Perhaps there is no position (or positions) that are seemingly valued less by NFL General Managers and Player Personel types than cornerbacks and safeties. Okay, kicker and punter are valued less, but can we really count those?
Even though opposing teams will spend all week game planning against the likes of Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu; even though teams will literally stop playing half the field on passing downs when up against the Jets Darrelle Revis – it seems as if the theory still is that defensive backs are positions that don’t make enough general impact to merit a high pick.
Yet over the last decade that theory seems to have changed. Thirteen defensive backs (whether safety or corner) were selected in the Top 10 since 2002 compared to just 4 linebackers during the same period. Could this be because NFL coaches arose from their dungeon-like offices, put down the coffee and sugar cookies and decided to watch the 1983 football classic All the Right Moves.
Like Stefan Djordojevic (played with Scientology-like panache from Tom Cruise) all the defensive backs drafted were short, white, slow, unathletic, thrice married and of questionable sexual-orientation. Also like Coach Nickerson’s hot-headed corner, the performance of those drafted was inconsistent.
LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall and Terrence Newman have all been up and down while the likes of Quentin Jammer, Roy Williams and Carlos Rogers have largely been disappointing. Donta Whitner is an okay player but he was overdrafted and let’s not even get into the abortion that is Pacman Jones. Of course rating this group is unfair because of the death of Sean Taylor and we’ll never know what he may have become and it’s too early to rate last year’s Top 10 nabs Eric Berry and Charlie Haden but the best of the bunch thus far has been the U’s Antrelle Rolle – a fine player but no one who is heading to Canton.
So while almost as many DB’s have been selected in the Top 10 as D-Linemen, (18 to 13), that group includes more Pro-Bowl caliber players in Mario Williams, Kevin Williams, Julius Peppers and Nebraska’s Ndamakong Suh from last year.
However, there is something in the water this year with 2 cornerbacks getting Top 10 consideration and an impressive array of corners lining up there after. While the safety class isn’t nearly as strong, this could go down as the year where cornerbacks emerged as the new IT position – just like 1991’s IT Girls – Anna Chlumsky and Macauley Culkin.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on PATRICK PETERSON (LSU). He is everyone’s pick as the best corner in the draft and many people have him ranked as the best player in the draft period. Still, it’s possible he might slip past the Top 5 picks in the draft. But he’s big, fast, can not only shut down receivers but also sneak up and play the run plus he was an A+ punt and kick returner (although he probably won’t do much of that in the NFL). So I’ll save him the indignity of comparing him to some washed-up kid actress of the 90’s and instead let you take a peak at this highlight reel.
SOLEIL MOON FRYE: PRINCE AMUKAMARA, NEBRASKA
If All the Right Moves was the quintessential high-school football movie of the 80’s than Punky Brewster was the quintessential awful show that ran on NBC after the late football game ended and right before Silver Spoons. It’s hard to describe just how bad Punky Brewster was. Thank God for Small Wonder or Punky herself – Soleil Moon Frye – would go down as the lead in the worst sitcom ever produced.
Moon Frye, whose name was actually derived from the Swedish phrase meaning “Invest in Precious Metals”, bounced back to become a sort of, kind of sex symbol while also landing a regular voice-over role on Robot Chicken.
Like Moon-Frye, the Prince of Nebraska wouldn’t allow one bad game against Oklahoma State ruin his Pro chances. Not the all-around performer Peterson is, Amukamara is an impressive player and his combine results (a 4.38 40; sub 7 in the 3-cone) seem to prove that he’s got the physicals to back it up. If it wasn’t for Peterson, Amukamara would be getting a lot more Top 10 buzz. Still, he’s likely to become an immediate starter for whatever team in the first grabs him.
LEA THOMPSON: JIMMY SMITH, COLORADO
Lea Thompson played “Lisa”, the bad girl turned good (or was it the good girl turned bad) in A-T-R-M. We actually get to see her breasts in the movie which for years worked as good late night fodder for me, especially after seeing re-plays of Howard the Duck on HBO. That all ended, however, when I saw an episode of Caroline in the City years later.
