1. Orlando Scandrick: B- (83.4)
2. Terence Newman: C+ (77.0)
3. Mike Jenkins: D (64.6)
To say the Cowboys need help in the secondary would be an understatement. While I do think all three above cornerbacks will improve in 2011 (particularly Jenkins), the future of the position is uncertain in Dallas.
Newman really struggled in 2010, and will turn 33 during the upcoming season. He seems to have trouble locating the football while still maintaining position to make a play on it.
Jenkins appeared to lose confidence this year. I do think he’ll regain his swagger in 2011, but he has a long way to go.
Scandrick actually played quite well over the final 10 games or so, but I think his skill set is best suited for the slot. If he moves outside, his lack of strength and size could hurt him.
Today’s feature is a player many of you asked me to analyze, and one whose ability could potentially be a nice fit in Dallas.
At 6’1”, Aaron Williams has great length for the cornerback position. He turns and runs fairly well (although not at an elite level), displaying above-average hips.
His long arms allow him to play press coverage, but he could improve after adding some bulk. At just 189 pounds, he has room for it.
Williams’ make-up speed is very good, which allows him to be aggressive right off the snap, as he’s able to quickly get back in position if he slips up in his press. He really excels when playing up in a receiver’s face and shadowing him around the field.
Williams struggles a bit in off-coverage, sometimes taking too long to come out of his backpedal and break on the football. His skill set is actually perfect for a Rob Ryan defense that figures to blitz plenty (and thus leave the secondary in man coverage).
In the run game, Williams doesn’t fight off blocks well. He’s not averse to contact, but he doesn’t possess the same ultra-aggressive mentality of Miami's Brandon Harris (who's just six pounds heavier). Williams’ poor tackling form could be detrimental to a team that already struggles to tackle in the secondary.
NFL teams won’t have to worry about Williams’ character. His teammates say he’s a stand-up guy with good leadership qualities. He loves football, which isn’t necessarily a certainty among draftees nowadays.
Williams is a bit of a polarizing player among NFL scouts.
Some love his speed, man coverage ability, and upside. I’ve seen him ranked ahead of LSU’s Patrick Peterson as the top cornerback available. That seems outlandish to me, as the difference in ability is overwhelming.
Other scouts reportedly see nothing special from Williams. He’s somewhat frail, hasn’t produced much in college (only four career picks), and doesn’t support the run well.
I’m in the middle. I view Williams as a solid cornerback whose speed does give him nice upside, but whose current ability doesn’t put him anywhere near the top-flight players at his position.
His talent justifies an early-to-mid 2nd-round pick, which is where I think you’ll see him go. Thus, he’s an option for Dallas at their current 2nd-round draft spot.
There are certainly worse possibilities than a speedy player at a position of need.
Other Potential Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011: