With the NFL Draft just a week away, one of the most intriguing stories is the astronomic rise of Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie (DRC).
DRC started this whole draft process as a likely second- or third-round pick.
However, the cousin of San Diego Chargers' cornerback Antonio Cromartie had a fabulous Senior Bowl, and he turned in the best overall workout of the corners at the NFL Combine.
As draft day nears, Cromartie has a legitimate shot at being the first cornerback taken, in an overall deep class of corners.
All of that aside, though, how good is he?
Here's my evaluation of DRC based on the tape I've seen of him.
Strengths: Cromartie possesses a long lean frame with very long arms. Shows pretty good technique in press coverage. A very fluid athlete and is able to quickly open his hips to either turn and run or break back to the ball. Displays very quick feet with the ability to plant, drive, and close in a hurry. Uses his long arms well in both trail technique, as well as driving on the ball and batting down passes. Shows good ball skills, as well as soft hands, and great leaping ability to fight for jump balls or make interceptions. Flashes the potential to really lay a hit, and the ability to wrap up in the open field and make tackles. Extremely versatile as he occasionally lined up at receiver. Also adds much special teams value as evidenced by his eight blocked kicks, and six punt/kick returns for touchdowns. Changes directions effortlessly with the ball in his hands, and is a threat to take it the distance whenever he gets his hands on the ball.
Weaknesses: Lacks ideal bulk for the next level, but does have room to put on weight. While he shows above average press technique could still use a lot of work in terms of physicality and using his long frame. Sometimes, he'll get lazy with his feet and doesn't plant and drive like he has the ability to. Great speed, but may not be elite. Despite good ball skills, sometimes DRC has trouble locating the ball if he has to find it over his shoulder. Hasn't consistently showed a willingness to come up and support the run, and doesn't shed blocks well at all.
Overall: Rogers-Cromartie is a playmaker in all facets of the game. He shows tremendous athletic ability, but could definitely use polish. Extremely versatile and that should really help his draft stock. Because of his size, speed, and overall athletic ability he could have the biggest upside of any of the corners in the draft. Certainly worth a first-round pick who may have the ability to become a shutdown corner.