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