…then I better make sure I gush about the cornerbacks.
The more I think about it, I also really like the defensive backs in this class. As I noted last week in my NFLPA/Shrine Game primer, cornerback isn’t really a major need for the Bears. But they could use some depth, and there are some legitimate backend defenders in this showcase.
Corners usually get a ton of looks in the 1-on-1 drills with receivers, and all things considered, the wideouts are going to have the advantage. I think back all the time when Braxton Miller had made the transition to wide receiver and absolutely feasted at Senior Bowl practices. He was able to create separation with his footwork and the like. That said, he’s currently sitting on the Eagles’ practice squad since being released by the Houston Texans. His separation hasn’t quite translated the way he would’ve liked.
Receivers have an advantage in these drills. So while it’s nice to say they were successful in them, let’s not forget about the DBs when they do well.
Here are the highlights:
Iman Marshall, University of Southern California: I thought that Marshall probably could’ve entered the draft last year if he wanted. He was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster and likely fits more like a zone corner. His stats weren’t exactly eye-popping (48 tackles, nine passes defensed, zero picks). I think that if he flops as a boundary corner, then he transitions to safety to salvage his career. It’s not crazy to think that he can make the transition if asked. Should he test well at the Combine, it would confirm that theory. Regardless of how this week finishes for him, he should be a day three pick, with plenty of room to grow.
Kris Boyd, University of Texas: ‘Contributor’ is the word I’d throw around with Boyd. He was a big part in why the Longhorns had such a great season. Not the best defender on the team (that distinction belongs to fellow Senior Bowler Charles Omenihu), but certainly one of the best. Known for his physicalities at the line of scrimmage, Boyd is what I think one of the top press corners in the draft. There is room for improvement, however, as he does tend to get very handsy with receivers. That can sometimes get you in trouble as in getting beat off the line. Also, the NFL loves calling defensive pass interference (well, sometimes), so he could struggle early on a la Trae Waynes. He also needs to bulk up (listed at 195 pounds per Rotoworld).
Lonnie Johnson, University of Kentucky: I’ll just say off the bat that this won’t be the only Kentucky defensive back in this slideshow. Their defense last season was really good. A lot of the success and attention goes to top five prospect Josh Allen, but make no mistake: guys like Johnson were more than just cogs in the machine. Johnson sticks out with his size and wingspan: an impressive six-feet, two-inch height with a 32 and 1/4 inches length. Everyone probably will think the Seahawks can add him to the new Legion of Boom because of size/press abilities. But I don’t know if I like him as a man corner. I think he may be suited better on a zone scheme. Both the Wildcats and the Bears ran very similar zone concepts (quite a bit of Cover 3 and 4) last season. Not a bad match.
Rock Ya-Sin, Temple University: Smart money says ‘The Rock’ won’t be there at pick 87 for Chicago, but this dude is legit. A former Presbyterian transfer, Ya-Sin was one of the rocks (no pun intended) in Temple’s defense. The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that he sat out Temple’s bowl game against Duke. Given how first-round hopeful Daniel Jones melted the Owls’ defense the second half, Ya-Sin was clearly missed. The second thing, from what I’ve watched, is he’s extremely physical and has the speed to start the next level. There’s no way he makes it out of day two, but the question really is whether he’ll be there at pick 87. He strikes me as more of a “Seahawks” player than Johnson, in my opinion.