With the 2010 NFL season in the books, the draft edging ever closer (and a lockout battle now headed to the courts) it's time to turn our eyes to the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.
Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.
We continue the second Shutdown 40 with Utah State cornerback Davon House. The speedster from Palmdale, California finished his career with the Aggies with 11 interceptions, 319 pick return yards, and three touchdowns. He also contributed 202 tackles (122 solo), 37 passes defenses, a forced fumble, and four kick returns for 94 yards.
The primary question for House, as it has been for defensive backs from smaller schools and programs for a long time, is how will he adjust to what might be a steeper learning curve when it comes to facing NFL quarterbacks and passing offenses? By his senior season, House was being avoided by every enemy quarterback and still picked off four passes in 2010. He has the versatility to play man and zone coverage, but what does the tape tell us in an isolated sense about his NFL-ready skill set?
Pros: Plays press aggressively and with a good first-step quickness — House gets off the snap at the line and mirrors receivers very well. Moves to redirect receivers outside on sideline routes, and he's quick enough to retain inside position all the way downfield — can deflect passes at full speed on long vertical routes. Lanky build with good musculature that allows him to be a sound and consistent tackler (6-foot-1, 200 pounds). Maintains a good balance in off coverage between covering his man and keeping his eyes up front to help with shorter routes. Aggressive in the gaps in short yardage and has the speed to blitz. Cuts off the sideline quickly when coming downhill. Has good timing to disrupt receivers as the ball is coming in.
Cons: Gets eaten up to a point by combo routes — can be misdirected by schemes in which two different receivers angle or cross around him. Can find it tough to keep up with speed receivers running quick slant cuts if he's playing outside zone and has to move up and in quickly. Not an especially good vertical; might fall prey to better jump-ballers at the NFL level. Tends to drag-tackle at times.
Conclusion: Boise State's Kyle Wilson, one of the NCAA's premier shutdown corners in 2009, struggled after he went to the New York Jets with the 29th overall pick in the 2010 draft. House may have similar issues when faced with more advanced angles and routes, though it's his ability to play zone and cover big spaces that could see him through. A start as a nickel corner may be his best bet — given the amount of nickel most teams play these days, third cornerbacks are basically starters in most defenses, and House to adapt to his more complex environment without having to take on too much too soon. He has elite potential, but it might take a while to develop.
NFL Comparison: Antoine Cason, San Diego Chargers
More Second Shutdown 40
#41 — Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia | #42 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple | #43 — Aaron Williams, DB, Texas | #44 — Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech | #45 — Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA | #46 — Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois | #47 — D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas | #48 -- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina | #49 — Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy | #50 — Jabbal Sheard, DE, Pitt | #51 — Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa | #52 — Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona | #53 — Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky | #54 -- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada | #55 — Sam Acho, OLB/DE, Texas | #56 -- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU