Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Breaking down defensive backs

Darqueze Dennard (31) reacts during the second half of a Big Ten Conference championship NCAA college football game against Ohio State Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AJ Mast/AP file)
Darqueze Dennard (31) reacts during the second half of a Big Ten Conference championship NCAA college football game against Ohio State Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AJ Mast/AP file)

NFL NETWORK draft analyst Mike Mayock once again breaks down the top draft prospects for the Daily News. He assesses the best player at each position, as well as a player who is rising up the draft board and a late-round sleeper to keep an eye on later in the draft.

Mayock, 55, resides in Newtown Square and is a graduate of the Haverford School. The former safety was a 10th-round pick of the Steelers in 1981 and played two seasons with the Giants (1982-83).

Cornerbacks

THE BEST

Name: Darqueze Dennard

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  • School: Michigan State

    Height, weight: 5-11, 199

    40 time: 4.51

    225 bench: 15 reps

    Vertical jump: 36 inches

    Arms: 30¼ inches

    Round projection: 1

    Mayock: "Most of the people I've talked to seem to think [Oklahoma State's Justin] Gilbert and [Ohio State's Bradley] Roby are the best athletes and therefore have the highest ceiling. A lot of people don't like Dennard. A lot of people say he's too tight and is only a press corner. But I kind of look at it the other way. He's a press corner who tackles, who's physical, who's tough. You know what you're getting. He ran a 4.51, which is fast enough. I think he'll go somewhere between 15 and 20."

    THE RISER

    Name: Pierre Desir

    School: Lindenwood

    Height, weight: 6-1, 198

    40 time: 4.59

    225 bench: 11 reps

    Vertical jump: 35 inches

    Arms: 33 inches

    Round projection: 2-3

    Mayock: "He's a big kid with long arms, but as raw as can be. However, because of Seattle's success, he's what teams are looking for. You don't have to run 4.4 if you can press with long arms. He ran a 4.59 and that's fine. He was at the East-West game and my first reaction was, 'Oh boy, he has no clue.' But as the week went on, he got a little better. Then he got pulled up to the Senior Bowl and to my surprise, he played better every day at the Senior Bowl against better competition. So he went from a small-school curiosity to probably a second-round draft pick."

    THE SLEEPER

    Name: Ross Cockrell

    School: Duke

    Height, weight: 6-foot, 191

    40 time: 4.56

    225 bench: 10 reps

    Vertical jump: 36-1/2 inches

    Arms: 29-7/8 inches

    Round projection: 5-6

    Mayock: "Cockrell is another guy with nice size. He's a press corner who started 48 games for Duke. He had 12 picks there. He's a very smart player. Can be a starting-caliber corner at the next level, but also could be a potential free-safety conversion if he can get a little bigger and stronger."

    Safeties

    THE BEST

    Name: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

    School: Alabama

    Height, weight: 6-1, 208

    40 time: 4.58

    225 bench: 11 reps

    Vertical jump: 33 inches

    Arms: 32-3/8 inches

    Round projection: 1

    Mike Mayock: “He’s long and has great ball skills. Tackles well. I think his best position is free safety because of his range and ball skills, but he’s tough enough and big enough to play strong safety as well. And he can drop down and play man-to-man. So he can do it all as far as safety. Free, strong, cover the slot. I think he’s going to be the first safety off the board.”

    THE RISER

    Name: Deone Bucannon

    School: Washington State

    Height, weight: 6-1, 211

    40 time: 4.49

    225 bench: 19 reps

    Vertical jump: 36-1/2 inches

    Arms: 32-3/8 inches

    Round projection: 2

    Mayock: “He’s a little bit more of a strong safety. But the more tape I watched on this kid, the more I liked him. I think he’s going in the second round. He’s big, strong, physical and tough. And he’s got a little bit better range and ball skills than people think.”

    THE SLEEPER

    Name: Vinnie Sunseri

    School: Alabama

    Height, weight: 5-11, 210

    40 time: 4.55

    225 bench: 18

    Vertical jump: NA

    Arms: 30 inches

    Round projection: 5-6

    Mayock: “He’s coming off an ACL injury. He ran a 4.55. He’s a better athlete than people think. He’s the son of a defensive coach [Florida State defensive-line coach Sal Sunseri]. He’s a late-draftable kid and he’s going to make somebody’s team. And down the road, in a couple of years, he might be a starter.”

    Monday: Quarterbacks and running backs

    MIKE MAYOCK For the Daily News
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