Monday, March 23, 2015

Kangaroo Court: The 2015 Defensive Backs

I'm generally a believer in the idea that the best way to convey a point is through hyperbole, and outright bullshit.  Making a well thought out, and rational argument generally doesn't elicit much interest or attention.  The best debates seem to start with one person making a truly idiotic statement.  So, please allow me to behave like a moron for a moment.

Defensive backs, for the most part, are parasites.  They are blood sucking leeches feeding on the strong healthy body of a defenses' front seven.  Interceptions are superficial flash, and relatively rare events that draw too much attention.  Cornerbacks are overpriced prancing gazelles and ninnies.

If J.J. Watt disrupts an offensive play (producing a sack, or a tackle for a loss, etc.), that's clearly a good thing, and people will probably agree that he beat his opponent.  What if he appears to accomplish nothing, but it took two offensive linemen to stop him?  Well, I think we could say that he still won.  He forced the opposing team to assign more of their resources towards dealing with him, and you can only do that to so many players before you simply lose the game.  Even if he appears to accomplish nothing, Watt has made the job of his fellow linemen that much easier.

Can a defensive back ever accomplish that sort of victory?  Probably not.  At best, they can only occupy the efforts and attention of the one receiver they are matched up against.  When they actually have to confront a truly superior receiver, say Calvin Johnson, it's quite likely they are gong to get significant help from a safety as well, even if they are one of the league's better corners.  The corner's value dwindles and become more debatable.

Of course, it's not just the allocation of on the field resources that can determine whether a play is won or lost, from an efficiency perspective.  Let's think about Byron Maxwell, the Eagles newly acquired cornerback.  For the moment, we'll ignore the possibility that he might have some physical shortcomings that could limit his ability to be significantly better than Cary Williams (who sucks!), whom he replaces at a higher annual cost.  Maxwell is scheduled to be paid approximately $10.5 million per season, for the next five years.  Despite being a 27 year old cornerback, who has only started a total of 17 games in his career, he is going to be paid more than every wide receiver in the NFC East, except for Dez Bryant, who is operating on a franchise tag.  In fact, at least as far as I can tell, there are only 7 wide receivers in the entire NFL, who have an average annual salary that is greater than what Byron Maxwell will receive.  The Eagles are spending more to prevent an outcome from occurring, than their opponents are spending to create an outcome.  If your wife was divorcing you (you had it coming), and threatened to take $7 million of your hard earned dollars (I'm assuming that you smuggle blood diamonds), would you pay a hit man $10 million to make her disappear?  Yes, I realize that this is a stupid comparison, but I still have to question the efficiency of certain types of spending.

Since I tend to write about football from the perspective of avoiding risks, I kind of have an ingrained defensive mind-set.  I'll also acknowledge that there are some truly exceptional defensive backs out there, though they are rare.  Despite being in a more reactive position, some of these players can tilt the outcomes of games more than you might normally expect.  Unfortunately, I suspect that in the nuclear arms race of football, the stockpile of serviceable but not spectacular cornerbacks makes disarmament seem like an appealing option.  Even with a player like Darrelle Revis, who I would agree is truly exceptional, the question of efficient team spending seems unavoidable.  At an average annual salary of $14 million, how often is he going to face an opponent who is actually worthy of his skills, let alone worthy of the financial investment the team has made in him?  Maybe twice a year? 

Okay, so maybe I only half believe this nonsense I've just spouted.  Still, it is something that rattles around in my brain from time to time.  It's not like I can really spend my entire day thinking about the Kentucky meat shower, the Aokigahara suicide forest, or the Hello Kitty murder (seriously, they made a movie based on this, which was titled There Is A Secret In My Soup).  A man can't live on deranged and possibly psychopathic interests alone.

Now, let's kick around some thoughts about this year's group of defensive back draft prospects, much as we did last year.

Besides the player's Agility Score, I will also list their 2nd Gear score, and their average number of passes defended in their last two years in college.  Like the hopefully discrete ladies at the massage parlor, I think a high quality DB should probably be grabbing balls with some frequency.  For safety prospects, my expectations for the Agility Score will go down a bit, but I hope to see an increase in their Kangaroo Score (our measure of lower body power), which is also given in the form of how many standard deviations that a player is away from the average result for someone in their position group.

Let the guessing continue...

