While the Ravens are set at starting cornerback with Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, we'll take today to look at first round prospect Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State. At 5-foot-11 and 199 pounds, Dennard has a medium build and a physical mindset that will make him a good corner at the next level.
Often with corners, they will jog around the area and will only attempt to tackle if forced by the running back coming directly for them... That is not the case with Dennard as he comes up and attacks the ball carrier. He does a good job diagnosing the run and hitting it but is cautious enough to not bite much on run fakes.
Dennard clocked in at a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL combine but plays quick on the field. He has the short term burst and starting speed to stick with near any receiver in short and medium range routes, but can be beat deep. With the ability to keep hip to hip with receivers, Dennard is often right on top of his intended receiver in a man coverage scheme but would need to run in a zone scheme if he were anything more than a nickle corner. Unfortunately, he needs to do a better job of tracking the ball and picking up slightly better technique in order to make a play on the ball instead of just be in the way. Dennard uses the sidelines well and is able to use his body to push a receiver out of his intended route and towards the sidelines for incomplete passes.
Dennard is physical in the pass game and will have his hands on the receiver from the snap of the ball until the whistle. While the physical aspect is nice, he needs to learn when and how to apply it or he will be seeing yellow flags all around him at the professional level.
Dennard has no obvious marks on his record but also doesn't have any positive marks on his record either. One slight thing to keep an eye on is that he is a distant cousin to Alfonzo Dennard. That is the same Dennard that punched a police officer right before the draft. While not an indicator of how Darqueze will turn out, it does show enough to be worth an occasional look.
Darqueze Dennard is a good, physical corner that has an upside as a #2 cornerback in a scheme that can keep a safety over the top of him or can teach him zone coverage. Realistically, he is the perfect mold for a career nickle cornerback. Unfortunately, the Ravens don't have the need for a corner and with the 17th pick, it would be a bit of a reach for a player of his caliber. Some team will grab him in the first round when in all reality, he is a second round talent in a thin draft for secondary help.