With this year's cornerback class not looking particularly impressive, there's plenty of room for some of the mid-round picks to make a name for themselves. That's what cornerbacks like Miami's Brandon McGee are hoping for as the draft period now looms just nine days away.
McGee is rated as the 18th-best cornerback in the 2013 draft by nfldraftscout.com and is currently projected to go in the fourth round. He's building on some positive momentum from the combine, which saw him do well by running the eighth-fastest 40-yard dash time and also lifting an impressive 14 reps.
McGee's recent resurgence doesn't appear to make him another fluky "combine warrior." A brief look back at his career with the Hurricanes shows an intense player who has the ability start at the cornerback position in the NFL. Here are some of the best plays from McGee's college career.
With a 10-10 tie in the second quarter against the hated Florida State Seminoles, Brandon McGee made one of several big plays from that night. The play here called for a cornerback blitz on QB EJ Manuel.
In this play, McGee easily blows past his wide receiver and tackles Manuel to the ground. With Manuel's focus on the blitz coming from the middle, he and all his teammates are shocked when McGee comes in facing no resistance.
McGee shows excellent awareness with this play and follows through by delivering the textbook-perfect sack-strip play. The end result is a turnover, with the Hurricanes taking the ball over inside of Florida State territory.
In his 2012 senior season, McGee had his best season in terms of forcing turnovers. During the Hurricanes' 12 games, Mcgee picked off two passes and forced a fumble.
The play shown here didn't occur in an actual game, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's a really impressive interception. McGee shows great play awareness by jumping receiver Stephen Sweeney's out pattern.
After making the pick, McGee shows tremendous speed as he barrels forward for a 39-yard gain. There were too many offensive players in the perimeter for McGee to realistically expect a touchdown, but he still gives it a valiant effort and ends up breaking two tackles before finally succumbing at the white team's 10-yard line.
With Miami leading the game 23-14, this late second-quarter drive was a crucial one for NC State, who was now inside of Miami's 10-yard line. Wide receiver Tobais Palmer made a grab at the Hurricanes' five-yard line and looked ready to score.
McGee shows good speed on the play. He quickly moves toward Palmer and relentlessly works on tackling him. McGee then pushes for the fumble and grabs the loose ball away from Palmer.
Dropping two yards back in the end zone, McGee again shows some elusiveness as he cuts through the Wolfpack offense. He keeps going until he's taken down at the 27-yard line, effectively avoiding tackles and demonstrating his violent running style.
Though not a meaningful play in an actual game, McGee's 40-yard dash is another great example of his speed. His quick feet and straight-line speed are clearly among his strengths as a cornerback. He was able to demonstrate both of those during a crucial appearance at the NFL combine.
McGee's time came in at 4.40, good for the sixth-fastest time among defensive backs. It was also the eighth-fastest 40 among all participants at the combine.
McGee keeps his body straight during the entirety of his run, displaying overall good form. He also had a 6.71 three-cone drill time, which was among the fastest for defensive backs in that category.
Going back to the Florida State game in October 2012, McGee makes another great play. This one came on the Seminoles' opening drive and would set the tone for a hard-hitting game, even though the Hurricanes went on to lose it.
The ball is dumped off to Nick Leary on a short pass. McGee uses his instincts to recognize the play and then drops his assignment to charge Leary.
Like many other football players in recent days, Leary makes the somewhat ill-advised move to go airborne, which causes him to lose control. McGee retains his cool and goes for a textbook wrap-around tackle on Leary's knees. The attention to fundamentals plays out very well here, with Leary crumpling to the ground, and teammate Jimmy Gaines is able to pick up the heads-up fumble.
Thanks in large part to McGee, the Hurricanes now have an early turnover with the ball in good field position. This was not just an isolated incident either, with McGee sacking the quarterback, making big tackles and also displaying great speed as a special teams gunner in one of his finest collegiate performances.
This play focuses on McGee's special teams skills, which could very be well an area where he is contributing next season.
With almost a ridiculous burst of speed, McGee burns his man and sprints down the field way ahead of all other receivers. He reaches the returner almost as soon as the ball does and forces the turnover.
Unfortunately, the Hurricanes did not get the ball deep in Florida State territory, as it just rolled out of bounds. Even though the fumble was unsuccessful, this play still shows the speed McGee has—as well as his tackling skills—and it should certainly get the attention of the special teams coach for whoever drafts him.