Scouting The Draft: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our look at some of the top prospects ahead of the 2014 NFL draft in relation to the Jets.

Introduction

You're really going to get very bored with cornerback scouting reports. I would be amazed if we didn't select a corner in the first three rounds and I wouldn't be surprised to see us take a corner in round one. Which is why our next profile covers a first round talent, Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard.

If you want to fall in love with a defensive player then Dennard may be your man. Especially if you are an old-fashioned hard-nosed, blue-collar type of defensive person. He enjoyed a fantastic season in 2013 which saw him pick up the Thorpe Award. He was tested 31 times on passes that travelled 15 yards or more, and he allowed just 4 receptions. 27 times the ball was either knocked away, intercepted or he played it so perfectly a reception just wasn't possible.

Dennard is likely vying with Gilbert to be the first corner taken this year, and although I prefer Gilbert, I can see the argument for Dennard being the first corner taken off the board.

Measurables

Height: 5'11

Weight: 200 lb's

Class: Senior

40 yard: 4.51

Bench: 15

Statistics

Year Tackles For A Loss Sack Interceptions Pass Defences Forced Fumbles
2010 11 2.0 1 0 0 1
2011 42 1.5 0 3 6 0
2012 52 3.5 0 3 10 0
2013 62 3.5 0 4 14 2

Positives

  • Physicality - He is the most physical corner in this draft, of that I'm confident. He will come up and support the run, make big hits and play some aggressive press coverage at the line.
  • Fluidity - He doesn't have the pace of Gilbert, but he's not slow and he is very fluid in flipping his hips and turning to run with receivers.
  • Awareness - Understands football and with three years of starting experience, he always seems to know what play is coming and how to defend it. A very intelligent football player.
  • Build - Although he isn't the tallest player, he has good size and length for the position and has excellent athletic ability, makes him perfect for a press defender.
  • Body Control - Unlike a lot of corners in college, he doesn't manhandle receivers, which I think will help him adjust quicker. He uses the sideline as an advantage and his positioning is fantastic.
  • Ball-Skills - As you can tell by the passes defended, he has excellent timing in knowing when to knock the football away, also knows when to swat and when to go for the interception, doesn't get beat often.
  • Tackling - The best open-field tackling cornerback in the draft hands down. He's as reliable as a linebacker with his tackling.
  • Leadership - I read numerous reports which suggested he was a real leader in the locker room and a player a lot of team-mates looked up to.
Negatives

  • Straight Line Speed: His 4.51 time shows he doesn't have elite straight line speed, compare that with Gilbert's 4.37 and you'll see why some have some concerns.
  • Played on a very good defense. He was lucky enough to have a great front 7 for much of his career with the Spartans, which meant he didn't have to deal with QB's with a load of time in the pocket.
Conclusions

I found it very hard to put a negative spin on his game. The lack of speed is nullified due to how fluid and smooth Dennard is running with receivers. Also he can't help that he played on a good defense and like the stats suggest in the introduction, when tested over 15 yards he was very successful. I think he'll settle and adjust to the NFL very quickly and better than most corners. However I also think he is a top 15 talent along with Gilbert so I'm really not sure he will be available when we come to select.

Would I draft him for the Jets?

Absolutely. 100%. I really like him as a player and think he'll go on to be a fantastic corner for the next 10 years, why wouldn't you want that on your team.

Highlights


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