Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty (HT: 6'0⅝”; WT: 205 lbs)
Fourth Round: 125th Pick
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- Great size and frame will allow him to match up with most of the top receivers and not be at a physical disadvantage.
- Showed pretty good speed on tape, but since he plays against lower competition, it was hard to tell how fast he really is. At his pro day on March 4, he posted an official 40-yard dash time of 4.42, quieting any doubts about his distance speed.
- Mirrors the opposing wide receiver well, staying balanced in his stance and backpedal.
- Good form tackler, staying low while the ball-carrier approaches. He doesn’t just take the contact, he’s capable of delivering the blow.
- Active in run support, filling the correct gap and filtering the ball-carrier to the sideline or to another teammate in the area.
- Footwork flashes, as he has quick feet for his size. There’s a decent foundation for his NFL positional coach to work with once he is on a team.
- Played well in man coverage in 2013, showing decent hip fluidity and change of direction.
- Most likely projects as a Cover 2 corner, which is a scheme he played in most often in 2013. Since he can use his strength and keep things in front of him while in zone, his limitations can be minimized.
- Good acceleration in short distances allows him to close quickly on receivers. This will help him when trying to jump underneath routes.
- Made a great impression at the 2014 Senior Bowl, taking coaching well and showing the ability to adjust on the fly.
- Despite being a projected zone specialist, his instincts and feel for zone are still inconsistent. He will give too much cushion while in Cover 3, leaving the receiver free to run curl routes for easy eight-yard gains.
- He will need to work on his hand usage when engaging run-blocking receivers, as he struggles to shed blocks against lower competition. This is coachable, but it keeps him from being a very good run defender.
- Footwork is inconsistent, as he is prone to crossing his feet while mirroring his man. This can lead to accidental trips or losing that valuable speed. More fluid movements will be necessary for him to grow into a man-coverage cornerback.
- Arrested in 2010 while a member of the University of Illinois and subsequently kicked off the team. Transferred to Liberty.
- Although his mental abilities were impressive at the Senior Bowl, he struggled badly at the first few practices. I watched him look outmatched for the first two days of practice before he started to catch up. His learning curve could be steep.
- Three-time Big South All-Conference player.
- All-Big Ten freshman while at Illinois.
- Graduating with a degree in sport management.
- Twitter handle is @Allstar_AIK.
Aikens is a physically talented player that needs to put it all together with very good coaching. His ability to forget mistakes and stay confident is extremely important to his success.
As a project player, I think Aikens has a ceiling that can allow him to be a good starter for a zone-based scheme in a few seasons.
Draft Projection: Fourth Round