This list will continue to be modified and updated as new data, and additional prospects, come to my attention.  Not every prospect will be included here, but instead, just the ones that I find interesting for one reason or another.  Updated: 4/22/15

Trae Waynes  CB, Michigan State  Ht:  6'  Wt.: 186
40 time: 4.32  2nd Gear:  0.21   Agility Score:  -1.141   Avg. PD:  9.5
People like to make fun of Al Davis' love of a great 40 time, but he isn't the only person suffering from this disease.  Because of that, I really don't have to worry about Trae Waynes.  I know that some team will select him, well before Team Kangaroo is on the clock.  While his Agility Score is worrisome, maybe we should consider what his result would be based on his pro day.  With that data, his result comes out to -0.455, which still isn't great, but at least isn't horrifically bad.  Maybe this lack of advanced nimble-osity has something to do with the way that Waynes is constantly grabbing at his opponents.  Personally, I didn't think Waynes looked terrible, but I think his upside is probably similar to someone like Johnathan Joesph, who he has a lot in common with.  Do I think Waynes' potential ceiling truly matches his projected draft status?  I'd have a hard time making that wager, so I'd probably abstain, and let someone else take the gamble.

Landon Collins  SS, Alabama   Ht:  6'  Wt.: 228
40 time: 4.53  2nd Gear:  0.04   Agility Score:  -1.738   Avg. PD:  9
At some point, I'm sure I'll get tired of expressing my doubts about players from Alabama...but not today.  With strong safety prospects, I am normally much less concerned with exceptional Agility Scores, though Collins' result would still make me worry quite a bit.  On the other hand, I do expect a strong safety to make up for this with exceptional power, which his 1.650 Kangaroo Score suggests he does possess.  As far as I can tell, based on the little I have seen of Collins, these numbers line up nicely with what he appears to be.  He seems to be an above average hitter, who probably has below average coverage skills.  To be fair to him, he does seem to play a fairly smart game, and not put himself into positions where his physical shortcomings are exploited as often as they could be.  His statistical production was generally above average, in most areas, so I guess that is one point in his favor.  While I don't find him terribly interesting as a safety prospect, I do wonder if converting him to the linebacker position might work.  He basically plays like one anyway, so it might be worth a shot.  It's highly frustrating to me that Collins will probably get on the field very early in his career, accumulate some stats and therefore some acclaim, and yet the player that I think may be this year's best strong safety prospect might not get drafted at all.

Kevin Johnson  CB, Wake Forest   Ht:  6'0.25"  Wt.: 188
40 time: 4.52  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  1.251   Avg. PD:  11
Because of his excellent agility, the computer is sort of prodding us to take Johnson seriously.  Some of his other results also point towards Johnson having rather good lower body power and explosiveness, despite his Kate Moss-like frame.  We only had two fairly minor concerns.  He has fairly mediocre timed speed, though a safety can help with some of that.  He also has fairly small hands (8.375"), which might explain the high numbers of passes he broke up, relative to his number of interceptions.  We might have some minor quibbles and concerns about Johnson, but in the end we still like him.  Among the cornerbacks who are generally considered to be the top 3 prospects (Waynes, Johnson and Peters), he is likely the one that we feel most comfortable with, though he still might not be the best one in the draft.  The main concern we had, based on watching him play, is that he sometimes allowed more space to opposing receivers than we might want to see.  Whether this is a product of his potentially less than ideal speed, is difficult to say.  When he plays up on the line, I felt he looked vastly better.  If he was available in the 2nd round, we would definitely consider him, though it sounds like he will be taken before then.

Marcus Peters  CB, Washington   Ht:  5'11.5"  Wt.: 197
40 time: 4.53  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  -0.128   Avg. PD:  12
We tend to be a bit forgiving of players who were supposedly idiots in college (people in glass houses), so we'll just ignore the fact that he was kicked off his team.  For the most part, there is little about Peters' physical traits which I can complain about.  He is basically the definition of an average athlete, compared to other corners.  That's neither a good nor a bad thing.  He's like oatmeal.  Bland, but perfectly capable of keeping you alive.  The only potentially alarming result he had was with his 10-yard splits, where he consistently failed to crack the 1.60 second barrier.  That does bother me a bit.  Outside of the league's larger or more powerful corners, who can get by with simply mauling their opponents, it is quite unusual to see a corner posting that sort of result, and might point to a lack of quickness.  I wouldn't be shocked if Peters turns out to be an okay corner, but I don't see any evidence to support the idea that he is exceptional.  While he makes some flashy plays due to his aggressiveness and willingness to gamble, I really have to wonder if his athleticism will allow him to consistently cover some of the league's better receivers.  Some reasonable expectation of an exceptional outcome from a potential 1st round pick doesn't strike me as an unreasonable demand, so I would have some serious concerns about picking Peters.

