The NFL Draft starts tonight with the first round, followed tomorrow by the second and third rounds. There’s a good chance that Auburn has someone off the board by the end of tomorrow’s action, and maybe the best candidate for that pick is cornerback Jamel Dean.
If you want the deal on why NFL scouts are high on Dean, just look at the raw numbers in terms of his size and speed.
6’1, 206 pounds.
4.3 second 40-yard dash — the second-fastest time overall at the NFL combine.
41-inch vertical jump — third-best by a cornerback.
Dean’s got people noticing what he’s capable of physically, but he’ll need to put in some time to dispel other characterizations on his playing ability and durability. Still, there are a ton of wide-ranging positives to take away from his game.
He obviously brings prototypical corner size to the position, and won’t get bodied by some of the bigger receivers in the NFL. They won’t be able to make the easy high-point catches over him like they’d be able to do over a guy that stands under six feet tall. He’s got good acceleration and can stick with guys down the field at top speed. Receivers aren’t going to just scoot by him unless there’s some sort of coverage bust.
What people are going to be wary about most of all is actually quite out of his control. He hasn’t shown that durability, with a bunch of knee surgeries and his medical disqualification at Ohio State sticking out on his resume. His single season as a starter at Auburn probably doesn’t really help, as I’m sure scouts would like to see a little more time on the field before they take a chance with an early-round pick. Other than that, though, there’s not much that can’t be taught. The innate things are all there.
Let’s just sum it up with this quote from one DBs coach in the AFC:
“He’s one of the guys I like because he’s big and can run and can challenge the jump balls. I hate small cornerbacks.” -- AFC defensive backs coach
Sounds about right. Dean’s going to bring the size, speed, strength, and physicality that you need to be a successful corner in the NFL. He just needs a little polishing to go along with that skillset.