Scouting the Draft: Darqueze Dennard

SpartanDigest.com's Michael Wilson answers five burning questions about Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard and his possible fit with the New York Jets.

Q: Rick Laughland | TheJetsBeat.com

The Jets are in dire need of a starting caliber cornerback, but can Dennard step in Day 1 and be a reliable starter or does he still need some seasoning?

A: Michael Wilson | SpartanDigest.com

Dennard should be able to step in and start for whichever team picks him in the draft, which almost certainly will be in the first round. He has started for the greater part of four seasons at Michigan State, which has been drawing a lot of national attention for its secondary play – led by Dennard. There might be some bumps as he adjusts to NFL play, but I would not expect too much of a difficult transition for him based on the way he plays the game.

Q: Rick Laughland | TheJetsBeat.com

Since Darrelle Revis' departure, New York has been searching for a shutdown CB to fill the void. Given the up and down rookie campaign Dee Milliner experienced and Antonio Cromartie leaving for the Cardinals during free agency, do you think Dennard could be a Pro Bowl player for the Jets 2-3 years down the line?

A: Michael Wilson | SpartanDigest.com

I think what makes Dennard a nice NFL player is his consistency. He is not particularly flashy, but he is reliable and consistent. I am not going to say he will be a Pro Bowl player that quickly in his career, but nothing would surprise me. What I expect from Dennard, though, is to be a solid player day in and day out.

Q: Rick Laughland | TheJetsBeat.com

Rex Ryan loves man-press coverage from his cornerbacks, which would seem to play to Dennard's strengths. While his physical nature at the line of scrimmage has been well documented, what are a few weaknesses that teams may look to exploit?

A: Michael Wilson | SpartanDigest.com

Press-man coverage is all Michigan State uses for its cornerbacks. Realistically, in Pat Narduzzi's scheme – which has been wildly successful of late – it is built on having two cornerbacks that can cover on an island. The weakness that could be exploited is to use his physicality and aggressiveness against him. Dennard was flagged for pass interference/holding penalties against Notre Dame this year. Now, there was some debate about whether those calls were good or not, but the reality is Dennard makes contact downfield and that is something he might not get away with as much in the NFL. He also is much better at hitting wide receivers at the line and jamming them than he is at turning his hips and running stride for stride downfield, although I would not classify it as a "weak" area of his game, either.

Q: Rick Laughland | TheJetsBeat.com

What intangibles does Dennard bring to the table that make him worthy of a first round selection?

A: Michael Wilson | SpartanDigest.com

Dennard comes from a smalltown in Georgia and was hardly recruited out of high school, so he is no stranger to hardwork and facing some odds stacked against him. The biggest thing that Dennard brings now is leadership. He came into Michigan State as a quiet, country kid who did not speak up. He was named a captain his senior year and really became the leader of the secondary. But, to me, the biggest intangible is his willingness to work hard to be a better player. For a little bit more on Dennard's background, here is a story on him from early in the year: Dennard stays thankful for opportunity at MSU

Q: Rick Laughland | TheJetsBeat.com

Where does he stack up to the rest of the 2014 rookie cornerback class? Is he the best? Middle of the pack?

A: Michael Wilson | SpartanDigest.com

Dennard and Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert are widely considered the top cornerbacks in the class. What separates the two is hard to tell. Gilbert is said to have a higher upside with a little more speed, but Dennard brings might be more of a sure thing. So whether he is No. 1 or No. 2 might depend on the team looking at the players, but he certainly is right there at the top.


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