Shaq Thompson, S, Washington   Ht:  6"  Wt.: 228
40 time: 4.64  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  0.097   Avg. PD:  5
Well, we've considered the possibility of Thompson playing linebacker, and decided that was something we didn't want to do.  As a safety, he strikes us as a much more interesting prospect.  His Kangaroo Score of 1.202 is within the range of what we want to see in a strong safety.  His Agility Score would put him into consideration for either safety position.  Thompson's relatively poor timed speed would probably bounce him out of serious consideration as a free safety.  His struggles with breaking the 1.70 second barrier in the 10-yard split, does cause us some concerns, as that is normally a fairly easy mark to hit for defensive backs.  Okay, so we're stuck with considering him as a strong safety.  Thompson's statistical production was relatively respectable, and he looked like a reasonable (but not awe inspiring) player in the games we watched.  Really, I would tend to suspect that he will turn out to be better than the more highly touted Landon Collins, though that might be damning him with faint praise.  Unfortunately, people seem to be projecting that Thompson could be selected in the late 1st to early 2nd round, which is a bit too rich for our blood.  I just don't value the strong safety position enough for that sort of investment.

P.J. Williams  CB, Florida St.   Ht:  6"  Wt.: 194
40 time: 4.57  2nd Gear:  -0.02   Agility Score:  -0.814   Avg. PD:  10.5
Okey-dokey.  Unimpressive speed?  Check.  Woefully poor agility?  Check.  Failure to make much of a positive impression on us?  Yep, you can check that box as well.  What he does have going for him is some significantly above average power for a corner, with his 0.986 Kangaroo Score, and he seems rather willing to hit people.  I have no doubt that there are many receivers that Williams can pummel into submission, but I would worry about how he will deal with some of the better athletes he will face in the NFL.  He strikes me as someone who is probably better suited to playing safety, though Seattle seems infatuated with using this type of player as a corner.

Quinten Rollins  CB, Miami (Ohio)   Ht:  5'11"  Wt.: 195
40 time: 4.58  2nd Gear:  0.03   Agility Score:  -0.864   Avg. PD:  7*
Let's see here.  He only played one year of college football.  He has poor timed speed.  His results suggest rather sub-par agility.  I also see no real evidence of explosiveness or lower body power in his Kangaroo Score.  So, of course he is being projected as a 2nd round pick.  I think I should just go ahead and get drunk at this point, since that seems to be what everyone else is doing.  If he is selected before the 5th round, I would be shocked.

Jalen Collins  CB, LSU    Ht:  6'1.5"  Wt.: 203
40 time: 4.43  2nd Gear:  0.07   Agility Score:  -0.002   Avg. PD:  6
I really have to wonder if Collins' somewhat above average size is inflating his draft stock more than it really should.  These sorts of size/speed prospects often go a couple of rounds ahead of where they might deserve to be selected.  I suspect NFL scouts are also drawn to large breasted women (no judgments, I swear!).  While there are some inconsistencies hidden within his Agility Score, his overall results are acceptably average.  For a corner of his size, his Kangaroo Score of 0.527 is only moderately impressive, though he struck me as a tad disinclined to get physical with people.  This might be related to why he has been avoiding doing the bench press.  Finally, we have his somewhat below average statistical production.  There's nothing that is unforgivably terrible about Collins results, and I wouldn't be surprised by either a positive or negative outcome, but I just didn't find him to be a terribly interesting player.  If he ends up getting selected as high as some people suggest, he might be more of a roll of the dice than we feel comfortable with.

