CBs a good value in second round
While there are only a few first-round cornerbacks this year, there should be a number of solid prospects available in the second round, Len Pasquarelli writes.
Most scouts feel that the true value in this year's draft lies in the second round and at no position might that be better reflected than cornerback.
Recent history indicates that the second round is always a strong stanza for cornerbacks. Since 2000, there have been 30 cornerbacks selected in the second round, one more than has been chosen in the first round. And the second round has produced standout cornerbacks like Ken Lucas (2001), Sheldon Brown (2002) and Rashean Mathis (2003).
Look for the trend to continue this weekend.
"Once you get past the first couple [cornerbacks], you're looking at a lot of 'but' guys,' said one NFC director of college scouting. "You know, 'He runs well, but.' Or, 'He's got good size, but.' You're always better off getting those guys in the second round. And there are a lot of them this year."
LSU's LaRon Landry is Scouts Inc.'s top rated safety in the draft, while Michigan's Leon Hall is the top rated cornerback.
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• McShay on Landry
• McShay on Hall
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Any of those three players could just as easily slip into the second round, though, and they will have plenty of company there with some other well-regarded cornerbacks. The feeling is that as many as six to eight cornerbacks could be chosen in the second round. One of those is likely to be Eric Wright of Nevada-Las Vegas, a former starter at Southern California and maybe the best pure cover corner in this draft, but a player with some off-field issues.
Teams interested in Wright -- who has good size (5-feet-10 ½, 192 pounds), great speed (4.36 at the combine) and superb ball-skills -- are closely examining his character and the potential risk involved in choosing him in the first round. In the spring of 2005, Wright was arrested for suspicion of rape and police, while investigating the allegations, found 136 ecstasy pills in his apartment.
All charges were subsequently dropped and Wright transferred to UNLV. He has arrived at individual interviews with teams armed with a thick file of reference letters from coaches, teammates and people in the Las Vegas community, and he points to his spotless record over the last two years as evidence the 2005 incident was "two or three hours of bad judgements." Still, the incident could drop a player with first-round talent into the second round, where some team might land a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback.
"There are always pretty good cornerbacks in the [second] round, guys who can play in our league," acknowledged Indianapolis defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. "It's not unusual to see a big run [on cornerbacks] in the second round, because there is usually value there."
Another potential value pick in the second round might be Daymeion Hughes of California, whose stock slipped when he ran just a 4.56 time at the combine. But Hughes has good size and there is no denying his knack for the big play. His 15 career interceptions are the most of any of the corners in this year's class and he returned four of them for touchdowns.
Said Hughes: "If they just judge me on production, not on a stopwatch, some team is going to get a steal."
That might be true in the second round and beyond. Some second-day sleepers to watch: Usama Young of Kent State, a raw corner who ran under 4.3 and posted a 43-inch vertical jump at his "pro day" workout; John Bowie of Cincinnati; Geoff Pope of Howard; and Michael Coe of Alabama State.
While this year's cornerback pool has some flaws and the safety class might feature more first-round prospects, there is size and speed at the outside position. The average size of the 30 cornerbacks who attended the NFL combine workouts in February was 5-feet-11 ¼ and 192.4 pounds. There were 11 corners who were 6-feet-0 or taller and only four shorter than 5-feet-11.
Of the 28 cornerbacks who ran the 40-yard sprint at the combine, 14 were timed at less than 4.5 and 11 were clocked faster than 4.45. Houston had a blistering 4.32 time and Wright posted a 4.36 time.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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