As you look at Prince Amukamara on tape, what player does he remind you of? This is the question i asked myself over and over. And after reviewing his skill sets he doesn't remind me of anyone that excels in coverage. Some say Darnell Revis yet he doesn't share Revis's skill sets at all. The MAIN skill set in a cornerback being able to defend a pass is locating the football quickly after it leaves the quarterbacks hand. The quicker a coverman can locate the football the better. This is the DEFINING REASON Darnell Revis is sooo good. He gets his head around locates the ball QUICKLY and this gives him the time to react and challenge for the football. You may say "well thats easy". But if you think about why players like Jonathan Wade or Eric King struggled it was because they did not locate the football. Not because they can't run or jump or because they lacked any type of athletic ability. It was because they missed the MOST essential skill a cornerback can have and that is locating the football. How can you defend a pass if you don't realize the ball is coming? On the following links i will display times that you can go to on the video that display Darnell Revis displaying his skill to locate the ball (and folks he often finds the ball before the wideout does). Watch how quickly his head turns and how just locating the ball dramatically impacts his chance to defend the pass!!! (times on the video >> 1:50, 2:01, 2:33, 2:47, and 2:58) Note that Revis identifies the flight path of the ball at the same time or in some cases BEFORE the intended reciever!!! >>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d-GgRX7wf8&feature=related. Now watch him defend Calvin Johnson NOTE how just locating the ball helps him defend a player much bigger than him. Watch his eyes as he follows the path of the football. Note how this offsets the size advantage by just locating the football .>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odEkIjovrBM . Note that even out of his back pedal with his hips orientated away from the quarterback running down field with the intended recieve he STILL gets his head around and locates the football well BEFORE it arrives.
What alarms me about Prince isn't his speed as much as his lack of situational awareness in coverage. With out patterns and curls he has decent responds in these situations. However any pattern that forces him out of his back pedal and requires him to run with a reciever down field he didn't display even ONCE that he could locate the football. Which makes him very easy pray to fade patterns, deep balls thrown accurately, and back shoulder throws (all passes Green bay employs religiously) This was the defining reason Malcom Jenkins who was a first round pick out of Ohio State had issues with the pro game as highly touted corner coming out. He does have athletic ability so they moved him to Safety. This allowed him to just be a athlete and run to the football and react..and he does that VERY WELL!! Right now this is what i see happening to Prince Amukamara because of his lack of recognition once the ball leaves the quarterbacks hands. Lets look at Prince Amukamara on film IN DETAIL let me show you what i am refering too.
Note in this clip at 1:15 and 3:03 you will see the staple route to Green Bays passing game. >>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leX0rYpk9wc You see this route all day from Green Bay. Reciever gets inside position with the defender on his outside hipe and Aaron Rodgers with excellent ball placement puts it there and on time. Note that in both plays Amukamara has NOT located the football, and you see the results. And if you think Texas can take advantage of this what do you think Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers will do? Now lets present a different video of him playing against Baylor. AGAIN same theme here in this clip you see more (clueless of where the ball is) >>> 2:00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHf3K8wBULw (you see this same theme in every clip of him....good against curls and outs but anything that involves his hips turning and he is toast) also note that they continue to attack him. This is the Baylor Bears attacking him and Nebraska had to send help (note on all attempts near the goal line it took the player helping to to knock the ball down...Amukamara did not even locate the football!!!!
This fundamental INSTINCTIVE aspect of coverage is CRITICAL. If a player can not excel at locating the football then it doesn't matter how much of a Athlete they are. I found it very hard to explain this in many many posts on POD. But this is something i HOPE people are paying attention too because this player likely will struggle in coverage in the NFL. And it really is a instinctive skill you can't just say "hey practice locating the football". As i am sure he is trying...but isn't working out.
At the begining of the college football season i was so hyped because in my mind i said "oh yea the Lions can get this guy". But once i watched him play i got this sick feeling because i noted this flaw in his game right away. And i am NOT the only one read this >>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHf3K8wBULw They question the other aspects of his game that i ALSO question ..speed..explosiveness. Dont get me wrong i think he does have some skills. He is very good on short routes that don't require him to come out of his back pedal and come up fast and react. But any passing games that cause for him to turn his hips and oreint himself down field and his skill level drops dramaticlly. This is why i would pass on this player. Divisional match up with the SuperBowl Champion Packers provide match up problems that would take serious advantage of Prince. Observe Prince matched up against a NFL projected Talent in Justin Blackmon. Note that not only does it appear that UNLESS the quarterback is pressured on sacked that Prince has no chance. Also note the continued failure to locate the football >>> 0:48(he finally locates the ball and gets out fought for it) 1:20( Locates the ball late and could have avoided a PI by judging its flight path and knowing it was over thrown....can't teach that this is instinct) >>> 2:07 (note that even though he is beat if he locates the ball he has a chance to challenge for it...the flight path of the ball arrival point is acturally behind Prince as the ball comes down he passes it up.....sigh) >>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVeWn3bwWTg
This player is not he answer to our coverage needs. He is a outstanding Athlete but lacks critcal skill sets needed to be a true shutdown corner...or even a good corner for that matter. He would be better suited to play safety in the pros >>> http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/feed/2010-10/draft-dish/story/draft-top-40-prince-amukamara-may-end-up-at-safety
Finally i know everyone has heard me pitch the Jimmy Smith train all day and basiclly this is all i will say about this in this post. The defining reason why i would shy away from Prince is the defining reason i am very interested in Jimmy Smith. If you watch any video of him he locates the football QUICKLY. And i do agree he does have a high back peddle among other things people can say about him. But if you read all the negatives about Jimmy Smith it sure sounds familiar >>> http://oak.scout.com/2/107317.html Because they said the same thing about Nnamdi Asomugha so he wasn't selected until the 31st pick in the first round of 2003 (facepalm).
Finally i know alot of us haved looked at Prince and said "oh if he drops to us this will be SOO great!!!". But the reality of it is his stock is dropping for a reason. Teams are taking note of these weaknesses in his game and they are comparing him to players like Malcom Jenkins or Darren Shaper (a guy who was a corner but lacked the skill to excel at the position but was athletic enough to convert to safety). Remember Kyle Wilson the first round corner out of Boise State last year? He was great in college but... in the NFL many times the corner will have his back turned on the quarterback at the moment the ball leaves their hands. Kyle wilson struggled with this all year and was really exposed in coverage. The instincts to play the football without ever seeing it leave the QB's hands....a instinctive skill the Lions need in their secondary!!!!
Facts > If the Lions want to win they have to go through Green Bay. In order to consistantly beat Green Bay you have to win the Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings Match up!!!
Fact > NFL teams build themselfs in a manner to better match up with division rivals. (hence above)
P.S. this post wasnt to debate who we should take but to identify the weakness in a projected prospect WARNING BUYER BEWARE!!! ...and yes Det32 we asked if the other 32 teams would pass on Akeem Ayers until the 2nd round! (working my magic)