The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

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Jonathan Bales

Last year, I published detailed scouting reports on a variety of players I believed the Cowboys might select, including Dez Bryant and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.  You can see all of last year’s “Potential Draft Picks” Series here.

This year, I plan to finish my 2010 Position Grades before I dive into the draft too heavily.  As is the case with many of you, however, I’m really eager to look to the future.  Thus, I wanted to take a look at Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukumara–a player Mel Kiper thinks the Cowboys will select (not that Kiper’s opinion is worth anything to you).

I haven’t completed by cornerback grades as of yet, but I think it’s clear the Cowboys need to find help at the position.  Terence Newman will turn 33 during the upcoming season and really struggled in 2010.  He seems to have trouble locating the football while still maintaining position to make a play on it.

Mike Jenkins appeared to lose confidence this year.  I do think he’ll regain his swagger in 2011, but he has a long way to go.

Orlando Scandrick actually played quite well over the final 10 games or so, but I think his skill set is best suited for the slot.  If he moved outside, his lack of strength and size could hurt him.

Prince Amukamara is largely considered one of the top cornerbacks in the country.  His coverage ability could be a valuable asset to Dallas, particularly if they’re looking to replace Newman immediately.

Scouting Report

At 6’1”, 205 pounds, Amukamara has pretty good size.  He uses this size in press coverage quite often, but he also has the skill set to excel in zone coverage.  His versatility as a cornerback could be useful for new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, whose scheme seems to be pretty diverse.

As a former running back, Amukamara also has great hands and, once the ball is in his hands, he is a threat to take it the distance.  That’s a valuable trait for a Dallas defense that lacks playmakers at times.  His history as a running back also aids him in making quick cuts and coming out of his breaks with suddenness.  His body control in general seems elite.

The thing I like most about Amukamara is his willingness to make hits.  He’s excellent in run support, showing no hesitancy to fly up to hit the ball-carrier, even if it’s a “big boy.”  He has shown an inability to effectively get off of blocks at times, particularly against strong receivers like Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon (see below).

Blackmon absolutely destroyed Amukamara in that game, highlighting what I consider to be Amukamara’s largest weakness: not coming up big against top competition.  In this particular game, he was unable to effectively press Blackmon and even got burned on a couple occasions, allowing a touchdown and getting flagged for pass interference.  Amukamara doesn’t have elite speed by any means.

Against sub-par competition like Baylor (below), Amukamara seems to excel.  He just seems far more confident in the video below than against Blackmon (and other elite receivers).  The play he makes on the ball at the 12-second mark is absolutely fantastic–a true big league play.

Overall, I’m not as high on Amukamara as most draft pundits.  He’s certainly one of the better cornerbacks in this year’s class, but at a level where he’ll face the best of the best every week, I’m not sure how he’ll hold up.  My “Big Board” is at least a few weeks away, but I can’t imagine that I’ll have Amukamara in the top 10.

Projection

Amukamara is in a battle with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson to be the first corner to come off the board.  Peterson has the advantage right now, with most thinking Amukamara will go anywhere from the fourth overall selection to the ninth (Dallas).  There seems to be a consensus that Amukamara won’t drop past the ‘Boys, but if they place the same grade on him as me, there could certainly be other viable options.

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29 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

  1. john coleman says:

    You are right on it. In the NFL he can’t take the week off, as he will see top WRs every week. The reports I have seen say he doesn’t have elite makeup speed and is also susceptible to double moves. Seems to be a reach at #9 for a guy who should be elite. I think picking that high you need to be sure. Newman was pretty high and although he has been solid, he has never been a lockdown corner to me. A CB must be able to flat run and from what has been posted Amukamara is average at 4.49. I say trade down in most instances. Dareus or Quinn might be options. Quinn seems to be in the Greg Ellis mold and has Peppers like skills. He could maybe eventually be an OLB, and a passrushing end to start with.

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    I would be very hesitant to draft a corner this high under any circumstances, but also, we are in near desperate need of defensive linemen. 40 times are overrated, but I’m with JB. This guy’s play against the better receivers is worrisome, though I do like his physicality. Also, when’s the last time Nebraska produced a great DB? Can you say Bruce Pickens anyone? Stud as a Cornhusker, drafted high by Atlanta, complete dud as a pro.

  3. Omar says:

    I hope some team prefers him to Patrick Peterson and a few of the teams buy in to Gabbert and Newton’s hype. It’d be even better if Locker regains a lot of his stock too. Sigh…if only Luck had left.

  4. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    From the video above vs. Ok St, if that is indicative of how he plays vs better WRs, then he is not ready to start next year and the #9 pick should be used on someone who has that potential. Given that, Prince shouldn’t even be a consideration.

