The Combine is almost here and based on the secondary needs of the Patriots I've been doing a little scouting. There are some very hyped names at the Cornerback position going into the combine. We are all familiar or becoming familiar with Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Alfonzo Dennard, Chase Minnifield, Jenoris Jenkins, and Stephon Gilmore. These will likely be the first six CBs off the board and all of them will be gone by the back half of the second round. If the Patriots look to take a Safety, OLB, DE, and WR (not in any particular order) with our first four selections will there be any CBs worth considering after Round Two? We'll look at five players worthy of a look after the jump.
1. Josh Norman 6'1" 203 Coastal Carolina
A smaller school CB, Norman was a 2011 FCS All American First Team as well as a 2010 First Team All-Big South. Josh turned many heads at the East-West Shrine Game.
"If there was an MVP of the week in St. Petersburg, Norman was the guy. He's long, physical and showcased an impressive burst when asked to drive on the football. He was making plays all week and not only has a "plus" skill set, but also exhibits a very natural feel deciphering routes developing in front of him. There are some off-the-field character concerns, but he's a legit top-100 pick." - Wes Bunting of NFP
"At 6 feet 1 inch, he is bigger than most cornerbacks. Norman also has good size for the position, weighing in at 203 pounds. He has the ability to click and close on receivers who make a break for the ball in front of him. Norman loves to bait quarterbacks into bad throws. He’ll play off a receiver to give the appearance that there’s a throwing window. Once a quarterback decides to test him, he’ll immediately break on the ball, and interceptions are often a result." - Cecil Lammey of the New York Times
"Of all the players on the East squad, there has been one prospect who has stood out across the board as being very physically talented and a potential player at the next level. That player is Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. Yesterday, we featured him in our write-up of the Tuesday practice after he made an acrobatic interception, and he was even better Wednesday. The 6-foot, 203-pounder has size and athleticism to go along with quickness. He has blanketed receivers all week and shown excellent instincts to get in position to make splash plays. Norman had a few interceptions in the Wednesday practice." - Charlie Campbell for WalterFootball.com
2. Cliff Harris 5'11" 168 Oregon (suspended from the team)
He definitely has some baggage but the upside is huge. He's not only a 2010 All American at CB but a dynamic return man as well. Many analysts were mocking him in the First Round after the 2011 NFL Draft.
In 2010 Harris broke up 23 passes and averaged 18.8 yards per punt return (including 4 touchdowns). However his numbers for 2011 dropped dramatically and he was suspended for a multitude of "conduct unbecoming" type of issues. He needs veteran leadership and guidance at the NFL level which the Pats can provide. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian wrote: The Oregonian
Last spring Harris was being projected as a potential first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by nearly every website that evaluates such things.
Take this trip down memory lane:
NFLDraftScout.com's Chad Reuter had Harris going 20th to Detroit.
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Pete Prisco ranked Harris as the No. 6 prospect in the 2012 draft.
ESPN’s Todd McShay had Harris going 21st to Dallas.
WalterFootball.com had Harris going No. 14 to San Francisco.
3. DeQuan Menzie 5'11" 195 Alabama
He is the forgotten member of the Alabama secondary this year (well behind Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron). Still he was a 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches' All American selection. He also started all 12 games for the Crimson Tide in 2011 and 7 games in 2010. If we do take Mark Barron wouldn't Menzie be a nice potential compliment to that selection in the later rounds?
4. Keith Tandy 5' 10" 199 West Virginia
A 2011 All Big East Conference First Team (Coaches) selection. A coaches team guy is sometimes the overlooked guy that is known only to the guys that view more tape than anyone else of their rivals.
"Keith Tandy is a pest. I mean that in a good way. He is that guy on the basketball court during a pick up game that would be in full court press mode. Tandy is a scrapper who will duke it out with anyone. He presses at the line of scrimmage with the best of them. Has fluid hips and can rebound if beaten. He is a very sound tackler for his size and nearly never misses a tackle. I think Tandy will become a steal over time."
5. Josh Pleasant 5'10" 190 Kent State
It's hard to find much write up on him, but he was named to Phil Steele's All-MAC Second Team and Midseason All-MAC First Team.
I did have someone share some tape with me and I like his tackling and his focus on the ball. Take a look.
Well those are my candidates for some later round action. We have a Third and a Fourth Round pick but I fully expect those will not be the only later selections we end up with by the end of the draft. Several of these guys will get some buzz before the draft but they seem to consistent that third tier candidate list that might offer some gems. I expect that players like Casey Hayward, Leonard Johnson, Jamell Flemming, Brandon Boykin, and Trumaine Johnson will create that second tier.