As the passing game continues to thrive in the modern NFL, so does the importance of finding quality cover men. Offenses are trying to negate the impact of pass rushers with short passing games and "finesse" running schemes, which means corners need to be complete players.
In a deep class of cornerbacks, Chase Minnifield shines as one of the most well-rounded corners in the draft. He is not going to make a ton of spectacular plays or big hits, but he is everything you would want in a professional cornerback.
Projected as a second-day pick, Minnifield certainly has what it takes to have a successful career in the NFL, and here is why.
As offenses are becoming more sophisticated in the passing game, having a corner who can disrupt the timing between a quarterback and a receiver is extremely valuable in today's NFL.
Minnifield is at his best in the press, using his hands to engage receivers before they are able to run their routes. He can redirect receivers to get them to run where he wants them to go, not where the quarterback is expecting.
Chase's "punch" at the line of scrimmage is what enables him to use press coverage so effectively to make up for his lack of elite speed.
Plenty of corners can run with their receivers and prevent big plays, but the guys who can turn a deflected pass into a turnover have the ability to halt drives and change momentum with a single play.
Minnifield knows how to play the ball, not the receiver. When he has a chance to make a play on the ball, he rarely passes it up.
Turnovers are huge in changing the outcomes of games, and Minnifield can help a lot of teams create them with his exceptional ball skill.
For proof, look no further than his 13 career interceptions as a Cavalier.
When you look at the teams that are weak against the run, most of them give up too many big runs because of the secondary's unwillingness to play the run. Having corners and safeties who can play both aspects of the game is vital to stopping outside runs and screens.
Chase has solid tackling skills, but he is very good at getting off blocks for a corner. He is not going to make a lot of big hits, but corners are not paid for knockout swings.
If they can get a runner on the ground faster than a chasing linebacker, they have done their job.
Rarely do NFL defenses just line up and play a vanilla cover scheme over and over. Mixing coverage concepts to create deception and confusion are key to stopping the high-powered offenses in today's NFL.
Minnifield is at his best as a zone corner, but he has experience playing in man as well. He is at his best as a press corner, but he knows how to play in "off" coverage as well.
Combining these attributes with a willingness to play against the run would lead one to believe that Minnifield would be a good slot corner, a position that is quickly gaining prominence.
To top it all off, Chase has experience as a punt returner, which only increases his value on draft day.
Zone-heavy teams will love Minnifield, but he has the skill set to adjust to just about any scheme.
No matter what kind of defensive scheme you're running, a player with stiff hips at the cornerback position is destined for failure. Being able to turn and run with receivers as they change direction is crucial to success in the NFL as a cover corner.
One aspect of Minnifield's game that he lacks is elite speed, which is where is fluidity becomes so crucial. He cannot afford to waste time with unnecessary movement to get his body to go in another direction.
Minnifield's ability to turn and run with receivers is one of the main reasons why he will be selected as early as the top half of the second round.
Far too often we have seen quality NFL talent wasted away because a player does not have their priorities set in order.
This is certainly not the case with Chase Minnifield.
Chase comes from a football family. His father, Frank Minnifield, was a Pro Bowl corner who played for the Browns from 1984-1992. When your family has an idea what it is like to be an NFL player and have empathy for what the draft process is like, it makes the lifestyle transition much easier.
On the field, Chase is disciplined and a good teammate by all accounts. Whoever drafts him for his ability on the football field can do so without hesitation that something else will interfere with his NFL career.