Byron Jones  CB/S, Connecticut    Ht:  6'1"  Wt.:199
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  1.104   Avg. PD:  8.5
I'm going to need a bib for all of this drool.  It's entirely possible that I am an idiot who is getting swept up in the lunacy surrounding Jones' outrageous combine results.  Oh yes, it's a very distinct possibility.  The problem is that so far his data is allowing him to fit into a very rare category of athlete, that has produced players who became extremely unusual cornerbacks.  Comparisons to players like Champ Bailey and Darrelle Revis really aren't entirely unreasonable.  Okay, it's a little unreasonable.  Of course, things don't always work out that way.  A player like Carlos Rogers, as well as a small handful of other less accomplished players also fell into this group.  Still, the potential here is ridiculous.  Athletically, Jones could theoretically be well suited for any position in the secondary, as his insane 2.839 Kangaroo Score suggests some ridiculous lower body power.  Unfortunately, in the very small sample of his games that I was able to look at, he didn't seem inclined to be a physically punishing blunt instrument.  On the other hand, he did look surprisingly natural as a corner in 2014, and his enormous 10" hands made intercepting the ball appear to be effortless.  Still, I do have some concerns.  His level of competition was rather mediocre, and he faced very few quality receivers.  This might be somewhat counterbalanced by how poor Connecticut's pass rush was, which did him no favors.  He's also relatively inexperienced, so his impact may not be immediate, if it ever occurs at all.  It also seems like the potential for acquiring him cheaply has largely evaporated, as his projected draft position keeps rising.  If he was available in the 2nd round, I'd probably have to consider taking him, though I don't think his resume entirely merits it. 

Steven Nelson  CB, Oregon State   Ht:  5'10"  Wt.: 197
40 time: 4.49  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  0.408   Avg. PD:  12
He doesn't strike me as a prospect who will terrify opponents, but I suppose he is serviceable.  He is a slightly above average athlete, and appears to have good hands, and a fair bit of scrappiness.  A team could probably do a lot worse, but I wouldn't say he is a rare commodity.  If he is taken somewhere in the middle of the draft, I guess that wouldn't be too bad.

D'Joun Smith  CB, Florida Atlantic   Ht:  5'10"  Wt.: 187
40 time: 4.46  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  -0.444   Avg. PD:  14.5
I like to imagine that he is the heir to a large mustard empire.  That's just me though.  Maybe we can get people to start referring to him as Colonel Mustard.  I'd really enjoy that.  Regardless, does everybody else remember when Miami would routinely have players selected in the 1st round, and schools like Florida Atlantic and Central Florida were just afterthoughts?  Then, Miami decided to have standards about the sorts of idiots and criminals that they would allow into their school, and the quality of their team declined, and these other schools rose up from out of nowhere to become somewhat relevant.  Hmm, I wonder where all the idiots and criminals wound up?  Now, I'm not saying that Colonel Mustard is a dimwit or on any most wanted list, but I suspect he was surrounded by a lot of teammates who might fit that description.  It's just a theory.  Either way, D'joun is, for better or for worse, sort of like the majority of the corners in the league.  They might as well sell guys like this in six packs.

Damarious Randall  FS, Arizona St.   Ht:  5'10.75"  Wt.:196
40 time: 4.47  2nd Gear:  0.09   Agility Score:  0.533   Avg. PD:  7.5
He's not terribly big, and his Kangaroo Score of 0.158 isn't very impressive for a safety prospect.  Athletically, he hovers somewhere in between what I would expect to see in a free safety and a cornerback.  Still, he does have reasonably good speed, and his statistical production was above average.  In many ways, Randall reminds me of a less impressive version of last year's prospect Jimmy Ward, whom we also had some questions about where he fit best.  Maybe playing as a team's nickelback might be a good compromise?  Either way, we might like him a tad bit more than his numbers would suggest was wise, and might consider selecting him if he was still around in the 4th round, which is much lower than I generally see him projected to be taken.

Alex Carter  CB, Stanford    Ht:  6'  Wt.: 196
40 time: 4.52  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  -0.018   Avg. PD:  9
Among the middle tier, somewhat less heralded cornerback prospects, I think Carter could be one of the more interesting players.  The only catch is, I wouldn't have him playing corner.  I'd move him to the free safety position.  Based upon his timed speed, his average agility, and his above average Kangaroo Score (which was 0.503, though it would be higher if we just looked at his results from the vertical jump), he should be a fairly ideal athlete for that position.  Considering the poor collection of actual free safety prospects that are in this draft class, I think the option of converting corners might be considered a bit more strongly than it normally is.

