Vernon Hargreaves III vs. Eli Woodard: Which 5-Star CB Is Better?
This 2013 recruiting features two cornerback prospects that I really like in Vernon Hargreaves III and Eli Woodard. Both of these guys are flat out fantastic CB's that would be top tier CB prospects and overall prospects in any class of years past.
Ohio State fans banter that Woodard is the top cover man in the country, while Florida fans counter with Hargreaves. Which one is better? Well let's try to attempt the near impossible of deciding that by breaking both CB's prospects down from a scouting perspective.
Come inside and see who's the better cornerback.
The Florida native is a 5'11" CB that weighs close to 185 pounds. He has a muscular frame and some thickness in the upper body. He has an athletic build and will probably add about 10 pounds in Gainesville.
The New Jersey native is 6'0", 185 pounds on the hoof, but he plays like he's 6'2". He's a long and tall athlete with some muscular appeal to him. Woodard probably could get up to 200 pounds at Ohio State.
Athleticism, Footwork and Transition Quickness
Hargreaves is a speedy athlete who has no limits to his athletic ability. He shows very quick feet in his play, as he can shuffle them in a flash to put himself in position to succeed. His transition quickness is phenomenal, as Hargreaves is clean and rarely sticky coming out of his pedal.
Woodard shows traits of a sudden and explosive athletic talent. It's impressive for as long as he is, and he also has a great burst. I see no limit to his athleticism, and it comes through in his footwork. Woodard is smooth in space, has precise foot quickness and wastes very, very little time in transition.
This is where Hargreaves makes his case for being special. He's extremely intelligent on the football field and excels in route recognition. That's an advanced trait for a prep player, and many college and NFL CBs don't even recognize routes well. Hargreaves plays the game with superb awareness, instincts and anticipation.
The future Buckeye has terrific instincts and understands what's going on at all times. He sees the whole field and is very good at anticipating and reacting quickly.
Man Coverage Skills
I noticed that Hargreaves has sneaky strength in his jams. On tape, receivers are a bit shocked at the force he generates, and he really presses and reroutes well. Hargreaves has the hips and feet to mirror receivers at the line and the closing quickness to attach and carry receivers all over the field.
Press coverage is a great part of Woodard's game, as he can use his length and strength to throw a receiver's timing off. He is excellent in off-man coverage too, thanks to his athleticism and driving quickness. It's clear that he knows getting beat inside can't happen in man coverage.
Advantage: Hargreaves, by a hair
Zone Coverage Skills
There isn't much bad about Hargreaves play in zone coverage. Yet, there are times when he will get out of position in this phase of coverage. It's not often, but he will take some chances and venture out of his deep third and fourth on the field. Nonetheless, he's still very aware in zone coverage.
Woodard has quick read ability in zone schemes. He loves to let routes grow and develop, then he attacks passing lanes. He has a sharp drive to the football that allows him to play with great range. I love Woodard in man coverage, but he's equally as effective in zone coverage too.
Run Support and Tackling
The future Gator lets his strength be shown in run support. Hargreaves will burst from the perimeter to attack a ball-carrier, and he has some point of attack pop.He isn't afraid to squeeze from the defensive perimeter to combat the run and is a very good tackler. I don't see much yard leakage from Hargreaves in this area at all.
This guy doesn't like to be blocked, and he'll use strength to resist any receiver trying to hold him up. Woodard shows no fear to support the run and has some hitting ability. However, he does leak some yards at times and needs to continue working on wrapping up better as a tackler.
Based on this study, each player has his advantages. Hargreaves has the advantage in instincts, man coverage skills and run support. Woodard has a little better size and an advantage in zone coverage.
Also, let me make it clear that the advantages both of these guys have over each other are not by wide margins. Woodard is an excellent man cover corner and has great instincts, while Hargreaves has solid size and plays very well in zone coverage.
If I were forced to choose one, it would be an extremely hard decision, but I feel Hargreaves is the top guy. He has as close to a complete skill set from a CB as we've seen in awhile.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.