Antoine Cason of Arizona concluded a notable senior year being named a first-team All-American selection. While he just started handling punt returns as a senior, his natural talents surfaced and he became the first Wildcat to receive All-Pac 10 Conference honors on defense and special teams.
Cason ranked fifth in the league with 27 punt returns for 271 yards and returned two of those returns for touchdowns. He also tied for second in the Pac 10 with five interceptions and registered 14 deflections.
Cason caused a stir at the NFL Combine, charting a top performance in bench press (20 reps), vertical jump (35'5" inches), broad jump (10'8" inches) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.08 seconds).
CB Antoine Cason
San Diego Chargers
Cason is a natural athlete and has outstanding instincts to identify plays. He rarely falls for a fake or misdirection and displays exceptional reaction to the ball. A top playmaker, Cason maintains close contact with the receiver through the routes and maintains readiness to hassle the pass.
Cason's 4.45-second 40-yard dash is slower than some others at his position, but he takes precise angles and uses smart body-positioning to compensate. Cason seems to be at the right place at the right time and consistently breaks up passes.
His skill and experience as a punt returner will give him the ‘oomph' to see additional field time. With excellent instincts and awareness, Cason's hard work and technique will be sound building blocks at the next level.
What Not To Like
While Cason shows the need for more aggression, his biggest drawback is his lack of a solid burst of speed. He does not encompass fluidity on his feet, which is probably due to his quickness deficiency. If his body gets discombobulated, he does not have the recovery speed necessary to get back in the play.
Cason appears inconsistent on his run support efforts and fails to produce vigorous power upon contact. He needs to add bulk and strength to his frame if he wants to avoid getting pushed aside by a physical blocker when he enters the box to make a play. Cason needs more powerful physical presence on the field, as well as a more antagonistic edge.
Who Else Was Available
The Bolts chose Cason over Brandon Flowers of Virginia Tech, who became the next cornerback to be drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. While Flowers is blessed with pure speed and good quickness, his overly aggressive manner leaves him beaten by double-moves.
Flowers' 5'10", 189-pound frame does appear more attractive, but Cason's experience as a punt returner and outstanding character give him a desirable and versatile edge over Flowers.
Upon losing Drayton Florence via free-agency, the Bolts look to Cason to build depth and ignite competition in the secondary. While Cason will take a stab at Florence's nickel spot, he will at least provide depth and injury protection behind starting cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer. Cason's punt returning abilities will surely give Darren Sproles a push, as well.