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The Undervalued Defensive Aspect of the NFL Draft

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A look at lockdown corners and do it all safeties that changed the expectations of cities, fans , and players alike.

The Undervalued Defensive Aspect of the NFL Draft via @PhillyWhat
Read Time11 Minute, 42 Second

The Undervalued Defensive Aspect of the NFL Draft. Who is it? It’s the lockdown cornerback. I know people on ESPN don’t agree I hope if you’re reading this that you keep an open mind on the subject

When looking at this season’s incoming draft class, it is said that Jeff Okudah is comparable at cornerback to Patrick Peterson and Jalen Ramsey. Quite high praise for The Ohio State Buckeye.

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Many fans, the media and the experts misuse lockdown corner with multiple ProBowler in many cases. There are HOF corners that weren’t trully lockdown defenders.

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Jalen Ramsey goes for the ball, defending Antonio Brown

Still their are others who firmly stand by the opinion that the only lockdown cornerback was Deion Sanders. I wouldn’t argue the fact but I disagree with that belief. If you blanket great receivers with regularity you are a lockdown corner. Antonio Brown was giving NFL secondary’s a fit and catching passes in bracketed coverage. Jalen Ramsey went man to man without any extra help and gave Brown fits. Jalen did this multiple times. Lockdown!

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Jeff Okudah and Chase Young

Okudah and Young

I’m not going to state that elite corners are more important than great pass rushers. I’ll just say they are a much more rare breed.

It usually takes the lockdown defensive backs until year 2 before you really see the beginnings of their brilliance. For those that aren’t of the lockdown caliber but still first or second round picks it can take 3 to 4 years before they live up to NFL expectations.

Jeff Okudah Detroit Lions Jersey

Pure pass rushers with supreme physical tools like Joey Bosa or a Jevon Kearse they can get sacks and show out immediately.

In the last 5 years there have been many top 5 picks that specialize in getting to the passer but in that same time time there has only been one potential lockdown corner in Jalen Ramsey. I just think when they do come around like Okudah this year, the blanket cover man should atleast be taken into consideration as being selected before the pass rusher.

Learning curves: QB’s and DB’s

I liken it to Franchise running backs the ones with the tools and vision can jump right into the NFL and be amongst the best rushers in the game. On the other hand the future HOF Quarterback can have a good and promising rookie season like Peyton Manning did.

After his rookie season Manning was thought to be what he was projected to be drafted #1 overall. Compared to his 2nd season Peyton’s rookie stats were really just pedestian.

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Stephon Gilmore in the Super Bowl

The pass rusher, a lot of them not all of them just want to get from the line they are standing in and travel behind the other line of people in front of them before a whistle blows.

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The corner and quarterback can’t use just their abilities. It usually takes a couple years before mental and physical talents merge together. The only way to get there is from trial, error, and experience against savvy pros in different predicaments.

Are you Saying Draft Okudah before Chase Young?

I think the subject should get some consideration from The NFL thinktank. There’s this ides that the pass rushers should rightfully be drafted ahead of the defensive backs. Okudah is getting drafted 3rd overall in the draft. This would make him tied for the highest a DB ever got selected.

I can’t begin to understand the that’s just the way it is sediment that exists here. It’s seared into the consciousness of the decision makers, scouts, media and so called experts. Why? In the pass happy climate of today’s NFL with a look to history I think it warrants a change in this overall view or maybe the decisions should be made by different eyes.

I’m only talking about the superstar’s in the secondary who score off the charts and if they live up to their potential will be in Canton one day.

Do they think that the defensive ends are less likely to fail? History shows this is not accurate. Most of the high profile DB’s live up to the hype.

These elite prospects with blanket coverage skills without the need for bracketed help are extremely rare. There are top 3 prospect Quarterbacks and pass rushers every April. Atleast their are players who are deemed to be considered as such.

Derrick and Deion

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In The 1989 Draft Derrick Thomas went 4th to Kansas City and Deion Sanders was selected immediately after him with the next pick. I’m using this example because they were two of the best to ever play at their given positions

Should Thomas have gone ahead of Deion? I don’t think so. If you do I wouldn’t tell you that I think you are wrong. Derrick Thomas was one of the best pass rushing linebackers ever. He wasn’t L.T but he was the next guy after Taylor that was something like LT.

In 1994 Deion went to San Francisco and got The 49ers past The Superbowl roadblock in The 49ers way that was The-back-to-back SuperBowl Champion Dallas Cowboys. The next season Sanders left San Fran and joined Dallas as the Cowboys took their crown back from The Niners.

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I don’t think if Derrick Thomas joined the same teams in those very same years that he would have had the same kind of impact as Deion did. I’m not saying either team wouldn’t have won with Thomas I just don’t think it would have been as likely.

Cowboys and 49ers in The 1990’s

The 49ers and Cowboys were two of the best teams in history. One of them was going to win the SuperBowl in that 4 year span. No one in the NFC was going to beat both teams and you can look in the record books as to regarding The AFC’s championship chances against San Francisco and Dallas.

If either team could improve at a position it was a corner in coverage. They could both rush the passer and Thomas was better than any pass rusher either had but in the end getting to the QB wasn’t a weakness in either circumstance.

I would have taken Sanders if The Chiefs choice in 1989 was mine to make. I would also take Jeff Okudah with the 2nd overall pick in this years draft.

Polamalu and the Safety’s in his company

Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Earl Thomas, and Eric Berry were safetys in a league of their own. Berry almost single handedly shutdown Tim Tebow and the defending champion Florida Gators in 2009. The Tennessee bluechip was the top recruit coming out of high school. After a stellar college career on a mediocre team, Berry had the top overall draft grade in the country according to ESPN’s experts advice.

