ย 
Defending the Pass Happy NFL
By: Justin Onslow
October 19, 2010
Matt Stafford - '09 #1 Overall Selection
It's no secret that in recent years, the NFL has become a pass-happy league. Teams like the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots are notorious for throwing the ball seventy percent of downs. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are showing no signs of slowing down, while youngsters like Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford are establishing themselves as centerpieces of solid pass-first offenses.

Now take a closer look at some of the worst secondaries in the NFL through six weeks:
• Cleveland Browns - 1,373 yards allowed, 8.0 yards per attempt, 11 TDs, 4 INTs
• Houston Texans - 1,837 yards allowed, 8.2 yards per attempt, 14 TDs, 4 INTs
• Jacksonville Jaguars - 1,582 yards allowed, 8.8 yards per attempt, 14 TDs, 4 INTs

Jacksonville and Houston have allowed a league-high 14 passing touchdowns this season, and teams have taken advantage of their weakness downfield. None of the above three teams have recorded more than four interceptions.

All the evidence points to teams with a need to strengthen their secondary and pass-rushing options. Luckily, this year's draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks and pass rushers. We'll take a look at the top three corners and pass rushers in this year's draft class.

Cornerbacks:
Prince Amukamara
Prince Amukamara (Senior, Nebraska - 6-1, 205) -- Amukamara has a rare blend of size and speed at the cornerback position, and has established himself as one of the elite cornerback prospects in this year's draft class. He has the frame to man up with almost any number one receiver in the league, and has the wheels to match. He has been clocked in the low 4.4 range in the 40-yard-dash, and will likely solidify himself as a first-round pick with a good performance at the combine. Amukamara has fluid hips, quick feet in the backpedal and the ball skills to go get any ball in his area. He is a playmaker, and the NFL needs playmakers at the corner position. Look no further than Darrell Revis and the ultra-lucrative contract he signed before this season. There are certainly several teams at the top of the draft that will be willing to pay that kind of money upfront for Amukamara's talent.

Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson (Junior, LSU - 6-1, 222) -- Peterson and Amukamara are interchangeable at the top two spots in this cornerback class. Peterson holds a slight edge in speed (clocked as low as 4.30-40) and size, but does not have the aggressiveness of Amukamara. What he lacks in elite instincts, though, he makes up for with well above-average ball skills and more than solid playmaking ability. Peterson can do it all. He has already recorded two interceptions this year, and is especially deadly in the return game. His versatility has made him a dark horse in the Heisman race, and a top prospect in the radar of many NFL teams. Expect Peterson to be a top pick in the draft this year if he declares.

Ras-I Dowling
Ras-I Dowling (Senior, Virginia - 6-2, 200) -- Like former Virginia corner Chris Cook, Dowling is a big body with good speed and a lot of upside. Dowling is not as fast as Peterson or Amukamara, is not as good in man-to-man coverage, but might be even better than both in zone coverage and instincts. His long arms and jumping ability will make Dowling a highly sought-after prospect for teams looking to add physicality and length on the outside. Dowling has been very productive in his first three years at Virginia. He recorded eight interceptions and 144 tackles in those three seasons, showing why he might be the best all-around corner in the draft this year. He would be a great fit for physical teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore looking for another good option at corner.

Pass Rushers:
Von Miller
Von Miller (Senior, Texas A&M; – 6-3, 243) -- It's hard to ignore Miller's 17 sack performance last season, and his frame and speed make him an ideal candidate to be a full-time pass rusher in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Miller is a nightmare off the edge for tight ends and running backs. At top gear, Miller is hard to stop, and has the killer instinct to get to opposing quarterbacks with fierceness and intensity. Although there are concerns about Miller's tendency to get pushed away from plays, he has the potential to develop into a top pass rusher in the NFL. He has been compared to Elvis Dumervil, and there will undoubtedly be a team that will take a flyer on him hoping for that kind of production in his first few years in the league.

Robert Quinn
Robert Quinn (Junior, North Carolina - 6-5, 270) -- Quinn is a different beast than Von Miller, but could prove to be just as productive at the next level. At 270 lbs., Quinn has the ideal size many NFL teams covet in an outside pass rusher. He can line up at either defensive end or outside linebacker, and his versatility could make him a nightmare on third downs in the NFL. Last season, Quinn recorded 11 sacks on a very talented UNC defensive line. His production has been above average, but some teams might have a concern with his recent issues with the NCAA. Quinn was suspended for the remainder of this season due to rule violations involving player agents. That said, he still has all the physical tools to be a disruptive outside rusher in the NFL. Some have compared him to Julius Peppers and Mario Williams — hardly comparisons to brush aside.

Aldon Smith
Aldon Smith (RS Sophomore, Missouri) – 6-5, 260) -- Smith is a pure pass rusher with solid skills at either linebacker or defensive end, and teams that salivated over Brandon Graham last year might have another crack at that type of edge rusher this year. Although he has only been playing organized football for a few years, Smith seems to have the potential to be a big playmaker in the NFL. Last year, Smith recorded 11.5 sacks and was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Although Smith is still very raw, his upside is huge. He has an excellent arsenal of pass-rushing moves, but still needs to add some bulk in order to be an effective straight-line rusher. In any case, Smith has a lot of talent, and room to improve. That's a scary combination for a redshirt sophomore with an impressive resume.





(May 1) -- The NFL Draft is in the books and Sideline Scouting would like to thank our visitors for making this our most successful year to date. We hope you enjoyed our coverage. Sideline Scouting will be back next year and better than ever. We have some big changes planned that we hope will make your visits here even more enjoyable.


*Cameron Newton
QB, Auburn
Von Miller
LB, Texas A&M;
*Marcell Dareus
DE, Alabama
*A.J. Green
WR, Georgia
*Patrick Peterson
CB, LSU
View Mock Draft ยป






ย