The Underclassmen: The Defensive Backs

With the Scouting Combine just a few weeks away, and the Senior Bowl in the rear-view mirror, it's time for Seahawks.NET to continue with Draft Editor Scott Eklund's multi-part series about those underclassmen who have declared for the draft. In the conclusion of his six-part series, Scott profiles the cornerbacks and safeties.

Virginia Tech CB Brandon Flowers It seems that year after year, the Hokies produce a top defensive back ready for the rigors of pro football. Flowers is the next in line and he’s a good one, although he’s not the athlete that some of his predecessors are. Flowers plays bigger than his 5-10, 190-pound frame would suggest and he loves to be physical with receivers. He’s not as quick out of his backpedal as you’d like and his change-of-direction is only average, but he’s aggressive and fearless and he loves the pressure of playing the cornerback position. If he were two inches taller, Flowers would probably be rated higher, but as it is he’s a solid second rounder who could move up depending on a team’s needs.

NFL Comparison – Houston CB Dunta Robinson

Wisconsin CB Jack Ikegwuonu
Ikegwuonu has been watched closely by scouts since he arrived in Madison as a true freshman in 2004. After that redshirt season, Ikegwuonu established himself as one of the top corners in the Big 10, earning first-team all-conference honors every season he played – 2005, 2006 and 2007. He’s a big corner who has good, not great, speed. He’s very physical and likes to play both press and zone coverage. Ikegwuonu struggled playing man when he was asked to give a cushion because his hips are too stiff to turn and run with receivers. He’s also very aggressive and will bite on double-moves and with his lack of top end speed he can get burned. Some project Ikegwuonu will move to safety, but in the right system he can be an effective corner. Of note is that Ikegwuonu has had some off the field issues to deal with as well. Look for Ikegwuonu to go in the second round to someone who is impressed with his excellent size and athleticism.

NFL Comparison – Chicago CB Charles Tillman

Penn State CB Justin KingKing has the tools to be an effective starter in the NFL and, with more consistency, could be an outstanding corner who ends up being a pro bowler. He runs well and has excellent hip turn. He’s also got immense athleticism to go with his speed. Where he struggles is in reading routes and making plays on the ball when it’s in the air. If he ever gets a handle on those aspects, watch out…you could be looking at a future hall-of-famer. Because of his inconsistency, King will drop a bit and will probably end up somewhere in the second round, but make no mistake, he’s a first round talent.

NFL Comparison – Dallas CB Terence Newman

Cornerback Aqib Talib #3 of the Kansas Jayhawks makes a catch against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on January 3, 2008 in Miami, Florida. Kansas defeated Virginia Tech 24-21. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Kansas CB Aqib Talib – There wasn’t a better cornerback in the country this past year and Talib has the confidence in his abilities to go with his tremendous size, speed and athleticism. Talib isn’t just a coverage guy, he likes to mix it up. He’s raw technique-wise, so he’s got some work to do and it would benefit both Talib and the team he ends up with if he could play some nickel corner as he works on that area. Talib has everything you could want in a corner and he should go somewhere in the first round because of his upside as well as his abilities as a return man.

NFL Comparison – Denver CB Champ Bailey

Miami S Kenny PhillipsMiami just continues to produce top safety prospects and Phillips is the next in line. It can be tough being compared to the likes of Ed Reed and Brandon Meriweather, but Phillips is in that category as far as being a football player. He isn’t in their mold as an athlete, but he has an excellent football I.Q. and he loves to hit. He’s a bit on the small side, so he’ll need to bulk up a bit more to take on the 235-pound halfbacks that are so prevalent in the NFL nowadays, but Phillips is a leader and very tough. If Phillips can show teams a good time in his forty, there’s a good chance he will go in the top 15 players selected, but if he ends up with something in the 4.55 range, he could fall and end up being a steal for whoever has the foresight to take him.

NFL Comparison – Philadelphia S Brian Dawkins Top Stories