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 cornerbacks above will improve in 2011 (particularly Jenkins), the future of the position is uncertain.
Newman will turn 33 during the upcoming season and really struggled in 2010. 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.
Orlando 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 moved 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 pure coverage ability would undoubtedly be of value to the Cowboys.
Let’s start with the negatives: Jimmy Smith is absolutely horrible in run support. It was honestly a pain watching him try to tackle in each of the videos below. He doesn’t seem exceedingly willing to try to make hits, almost appearing content to get blocked. You can see that at the 1:26 mark against Missouri and the 1:50 mark against Cal.
Jimmy Smith vs. Missouri
I really can’t stress enough how poor Smith is against the run. I’ve read reports that he’s “solid versus the run and wraps up well.” I don’t know what film these guys are watching, but Smith is one of the worst tacklers I’ve seen in a long time.
He’s Mike Jenkins bad, and it sure would be difficult to field a starting lineup with Jenkins and Smith outside. I realize run support isn’t the primary concern for cornerbacks, but when it’s atrocious, it matters.
Smith also doesn’t display great technique in off-coverage. He is often caught flat-footed, using his speed to make up for poor footwork. He won’t be able to sit on routes like that in the NFL, even with his reported sub-4.4 speed (which he does display on tape. He’s a burner).
The good news is that those are really the only negatives in Smith’s game, and there are plenty of positives. First, Smith excels in press man coverage. He is very physical at the line of scrimmage, using his large frame (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) to re-route receivers. He will be able to add more bulk as well.
In 2010, Smith was targeted just 20 times all season. Opposing quarterbacks simply didn’t want to test him. Some of this had to do with the overall weakness of Colorado’s defense, as 1) there were other places to attack and 2) Colorado was losing a lot.
Still, he allowed just one touchdown in 2010, but recorded five pass breakups. He yielded only 11 total completions during his last two years at Colorado.
Check out the interception Smith makes at the 1:56 mark against Missouri (and Blaine Gabbert). It is pretty remarkable considering Gabbert wasn’t fooled by Colorado’s coverage—Smith just made a heck of a play.
Smith vs. Cal
Smith’s shutdown ability and size have some comparing him to Nnamdi Asomugha. Those comparisons aren’t totally unwarranted, but Asomugha is far better in run support.
Despite a lack of interceptions, Smith has playmaker potential. He puts himself in proper position on most plays. In zone coverage he “wanders” a bit, but in a good way. He diagnoses plays quite well and seems to have a good feel for defensive concepts. He’s fairly smooth out of breaks and really mirrors receivers well. He’s probably the best pure cover man in this draft.
It’s also noteworthy that, from what I’ve seen, Smith always plays the right side.
Smith vs. Oklahoma
Someone is going to take Jimmy Smith in the first 25 picks. His size, speed and coverage ability make him too good of a prospect to drop. That makes it highly unlikely he will wind up in Dallas.
Despite cornerback being a consensus area of concern among fans, I don’t think you’ll see the Cowboys address the position in the first round. Smith is theoretically a possibility for Dallas at its current No. 9 spot or somewhere in the teens, but I think you’ll see the ‘Boys go a different direction.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011