Shutdown corner two-stepping up draft boards

The San Diego Chargers have spent first-round picks on cornerbacks in three of the last five years. Could the team make it four of six? Drayton Florence is entering the final year of his contract and Antonio Cromartie failed to author many big plays as a rookie, leaving plenty of room for new talent. San Diego may have found a player who can recharge its annually underachieving secondary.

Aaron Ross (6 foot, 192 pounds) is one of the draft's best cornerbacks. During his four years at the University of Texas, he totaled 205 tackles, 33 pass break-ups and 10 interceptions. Those statistics are even better considering he didn't become a full-time starter until his senior season, when his numbers were 80/19/6.

His contributions also came on special teams, both as a punt returner and in coverage. Ross returned 76 punts for 893 yards (11.8-yard average) and three touchdowns and registered 20 tackles in kick coverage.

"I'm somebody that is going to compete, somebody that's driven all the time, somebody that's personable and somebody that's just blessed," he said.

Ross put his skills on full display during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala., where he wowed scouts with his ability to excel in man coverage. He looked comfortable jamming receivers at the line and showed the recovery speed necessary to stick with them deep downfield. Additionally, he was explosive coming out of his breaks and challenged every reception.

Although he tended to play the receiver more than the ball, he left a more-than-favorable impression on most scouts in attendance.

"Coming from the University of Texas, I just want to compete. It's the best of the best down here (at the Senior Bowl) and hopefully I can put myself up at the top of the rankings," Ross said during his time in Mobile.

It appears that mission was accomplished, as Ross is now all but guaranteed of coming off the board in round one. Two teams with picks in the latter part of the round, the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, met with Ross during Senior Bowl week. A third team, the Miami Dolphins, met with him as well, hoping perhaps that he may fall to them in round two.

Of those three teams, only Dallas is a serious threat to snag Ross before the Chargers go on the clock.

Most teams consider Ross to be a safe pick given his productivity at one of the nation's top collegiate programs. It also helps that Texas has produced several cornerbacks that went on to be solid pros, including Quentin Jammer and two other former Long Horns whom Ross works to emulate.

"I'm a combination of Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff," he said.

Griffin fell to the middle of round two in last year's draft while Huff went No. 7 overall. If Ross is still on the board at No. 30, the Chargers will have to think long and hard about taking him.


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