Intriguing, late-rising cover talent

Posted April 25, 2012 @ 4:31 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

This is the ninth in a series of 10 features profiling late-rising prospects from the pro-day circuit or developmental talent that just missed the cut in PFW's 2012 Draft Preview, offering a more condensed scouting report than the 400-plus in this year's Draft Preview. Results from nearly 200 pro days are now featured online in PFW's draft database.

Cornerback has been a position where late rounders, undrafted free agents and small-school prospects have made names for themselves in the NFL, exemplified by Tramon Williams (undrafted) and Cortland Finnegan (seventh round). The following players, listed alphabetically, could snag roster spots despite their low profiles:

CB Derrius Brooks, Western Kentucky, #2
Western Kentucky            PFW grade: 5.20
Ht: 5-9 1/2 | Wt: 192 | Sp: 4.36 | Arm: 33 3/4 | Hand: 9 1/4
Notes: High school running back in Georgia, where he won a pair of 100-meter state championships and earned two basketball letters. Was recruited as a receiver and redshirted in 2007. Played five games in ’08, starting three, and caught 13 balls for 140 yards (9.8-yard average) and zero touchdowns. Played all 12 games in ’09, tallying 11-108-1 (9.8). Also tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass. Moved to cornerback in ’10 when he recorded 36 tackles, one pass breakup and three interceptions, including a 62-yard TD against Louisiana-Lafayette in 12 games (four starts). Played all 12 games in ’11, starting the final eight, and posted 48-10-4 with a forced fumble. Had 14 career rushes for 71 yards (5.1-yard average) and a score and 12 kickoff returns for 328 yards (27.3). Also ran track for the Hilltoppers.
Bottom line: Short, long-armed, raw, converted receiver and finesse man-cover corner with outstanding timed speed and moldable physical tools to contribute in sub-packages and on special teams. Intriguing workout numbers — 40-yard dash (4.36 seconds), vertical leap (38 inches), broad jump (10 feet 5 inches) and short shuttle (6.61 seconds) all would have placed in the top five among cornerbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine. Has ball skills and good hands to intercept — seven interceptions in 12 career starts on defense. Has special-teams experience, including as a “gunner” and jammer. Developmental project and practice-squad candidate with upside.
NFL projection: Fifth- to sixth-round pick.

CB Chris Greenwood, #2
Albion (Mich.)            PFW grade: 5.23
Ht: 6-1 1/4 | Wt: 193 | Sp: 4.42 | Arm: 31 5/8 | Hand: 9 3/8
Notes: The Detroit-area prep also ran track. Began his college career at Northwood University (Midland, Mich.), where he redshirted in 2007. Played in three games in ’08 with three tackles, one pass breakup and no interceptions before transferring midseason to Eastern Michigan. Discovered that some of his credits did not transfer and that he would have been forced to sit out another season at EMU so he chose to play at Albion. Saw action in six games (four starts) at cornerback in ’09 and posted nine tackles, seven pass breakups and a league-high seven interceptions after missing the first four games of the season with a torn left hamstring. Returned two interceptions for touchdowns — 39 yards vs. Adrian College and 38 yards against Alma. Started all 10 games in ’10 and earned All-America honors from D3football.com after recording 30-3-4, including a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown against Adrian. Posted 30-4-2 with half a tackle for loss in 11 starts in ’11 and was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and All-America honors for a second straight season. Had a 70-yard interception return for a score against Alma. Saw limited action as a returner — 13 punt returns for 120 yards (9.2-yard average) and 14 kickoff returns for 261 yards (18.6-yard average).
Bottom line: Highly athletic, Division III stud with intriguing size, speed and explosiveness — vaulted into draftable range and prompted several pre-draft visits after impressing at the University of Michigan pro day, where he posted a rare 43-inch vertical leap and broad jump of 11 feet 2 inches. Faces a drastic jump in competition and lacks elite agility and transitional quickness, but, despite being thrown at infrequently, produced 26 career passes defended and 13 interceptions, including four touchdowns in three seasons.
NFL projection: Fifth- to sixth-round pick.

CB Buddy Jackson, #21
Pittsburgh            PFW grade: 5.10
Ht: 6-0 1/8 | Wt: 187 | Sp: 4.41 | Arm: 31 1/2 | Hand: 8 3/8
Notes: Given name is Anthony. The Florida prep also lettered in basketball and track. Redshirted in 2007. Saw action in five games as a reserve cornerback and special-teams contributor in ’08. Missed three games with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Made his mark on special teams in ’09 with eight tackles, two pass breakups and zero interceptions in nine games. Missed the first four games of the season after fracturing his jaw over the summer. In ’10, saw action in all 13 contests and recorded 11-0-0 while serving on the kick-coverage units and as a reserve cornerback. Played all 13 games in ’11, making one start (West Virginia) in the nickel package, and tallied 27-4-0 with half a tackle for loss. Also returned 23 kickoffs for 543 yards (23.6-yard average), including a 98-yard score against Utah.
Bottom line: Raw, inexperienced cornerback who was not a starter, but has NFL-caliber size, speed and athletic ability to contribute on special teams, where he has experience as a “gunner,” jammer and return man. Is long-levered and wiry — needs to get stronger — and will have to prove he has the flexibility and toughness to carve a niche.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.

