Cornerbacks will be drafted early and often, with LSU’s Patrick Peterson a certain top-five pick and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara likely to go in the top 10. Want a safety? You’ll have to wait until day two of the draft, and don’t rush.
It’s a good year for corners and, of course, what team doesn’t need help at that premium position? The safety crop is at its all-time weakest; the possibility exists that one won’t be picked until round three.
There are no Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu types in this draft at safety, but Peterson is drawing comparisons to some of the top corners in recent history. Amukamara seems to be rising with Peterson and it’s possible the Peterson-Amukamara one-two punch could create a run at the position, where so many teams have distinct need and believe a player at that position could put them over the top.
The Atlanta Falcons are one such team and the Falcons are confessed need-drafters. The big questions the Falcons are facing are when will the run on corners begin and will one they like be left for them at the 27th overall pick?
Brandon Harris of Miami, Aaron Williams of Texas and Jimmy Smith of Colorado also carry first-round grades, but don’t be surprised if another corner doesn’t creep into the first round. Cornerback is traditionally one of the most over-drafted positions.
The next wave of corners includes Demarcus Van Dyke of Miami, Davon House of New Mexico State, Curtis Brown of Texas, Johnny Patrick of Louisville and Kendric Burney of North Carolina. The middle rounds of the draft are where the concentration of cornerback prospects are greatest, as rounds 3-5 could be dominated by cornerback picks.
UCLA’s Rahim Moore is thought to be the top safety prospect. Marcus Gilchrist of Clemson, Chris Culliver of South Carolina, Da’Norris Searcy of North Carolina and Jeron Johnson of Boise State are also thought to be second-day safety prospects.
The Packers will have 2010 third-round pick, safety Morgan Burnett, coming off injured reserve this season and the emergence of young stars, cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, give the Packers secondary a look of security, but teams are vigilant about maintaining a developing supply of young pass-defenders and it’s likely the Packers will dip into this year’s crop of corners at some point in the draft.
Vic Ketchman is a veteran of 39 NFL seasons and has covered the Steelers and Jaguars prior to coming to Green Bay.