Today, we’ll take a look at the corner back position and I will attempt to explain to you what I look for when scouting individual players.
More than any other position in the NFL, the corner back position requires a really good knowledge of the game and that means you have to educate yourself about the different aspects that are required to play CB in the league.
Here are the positions that have been previously broken down about what to look for when scouting: Quarterback, Running back, Wide receiver, Tight end, Offensive line, Defensive end, Defensive tackle, and Inside linebacker.
The CB position is one of the hardest and most difficult to analyze and there are a lot of different traits that you have to be aware of when scouting these NFL hopefuls.
First and foremost, you absolutely have to be educated to the different types of coverages that corner backs are asked to play on a routine basis.
The uneducated scout believes there are just two coverages that need to be known, man and zone coverage, but there are actually five different types of coverages.
Cover 0: Man coverage without a free safety playing over the top helping.
Cover 1: Man coverage with strong and free safety help.
Cover 2 (Tampa 2): Safeties divide to the field playing zone coverage and corner backs cover the flats.
Cover 3: Corner backs and free safety divide the field into thirds and play zone coverage.
Cover 4: Corner backs and safeties divide the field into quarters and play zone coverage.
I can’t express enough how important it is to understand the different types of coverages in order to properly analyze the best fit for a CB in the NFL.
Probably more than any other position in the NFL, the trait that might just be the most important is a prospects speed.
If you pay attention to what the CBs job entails, then you know that he is already at a disadvantage before the ball is even snapped.
A wide receiver has the benefit of knowing exactly what route is about to run and has the CB at a disadvantage because he is running forward, while the CB has to backpedal until he can turn and run with the receiver.
In the blink of an eye the CB has to change direction and use his speed to stay step for step with the wide receiver down the field. A corner backs speed might just make the difference in a completed pass or an incomplete.
Acceleration goes hand-in-hand with speed when discussing the CB position. I really like to see a CB that can get up to speed quickly.
A CB has to be able to stop and change direction and use his acceleration to make a play on the ball.
When analyzing the CB position you have to pay close attention to a prospects speed and acceleration, because it is one of the most important traits for a player to succeed at the NFL level.
Sometimes, you kind of have to have a gut feeling about a player. His instincts may not always show up on film because of the coverage he is asked to play.
What I try to look for is whether or not a player has good read and reaction skills.
Does the CB look as if he is able to understand route concepts? Does he know when to undercut a route? Is he fooled by double moves?
It’s a process of seeing, processing, and reacting all in a matter of a split second.
Technique is a trait that can be coached up in the NFL, so it’s not a dealbreaker when putting together a prospects scouting report.
What I try to look for is if the CB playing at the collegiate level can get out of his backpedal and smoothly turn his hips when he is covering a wide receiver.
I like to rely mostly on game film, because that’s the same type of situation that they would be in on a regular basis. However, the NFL Scouting Combine provides drills that helps a scout see if there any weaknesses in this area.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, players are in full pads so it’s easier to recognize if they CB is stiff in his movements and when turning and redirecting.
I really like to see a smoothness from the transition of backpedaling and then turning to track the receiver down the field.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is a trait that can be improved upon once a player is coached the proper technique to play with in the NFL.
Agility is another important trait to look for when analyzing the corner back position. The CB position plays out in space the majority of time in the NFL and they have to be able to use their agility to make plays in the open field.
I think what I look for the most when trying to analyze a player’s agility is whether or not he has quick feet. A lot of times having quick feet can help a player make a play or get out of trouble.
Agility also is important to a player’s technique, because the more agile a player is the easier they should be able to transition from their backpedal to turning and running with a wide receiver.
In all honesty, I don’t put too much emphasis on a corner backs size. As long as he doesn’t have a problem controlling a receiver at the line of scrimmage, can make plays in the running game, and challenge receivers in jump ball situations, I can find a place for him.
However, we have seen in recent years that NFL teams have put an emphasis on finding bigger more athletic CBs. Teams generally like at least a 6’0″, 190 pound CB or bigger to play the outside corner back position.
They like these bigger CBs because they match up better against the taller wide receivers and they can play more physical and not be overmatched.
Smaller CBs are usually used in the slot and rely more on their quickness to cover the more shifty and agile wide receivers.
It mostly depends on what type of corner that the team prefers and how they plan on being used within the defensive scheme. Size is a matter of preference and it’s important to remember that when analyzing these prospects.
I personally think that tackling has become somewhat of a lost art form in the NFL at the CB position, but with teams such as the Carolina Panthers running a read option offense, it could start to become more important.
I like a CB that is physical in the running game and isn’t afraid to make a tackle. In my way of thinking, there are 11 players on defense and I think that everyone of them should be an effective tackler.
I don’t really put too much importance on whether or not a CB is a big hitter or just a wrap-up tackler. I just want to see the prospect make a play when it is needed of them and not shy away from contact.
Tackling may never be one of the top traits to look for in a CB prospect, but it’s still something I like to look for when analyzing the position.
There are so many different traits and variables that you have to consider when analyzing the corner back position, and it is sometimes a frustrating and tiresome process.
The most important advice I can give is to educate yourself about the different coverages that a CB will be asked to play in the NFL and then try to analyze what type of defensive scheme they will best fit in.
One of my favorite defensive backs in the 2016 draft class is Kendall Fuller out of Virginia Tech. I personally believe that he would be a great addition to the Dallas Cowboys secondary and is exactly what defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli might be looking for to improve the backend of his defense.