Saints Draft Need: Cornerback

In the first of a series of articles profiling the New Orleans Saints' 2008 NFL Draft needs, Matthew Postins examines what the Saints have at a key position, who they could draft and what kind of impact that player could have. Also, look for links to stories, video and audio of players the Saints could draft throughout the article.

CORNERBACK

WHAT THE SAINTS HAVE

Mike McKenzie, Jason Craft, Jason David, Usama Young, Greg Fassitt, Anwar Phillips, Randall Gay.

WHY THE NEED?

The Saints pass defense was atrocious in 2007. McKenzie was the only player that really acquitted himself well all season. David was a bust from the start as a free-agent signee, and he'll likely do battle with new free-agent acquisition Gay for the starting role opposite McKenzie. Usama Young had an injury plagued rookie season and didn't develop as hoped. Craft is a solid veteran better suited for nickel packages.

What the Saints are really in need of is that cornerback of the future, a player that could contribute as a nickel back or third corner this year and eventually become the standard-bearer for the secondary. With a No. 10 pick, the Saints will likely have their choice of corners and could be the first team to take a corner in the draft.

THE TOP FIVE

Here are the top five cornerbacks in this draft, according to Scout.com:

Mike Jenkins (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), South Florida — Jenkins can play both man and zone effectively. He's a first-round pick and a perfect complement to Mike McKenzie — or at least he has the potential to be.

Leodis McKelvin (5-foot-10 ½, 186 pounds), Troy — He impressed scouts with his ability to go up against players from bigger schools at the Senior Bowl. Plus, he can return kicks and punts. He's another first-round pick.

Aqib Talib (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), Kansas — Rose to prominence this year. He's seen as more of a shutdown, man cornerback than a system cornerback. Still, he's a solid first-round value.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6-foot-1 ½, 183 pounds), Tennessee State — Like McKelvin, he had to prove himself at the Senior Bowl. Like McKelvin, he did. He has the ball-hawking skills of his cousin, San Diego's Antonio Cromartie.

Tyvon Branch (5-foot-11 ½, 194 pounds) — Right behind Jenkins in the pecking order of Big East cornerbacks. What sticks out immediately is his 4.45 speed in the 40. He can be had in the second round.

GET TO KNOW THEM

Want to know more about these prospects, plus other CBs the Saints could be interested in? Check out the links below.

Here's more on USF's Pro Day, including links to a story on Jenkins and a USFNationTV feature on the first-round prospect..

Here's our exclusive Q&A with Arizona CB Antonie Cason, the Thorpe Award winner for the 2007 season.
Learn more about Cason by watching a this Scout.com Video clip from his Combine press conference:


Matthew Postins covers the Saints for Saintinsider.com. He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.


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