Draft Showcase: Darqueze Dennard
Michigan State had one of the best defenses last year and Darqueze Dennard was one of main pieces. The senior corner started for the Spartans 3 years and was All-Big 10 twice, 2012 and 2013. Dennard's senior year is where he became a star, being a unanimous 1st team All-American, Nagarski finalist, and of course the Jim Thrope award. Dennard finished his college career with 10 interceptions and 160 tackles, playing in 44 games, 40 as a starter. This the same player that had 0 scholarships coming out of high school and was 2 star caliber prospect according to Rivals.com. Michigan State came to a game to see another player and saw Dennard making plays, rest is history.
I am a big fan of Dennard because of his size and the way he plays cornerback. He 5'11 195 lbs, which I think is great size for a corner, tall enough to compete with big receivers and enough weight to come up and be effective in the run game. Along with shutting down receivers, Dennard was also very entrenched in stopping the run game, which to me, put him above the rest He finished his career with 167 tackles, averaging 4 tackles a game, and he brings a lot of contact with him. This is a very physical cornerback with excellent cover skills and will be great player in the NFL.
He isn't a top notch athlete or super fast, running only a 4.5 at the NFL combine. Some are concerned with his speed since we didn't see much of straight line speed from him college. Not many QBs and receivers in the BIG 10 challenged him down field, something he will surely see in the NFL. I don't think that should be a big concern though because with him being a physical corner with excellent hips, it will be hard to go deep on him. He understands that he is not the fastest but like most great corners, he knows how to slow a speedy receiver down and keep him on his hip.
Dennard is the first player we showcased so far that is easily a 1st round pick. Some have him going mid-1st round, but I definitely don't see him slipping out of the 1st round. A team like the Steelers, who are getting old on the defensive side of the ball, could surely use Dennard and he will fit perfectly because of his physicality. Baltimore would also be a good fit for Dennard but the Ravens must answer other positions that need help. Regardless of who get him, I can see him becoming an anchor in the future for that defense.