Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 Draft: Ranking the CB Class

Nnamdi Asomugha is now a 49er and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is now a Bronco. I don't think Eagles fans will miss this frustrating, underachieving tandem. Howie and company signed former Rams CB Bradley Fletcher on the first day of free agency and later signed former Ravens CB Cary Williams. They are the projected starters at this point, but they Eagles need to add more talent here.

Chip Kelly likes certain types of athletes at each position. Fletcher and Williams are both long, physical athletes who tackle very well. That should give us a decent idea of what he's looking for.

The Eagles have worked out four corners as of April 9th: top prospect Dee Milliner, Darius Slay, Brandon McGee and Sanders Commings.

Here are the top 10 CB prospects for the Eagles in this years draft:

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama (6'0" 201 lbs): Milliner has been linked to the Eagles by many analysts, but I have my doubt he'll be in midnight green next season. He has a good build and smooth hips. He's a coordinated athlete who locates the ball well. Awareness and tackling are strengths of his, and he plays smart football. Milliner is a good tackler with violent hands. He ran well at the combine, but some people question his game speed. He was not asked to backpedal at Alabama so that needs work. He can be overaggressive in support, leading to missed tackles and he played on a loaded defense at Alabama. I project Milliner to be a really good pro, but I don't think he'll be an elite player like Patrick Peterson.

Rhodes displays good ball
skills with his physical tools.
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (6'2" 210 lbs): Rhodes is right on Milliner's tail. He's a big, physical, press corner with quick and smooth movements. He locates the ball with good timings and displays good ball skills. He's an instinctive player who uses his length well. 8 career INTs and good experience help Rhodes' stock. He can be too physical at times, might draw penalties in the NFL. Rhodes is inexperienced in zone coverage and needs to play with better discipline. A knee injury affected his 2011 season and should be checked out. Overall, I think Rhodes has a higher ceiling than Milliner because he has better ball skills and is more physically gifted.

3. Johnathan Banks, Mississippi State (6'2" 185 lbs): Banks displays great length and height while maintaining agile footwork. Banks set a school record with 16 INTs displaying outstanding ball skills. Only 185 pounds but is a tough, physical, competitive kid. He plays downhill and was a team leader at Mississippi State, displaying elite work ethic. He needs to bulk up though. His height works against him at times, playing tall and lacking the elite speed to recover. He always looks for the turnover and can get caught peeking at the QB. Banks is a willing tackler and a proven play-maker. If he's there in the second, keep an eye on him.

4. Desmond Trufant, Washington (6'0" 190 lbs): There's a little drop-off after the top three corners, but Trufant is a solid, experienced 4-year starter. He's athletic and fluid with agile feet. His transitions are seamless and he fights for the ball, high-pointing well. He's experienced in both man and zone coverage, showing valuable versatility and flashes play-making ability. His physicality is average and he doesn't tackle at a consistent level. He opens his hips early and reverts to bad habits during the game. His press needs to be refined as well. Trufant doesn't have a ton of upside, but he's a proven, solid player.

5. Jamar Taylor, Boise State (5'11" 192 lbs): Taylor is a physical corner with very good speed. He is smooth in his backpedal and has fluid hips. He's a plus athlete who breaks on the ball quickly. Experienced in man and zone coverage, Taylor has good instincts. His intangibles are attractive as well, showing good work ethic and dependability. Taylor doesn't have a very good press and can be fooled by play fakes. He played a Boise St. and didn't face top competition on a regular basis. His inconsistent hands make some scouts question his play-making ability and he has some injury concerns.

6. Darius Slay, Mississippi State (6'0" 192 lbs): Slay is a long athlete with outstanding speed (ran a 4.36 40). He uses his length to disrupt receivers, making it hard to secure the reception. He's a physical tackler who will add to your special-teams unit. Slay battles for the 50/50 balls and shows good closing burst. Inexperience is an issue, only a one-year starter. He needs to add strength and some scouts are concerned about his change of direction skills. While he's a willing tackler, he doesn't always finish the job. Slay is not short on upside, and could be a great option if he slides into the third round. Some analysts say Slay has a higher ceiling than teammate Johnathan Banks, although Banks is the better player at this point in time.

