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NFL Draft: What To Look For In CB Prospects

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - NFL Draft: What To Look For In CB Prospects

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.

Understand Coverages

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.

Speed/Acceleration

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.

Instincts

Analyzing a prospects instincts is not always as easy as turning on the game film and studying the player. It requires more than that.Cowboys Draft - NFL Draft: What To Look For In CB Prospects

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

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

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.Cowboys Draft - NFL Draft: What To Look For In CB Prospects 1

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.

Size

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.

Tackling

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.Cowboys Draft - NFL Draft: What To Look For In CB Prospects 2

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.

Summary

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.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Dallas Cowboys

Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

Brian Martin

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Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.

I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.

Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.

Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:

2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano

You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.

Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.

DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.

Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.

I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.

But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.

Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.

Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.

First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.

On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

What about the rest of the class?

Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.

After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.

How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.



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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.

Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.

But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.

Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.

Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.

One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.

In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.

Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 1

Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.

The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.

Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.

Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.

For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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