2011 Draft: Cornerback

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be briefly breaking down the top 5-7 prospects available in this year’s draft at each position of need for the Seahawks.  My point in writing these articles is not to create an official scouting report.  Instead, my goal is to throw some names out there so that you have a chance to get to know these guys a little better during the discussions we’ll have leading up to draft day.  I will give each player a number between 1 and 10, with 1 being a very low chance of the player being drafted by the Seahawks and 10 being a very high chance.

I’ll list these guys according to how they’ve been typically ranked from an overall football perspective, so a higher rank does not necessarily mean that they are a better fit for the Seahawks’ needs and/or schemes.

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1. Patrick Peterson

School Height Weight 40 yd Bench Vertical Projected Round
LSU 6’0″ 219 4.34 15 38″ High 1st

Pros: Peterson has all-pro potential.  He has elite tools in every category, and can play every position in the defensive backfield.  He also has immense return skills.
Cons: No negatives.
My Take: Peterson is the real deal.  Imagine a bigger, faster Darrelle Revis combined with Deion Sanders’ return skills.  That is how good Patrick Peterson is.
Draft Chance: 1 — Peterson may not be drafted number one overall, but there is no way he’ll slip out of the top five.  The best we can hope for is that he comes off the board before NFC West rivals Arizona or San Francisco are on the clock.

2. Prince Amukamara

School Height Weight 40 yd Bench Vertical Projected Round
Nebraska 6’0″ 206 4.38 15 38″ High 1st

Pros: Amukamara has above-average tools.  He’s great in coverage, and should become an above-average corner in the NFL
Cons: He’s prone to getting burned by double moves and extremely quick receivers.  His recovery speed is not as good as it should be.
My Take: After making no interceptions this past season and giving up some deep balls, Amukamara’s speed was questioned.  He silenced some of his critics by posting a 4.38 forty yard dash, but it is clear that his recovery speed is not elite.  Even so, I expect him to become a pro bowl player at the next level.
Draft Chance: 2 — Amukamara will not likely make it past San Francisco or Detroit.

3. Jimmy Smith

School Height Weight 40 yd Bench Vertical Projected Round
Colorado 6’2″ 211 4.42 24 36″ Mid 1st

Pros: Smith has the elite size and intangibles to become an outstanding corner.  His great size and speed allow him to cover any opposing receiver.
Cons: He lacks the ability to shed blocks from opposing receivers.  His hands and tackling are only average.  He also has potential off the field concerns and work ethic issues.
My Take: Smith has what it takes to become as good as Peterson.  He has all the physical talents, but needs some tweaks in his technique.  The difference between him and Peterson is paper-thin.  If he didn’t have off the field concerns he would be a top 10 pick.
Draft Chance: 9 — Character issues are scaring many teams away from Smith, which means he may slip down to us at pick 25.  He is a real talent and would be strongly considered by the Seahawks.  Keep an eye on Smith, because there’s a strong chance he could be coming to Seattle.

4. Brandon Harris

School Height Weight 40 yd Bench Vertical Projected Round
Miami 5’10” 191 4.46 13 35.5″ Late 1st

Pros: Harris is a good cover corner.  His solid anticipation, standout athleticism, and recovery speed allow him to play man coverage well.
Cons: His vision is average and plays with inconsistent physicality.  He fails to turn pass break-ups into interceptions.
My Take: Brandon Harris is a talented corner who just does his job.  He covers well and doesn’t give up the big play often.  His only knock is that even though he breaks up many passes, many of those break-ups could have been interceptions.
Draft Chance: 5 — Harris is a talented corner and will likely be available at 25.  However, he does not fit the ideal size that Pete Carroll wants in his corners.  Back in 2005 we drafted another undersized Miami corner who was also considered a great “cover corner” by the name of Kelly Jennings.  I don’t think we want to go down that path again.

5. Aaron Williams

School Height Weight 40 yd Bench Vertical Projected Round
Texas 6’0″ 204 4.55 18 37.5″ Early 2nd

Pros: Williams has average to above-average cornerback tools.  He has good mental anticipation and a clear understanding of the game.
Cons: He lacks initial quickness, recovery speed, and physicality.
My Take: His size would naturally make him an outside corner against bigger receivers, but his lack of game speed will be a barrier for him at the next level.  He probably will not be more than a serviceable NFL corner.
Draft Chance: 4 — Williams will be available when we select in the first round, but he is not valuable enough to warrant the 25th overall pick.  Look for him in the second round, should he fall down to the 57th pick.

6. Ras-I Dowling

School Height Weight 40 yd Bench Vertical Projected Round
Virginia 6’1″ 198 4.40 19 2nd – 4th

Pros: Dowling has elite intangibles.  He’s got all the tools to become an all-pro cornerback in the NFL.
Cons: He has serious injury concerns.  His on-field experience is limited due to injuries.
My Take: Dowling could be the most intriguing CB prospect in this draft.  He has all the makings of an elite corner, but injuries have been a huge issue.
Draft Chance: 6 — He could be selected as high as the second round or as low as the fourth.  Keep an eye on him if he slides into the 3rd round; Carroll and company may look at taking a risk on him like they did with Walter Thurmond last year.

There’s my take on the top six CBs in this year’s draft.  What do you guys think?