Scout's Notebook: Jets CB Antonio Cromartie

Posted Dec. 26, 2012 @ 5:26 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

CB Antonio Cromartie, #31
New York Jets
Height: 6-2 1/8, Weight: 208, Speed: 4.51

Notes: Was selected 19th overall by the Chargers in 2006 despite coming off an ACL injury in July that forced him to miss his junior season at Florida State. Draft stock soared after a dazzling display at his pro day, when he posted 40-times in the 4.4s, vertical-jumped 42 inches and performed extremely well in agility testing only eight months removed from surgery. Saw action in all 16 games as a rookie, recording 24 tackles and four pass breakups. On his way to a team-record 10 interception season in 2007, supplanted RCB Drayton Florence in the starting lineup midway through the season following a three-INT performance vs. Peyton Manning. Finished with 44-18-10, including a pick he returned for a 70-yard TD. Also set an NFL record by returning a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota. Production slipped in ’08 following an undisclosed hip injury he suffered in the season opener, missing only one start and notching 64-9-2 with a 52-yard interception return. Started every game in 2009, recording 33-10-3, and with his contract set to expire, was dealt to the Jets in March 2010 for a third-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft that San Diego used to select USC CB Shareece Wright. Cromartie was given a $500,000 advance by the Jets upon his arrival so he could make outstanding child support payments for the nine children he fathered with eight women living in six states. Married the star of the E! reality series "Candy Girls," Terricka Cason, in July 2010. During ’10 season, started 15 games alongside Darrelle Revis and tallied 42-17-3 to earn a four-year, $32 million extension in August ’11. Started all 16 games in ’11, recording 45-12-4. Was assigned to the opponent’s top receiver in ’12 following Revis’ torn ACL injury in Week Three and notched 33-13-3. Also has 39 career kickoff returns for 895 yards (22.9), including four fumbles.

Positives: Looks every bit the part with a shredded physique, washboard abs and very long arms. Outstanding press strength to hem and redirect receivers at the line, disrupt the timing of a rhythm passing game and seal off short zones. Can match up very well with big, physical receivers (see Houston vs. Andre Johnson). Has very good hand-eye coordination, soft hands and outstanding ball skills to play the ball in the air. Excellent leaping ability. Outstanding acrobat able to contort his body in the air, react to tipped passes and make highly difficult interceptions, plucking the ball like a receiver. Good football intelligence. Highly competitive with an upbeat personality and passion for the game.

Negatives: Does not play to his size in run support – often turns down contact, gives minimal effort in pursuit and is happy to let his teammates arrive first (averages less than five assisted tackles a year and tackling temperament softened following hip injury). Clutches and grabs too much at the line and gets out of phase down the field, leading to too many pass interference calls trying to recover against elite speed (see Oakland) and savvy double moves (see San Francisco, Indianapolis and New England). Can be easily stressed by speed cuts in off-man coverage (despite possessing surprisingly loose hips and quick feet for a tall corner). Has been weighed down by too many personal distractions in the past. Talks too much trash.

Summary: A long, lean, athletic press-man corner who stepped up as an emotional leader on the Jets’ defense in the absence of his much more talented teammate Darrelle Revis in Week Three and showed maturity that led his teammates to vote him as the team’s MVP. Excels near the line of scrimmage in bump-and-run mode, but the more ground he is asked to cover, the more he struggles and he can carved by quick slants, sharp double moves and deep-layered route concepts. Elite ball skills, leaping ability and straight-line speed can correlate well to the receiving position and return game.