Yesterday was the final day of the 2013 NFL Combine and a chance to see cornerbacks attempt to improve their draft stock. Which ones would be a good fit for the Saints?
In 2012, the New Orleans Saints secondary was horrendous by all accounts, especially the cornerbacks. Jabari Greer's play started to decline pretty quickly towards the end of the year. Patrick Robinson was around the bottom in the league at giving up yards and receptions. The rest of the guys sans Corey White and Elbert Mack left a lot to be desired.
Here comes the chance to fill some spots at the corner position, as well as free agency, but you don't have to necessarily pick up one early on in the draft. The only corner I would pick in the first round this year is Desmond Trufant. Jonathan Banks is a "maybe" in the first round, but his slow 40 time will cause him to drop into the second.
Just remember that White was chosen in the fifth round and wasn't expected to contribute much and now, I see him as a challenger for a starting spot. So don't be surprised at these players skills just because they are 5th-7th round projections. After the Combine, these players will surely ascend.
Here they are:
Terry Hawthorne, Illinois
When I was watching film on Michael Buchanan, Hawthorne kept sticking out the entire time. So I went and put tape on of just him and wow. He's a press corner that is just as good in zone and run support. His 40 time is fast, and his hips are fluid in coverage. He might not have the stats to suggest he is a playmaker, but he looks like he has a feistiness to him that would say otherwise.
Hawthorne should be drafted around the fourth or fifth round, but he could drop because of depth at the position.
Micah Hyde, Iowa
Hyde is a high intelligence/high character guy who is versatile enough to give you more depth at safety as well. He is going to go later in the draft because he isn't going to test well in workouts, but he adds extra value on special teams as a gunner who can replace Courtney Roby. Despite being a little limited physically, his work ethic and intangibles far exceed those cons.
He is an underrated playmaker who has returned three turnovers in college for touchdowns. He will probably go around the fifth round.
Terrence Brown, Stanford
Brown, like Hawthorne, was a guy who stuck out on film while watching Stanford film for another guy. He is a physical corner like his predecessor in Palo Alto, Richard Sherman, and will be a late round pick like him as well. Someone will get a steal in this Cardinal that late. Like all the corners on this list, he excels in man coverage.
If the Saints don't go corner early, I can see the team taking a chance on this guy in the 5th round.
Brandon McGee, Miami (Fla.)
McGee developed slowly at Miami, but, when he was given the opportunity to play, he played well. He's fast and athletic, but won't give you much in the run game. He is a Tracy Porter clone in my eyes. He jumps on routes and that will sometime get him out of position, but his natural skills and ballhawk ability will have teams interested.
He tests well in workouts, so I can see him going around the fourth round, and maybe higher.
Josh Johnson, Purdue
This is my favorite guy of all of these prospects on this list. Johnson has the same kind of cocky, confident attitude as Desmond Trufant, the corner who is climbing boards out of Washington. You have to have a little bit of that at the corner position in the NFL. If you don't have confidence out there on the edge, you are not going to have a short memory when you get burned, because it will happen.
Johnson has everything you want in a corner. His coverage skills are great, in man or zone, and is probably the best run-stopping corner in this draft. Yup, I said that. He is a player with first round talent who will get picked around the 4th-5th round and will be a steal. Mark my words.