Examining the Cornerback Prospects

NFL-Draft-LogoDee Milliner, Alabama:

Scout’s take: (Dane Brugler, CBS Sports)

STRENGTHS: Built well for the position. Plays with excellent coordination and smooth hips, using his arms and hands to knock down throws. Excellent awareness and read/react ability, getting his head turned and uses his eyes well to quickly find the ball.

Attacks the run and is a very good tackler, never backing down. He is a bruising hitter and does a nice job separating ball from receiver with terrific timing. Plays tight bump-and-run and enjoys pressing with little cushion. Closes quickly and baits throws, looking to make a play on each snap.

Smart and disciplined, but not shy about coming off his man to make a play. Physical striker and does a nice job avoiding blocks while keeping his eye on the ball. He processes information quickly and looks comfortable in space.

WEAKNESSES: Lacks elite speed and quick-twitch ability. Plays too aggressive at times and will take himself out of the play, missing some tackles. Has just one full season as a starter. Needs to refine some of his cover technique, most notably his backpedal.

My take:

Clearly won’t be available when the Falcons pick at 30 overall. If Atlanta wants him bad enough, it will have to trade up, kind of like they did for a different Alabama player a few years ago.

Desmond Trufant, Washington:

Scout’s take: (Rob Rang, CBS Sports)

Strengths: Athletic with fluid footwork, flashing the foot agility to drive quickly on the play. Looks natural in space, staying balanced with the hips and transition skills to redirect in any direction. Physical and fights for the ball when it’s in the air, showing an excellent competitive nature. Doesn’t shy from contact and will get his nose dirty in run support. Very good job tracking and highpointing with a top vertical to get his hands on the ball. Good bloodlines and understands the NFL process. Good experience as a four-year starter (47 career starts), spending time both inside and outside and in both man and zone coverage.

Weaknesses: Narrow torso, lean muscle tone and only average length. Opens his hips too early to protect against speed and needs to stay under control in his movements. Streaky technique once the ball in snapped and reverts to bad habits, relying on his natural athleticism over fundamentals. Lacks elite top-end speed and can be beat vertically. Inconsistent tackling technique, hitting too high and lacking the strength to consistently finish. Plays close to the line of scrimmage but doesn’t make much contact and needs to improve his body position downfield. Too much of a grabber. Nagging hamstring injury late in 2012.

My Take:

I would love for the Falcons to draft Trufant if he is available at 30. Even if it means trading up to leapfrog other cornerback-needy teams, I think the value would still be there. I think having him play opposite Samuel would create a compelling duo at the position. Whereas Samuel likes to sit back and play zone, Trufant is more versatile and can man up with the best in the game. This would be a solid pick, I like this prospect.

Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

Scout’s take: (Dane Brugler, CBS Sports)

STRENGTHS: Rhodes is strong for the position with a solidly-built frame and excellent arm length. He loves to jam and get physical in press coverage, getting in the face of receivers at the line of scrimmage and staying aggressive through the whistle.

Rhodes has very good click-and-close ability with strong plant-and-go burst to drive on plays in front of him, undercutting routes and knocking down passes. He does a nice job getting his head around to locate and high point with very good leaping ability and timing. Rhodes can flip his hips and easily change directions with a near-effortless transition, showing the ability to adjust and contort his body.

WEAKNESSES: Rhodes tends to get too physical in tight coverage, playing too hands-on and grabby, which will attract pass interference penalties. He plays very aggressive with the ball in the air, but makes too much contact and needs to pay more attention to body position.

Rhodes needs to show better discipline and is susceptible to play fakes and misdirection. He lacks elite long-speed and isn’t a quick-twitch type of athlete. Rhodes needs to stay assignment-sound holding contain against the run. He needs to eliminate the penalties and stay focused, controlling his intensity.

My take:

Considered by many as the second best corner in the draft, Rhodes would provide a sense of physicality to the cornerback position—something the group will now be lacking with the departure of Dunta Robinson. He would be an exciting option for the Falcons to consider and would compete for the starting position immediately.

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