Darqueze Dennard NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Bengals CB

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyContributor IFebruary 7, 2014

Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard (31) reacts during the second half of a Big Ten Conference championship NCAA college football game against Ohio State Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State (Height: 5’10⅞”; Weight: 199 lbs.)

Cincinnati Bengals

First Round: 24th Pick

 

NFL Comparison: Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns

Combine Weigh-In
HeightWeightArmHand
5'10 7/8"199 lbs30 1/4"9"
NFL.com
Combine Workout
40-yard dash10-yd splitVertBroad3-ConeShuttle
4.511.60DNPDNPDNPDNP
NFL.com

 

Positives

  • 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. 

 

Negatives

  • 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.
Collegiate Statistics
YearTeamTacklesPDINT
2010Michigan State1100
2011Michigan State4263
2012Michigan State52103
2013Michigan State62104
Sports-Reference.com

 

Personal Notes

  • 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.

 

Ratings Chart

Graph made by http://nces.ed.gov

 

Overall

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

 


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