Josh Shaw  CB/S, USC    Ht:  6'0.5"  Wt.:201
40 time: 4.44  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  -0.089   Avg. PD:  9.5
If you aren't discouraged by the possibility that Shaw is probably a moron, he could be a tolerable mid-round pick.  Just remember, at any moment he could injure himself by jumping out of a window, and later claim that he was trying to stop a terrorist attack.  He's got some Jack Bauer in him.  Then again, the NFL and MENSA don't have a lot of overlap in their memberships.  When it comes to his athletic ability, Shaw is a fairly ideal fit to continue playing either safety position.  Besides his speed, and moderate agility, his Kangaroo Score of 0.971 also suggests he has significant lower body power and explosiveness.  As a corner, I think he is significantly less uninteresting.  While he makes an occasional play that makes me say "Wow, the idiot did a good job there!", he also seemed to disappear for long stretches, or occasionally screw up.  Personally, I thought his former teammate T.J. McDonald was a much better and more consistent prospect.  If his reputation as an imbecile impacted his draft status enough to drop him to the 5th round, I might have some moderate interest in him.  It always pays to have a few morons around, just to boost your self esteem.

Jaquiski Tartt  S, Samford   Ht:  6'1.25"  Wt.:221
40 time: 4.54  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  -0.723   Avg. PD:  6
We're still trying to wrap our heads around this guy.  It's a bit unusual for a player from his level of competition to become a talked about prospect, and based on the limited number of games we have seen we don't get the hype.  He seems to have the lower body power to be a strong safety, with a 1.563 Kangaroo Score, and his mediocre agility and speed would be adequate for that role.  He just didn't strike us as a very interesting player.  Considering the low level of competition he faced, we would have expected him to be much more dominant than he appeared top be.

Derron Smith  FS, Fresno St.    Ht:  5'10"  Wt.:200
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  10.5
Still waiting for data.

Gerod Holliman  FS, Louisville   Ht:  6'  Wt.:215
40 time: 4.62  2nd Gear:  -0.04   Agility Score:  -0.997   Avg. PD:  10
A lot of fuss is going to be made of his 14 interceptions in 2014, but outside of that possible statistical anomaly his results weren't terribly amazing.  Beyond his poor Agility Score, his -0.926 Kangaroo Score was also a rather horrific result for a safety.  Drafting Holliman seems like a very bad idea to me.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu  CB, Oregon   Ht:  5'9"  Wt.:192
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  10
Because of the knee injury he is dealing with, it seems unlikely that we will ever get the data that we crave.  Still, he is somebody that we're going to try to look into at some point.  

Eric Rowe CB/S, Utah    Ht:  6'0.5"  Wt.:205
40 time: 4.45  2nd Gear:  0.11   Agility Score:  1.202   Avg. PD:  10.5
On paper, Eric Rowe is probably one of the most ideal cornerback prospects in the entire draft, at least based on his athletic ability.  He has size, speed, agility and even power (a 1.164 Kangaroo Score).  Still, for some reason, my nipples only seem to get lukewarm when I watch him play.  Maybe it is his inconsistent backpedal, but he still looks like a safety who is being forced to play cornerback.  Of course, he used to be a safety, so that shouldn't be surprising, and his athletic traits suggest he could be an excellent fit for that position as well.  I'm also annoyed at the relatively low number of turnovers that he was responsible for, though I guess I can live with that.  On the other hand, Rowe seems like a fairly physical player, and his positional versatility has to be seen as a bonus.  If he was still available in the 3rd round, I think I'd be obligated to pick him.  I wouldn't be surprised if some team chose him in the 2nd round though, because of his somewhat rare physical potential.  I'd probably have a hard time feeling comfortable with that sort of a decision, though I might end up needing to consider it.

Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwesterm
40 time: 4.52  2nd Gear:  0.08   Agility Score:  0.156   Avg. PD:  7.5
While we generally see him listed as a strong safety, and he plays like a strong safety, I wonder if he would be better suited to becoming a free safety.  His agility seems ideal for this, and he appears to possess good hands for making the interception.  Oddly, his 0.019 Kangaroo Score is well below what I would normally expect to see in a strong safety.  He's a bit of an odd duck.  He didn't blow my mind, but he looked like a smart and solid player.

