NFL Draft Pressure Points: Cornerback

One of the things I like to do when I'm examining a draft - especially when there are 2 or 3 players in particular I'm hoping falls to the Dolphins - is to examine how likely it is one of those players fall to the Miami.  This year, having the 25th pick, it's harder than ever to really gauge which players might potentially be available when the Dolphins are on the clock.

But what we can do is try our best to break down where the "pressure points" are in round one.  So what's a "pressure point"?  The way I define a "pressure point" is as a point in time during the draft where there's a strong liklihood that the team on the clock could potentially draft one of the players you hope to fall.

In this edition particular post, we're going to look at the pressure points for the cornerback position.  Why?  Well, yes, the cornerback spot is probably the greatest hole on Miami's roster.  And yes, I'm personally hoping that the Dolphins draft one of three corners in round one (Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, Sean Smith).  But more importantly, you Dolphin fans who have voted in our Pulse of Dolphins Nation poll about the 25ht overall pick (and you can still cast your vote) have voted in favor of drafting a cornerback more so than any other position - with 39% of the votes going to a corner.  So with that in mind, it just made sense to do our first "pressure point" post about the cornerback position.

To begin, we must first identify the true first round caliber cornerbacks in this draft.  And based on what we read and hear (and from examining countless mock drafts), there are three legitimate first round corners out there - Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis, and Darius Butler.  I think that Sean Smith is as well - and some mock drafts agree with me - but we'll leave him out of the discussion for right now.

Now let's look at the first round.

Picks 1 through 8 - Some may argue that the Browns could consider drafting Malcolm Jenkins, but I don't see it.  I don't think any of the top corners even deserve to be a top 5 pick.  And the Browns have many other needs.  No pressure points here.

Pressure Point #1: Pick 9 - When the Packers hit the clock at pick 9, this will be our first pressure point.  Their two corners are getting up there in age and an infusion of a young corner would make some sense.  But I think that their conversion to a 3-4 defensive scheme will dictate this pick and the Packers will address their front seven rather than their secondary.  Though this is a pressure point, it's not a pick I'd be overly concerned about if you're pulling for the Dolphins to select a corner.

Picks 10 and 11 - Nothing to worry about here.  Sure, the Bills lost Jabari Greer to free agency.  But they need a pass rusher and some offensive line help much more than they need another corner.  And they spend last year's first rounder on a corner.  They won't spend another on one.

Pressure Point #2: Pick 12 - Part of me will be hoping that the Broncos trade up in the draft to snag Mark Sanchez because there's a chance they could decide to address their secondary and select Malcolm Jenkins.  They lost Dre Bly this offseason and, though they signed Andre Goodman, Brian Dawkins, and Renaldo Hill, Jenkins could be of value to them because he could play corner or safety.  However, with their switch to a 3-4 defense, it would make more sense for them to take a front seven player.  Keep an eye on what Denver does on draft day, but don't sweat it out too much.

Pressure Point #3: Pick 14 - Up to this point, I think that this pick, 14th overall by the Saints, will be a heavy indicator of whether or not a top corner falls to the Dolphins at 25.  The Saints certainly need secondary help.  Their best corner, Mike McKenzie, remains unsigned.  They signed Jabari Greer, but he isn't exactly a sure thing.  They drafted Tracy Porter last year.  They also have Randall Gay, Jason David, and Michael Lehan.  Right now, it seems like they are trying the whole "quantity over quality" idea to fix their secondary.  So that's why this pick will be interesting.  The Saints obnly have 1 pick in the first 3 rounds of this draft, too, and a lot of holes to try and mend on defense.  So they could decide to address another need, perhaps linebacker.  But having the ability to play both corner and safety is something that could entice the Saints.  If you're pulling for a corner at pick 25, then this pick is going to be of high interest to you.

Pressure Point #4: Pick 15 - The Texans' 15th overall pick, coupled with New Orleans' 14th, probably represent the ultimate pressure point in round one of the draft for the cornerback position.  The Texans could certainly use help in their secondary.  And yet again, Jenkins' position flexibility will improve his value in the eyes of yet another team.  I personally feel that Houston's needs for an outisde linebacker are greater than their need for secondary help.  But depending on how the first 14 picks play out, it could make sense for Houston to select either Jenkins or Vontae Davis.

Picks 16 and 17 - Chargers and Jets pick here.  It's highly doubtful that secondary help is on either's list for round one.

Pressure Point #5: Pick 18 - The Broncos are up again with the pick they obtained from the Bears for QB Jay Cutler.  Same thing applies here that I wrote previously when they were on the clock at #12.

Pressure Point #6: Pick 20 - I wouldn't say it's likely that the Lions select a cornerback here, especially with another pick upcoming to kick off round two.  But there's clearly a need at corner - especially after cutting Leigh Bodden.  It wouldn't be surprising to see Vontae Davis or Darius Butler come off the board here.  It certainly bears monitoring, at the very least.

Pressure Point #7: Pick 22 - The Vikings could certainly use a cornerback.  They have Antoine Winfield, but not too much after him.  Cedric Griffin is alright, but an upgrade would probably be worth considering.  Granted, corner isn't a hige need for Minnesota.  But this is a team that doesn't have too many glaring holes and upgrading their secondary would make some sense.

Pressure Point #8: Pick 23 - Clearly, the Patriots have needs in their secondary.  But they did sign Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden to compliment Ellis Hobbs.  But the Patriots are another team without any glaring holes, so they could easily decide to take the highest rated player on their board.  And there are reports that suggest that NE is high on Darius Butler.

Pressure Point #9: Pick 24 - The Falcons are a lot like the Dolphins.  Despite going 11-5 and making the playoffs, they are a team with a few different needs.  They need help along the defensive line.  They could use linebacker help - especially after losing two starters from last year.  They could also use a tight end.  And you can never have too much depth along the offensive line.  But their secondary is also in question.  Outside of Chris Houston, they don't really have a starting-caliber corner on their roster.  And just think how much it would hurt for the Falcons to snatch up Vontae Davis or Darius Butler with the pick right in front of the Dolphins.  Ugh!

Final Thought
Nine "pressure points" are a lot, that's for sure.  From my point of view, I think that the first 14 picks will go a long way towards a top three cornerback dropping to Miami's laps.  If no corners go in the top 14, I think there would be a very good chance one falls to 25.  If only one goes, I'd say there's still about a 50/50 chance one falls to 25.  The thing with this particular draft, though, because of the lack of separation between the top players at each position, this is as unpredictable and as fluid a draft as I can recall.  And while that will make draft day even more fun, it makes it very, very tough to try and predict.

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