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Eric Berry on Rockytop

Eric Berry

Despite being graded as the top player leaving high school and then garnering the same praise exiting college, Eric Berry didn’t get drafted until 5th overall by Kansas City.

Eric Berry only played 5 full seasons after injuries derailed him and his career. Eric was strickened with cancer and the battle of his life was for his life. He came back to play after that and win Comeback POY. Incredible. In the 5 seasons he played, Berry went to 5 ProBowls and was selected to The NFL All-Pro squad 3 out of those 5 years.

Troy Polamalu

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Troy Polamalu was an All-American at USC.
He wasn’t part of any of The Trojan teams
that won or played for a championship.

What he did do was arrive at Southern California, a school who had that winning culture but it hadn’t shown itself in over 25 years. Whether it was a coincidence when he left that school, a school who’s players now were primed and ready for a championship.

Troy set the culture for winning along with Pete Carroll and The Trojans for a 3 year period ran with it. Maybe some people reading this will think I’m giving Polamalu too much credit.

I give him the credit because he was the best player when they got good again. The biggest reason I give him credit for the culture is that this wouldn’t be the last time Troy Polamalu would arrive to play somewhere and then change the culture until everyone had rings.

Despite his dominating collegiate career Troy didn’t go off the draft board until Pittsburgh selected him at 16th.

Prior to Polamalu, The Pittsburgh Steelers were a playoff caliber team capable of winning a postseason game maybe even two.

After Pittsburgh drafted Troy Polamalu, The Steelers went to 3 SuperBowls winning two of them. He was the biggest problem for the opposing offense every week because he was a threat in every aspect that a defender can be. The Steelers Safety hit, covered, blitzed, stripped and just caused havoc in all three levels of the defense. He did it with a fire that you could feel even watching the man on Television.

When Polamalu retired, Pittsburgh once again became a playoff caliber team capable of winning a postseason game.

Derwin James

I don’t watch the draft as much as I check in at halftime and during commercials of NBA playoff games. Just tell me what happened and I’m good. All the experts ramblings are pointless. Almost as pointless as giving teams grades on the draft right after the draft.

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2018 NFLDraft

In 2018 I watched the 1st Round with a friend. This friend of mine watches every minute of the draft and is very seriously compelled to DVR NFL Network shows daily before he goes to work from The Combine until post Draft talk is over.

I didn’t mind him watching because I had other stuff to focus on. What happened is by the 8th pick I became animated and yelling at the T.V.

I don’t think The NFL general managers heard me calling them fools or idiots. At the time it made me feel better so what are you going to do.

Why was Derwin James still on the board? As more selections got made I was just dumbfounded. Confusion set in next. My Draft guru of a buddy said he knew what my problem was. It turned out my problem was Derwin James wasn’t as good as I thought he was and my feelings were simply based on that he played for my team in Tallahassee.

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I was standing in front of the television as The Saints were drafting Marcus Davenport. I just stared at him for maybe close to 30 seconds trying to act superior in his Gainesville Gator t-shirt. We live in Jersey BTW.

Anxiety had me wanting to stick a spear through The Florida Gators logo on his chest. I took a breath and proceded to explain that Derwin James was going to be the best safety in football within 3 years and I didn’t know what these idiots in charge of picking personnel were doing but whatever it was they would regret it.

I finished off with Derwin James can cover, blitz, and stop the run. He can lineup outside or in the slot with any elite tight end Derwin stands at 6’3 with 4.4 speed. He can also line up at linebacker but what really makes him special is his football I.Q and leadership skills.

The Best Deep Safety EVER

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Tom Brady said himself that Ed Reed had the range in the middle of the field as a deep safety that Tom didn’t think was possible before witnessing what Reed could do on the field. Brady wore a wristband when facing Ed Reed. It read find 20 (Reed) on every play.

This wasn’t a joke. Ed Reed could get from point A to point B faster than an elite QB like Brady was prepared for or thought previously had been possible.

Earl Thomas is the closest thing to Reed in this aspect because he causes the same level of concern from the head coach to the quarterback as Ed did. It only takes a simple mental lapse to allow a quarterback to let muscle memory takeover. Part of this is if I throw the ball here with the Free Safety over there, he can’t make a play on it.

Ed Reed and Earl Thomas could and can.They make you go no way is he involved in the play if I do this and then I do that. Then one or two times focusing on another aspect of the game, The QB throws the ball and he’s cursing at himself before it releases his fingertips.

This is why Tom Brady wore a wristband telling himself find Ed Reed on every play. In the heat of the battle don’t lose focus that he’s out there and wants to make you pay for any mistake you make.

Summary

In an era of pass, pass, and then lets try to pass, and that’s most teams philosophies nowadays on 1st and goal. My thought aren’t to make DBs the gotta take that player with that pick deal like The Quarterback. Its to not automatically pass them over because that is what is done only because that is what they decide to do.

Okudah is the 1st elite cornerback prospect since Jalen Ramsey. In between how many Quarterbacks and pass rushers were there predicted to change your franchise for the next 15 years for the better.

The guys I mentioned did that. The changed the fortunes of there franchises in most cases. The All-Time DB is so much more rarer when compared to the defensive end or the outside linebacker. Only the left tackle is as rare.

If you drafted the lockdown corner, within two years there will be more pass rushers that you can draft. The Cornerback praised as a lockdown player he won’t likely exist, so it won’t be an option.

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The Undervalued Defensive Aspect of the NFL Draft via @PhillyWhat
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