Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State (Height: 5’10⅞”; Weight: 199 lbs.)
First Round: 24th Pick
NFL Comparison: Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns
|5'10 7/8"||199 lbs||30 1/4"||9"|
|40-yard dash||10-yd split||Vert||Broad||3-Cone||Shuttle|
- Height and weight are average for an NFL cornerback, but he utilizes his length extremely well and plays like a much bigger athlete.
- Long-distance speed is adequate for a starting NFL defensive back. Stays attached to the hip of wide receivers, then turns to locate the ball quickly when the receiver starts to make a play for the ball.
- Route-recognition skill and great awareness lower the chances of getting beaten on deep routes and avoiding defensive penalties.
- Ability to quickly locate the ball allows a more physical and aggressive approach to attacking the ball.
- Great ball skills led to four interceptions and 10 pass defenses in 2013. Dennard was in position to intercept more passes as well. His instincts are a major positive.
- Has good hip flexion when transitioning from backpedal to his next move. Being a fluid athlete is vital to covering the top receivers in the NFL.
- Excellent technician on pass plays; he doesn’t waste steps when coming back to the receiver on a comeback or curl route. Being a step or two late to the receiver could be the difference between an interception and a first down for the offense.
- Good athlete, but he isn't reliant on his physical abilities. His work ethic has definitely helped him become a refined player.
- Great fit for aggressive, on-man schemes. With teams trending toward wanting physical defenders, his value will only increase.
- Was solid in limited press coverage, showing a good initial punch and ability to disrupt the receiver off the snap.
- Has the ability to be an instant contributor in his first season.
- Not an elite athlete; lacks top-tier speed, both short area and long. His matchup against Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery in the 2014 Rose Bowl showed that Dennard struggled against athletes with elite lateral quickness.
- Rarely faced high-quality receivers in Big Ten play; the transition to elite athletes and speed will be significant.
- Needs to add more upper-body strength to hold up against bigger receivers. Dennard couldn't get off blocks efficiently or "box-out" bigger receivers in jump-ball situations.
- Tends to overpursue on running plays, which led to chunk plays on his side of the field.
- Too often will arm tackle, instead of using his legs to drive the ball-carrier backward at the point of contact.
- Dropped some easy interceptions after getting into the right position to make the play; hands could be a concern.
- A three-year starter and four-year letter winner after being a 2-star recruit out of high school, per Rivals.com.
- He's a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection (2012, 2013).
- Dennard will graduate with a degree in communication.
Dennard is a terrific fit with an aggressive defense such as Seattle or Cincinnati in the first round because of his experience and comfort being on an island with a receiver.
Although not the best athlete, he has very refined technique that overcomes most physical mismatches. He has the desired aggressive mindset and is a leader in the secondary. I fully expect Dennard to be an instant contributor.
Draft Projection: First Round