(Featured Image via Blocku.com)
A big part of the NFL draft evaluation process is identifying dominant traits in players and projecting how those traits transition to the NFL. Each position has a set of very important traits that evaluators look for, and in this series, the perfect prospect will be created using the traits of players in this class. For cornerbacks, the five most important traits are footwork, ball skills, physicality, size and athletic ability. There is no clear order in which they are important, but they all play big pieces in success at the professional level.
Size: Eric Rowe, Utah
Rowe is strong, physical corner. A big part of what allows him to play the way he does is his build. The NFL is leaning towards longer corners, and Rowe exemplifies this prototype. He is 6-1 with long arms and a very solid build. Teams such as Philadelphia, Seattle and Kansas City will all be very interested in the size Rowe brings to the cornerback position.
Athletic Ability: Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH)
Rollins is a one year starter on the Redhawks football team, since he spent most of his college career on the basketball team playing point guard. Those basketball skills show up on the field, as he is a long strider with great burst. His long speed is slightly in question, but burst is one of the most important athletic traits at cornerback, and he has that in bunches. Rollins moves very well laterally and has a tremendous vertical jump. The Miami (OH) corner is still a very raw player, but his athletic tools are tremendous and will make him incredibly sought after.
Footwork: Ifo Ekpre Olomu, Oregon
Olomu has gotten a lot of heat for his senior season, most of which is unwarranted, but one thing is very clear; that he possesses very good footwork. Olomu has incredibly quick feet. He is clean coming out of his back pedal, he does a great job moving down field, and in zones, due to how little wasted movement by him to cover ground.
Ball Skills: Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
Golson was one of the most productive defenders in the country last year, and that was in big part to his tremendous ball skills. Golson is not a big player by any means (5-9/176), but he does a phenomenal job of tracking the ball in the air and closing on it. He positions his body very well in coverage and always gets his head turned around when the ball is in the air. He can get vertical, even against bigger receivers, and has very soft hands. Golson will have questions coming into the NFL, but his ball hawking mentality certainly will not be one of them.
Physicality: Josh Shaw, USC
Shaw had a rough year, considering he broke his leg in preseason, and he was dismissed by the team. There are plenty of off the field questions with Shaw, but very few about the talent that is displayed is on the field. Shaw is as aggressive and physical as a team would want in a corner. In addition to being incredibly active at the line of scrimmage, he does a great job of getting physical in coverage. During his career at USC, Shaw was also used at safety, and it shows up in his tackling. Shaw is a strong, violent tackler who has no issue coming up and hitting against the run. This corner prospect will be giving teams a lot of things to work with, but his aggressive physicality will stand out to all.