NFL Draft: FSU's Antonio Cromartie Q&A

The New England Patriots are looking at defensive backs to solve a problem that has plagued them the past two seasons-- depth. Starting off as one of the worst defenses in the league against the pass last season, the Patriots want to avoid repeating that feat. One player who could have an immediate impact is FSU's Antonio Cromartie.'s Denis Savage caught up with Cromartie for a quick Q&A.

Question: You have visited a lot of teams. That has to be a good thing.

Antonio Cromartie: It is a very good thing.

Q: Talk about reaching your goals in your rehab process and this three-month span before the draft:

Antonio Cromartie: Throughout my rehab process I met my goals. I had goals to come back and play at the end of the season and I met those goals. They would not let me but I was healthy enough to play. When I went to the combines, I did not run like I wanted to but on my Pro Day I ran that time. Overall, I have exceeded all of my goals.

I am ready to start setting my goals for the upcoming training camp to get ready for the 2006 season.

Q: Did you believe there was more pressure on you to perform in the Combines and Pro Day coming off an injury?

Antonio Cromartie: I don¹t feel like I had to do more. For me, I was always worked hard and pushed myself in everything I do. I had to push myself more because of the knee injury ­ but I always wanted to meet those standards, if not higher.

Q: One of the sayings I heard was quarterbacks stay away from Cromartie like a 'tax audit'­ talk about teams staying away from you.

Antonio Cromartie: I really didn't get tested that much. The times that I did, I may not have made the interception but feel like I made a good play on the ball. Through the season, I didn't really get thrown at.

Q: Do you want teams to throw on you ­ they do target rookie cornerbacks in the NFL?

Antonio Cromartie: I would love for teams to throw at me. I would love that. Give me a more of an opportunity to show what I can do and get my hands on the ball. If they do, it means a lot more opportunities to make a play on the ball to make them pay for it. If they are not throwing at me it is also a good thing.

Q: How do you go about showing your high character in interviews:

Antonio Cromartie: I just be myself. I always have a smile on my face. I am just a very jovial person that loves what I do in football and life in general.

Q: What is your upside going into the Pros?

Antonio Cromartie: My upside is really big.

Q: How has your size and playing physical helped your game and do you feel refined as a cornerback?

Antonio Cromartie: My size and height has helped me out a lot. I have been going up against receivers that are 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4. People think that because of my size I cant really move and stay with a smaller receiver but that is a total lie. If you train your body the right way and you treat your body the right way and use proper technique you can cover them and if you have confidence in what you do you bring a lot more to the table. I am a very confident person in my technique and ability to play football. I am probably the biggest corner coming into this draft. I believe it will help me out a lot playing in the NFL and making tackles.

Q: Talk about practicing against FSU receivers and playing in the ACC.

Antonio Cromartie: I love to practice. For me, that is where some of the best plays get made. Playing against our receivers and the best of the ACC ­ Craphonso Thorpe, PK Sam, Chauncey Stovall ­ we all competed. That is what you look for in one-on-one, seven-on-seven and even 11-on-11. You are looking for guys that compete on every play.

Q: What does an NFL team get in Antonio Cromartie?

Antonio Cromartie: From a personal standpoint, you are going to get a very humble person. Someone that loves to play football. From a football standpoint, a physical, big corner that likes to make plays when it is time to make plays and will come up and tackle. A shutdown corner.

Q: Any other teams make an impression on you?

Antonio Cromartie: Not as much as San Diego. A lot of teams have made an impression on me. Baltimore, Washington ­ every team I have visited made a positive impression.

Being in San Diego and being around Coach Stewart, it felt like I was home. Being able to talk to him and find out how the system is run and stuff like that.

The weather was great ­ but being able to talk to him and getting to talk to some of the player out there was great.

Denis Savage is a longtime contributor for and publisher for the

Patriots Insider Take: Cromartie has the size and the speed that many teams covet on defense. A hard hitter, he has the athletic ability to become a shutdown corner at the next level. Projected as a mid ot late first day pick, Cromartie's stock has shot up in recent weeks as he has been able to dispel the concerns over his ability to recover from the knee injury. Now considered a first-round possibility, Cromartie has been on the Patriots radar for months, but may not be available in the second round when they pick at 42. New England is also looking at Tye Hill, Richard Marshall and Kelly Jennings as possible alternatives.


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