15 Corners And Safeties To Watch”

  1. Ash Says:

    typo Kyle Wilson went to Boise St not Florida