Clayton Geathers SS, UCF   Ht:  6'1.5"  Wt.:215
40 time: 4.55  2nd Gear:  0.03   Agility Score:  -1.106   Avg. PD:  11
Kurtis Drummond SS, Michiigan St.   Ht:  6'0.5"  Wt.:208
40 time: 4.65  2nd Gear:  -0.01   Agility Score:  -1.010   Avg. PD:  12.5
I thought I would just lump these two guys together, since I feel they have a lot in common.  Really, we're just including these players as a point of comparison to the much more costly acquisition of Landon Collins.  Geathers and Clayton have very similar Agility Score, both of which are superior to Collins' result.  Both have at least acceptable speed for a safety, similar to Collins.  Both have good lower body power, with Kangaroo Scores of 1.370 for Geathers, and 1.078 for Drummond, which are slightly lower than Collins, but still ideal results for a strong safety.  When it comes to statistical production, they both turned in good results, though there were some noticeable difference.  While Drummond created more turnovers, Geathers was more of a tackling machine.  In general, I'd say their stats reflected what I saw in the few games that I watched for each player.  Drummond seemed like more of a gambler, while Geathers seemed like more of a conservative and responsible 'man his position' type of guy.  It could come down to a matter of personal preference as to which player suits your tastes.  Either way, I'm not sure that their is a huge gulf between them.  The interesting question to me, is what happens if you watch both of these players, who are generally projected to be late round picks, and then compare them to Landon Collins.  I have a hard time seeing how the more highly rated Collins has any clear edge over either Drummond or Geathers.  Personally, I wouldn't be shocked if both players are better than Collins is.  I wouldn't go so far as to predict stardom for Drummond or Geathers, but I wouldn't be surprised if they turn out to be at least serviceable strong safeties, which wouldn't be a terrible outcome for players generally expected to be selected in the 4th or 5th round.  We still haven't gotten to my favorite safety prospect though (the tension builds!).

JaCorey Shepherd  CB, Kansas   Ht:  5'11"  Wt.:199
40 time: ?  2nd Gear:  ?   Agility Score:  ?   Avg. PD:  17
Still waiting for data.

Adrian Amos  S, Penn State   Ht:  6'0.5"  Wt.: 218
40 time: 4.56  2nd Gear:  0.04   Agility Score:  0.018   Avg. PD:  8
Athletically, he seems like someone who should probably be able to play either safety position.  He has at least adequate agility to play free safety, and the lower body power of a strong safety (1.253 Kangaroo Score).  Based on his statistical production, and the little bit I have seen of him, nothing truly exceptional leapt out at me.  Still, he is a moderately interesting prospect.  I should probably ignore what my lying eyes have to say, and maybe take a shot at him if he is available later in the draft.

Craig Mager  CB, Texas St.   Ht:  5'11.5"  Wt.: 201
40 time: 4.44  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  0.533   Avg. PD:  11
Mager strikes me as a very interesting player, at least from the perspective of value.  Does he fit the ideal athletic mold for a corner?  Not exactly, but he's still quite respectable athletically, and much better than many of the bozos who will undoubtedly be selected ahead of him.  The computer also suggests that he has surprising lower body power for a corner, with a 1.045 Kangaroo Score.  As far as I can tell, he's perfectly willing to use that power too.  Mager seems quite willing to lay a m*th*rf*ck*r out.  He actually could be a very interesting safety, though I wouldn't rush to bump him out of the corner position.  Yes, he sometimes makes stupid mistakes.  Yes, his level of competition wasn't so great.  But he is cheap.  Oh, and he's also cheap.  If that doesn't sway you, then I should mention that he will be cheap.  To some extent I think people vastly underestimate how bad most of the league's corners probably are.  All I ask of Mager is that he perform at a reasonably competent level, and I will be quite happy.  Hell, if he gets drafted in the 6th round, as some seem to expect, you could have 20 Mager's for the price of one Byron Maxwell.  I'll take that deal any day of the week.

