Prospect of the Week: Terence Newman/Eugene Wilson
There are several positions in high demand by NFL teams come draft day. For lack of any franchise quarterbacks the defensive linemen take first priority as well as big, dominant pass blocking left tackles. Cornerback also ranks up their with just about any other area on the field for many reasons; top-flight cover corners help mask a deficient pass rush, offer the opportunity to cover a large part the field and potentially free up teammates to do other things. Shawn Springs, Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey all impacted their respective teams from the day they were selected and have flourished at the next level.
Though no corner will make his way into the drafts top seven choices like the above mentioned, several seniors could find their way into the middle selections of round one, the two most prominent being Terence Newman of Kansas State and the Fighting Illini's Eugene Wilson.
Exploding on the scene as a first year starter in 2001, Terence Newman was so good and dominant on the island last year he gave serious consideration to entering the draft this past April. An All American track sprinter in college, Newman is one that translates his sprinters speed onto the football field. He is an excellent athlete that combines quickness, speed and explosion as both a pass defender, kick returner and special teams player.
Fluid in his hips off the line and losing nothing in transition, he is quick getting to top speed, easily running step for step with opponents anywhere on the field, using solid body position to get the inside track and knock away the throw. Agile, he quickly changes direction and stays with opposing receivers out of their breaks, displaying a great burst of both closing and recovery speed bearing down on the pass. His overall footwork and technique is solid as are the abilities to contort and extend to break up the pass. If there were one weakness to his game it would be a lack of body strength or the ability to slow up opponents in bump and run coverage. His runs defense skills also border on adequate.
This weekend he goes up against Reggie Newhouse, one of the more underrated pass catchers in the Big 12 and a receiver averaging close to six receptions a game for a Baylor team that has lost often and lost big. Newhouse is a strong possession receiver that should offer Newman a good test on Saturday. With continued good performances on the field coupled with solid pre-draft workouts Newman is heading into the top 15 choices next April.
For his part Eugene Wilson has been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary campaign for Illinois. Like Newman, he burst on the team and as a second year starter in 2001, led the nation in pass defenses, which garnered him All Conference honors. He too impacts the game on special teams returning punts and has been a big play corner throughout his college career.
Effective in bump and run or backed off the line of scrimmage, Wilson is a physical cover man that likes to mix it up throughout the route and does a tremendous job positioning himself against opponents to get a jump on the pass. He runs well with opponents, reads the receivers eye and displays solid overall awareness on the field, quickly turning back to the ball and making a play on the pass. Wilson also has an excellent break and gets his hand in on a lot of throws. A tough run defender, Wilson presently sits second on the team list in total tackles.
His interceptions are down but the reasons are clear; teams are purposely throwing away from Wilson (though they must be aware of his equally talented teammate Christian Morton).
Tomorrow he'll be matched up against the Indiana Hoosiers, a program that has seemingly found new life, and their pair of big play wide outs, Courtney Roby and Glen Johnson. At face value this is seemingly an easy task for Wilson who, like Newman, is climbing the charts through round one.