With the recent release of veteran starter Jabari Greer, New Orleans has a big hole to fill at the cornerback spot.
Lockdown corners aren’t merely helpful in Rob Ryan’s aggressive scheme; they are required. The Saints already have one in Keenan Lewis, but the other corner spot is now a chief concern of this offseason.
Corey White, who replaced the injured Greer midway through the 2013 season, is tall and rangy, and he demonstrated flashes of potential last season in relief of Greer but was largely inconsistent.
As for the Saints’ cornerback depth chart, it’s certainly on the thin side. Patrick Robinson was also injured for the better part of last season, but he’s never lived up to his billing as a first-round selection in 2010. In many instances last season, New Orleans used safeties and even linebackers in nickel and dime situations. This won’t get it done against the NFC’s upper-echelon wide receiver units, especially with Greer out of the picture.
After Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, Jason Verrett of TCU is one of the draft’s top cornerbacks. Whoever drafts Verrett will be adding not just a top-notch cover man but also a solid, all-around football player.
If one word must be used to describe Verrett, it would be tenacious. He’s been a relative underdog for most of his football career, and he wasn’t even offered a scholarship coming out of high school. After three outstanding seasons at TCU, however, he proved his worth as a true shutdown cover man.
The ever-confident Verrett plays the game with a chip on his shoulder, and he battles on every play until the whistle blows. He’s a hard hitter who genuinely enjoys the physical aspect of the game, which isn’t always true of the modern cover corner.
While he has superb skills as a tackler, his most impressive attribute is his ability to lock up with opposing receivers in press coverage. This skill meshes nicely with what the Saints like to do defensively, as the blitz-happy Ryan relies on solid man-to-man cover skills from his corners.
The Saints have a number of pressing personnel issues to address this offseason, but if they draft Verrett, they’ll have one less.