He is an above-average tackler for his position and would be excellent for a team that primarily uses press coverage. With the large number of big, physical receivers now playing in the NFL finding quality defenders that have the size to match up with them in coverage has become equally important. Jammer has shown the ability to plant and accelerate to the ball using his top-notch instincts, which helped him deflect 44 passes over his final two years.
He is also an excellent run supporter and his toughness comes in real handy in short yardage and goal line situations. Initially, he will also be able to serve as a member of all the coverage units and deliver a number of nasty hits. He has the right attitude for the position proving that he can shrug off a poor play and come back to make up for it later in the game.
An emotional player with good intensity I like what he brings to the field and seems like the type of prospect that will do nothing but get better once he learns and experiences life at the next level.
Phillip Buchanon, Miami (5-11, 186 lbs., 4.38) Buchanon did not allow a touchdown pass during his entire Hurricanes' career. In 2001, he ran back two punts for touchdowns and had two 60-yard kickoff returns, so he is an equally dangerous return man.
His amazing quickness and vision make him one of the premier playmakers in this year's draft. He has great hips, feet and the suddenness scouts look for in a corner, but may have to add a few pounds in order to handle some of the league's bigger receivers.
However, he did 15 reps of 225 pounds, which is impressive for his size, during his workouts. A highly confident defender, he brings a lot of energy to the field and shows excellent ball skills. Overall, he is a smooth, technically sound defender that plays under control and can turn a game around.
Buchanon is very similar to former Hurricanes' standout Duane Starks (Cardinals).
Mike Rumph, Miami (6-2, 198 lbs., 4.48) Rumph has a great combination of size and speed. He is strong in man-to-man coverage and has good ball skills. His size helps him in run support and is an aggressive hitter, although he seems to lack ideal quickness. He has good feet and makes fluid turns, while also showing solid instincts when the ball is in the air.
The All-Big East defender had 18 pass breakups and four interceptions over the last two years. Some scouts have said that he could be moved over to free safety thanks to his size and willingness to hit, but in today's age of tall receivers he is an ideal cornerback.
Rumph has potentially played in a better secondary in college than he will at any time in the pros, considering the fact that fellow teammates Phillip Buchanon and Ed Reed also have first-round potential. He will need to prove that his abilities can standout on their own, but would be an ideal fit for any team looking for a big, physical defender with above-average cover skills.
Lito Sheppard, Florida (5-10, 191 lbs., 4.48) Sheppard has exciting speed and good size, but his off-field troubles seem to worry a few people. He has shown big-play potential both as a return man and in pass coverage. A standout SEC defender, he has a fearless attitude and could really develop into a top-notch pro if he matures. His impressive sophomore campaign, which included six interceptions and two punt returns for scores, earned him several All-American honors.
However, he is coming off an inconsistent season (two picks) and despite adding close to ten pounds is still a smallish defender in terms of size. He did record a tremendous 41" vertical during his workouts and has been timed as fast as 4.40 in the past.
Overall, if Sheppard has proven to teams that his troubled past is behind him then his draft status will likely fall between the late first-to-early second round.
Joseph Jefferson, Western Kentucky (6-0, 205 lbs., 4.39) Jefferson could be one of the better sleepers in the entire draft. He has nice size, terrific cover skills and is also a solid run supporter. In each of his post-season auditions, first the Blue/Gray All-Star Classic and then the ever popular Senior Bowl, he showed the rare combination of size, speed, instincts and production that usually is reserved for prospects from larger schools.
A highly productive defender, he had seven interceptions and 23 pass breakups during the final two years of his college career. However, what really excites scouts is his equally large potential as a punt returner.
He returned 45 punts for 629 yards and two touchdowns and will also be a solid contributor on coverage teams. Jefferson was the best defensive player at the Blue/Gray and coaches said he was one of the best students at the Senior Bowl. He showed the ability to learn-and-retain information at a rapid pace.
Overall, he has the versatility to play several positions in the secondary, but his combination of size/speed/potential will cause him to go off the board by round two.
"Sleeper" Travis Fisher, Central Florida (5-9, 190 lbs., 4.46) Fisher struggled to find his way early in his career, as he originally signed with Baylor before playing one year at Coffeyville CC. He is a tad undersized, but very quick and displayed intriguing cover skills at the Gridiron Classic. A consistent performer, he recorded 11 pass breakups in each of the last three seasons and intercepted a pair of passes last year.
His technique still needs some work, especially against taller receivers, as he occasionally mis-times his jumps. He is also just an average run defender that needs to improve upon his tackling skills.
Overall, Fisher will be a fine late round selection with the ability to become a steady nickel back in the league once he gains more experience.
John Murphy, is the editor of www.draft2002.com and Director of Scouting and Evaluation for NL Sports. Be sure to check out the most in-depth, up-to-the-minute 2002 NFL Draft website and you can also email your draft questions to John from the www.draft2002.com website.