    Plus, we need a DE, RT or OG more than we need ANY other position on the team. Yes, Jenkins and Newman were less than stellar, but the worst starter on the team was Columbo (and if Young wasn’t good enough to inspire Garrett to let him try, I doubt he’s the answer).

    We almost HAVE to trade down or take a DT/DE. Even if we lose a little in value, trading down makes much more sense the drafting a CB and paying him #9 draft pick money who isn’t NFL ready and doesn’t return punts/kicks.

    With any luck, Prince will be drafted earlier than 9 and one of the top notch DT/DE prospects (Fairley, Bowers, Quinn, Dareus and possibly Claiborne) will be available. I hope to see who shows up at the Senior Bowl on the 29th.

    Heyward just simply isn’t #9 worthy.

  5. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Wow.

    I just read on DallasCowboys.com that Roy Williams cap hit for next year will be in the ballpark of $13 million (assuming there is a season – if there will be a season, then there most likely will be a team salary cap).

    At that price, he is 99% assured to return.

    http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/editorial.cfm?id=A5D20A84-A6A1-CF60-7AEDE61D0109AD79

  6. john coleman says:

    vince-we are in agreement on the assessment of Amukamara but not about the 40 time. You said the 40 is overrated and I concede that as a stand alone factor you are correct. However when considered in the evaluation of the overall skill set it is very important. In the video above it is clear that speed is a factor.

    I went back and watched the clips above after my first post and would like to point out that Blackmon is not listed as having elite speed either. He was still able to run by Amukamara. Amukamara looks a lot like Newman to me. Unless we plan to use him at FS he is a risky pick. All the good scouting reports I have seen say the same thing as the video shows.

    I did a little looking some time back about CBs scouting reports. I went back and found Revis info, specifically looking for a 40 time. Guess what he was listed at 4.2. Now think back to Deion and what about his speed. Starting to see a pattern developing. It seems clear to me that the true lockdown CBs all possess great speed.

    At the end of the day I would have to say that if a CB is not at 4.3 or better he WILL NOT be a lockdown CB. EVER! You can’t teach make up speed and break on the ball speed. That’s the very reason I screamed loud and long about Bryann McCann. He has the speed and skills can be taught. Was he ready last year? NO! Can he learn? Yes! Will he ever be? Maybe! But he was a UDFA. The scouting report on him was a guy who can really run with some tools already and the ability to improve.

    So if I’m going to draft a CB, especially in the early rds, he needs decent skills on tape and MUST be 4.3 or better.

    Remember the people that do these draft ratings have to have names to fill in between 1 and 32 and so on. I feel that there are only a half dozen guys in this years draft who are locks and worthy of a top 10 pick. Which is why I am advocating moving down and hoping to draft late in the 1st and pick up a 2nd or 3rd. I just don’t feel there is a big gap between the mid first and the end of the second. Mark it down, there will be more longterm good players out of the 2nd than the 1st. Don’t buy the hype Jerry! I bet when we see there 1st rd board it won’t have over 6 to 8 guys.

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  8. JC–I would surely take Dareus over Amukamara at this point, but I haven’t studied Quinn enough yet to make a judgment. Can’t wait to get into more of these scouting reports.

    And on your later comment–I am normally a guy that doesn’t pay much attention to 40 times, but I do think they are (by far) the most important for CBs. A CB has to be able to backpedal, have his cushion eaten up, letting the WR get to his hip, and then turn an catch up if he’s running a ‘go.’ You can’t adequately cover underneath routes without great make-up speed. I will also say speed alone is irrelevant. Just as important is an ability to stop quickly, so a CBs short shuttle time it important to me as well. I actually think Amukamara’s SS time will be better than his 40.

    Vince–I agree with the DL assessment. What are your thoughts on Ratliff to end (I’m sure you told me them but it’s difficult to keep up with the different opinions). I think it could upgrade two spots.

  9. Tyrone–I posted your link to the Williams’ contract in another article. Nice find, and I was actually unaware of that. As far as Amukamara, I do think the video above is indicative of his play vs top competition (although that’s a bit of an extreme), and that’s scary to me. I’m still a fan of (like you suggested) a trade down and securing either a DT/DE or RT.

  10. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    JC – Amen on both your comments. I actually didn’t read your 1st comment after I posted mine (which is 3 comments down from yours) and it seems like we’re all saying the same thing.

    I like McCann; I think he has the potential to be better than Newman or Jenkins because of his instincts. The only problem is that he over pursues somewhat (much like Jenkins) trying to make the big play/INT all the time. Sometimes, just being there to distract / get a hand up / molest the WR is better than diving for the ball, missing and having the WR catch and go 70+ yds for the score (a la DeSean Jackson).

