Spring evaluation: CB preparedness grades

Lloyd Carrington is the unquestionable leader of Arizona State's cornerback group and one of three defensive players to wear the Pat Tillman practice jersey during the spring. What else does ASU have in terms of personnel at corner? We answer that in our preparedness evaluation.

1. Lloyd Carrington (senior) -- One of Arizona State's best and most fundamentally sound players, Carrington appears poised to have an all-conference caliber season in 2015. He was excellent in the spring after becoming a regular starter as a junior in 2014 on the boundary side, which is a demanding position in the Sun Devil defense because of the skill diversity required. Carrington finished the year with 58 tackles including six for loss with three sacks, one interception and five pass breakups. Throughout the spring Carrington waged battle with converted wide receiver D.J. Foster and more than held his own in a very physically intense climate. Carrington is aggressive and technical in press technique, effectively using his good size and strength as a cornerback. He is very good in the initial phase of man coverage and understands how to use the field and angles to his advantage a a defender. He's stouter against the run and flat screens than any of ASU's recent all-league cornerbacks, and is an above average blitzer for a cornerback, something ASU typically tends to dial up at least a few times per game. Carrington isn't an elite athlete in terms of speed and recovery ability, and those are limitations projecting beyond college, but shouldn't be much of a problem in the year ahead because of how smart, tough and skilled he is. This is one of ASU's best football players and deserving of more recognition. Preparedness Grade: 4 / Potential Grade: 4

2. Kweishi Brown (senior) -- Last season included indoctrination by fire moments for Brown, who often would follow an impressive play with one that was cringeworthy. A junior college transfer who faced a steep learning curve in preseason camp and through the fall, Brown improved on the fly and demonstrated he's capable of being a very good cornerback in the Pac-12. It's just a matter of whether or not time runs out on him before he's able to get there. The pace of Brown's development was hampered in the spring by a bothersome knee issue (meniscus). If that lingers into preseason camp it could be a problem. If not, and Brown is able to become a more consistent player in terms of his techniques and get a lot of reps that enable it, he can be solid and potentially quite good. He's tended to have some instances of struggling to stay attached to receivers and some in-rep awareness issues. Muscle-bound and perhaps a bit heavy for a corner despite having impressive foot quickness, Brown might be well served to lean out just a bit in order to squeeze every ounce out of his ability to redirect and recover. He's a physical tackler nearer the line of scrimmage and works to get off blocks and that isn't going to be as much of an issue on this team as he has been in the past with ASU's corners. Preparedness Grade: 3 / Potential grade: 4

3. Solomon Means (senior) -- There's a very realistic chance Means could supplant Brown and become ASU's starting field side corner, particularly if Brown's knee issues flare up again in August. Very few players on the defense helped their cause in the spring more than Means, a player who clearly made the most of the winter strength and conditioning program. He said he added 11 pounds and showed improved hand placement and usage, and it was clear he had more power when working to unbalance and re-route receivers at the line of scrimmage. Means has always been willingly physical at the line of scrimmage, but didn't have as much of a capability in that regard due to being light. He also tended to get washed out in traffic and was blocked too easily on perimeter attacks, which limited his broad effectiveness. That's still something he'll have to continue to work at improving but the added size and strength could help him anchor his position more and fight through bodies to get to the football. Means isn't a high upside corner overall, but is a serviceable option in the Pac-12. Preparedness Grade: 2.5 / Potential grade: 3

4. Ronald Lewis (sophomore) -- With long arms and really impressive hip flexion and short space acceleration, Lewis has a high ceiling as a cornerback. He needs to full embrace the position though, something that perhaps hasn't fully happened as yet. He doesn't have the skill level or hand eye dexterity to be a high level receiver in the time required to develop into one, and this is his best opportunity to see the field, so fully accepting that is key. Then it's about Lewis throwing himself fully into being a student of the game. ASU head coach Todd Graham is a tremendous skill development coach -- perhaps the best on the entire team -- and works directly with the cornerbacks, and has spent time trying to cultivate Lewis. Right now, Lewis is very inconsistent and needs substantial improvement and better understanding of the game to be able to play at this level, but he's not shy about being physical on the field and if everything eventually comes together, he could be a real player. Preparedness Grade: 2 / Potential grade: 4

5. Jayme Otomewo (sophomore) -- After working at safety his first couple years in Tempe, Otomewo worked at cornerback in the spring. He's gotten quite lean in order to put his best foot forward from a mobility standpoint. Otomewo is nevertheless not the same caliber of athlete as the aforementioned players, and not skilled enough to be able to overcome that. He's worked hard and has bought into doing things the right way to try to develop his craft, but is just a bit too limited to be expected to be on the two-deep.Preparedness Grade: 1.5 / Potential grade: 2

Preparedness/Potential Grade Key

5: All-American level performer

4: First/second team all-league level performer

3: Mid-level Pac-12 performer

2: Fringe Pac-12 performer

1: Non-Pac-12 level performer

Editor's Note: Players are ranked in terms of overall current preparedness and not based on potential.

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