Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerback

by Coast

The Bills have two major needs in this draft. The number one need is wide receiver and number two is cornerback. The 2008 cornerback class is filled with first round talent, most of which will be available when the Bills pick at number 11. This years class is led by two non power conference players with major upside. Instead of pretending I am an expert on these dudes, I am going to steal what I find appealing from ESPN insider.

1. Leodis McKelvin, Troy...5'10", 190, 4.379. That 40 time is eye opening right away. At 5'10 190 he is decent size for a corner. McGee is only 5'9 and while Greer is 5'11, he is skinny at 180 pounds. Strengths: explosive athlete, good technique and footwork in coverage, Can keep with quicker WR's on double moves and also shows the hip-fluidity and closing burst to turn and run with faster receivers on vertical routes. Weaknesses: Does not like to support the run and will avoid contact if at all possible, Bigger WR's usually can dictate their routes, marginal ball skills. My Take: Leodis has good speed and decent size although a little short. He is obviously a great athlete and apparently is an explosive punt returner. I don't like at all that he avoids contact and allows big receivers to pretty much do what they want. That will not help us at all to stop Randy Moss, who scored 4 touchdowns in one half. The Bills defense depends on take aways and if this guy can't pick off the ball, then I don't want him. He may be a good player, but I don't think he is a good fit for the Bills.

2. Dominique Rogers-Chromartie, Tennessee State...6'1", 184, 4.33. DRC is even faster than McKelvin and has great size. Strengths: Displays better technique than most small-school corners, especially in terms of his hands in press-technique, exceptional closing burst, Reads quarterback's eyes, aggressive and jumps routes, good ball skills, is a playmaker in coverage and flashes the ability to pick up big chunks of yards after turnovers. Weaknesses: Does not support the run as aggressively as we would like to see and he must improve his efficiency as an open-field tackler, Does not possess great upper body strength, Played at a small school and there is some concern about ability to make the jump to the NFL. My Take: This dude is a beast. 6'1 and runs a 4.33? Wow. He sounds like he can be a play maker on our defense which depends on speed and take aways. His size and ability to press coverage makes me like him a lot better than McKelvin because the only way to stop Moss is to press him and run with him deep and let's face it, Moss is the only major threat at WR in our division, and Chromartie can do both. After all, his cousin is the best DB in the NFL right now in Antonio Chromartie. I would love for the Bills to draft DRC at 11.

3. Mike Jenkins, South Florida...5'10", 197, 4.379. Jenkins has good size and has a better build than the previous two corners mentioned. Also, He played in a BCS conference, so he has faced more NFL caliber players than McKelvin and Chromartie. Strengths: second gear when tracking the ball downfield, Possesses outstanding top-end speed and can make up ground when the ball is in the air, good instincts and closing burst when turned loose on the blitz. Weaknesses: doesn't use hands that well and gives away the inside too much, lacks ideal ball skills. Mis-times some of his jumps, locates the ball late occasionally and will knock down some passes he should intercept, Character is a concern after 2007 arrest/suspension. My Take: Same problem as McKelvin-lacks ideal ball skills which, again, is a necessity on our defense. He has character issues which Jauron/Modrak and company will not like. Again, not an ideal fit for the Bills.

4. Aqib Talib, Kansas...6'0", 202, 4.44. Talib has great size at over 6 feet tall and great build at over 200 pounds. His 40 time is slightly lower than the first three players but his size makes up for it. Strengths: outstanding combination of height, bulks and natural athleticism, displays fine all-around ball skills, naturally instinctive, not afraid of a physical challenge and possesses the size to match-up one-on-one versus bigger receivers on an island, Very durable. Weaknesses: Gambles too much in coverage, Footwork needs lots of polishing, Lacks power as a hitter and more of a drag-down tackler. My Take: Talib seems like a beast too. His size is ideal. Again, back to the Randy Moss factor. We need someone not afraid to knock him around and Talib wouldn't be. It seems like his weaknesses are correctable, like footwork and getting him to stop gambling too much. I love his big play ability just like DRC. I have heard some stuff about character issues, but I don't care. With his size, it seems like his tackling can be coached up as well. Talib is definitely my number 2 choice of these 4 players. I also like how he played in a power conference.

The Bills need to get one of these four players when they pick in the first round. It is almost guaranteed that at least two of them will be there when they pick and maybe 3 or 4. If DRC is there at 11, the Bills should take him. He may not be polished but has ridiculous upside. If not, I would prefer Talib over Jenkins and McKelvin. If Buffalo passes on corner in the first round, they could get one of the following players in round two-although them skipping on a corner in the first means they probably took a wide receiver which would be a terrible decision.

Brandon Flowers, Va Tech...5'9", 189, 4.549
Antoine Cason, Arizona...6'0", 191, 4.45
Tracy Porter, Indiana...5'10", 188, 4.37
Justin King, Penn State...5'10", 192, 4.309

I would not be happy with receiver in the first and then one of these guys in the second. Flowers' 40 time is bad. I like Cason's height and love King's speed but I don't know anything about any of these players and honestly, have never heard of Porter and King. Let's hope for DRC and if not him, then Talib.

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