Justin Coleman  CB, Tennessee   Ht:  5'11"  Wt.: 185
40 time: 4.53  2nd Gear:  0.01   Agility Score:  1.394   Avg. PD:  8.5
Coleman probably has some limitations because of his size and speed, but he still strikes me as one of the better bargains in this draft class.  He may not be a physically overpowering monster, but he does seem to have a fair bit of scrappiness to him.  It's hard for me to imagine that he wouldn't be able to hold on as a team's 3rd or 4th cornerback, at the very least.  Since it's generally expected that he won't be taken until the end of the draft, I'd say there is good value here, and might start to look at him somewhere around the 5th round.

Cedric Thompson SS, Minnesota   Ht:  5'11.5"  Wt.: 211 
40 time: 4.46  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  -0.462   Avg. PD:  2.5
Okay, we've now arrived at the player who may be my favorite safety prospect in the entire draft.  While he is sometimes listed as a free safety, I really think it's pretty obvious he is really more of a strong safety.  While his Agility Score, might not appear to be exceptional, it is almost precisely where I start to take strong safety prospects very seriously.  For a free safety, it would be a bit mehhh.  Fortunately, his excellent 1.605 Kangaroo Score, suggests that Thompson does have the sort of lower body power play this role as the hitter of a team's secondary.  When I went to watch clips of Thompson, I have to say I was a bit stunned.  Every now and then, a player will just pop out at me, and set my nipples ablaze.  While I would only describe Thompson's coverage skills as maybe average to fairly good (which is fitting, considering his Agility Score), that's not a huge concern to me.  Remember now, we're talking about a strong safety.  As a hitter and tackler, however, I thought this guy was simply electrifying.  There was just a real explosiveness to how he played, and if he got his hands on an opponent, they were going down.  In the past two years, he either led, or came in second, for team tackles on the Minnesota defense, and I have to strongly suspect he was the best player they had.  Yet, despite that, most places seem to list him as someone who could go undrafted.  I honestly think I could make an argument for this guy going in the 2nd round, but if I can acquire him for significantly less than that, so be it.  I have to admit, I am somewhat smitten.

Darryl Roberts CB, Marshall   Ht:  5'10.5"  Wt.: 177 
40 time: 4.38  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  0.994   Avg. PD:  13.5
If you aren't worried about his lack of mass, and the possible injury concerns that go with this, Roberts is a very interesting cornerback prospect.  We haven't been able to watch him play very much, but with his speed, explosiveness, and agility it would seem unlikely that he couldn't compete for a team's nickel corner job, at the very least.  While he's gotten his hands on a lot of passes, he probably hasn't turned as many of them into interceptions as we might like, but that's being a bit nit-picky.  I generally see people listing him as a player who won't be taken before the very end of the draft, so there could be good value here, for very little investment.

Cameron Ontko SS/FS, Cal Poly  Ht:  5'10.5"  Wt.: 222
40 time: 4.48  2nd Gear:  0.11   Agility Score:  0.475   Avg. PD:  2
Reilly and I ran across Ontko very late in our search for prospects, but we really need to add him to the list.  Ontko is a very weird prospect.  He has only played at Cal Poly for the last 2 seasons, and prior to that was at Wisconsin where he got almost no playing time.  While he is listed as a linebacker, his size would probably make him a better fit as a safety.  His agility and speed are a perfectly fine fit for the free safety position, but his ridiculous Kangaroo Score of 2.172 could also make him very interesting as a strong safety, which is somewhat closer to the role he appeared to play for Cal Poly.  In his final season he had 108 tackle, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 3 passes broken up and 1 interception.  He's a very interesting prospect, unfortunately there seem to be some unpleasant rumors about why he left Wisconsin.

Josh Furman FS/SS, Oklahoma St.   Ht:  6'2.25"  Wt.: 210 
40 time: 4.48  2nd Gear:  0.10   Agility Score:  -0.051   Avg. PD:  4*
Here's a prospect who is a complete mystery to me.  As far as I can tell, this past season was the only time he was ever used as a starter, though this was only after he transferred from Michigan.  In this one season, he produced 14 tackles for a loss, and 7 sacks, along with 4 passes broken up, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble.  Beyond his very good speed, and agility that might make him a good fit at either safety position, he also has a Kangaroo Score of 1.272, which is very promising.  The problem is, I have no idea who this guy is, and I'm not thrilled by the fact that he will already be turning 24 in November.  Still, his physical potential is very interesting.  If someone wants to help fill in the blanks on this guy, feel free to offer me some sort of clue.

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