SANTA CLARA Speed is great when it comes to NFL cornerbacks. But size can be better.
That was a lesson learned from the Seattle Seahawks, who parlayed a stable of big, physical cornerbacks who went largely ignored in the draft into a Super Bowl title this month.
Seattles defensive dominance also has made cornerbacks who can play press coverage all the rage at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
You have guys like Richard Sherman, elite cover guys who are aggressive and physical, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said when asked about the Seahawks defense. They fit that scheme. Defensively, I think were close. There are a few more pieces to the puzzle I think we need to add, but just the way we played defensively last year, Im extremely proud.
Oregons Terrance Mitchell (Burbank High School) will perform in the 40-yard dash and other drills today in Indianapolis. He has stressed to coaches and general managers in interviews that hes a physical player and hes comfortable inching up to the line of scrimmage and playing press coverage.
Thats my game, he said. Im coming into the NFL ready for that, because thats what I like to do.
Most defensive backs concentrate on their speed as they prepare for the combine. Mitchell said he actually bulked up a bit and now is 193 pounds.
All the pounds count, he said. So I put on a couple of l-bs.
Other cornerbacks are saying the same things, and Shermans name has been on the lips of every defensive back.
Id say Richard Sherman or (Darrelle) Revis, said Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson, when asked to compare himself to an NFL cornerback. As far as Richard Shermans length and (ability) to bump-and-run and play the ball down the field; Revis for being the lockdown corner.
Mitchells agent, Jeff Sperbeck, said the cornerback position isnt as much about speed as it once was.
Most passes are gone (in) under 2.5 seconds, Sperbeck noted. So if a corner can match up at the line of scrimmage and jam the receiver, hes less apt to get into his route, thereby destroying the timing between (him) and the QB. Thats what makes aggressive press corners so valuable.
Read Matthew Barrows blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.