Patrick Peterson, Arizona (LSU)/Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (Nebraska)
Not a huge fan of either, but I do appreciate what they can both bring to the table and what they can’t.
Both have landed on teams that have need of their talents with an infusion of youth. Both also have a very high level of athleticism that you won’t find in too many other corner prospects (unless you’re discussing Dowling or Smith anyway). Both also show good aggression on the line with their jams and good physicality in cover. They also both share a good tackling technique.
However … they both also share a glaring deficiency that will catch them out in the pros, and funnily enough one they share with a player in the same tier (it’s almost like some thought went into this!). Both are alarmingly bad at transitioning out of their back pedal, and for reasons you’ll read about in Marcus Gilchrist’s blurb below you’ll see how huge this will be at the next level.
I’ve ranked them together because what Amukamara makes up for in general polish in his other corner disciplines over Peterson, Peterson makes up for with better acceleration and pace. Amukamara might get caught out of position less then when making his transitions while Peterson might be able to recover his lost position in swings and roundabouts.
I’ve seen some people compare them to Terence Newman. I’d also throw Ike Taylor in there, too. Neither will blow anyone away, both will get caught out, but both will defend the run very well. I’m sure both will start strongly in their careers as teams will target them, but for longevity they’ll have some serious coaching that’ll need to be done.
Can they adapt? Sure. Will they? The Lord alone knows. Others have tried and succeeded, many more have tried and failed.
Marcus Gilchrist, San Diego (Clemson)
Like Williams, it’s not impossible that a future position switch mightn’t happen with Gilchrist who actually started out as a safety at college.
Like Dowling and Williams, Gilchrist is a very physical corner that can bring a blitz. He does lack ideal size, but a bigger concern is the loss of speed he gets when he has to change direction or flip a 180-degree turn. In the NFL he could get ripped apart if he cannot fix this part of his game. Sometimes he can manage it, others he can’t. It’s pretty infuriating if you slow it down you’re almost screaming at the screen, “On the balls of your feet – no! No heels, Marcus! Stay off your heels!” when he backpedals.
If Gilchrist suits up on the day as ‘Bad Marcus’ then he’s on his heels and once turned he doesn’t have the elite speed necessary to compensate for the stuttered lost step he generates. We call it getting burned. The majority of wide receivers in the pros would be away on that fault and defensive coordinators would be quite right to target him for it with routes that exploit that weakness.
San Diego is a great spot for Gilchrist, though, as Antoine Cason (and at times Quentin Jammer) will tell you San Diego can play a very physical style of football using their corners. It’s not like that isn’t Gilchrist’s forte, so all well and all is good. Just don’t get caught tranistioning from back pedal to pursuit.
Kendric Burney, Carolina (North Carolina)
Burney has everything you want in a corner… he’s good in zone, he’s good in man, he backpedals as well as most, is pretty smooth in his transition and changing of direction, he tackles well, has great instincts, doesn’t sneak peeks (in fact has impressively few bad habits).
Sadly, he’s an unattractive proposition for most teams at only 5-foot-9 and recording a 4.7 40-yard dash time.
What’s odd about that is the majority of cornerbacks – an awful lot of the Top 15-20 cornerbacks – in the league come in around 5-foot-10, so I’m really not sure it’s that big of an impediment. Sure I’d like all my players to be able to out-measure my opponents physically, but it’s certainly not the pre-defining requisite. Similarly, I’m completely unimpressed with any weighting attached to his 4.7 40 time. He plays just fine in-game and that’s the only speed worth worrying about.
My advice to Burney is to go and grab some of the ample film available on Antoine Winfield, another 5-foot-9 cornerback and see how one of the best cornerbacks in the modern game does it or the more contemporary Brandon Flowers.