Cardinals Study Rolle's Potential Replacement

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is desperate to plug the holes in his leaky secondary. Moving Antrel Rolle to safety was a good start, but the switch leaves an even greater void at cornerback. The pressure is on GM Rod Graves to find a lock-down corner who fits the Cardinals' aggressive defense.

One of the most physically imposing cornerbacks in this year's draft is former USC standout Terrell Thomas. Thomas (6'1", 200 pounds) was a two-year starter for the Trojans and an All Pac-10 selection in 2006 and 2007.

Thomas finished his career with eight interceptions, 22 pass deflections and 109 tackles. He was part of a USC senior class that won 47 games over a four-year span, more than any other team in the country.

Thomas is a natural play-maker with exceptional ball skills. He excels in press coverage due to his long arms and strong upper body. Thomas' aggressive nature allows him to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, a skill that is invaluable in the NFL. He is also extremely productive in run support and a reliable open-field tackler.

Thomas appears to be an outstanding fit in Pendergast's aggressive defense, which places a premium on man coverage. Thomas also has experience playing safety and on special teams, a fact that will only bolster his draft stock.

After a stellar college career, Thomas was invited to the 2008 Senior Bowl. Over the course of the week, he had the chance to work with professional coaches for the first time and took away plenty of valuable guidance.

"We worked on different techniques and leverages, trying to add more to my game," he said.

He also had the opportunity to perform in front of numerous NFL scouts and demonstrated what he can bring to prospective teams.

"I showed that I can play with smaller receivers and that I'm a big corner with fluid hips," he said.

There are many positives surrounding Thomas, but there are some major concerns, as well. Durability flags have been raised after he suffered multiple injuries during his college career. He missed the entire 2003 season due to a shoulder injury and missed the final 11 games in 2005 after he tore ligaments in his right knee.

All things considered, Thomas is a classic risk-reward prospect. His draft stock will undoubtedly slip because of his injury-plagued past, but he could be a steal if the Cardinals are willing to roll the dice.


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