Other notable pro-day standouts:

CB Mike Allen, James Madison
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 177 | Sp: 4.45 | Arm: 28 7/8 | Hand: 9 1/4
A converted receiver, Allen is a lean, fast, athletic, man-cover corner with good height and fluid hips. Scorched a 10-yard split of 1.44 seconds at his pro day, supplementing marks that would have ranked among the cornerback leaders at the Combine, including a 38-inch vertical jump, a short-shuttle time of 4.03 seconds and a 3-cone drill time of 6.7 seconds. Has very short arms and needs to get stronger.

CB Conroy Black, Utah
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 182 | Sp: 4.38 | Arm: 32 | Hand: 8 3/4
A raw, developmental man-cover corner, Black looks the part with a lean, athletic build and long arms combined with big-time track speed (has run the 100 meters in 10.3 seconds). Is relatively inexperienced and positional instincts and playmaking ability do not run parallel with his athletic ability, but has moldable tools and upside. Needs to get stronger.

CB Antwon Blake, UTEP
Ht: 5-9 1/4 | Wt: 192 | Sp: 4.33 | Arm: 30 1/4 | Hand: 9 1/2
Quick-footed, loose-hipped cornerback with big-time leaping ability and rare timed speed — recorded a 10-yard split time of 1.4 seconds and is able to keep pace deep (see opening play against UCF). Lacks ideal height but has a compact, muscular build with very little body fat (bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times). Aggressive in run support and has experience as a “gunner,” but tackles inconsistently. Needs to improve press technique at the line. Tape evaluation leaves you wanting more, but has what can't be taught.

CB Lee Chambers, Miami (Fla.)
Ht: 5-10 1/8 | Wt: 180 | Sp: 4.44 | Arm: 30 3/4 | Hand: 9 5/8
Lean, converted running back who played cornerback for only one season, but speed and 40½-inch vertical leap will earn him a camp invite. Needs to get stronger and is not as fast or as athletic as Green Bay Packers 2010 undrafted free agent Sam Shields, another former Hurricane who developed quickly.

CB A.J. Davis, Jacksonville State (Ala.)
Ht: 5-11 1/4 | Wt: 184 | Sp: 4.46 | Arm: 32 | Hand: 9 1/2
Experienced, athletic, competitive, balanced cornerback who shows nice bend and balance along with zone awareness, short-area quickness and a willingness to tackle. Average playmaking ability and inconsistent downfield ball reactions — recorded just 17 pass breakups and six interceptions as a four-year starter. Adequate sized with a lean, underdeveloped frame — needs to bulk up and get stronger (bench-pressed 225 pounds only eight times).

CB-KR Greg McCoy, TCU
Ht: 5-9 3/4 | Wt: 191 | Sp: 4.44 | Arm: 29 1/2 | Hand: 8 3/8
Undersized cornerback whose biggest impact will be on special teams — gained 30.6 yards per return on kickoffs as a senior and had three career touchdowns, including two in 2011. Has good top-end speed, as well as a 38-inch vertical leap, and clocked a 3-cone drill time of 6.62 seconds. Overcame stacked odds to have success in college.

ST-CB Vincent Moss, Mississippi
Ht: 5-11 1/4 | Wt: 196 | Sp: 4.56 | Arm: 30 3/4 | Hand: 8
Came to Ole Miss as a non-scholarship player and was not a starter (saw one season of significant playing time), but has good size and stood out on special teams. Has enough athletic ability — 38½-inch vertical, broad jump of 10 feet 5 inches, short-shuttle time of 4.01 seconds) to warrant consideration as a kick-coverage ace.

CB Quinton Pointer, UNLV
Ht: 5-8 7/8 | Wt: 186 | Sp: 4.42 | Arm: 30 3/8 | Hand: 9 1/2
Short, fast, competitive corner who compensates for his height deficiency with instincts, awareness and aggressiveness. Posted a 39-inch vertical leap and broad jump of 10 feet 8 inches. Has the speed, quickness and mental makeup to compete for a backup job, though durability is a concern.

CB-KR-RB Deante’ Purvis, UNLV
Ht: 5-10 1/8| Wt: 198 | Sp: 4.36 | Arm: 31 1/8 | Hand: 9 5/8
Did not take a carry as a senior, but named co-special-teams MVP as a senior after returning 40 kickoffs for 1,000 yards, including score against Colorado State. Could be drafted after registering a 41-inch vertical jump and sub-4.4 40-times.

CB Lionel Smith, Texas A&M
Ht: 5-11 3/4 | Wt: 192 | Sp: 4.49 | Arm: 31 1/2 | Hand: 9 3/8
Was A&M’s third corner, along with Coryell Judie and Terrence Frederick, but has very good size and produced eight pass breakups as a senior when he came on late in the season. Has man-coverage limitations (tends to clutch and grab downfield), but physicality and special-teams ability could see him drafted late. Recorded a 38½-inch vertical leap and a broad jump of 10 feet 5 inches.