The New Orleans Saints had one of the best secondaries in the NFL last season. Because of that success taking a corner on the first two days might not seem like a likely course of action, but in today’s league you can never have too many quality skill players.
Stanford CB Quenton Meeks is a true student of the game with football bloodlines. What can he get accomplished at the next level? We discuss that here.
Deuce: We’ve heard people speak about you potential playing safety, nickel and on the boundary. What do you want to do, where do you want to play?
Meeks: I would love to continue to play the position I’ve been playing the last two years at Stanford (boundary corner). Whatever position I get drafted as I’m going to come in and compete for a starting job. Whether that’s at cornerback, nickel or safety I can come in and learn it right away. One of the good things about me is my football knowledge, and I can learn positions really easily. I just wanna ball.
Deuce: You’re the son of a NFL defensive coach, and when it comes to the tape side of things/technique it can be tough to find flaws with those areas. Where some have raised concerns is your athletic ability. Has that been a focus for you, to improve those athletic scores?
Meeks: Oh definitely. I’ve never been worried about my athleticism. I know I’m an explosive athlete and I’m a student (of the game) so my movements might not look as fast as moves you see from other guys, but they’re really fluid and I can get in and out of breaks with ease. I’m comfortable so people assume that I’m not as athletic as other players, but everyday I’m trying to get faster and trying to get stronger.
One thing about me is I have the strength to play safety, so at corner it’s really difficult for receivers to come block me. I work everyday to improve my body and get better.
Deuce: Some players focus on fixing problems they might have, while others focus on something they are already strong at. You mentioned with your strength that it can make it difficult to handle you on the outside. You’ve shown you’re a strong tackler. Do you think that’s a reason to leave you on the outside so teams and coordinators can trust you to keep that containment?
Meeks: I think people kinda wonder what position I can play because I am built like a safety and they don’t see many guys built like me having success at corner. They see a lot of longer corners, which I am that, but they don’t see a lot of big corners which I am. So they’re always going to question the big guy if he can stay with the speed wide receivers.
I love having the bodystyle I have because I’m so versatile. If I have to cover outside, if I have to cover in the slot, if I have to cover man or in zone and if you want me at safety with the tight end all game I can do that as well. laugh
Deuce: Richard Sherman coming out was similar to you. He was a bigger corner that didn’t have great athletic scores, but if you compare the numbers ya’ll put down you’re better in some areas. Do you kind of work on the same premise he did, baiting QBs with your mind instead of relying purely on athletic ability?
Meeks: Oh yea, I mold a lot of my game after Sherman. I remember watching a video he had done on being a student of the game. He was talking about how much film he watches and how he prepares for the game and it helps him be a successful athlete. That’s what I try to bring to my game.
Corner is a position where you’re reacting to everything. People feel like when you’re reacting you can be a step behind so you need elite speed or elite quickness. Well, if you play from your mind you have to be a step ahead and know tendencies combined with good technique that takes over. I don’t have to be blazing fast to have success and Sherman shows that as well.
Deuce: Let me throw you a situation, and I gave this situation to QB Kyle Lauletta out of Richmond last week. Offense has got the ball on your 45, 1:30 left in the game on 3rd and 7. Your team is up by 2. The offense is in shotgun, 2x2 sets with their receivers, and they’re going to show a main to your side with a sail concept. You’ve got to read the QB and read high low, what do you do?
Meeks: Am I on the inside or the outside?
Deuce: You’re on the inside.
Meeks: First thing you have to do is take away the deepest threat. So you play what we call high to low. What that means is you play in between the high receiver which would be your sail route and the low receiver which is in the flat/dig. You want the offense to always through underneath, but you don’t want to overplay the top where you give up the underneath and they can catch & run to the first down.
You have to put yourself in a position where you’re covering the deep route but can still react to the underneath that way you can make a tackle before they can get to the first down.
Deuce: How do you play that, in that short amount of time, without selling which direction you’re leaning so the quarterback is forced into a decision.
Meeks: Really you just have to read the quarterback, and that’s something you’ll do with film study. You’ll look at tendencies of the quarterback. A quarterback’s shoulders are going to tell you a lot of things, like if his shoulder is turned up for the deep route then you know you can sink back more to defend that. If his shoulder is down then you’re going to look at the underneath. A lot of times you can get breaks on the ball before the quarterback throws it because his tendencies can telegraph where he’s going to throw.
Full interview is posted below. How would you like Meeks to join Ken Crawley, P.J. Williams, Patrick Robinson and Marshon Lattimore as corners in the secondary?