You didn't think that we were finished doing podcasts with our buddy Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's NFL Matchup just because the NFL season is over, did you? Well, if you did, fear not -- we're back in the saddle (and Greg's now writing for Shutdown Corner as well) to do a new series of podcasts in which we evaluate the draft prospects by position. We've already discussed the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive tackles, defensive ends, and linebackers in this year's class, and how it's time to wrap things up with a discussion about a very intriguing group of defensive backs. Greg has taken his decades of experience, and oodles of coach's tape, and transferred both to the college side just in time for the pre-draft process.
On Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden: "I watched four games this week, and I came away thinking, 'This guy is the best cornerback in this draft.' My guess is that he won't be drafted as such, because he had the life-threatening injury, but on film ... he had the naturally quickest feet of any corner in this class, his backpedal was the most fluid, his balance and body control were absolutely remarkable, he was a sudden mover, he was competitive and challenging, he played the run ... to me, he was the most physically gifted cornerback in this class."
On Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner: "Talking about Hayden is not meant to downgrade Milliner, who I think is a very good cornerback prospect. He played more to the boundary than to the field in a lot of the games I watched, and I thought there were some similarities to Stephon Gilmore, who came out of South Carolina last year. Milliner is an aggressive kid -- he was aggressive as a run defender, he blitzed when he was playing the boundary, and overall, I think he's a very comfortable press-man cornerback."
On Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes: "Size is becoming a big factor in how you deal with receivers. So now, how do you deal with cornerbacks? Do you sacrifice a little bit of that sudden movement you look for as a necessary trait? Xavier Rhodes does not have that kind of movement, but he's 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. He's a little tight-hipped at times and looks a little stiff, but he's a physical, handsy guy. That comes into play when you're in the NFC North, and you have to line up against Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson -- you want a physical guy, and you don't want to let those guys just run off the line of scrimmage."
On Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro: "A lot of people were disappointed in him at the combine, but when you watch tape, it's there. One of the first games I watched was Texas vs. West Virginia. It was very interesting because he often lined up in the slot, and he was playing against Tavon Austin. I gotta tell you, he held his own. He was not overmatched. Very good size for the position, a smooth athlete, he moves well, and he displayed the ability to play man-to-man, which is critical as you transition to the NFL. You see a multi-dimensional safety with an expansive skill set, and no real physical limitations."
On South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger: "The thing about Swearinger -- he's not going to run a fast 40, and those who focus on that miss the point. He plays fast and really decisively; he has a real snap to his movement, and he plays with an edge. I love his playing personality. I watched a ton of South Carolina tape, just because I like watching him, and he played every position in the Gamecocks' secondary. He now has experience at safety - both deep and in the box, both single high and in a two-deep shell, he played slot corner, and he played outside corner."
As with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link. You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.