Jimmy Smith seems to have it all and in theory should be right up there with Peterson and Amukamara. He’s “Peterson” big and frankly his skill set and performance are debatably better than his Nebraska counterpart. His physicals are quite good with a sub 4.5 40, sub 7 3-cone and a cornerback impressive 24 reps. So why isn’t Jimmy Smith Top 10 material? Because apparently he’s a cocky son-of-a-gun with a history of minor violations of the law and a preference for Old English and Colt 45 40-ouncers. Well, if breaking a few minor laws and enjoying a hefty helping of malt liquor is a crime than I don’t want to be law-abiding. Which I’m not, as I’m currently on house-arrest following my 3rd disturbing the peace arrest last September, which also subsequently ended my career as a PETCO stocker and now I live in a halfway house and complete this blog on a shared computer in the rec room. But don’t let that stop GM’s from drafting Colorado’s spectacular Jimmy Smith.
JENNA VON OY: RAS-I DOWLING, VIRGINIA
Show me someone with a hyphen in their name and I’ll show you someone who should be a cornerback in the National Football League. Or President of a Middle Eastern country currently going through political unrest. Or the star of Punky Brewster.
One of the reasons Jenna Von Oy never made it past the role of “Best Friend” in Blossom (as a reminder, Blossom starred that young Jewish girl with the nose) is because she steadfastly refused to put a hyphen between the “Von” and the “Oy.” Plus she got a little big in the rump.
No such problems for the thin-butted, hyphened Ras-I Dowling from Virginia. There’s a lot of corners once you get by Smith who are bunched together and will likely go in rounds 2 and 3. I like Dowling the best out of all of them. If it wasn’t for a broken ankle that limited him to just 5 games his senior season Dowling would very possibly be a 1st rounder. He’s healthy now and reminds me of a bigger Corey Webster, who also missed out on a 1st round selection due to a senior year injury a few years back. Dowling’s got solid corner skills and his 4.4 40 seems to show his straight ahead speed is still there although some may still question his durability and he didn’t do any shuttle or cone drills at the combine. Still, sometime you need to take a chance – just like Blossom did with Ms. Van Oy – and they remained BFF’s.
TIFFANY: RAHIM MOORE, UCLA
While corners abound in this year’s draft, the crop of safeties isn’t nearly as impressive with likely none being selected in the first round.
Like long-forgotten 80’s Pop Icon Tiffany, the Bruins Rahim Moore shouldn’t simply be left on the scrap heap. Ironically, Tiffany had one Top 10 Single and in 2009 Rahim More had 10 interceptions in 1 season. But unlike the red-headed Tiffany, who dated a man over twice her age while 15 and than a less posed for a less than erotic Playboy spread shortly into the new millenium, Moore’s got a lot going for him (including a very erotic, secret Playgirl Spread he plans to unleash 15 years after his career is over).
Well-regarded on and off the field, he’s got instincts, quick feet and, despite a bit of a down senior season, his 2009 interception total seems to indicate big play ability is there. So why no 1st round selection? Probably physicals. He’s a little short (a tad under 6′) and his 4.58 40 along with a weak (literally) 11 reps make some wonder if he has the strength to be a NFL safety where tackling big receivers and tight ends over the middle and offering run support is so often expected. Still, someone will grab the accomplished Moore as likely the only safety to go in the first 60 picks of the draft which will have Moore looking around his Brentwood living room and singing to himself “I think I’m alone now.”
BK-O-METER, RANKINGS, AND SLEEPERS
A few more morsels of food to whet your NFL Draft appetite. While Texas’ Aaron Williams and Miami’s pint-sized Brandon Harris are likely late first/early 2nd rounders I like Clemson’s 26-rep powerhouse Marcus Gilchrest. BK’s hot for Louisville’s Johnny Patrick, overlooking his off-the-field transgressions because BK believes “those Louisville corners just no how to play” and also likes Jimmy Smith’s CU teammate Jamil Brown because “I don’t know, what’s the difference between ’em.” The answer, of course, is talent and liklihood to succeed in the NFL. But we both like UNC’s Kendrick Burney, yet another player caught up in the Chapel Hills molasses of deceipt but Burney, depsite being undersized, has a lot going for him as a player and could be a great 2nd day pick. On the safety side, neither of us is overwhelmed with Temple good citizen Jaiqwaun Jarrett or Florida’s shrimpy Ahmad Black although I’m bigger on Rutger’s Joseph Lefeged than is BK just because he’s a Scarlet Knight and I grew up in Jersey. BK does like Oklahoma’s Quiten Carter, who he says has the best size of any of the top safeties and is more fluid than you think and is intrigued by the growth potential (both literally and figuratively) of West Virginia’s 6 foot, 4-inch Robert Sands. Finally, BK’s sleeper is Appalachian State’s Mark LeGree. “He packs a powerful punch,” claims BK, “in a chubby little body.”