    Let’s take a DT/DE or trade down. Now if we could just get Jerry to read this article…

  11. john coleman says:

    JB-I would definitely agree on CBs and the 40. Also to your point, 40 can be the nothing factor in some situations. Wes Welker comes to mind as an example. He is a WR and is quick rather than fast. So short shuttle is where he makes his living. I doubt he is sub 4.5. Other things such as football I.Q. and heart also come into play. Probably even more impotrant are character and work ethic. Quite a few of these characteristics are not even measurable.

    When you are going to throw money and lots of it, you want to feel good about it. So this brings me to the question, Are scouts allowed to talk to guys when they are in college? OR how do the teams get a feel for the type of individual a player is?

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  15. Vince_Grey says:

    I’ve often said there’s 40 speed and football speed. Not always the same thing. There are lots of CB’s who run 4.2 40′s and can’t cover my granny. Yes Deion was laser fast, but what made him special was his great quickness and overall athleticism. Same with Revis. If you recall the Cowboys once had a corner named Everson Walls who ran like a 4.7 – 4.8, yet he was an All-Pro, and Jerry Rice’s absolute fastest recorded 40 time was a very pedestrian 4.59, yet I rarely recall him ever getting caught from behind.

    Give me a corner who’s quick and athletic, with good hands and who will tackle, and I’m more than willing to accept a little slower time in the 40.

    JB, I’ve already posted that I believe getting a true NT would make the whole DLine better by moving Ratliff to DE, his more natural position. One pick, two upgrades. Seems like a no brainer to me.

    That said, I’m all for drafting a guy, or even two, but I’m no fan of Shaun Rogers. He’s got talent, but he’s a “me” guy who’s fat, lazy, costs too much, and is basically a one down player. We don’t need that kind of guy on this team. We have too many of these types here now.

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  18. Derek says:

    How can Amukamara not possess elite speed, but is a threat to take it to the house any time the ball is in the air? Him and Peterson run similar 40-times, in the mid 4.4′s, and if you somehow don’t think that’s fast, then you don’t know much about scouting. Not every corner needs to run a 4.25 40-time to be a shutdown corner.

    I also can’t understand how everyone says “We need playmakers, we need game changers, we need difference makers”, yet everyone wants to pass on a cornerback like Amukamara and draft a 3-4 defensive end like Marcell Dareus who will, at best, yield around 50 tackles and maybe 4 sacks max playing 3-4 defensive end. You can get that kind of production out of Marcus Spears or Stephen Bowen, but somehow those guys are bums who can’t produce.

  19. Derek–If I’m taking a CB in the top 10, he better damn well run a sub-4.3. The regulars here know I’m not even a huge believer in the 40, but it does matter for CBs. A mid-4.4 is no longer close to ‘elite.’

    And Amukamara is a threat to take the ball to the house without elite speed because he is a former RB–he’s tremendous with the ball in his hands, displaying excellent hips, vision, balance, and agility. Elite speed sure helps, but it isn’t necessarily a prerequisite of a gamebreaker. Having said that, I can’t take a CB in the top 10 who doesn’t possess the makeup speed to allow WRs to get to his hip. A lack of elite speed=a lot of off-technique coverage=a lot of easy underneath completions.

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  22. Ben says:

    I used this scouting report (as it seemed wuite logical to me) as evidence to why I thought Amukamara would be a bad pick at 9 and they said that one bad game is only one bad game, which I thought was fair. How much tape did you watch of Amukamara?

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  24. Hey Ben–Where did you take the scouting report? Just curious. Amukamara is a guy I’ve watched more than almost any guy in the draft. I’ve seen him on television quite a few times, but I’ve also watched film from about 7 or 8 games. The clip against Blackmon was his worst game, but I don’t see an elite cornerback in the other games either. I think he could benefit from a move to FS.

  25. ben24626 says:

    I brought it up at BTB (bloggingthebiys.com). Another question – in the game against Blackmon, he basically is decent except for underthrown deep balls. Does he struggle in these situations against all good WR’s, all big WR’s, or only the good, big WR’s? Because I’ve heard people say sure, he got done, but Blackmon is like insanely good. What do you think?

  26. Ben–I think Amukumara is a good (perhaps even really good) CB. I just don’t think he’s a top 10 talent, even with that nice Combine showing. He appeared explosive there, but he doesn’t PLAY with elite explosiveness. I think he struggles in big games rather than against a certain mold of receiver.

    Still, I don’t think he’s awful. He’s currently in the 20-25 range on my Big Board. I’m trying to find some new, unique tape on him though.

  27. Ben says:

    So, are you saying he struggles against all good WR’s?

  28. Ben says:

    Oh and btw, where do you get tape on guys?

  29. And thanks for the article suggestions in the forum..I will take a look at one or two of those for you.

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