7. David Amerson, NC State (6'1" 205 lbs): Amerson is a physically imposing corner with good length. He is aggressive and plays downhill. His WR hands display play-making ability and are violent when shedding blocks. He's agile for his size and wraps up to finish tackles. Amerson has the physical tools to excel in man coverage and has experience in zone. He lacks top-end speed and hip fluidity. He needs to refine his backpedal and play more disciplined. Speed concerns lead some scout to believe he's better suited for safety but his physical tools are evident.

8. Logan Ryan, Rutgers (5'11" 191 lbs): Ryan has solid size and has top-notch physicality, playing with a reckless abandon. He's a play-maker who seems to always be around the football. Ryan's stats standout and he's an intelligent, versatile player. He's fluid and athletic, high-pointing the ball pretty well. Ryan lacks elite speed and can be an overaggressive tackler, whiffing on occasion. His technique is raw in certain areas and his physicality will draw penalties at the next level. Ryan is an intriguing option with some solid upside.

Mathieu is dangerous with the
football in his hands.
9. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU (5'9" 186 lbs): Mathieu is a household name to football fans, many of us awed at his play-making ability two seasons ago. He is a feisty player with elite ball skills. He's played all over the field and is a great blitzer. He really masks his height well, timing his leaps perfectly and playing with great physicality. Mathieu doesn't only contribute to special-teams, he's an ace returner who can break one at any moment. He is quicker than he is fast, lacking top-end speed to recover deep. He's very aggressive and will bite on a play-fake every now and then. Obviously doesn't have ideal height but still competes. Character concerns are the biggest issue for him. If he is sincere in his rehabilitation, he's worth every bit of a fourth-round pick, displaying pro-bowl upside.

10. Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana (5'10" 188 lbs): Alford is strong despite his size and has a competitive press. He has smooth movements, quick feet and fluid hips. Playing a versatile role in college, he displayed plus ball skills and closing speed. He's a willing tackler who has kick-return ability. Despite his below-ideal height, his long arms help make up for it. He has some injury history and needs to wrap up more consistently. Obviously didn't face top competition at Southeastern Louisiana.

Two-Point Conversion

Here are the the two other corners the Eagles have worked out, as of April 9th:

- Sanders Commings, Georgia (6'0" 216 lbs): He's got great size and strength. Commings is a good athlete with loose hips. Potential as a press-man corner, Commings has surprising speed (4.41 40) and agile feet. He's coordinated and is an aggressive tackler, adding special-teams value. He lacks game speed and struggles with footwork and zone coverage, some scouts project him better at safety. He also has some character concerns.
McGee has great speed and is a
willing, physical tackler.

- Brandon McGee, Miami (5'11" 193 lbs): He has solid size and strength, with smooth hips and good footwork. He high-points and locates the football well, which led to good production at Miami. McGee is quick with good top-end speed and is a willing tackler with a feisty attitude. He will draw penalties in the NFL with too much contact down-field and can be a streaky tackler. There are some questions about his coach-ability but has very good upside as an early day-three prospect.


One prospect I'm very fond of is Illinois CB Terry Hawthorne (6'0" 195 lbs). He's a very physical athlete. LSU CB Tharold Simon also deserves a look. He has great size (6'2" 202 lbs) and was very productive against great competition.


- In case you missed it, there are some talented pass-rushers in this year's draft. Take a look at some potential targets for the Eagles.

- Somebody is going to start at DE opposite of Fletcher Cox. Will it be Cedric Thorton, Vinny Curry? Or will it be a rookie drafted this April?

- Some people are criticizing the Isaac Sopoaga signing, he had a poor year in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus. Will the Eagles add a big youngster into the competition?

* Follow me on Twitter @Matt_Chastain25 and @OfficialEagles_, I'll get ya back!

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