The NFL is known to be a copycat league. Whatever worked well for one team, other franchise will try to capitalize on that trend. We see teams searching for mobile QBs to lead their franchise and instituting the pistol formation (they called us crazy for using it, but called P. Manning a genius). Now teams want to institute their own "Legion of Boom" that Pete Carroll is famed for creating. Everyone wants to find their own Richard Sherman (5th round shutdown CB. Fast fact: We picked Dejon Gomes two slots ahead of Sherman. Sucks doesn't it.). I'm normally not a person to go with the trends but with the increasing sizes of WRs/TEs, we need a 6' feet or above corner on the outside. Unless you don't mind 5' 9" Josh Wilson going against Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd, Eric Decker, Dez Bryant or any other TE. That's why we have David Amerson. Whether Hall will resign or not, we need to prepare a future starting CB with Amerson in the next few years. Crawford is coming off ACL and doesn't have the skill set to become a starter yet. Minnifield is just getting himself promoted from the practice squad, so he is a ways away. Let's look at some defensive backs from the Senior Bowl, shall we?
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska Cornhuskers, SR (#16)
Height: 6'2 3/8" (Senior Bowl measurements)
Weight: 215 lbs (projected)
40 time: 4.5s (projected)
This is different from my previous article on Jeff Janis. Jean-Baptiste is a name that will be on everyone's lips and if he tears up the combine, he will be on everyone's 1st Round mock draft. He is tall, lanky corner who isn't afraid to be physical which will serve as a prefect complement to the ball-hawking Amerson.
Here is an overview of his career(via cbssports.com):
He did not see any action in 2010, and had one reception the following season before making the transition to cornerback before the start of Big Ten play. Jean-Baptiste played in nine games, including his first career start, in 2011.
Finally established at cornerback, Jean-Baptiste started five of 14 games he saw action in as a junior. The Cornhuskers led the nation in opponent completion percentage, and Jean-Baptiste led the team with nine pass breakups.
He was voted to the second-team All-Big Ten squad by the league's coaches in 2013. Jean-Baptiste played in all 12 games, again leading the team with 11 pass breakups. He also tied for the team lead with four interceptions, which he returned for a combined 134 yards.
Strengths (via CBS Sports):
Boasts excellent height and length for the position. Gets a strong initial jam to re-route receivers when playing press-man coverage. Often asked to play off-man principles, as well, showing the patience to allow receivers to get near him before beginning his turning motion. By doing so, Jean-Baptiste is able to sneak a peek toward the quarterback and break quickly on short and intermediate routes.
Uses his long arms and strong hands to bat away passes as they arrive, demonstrating good hand-eye coordination and leaping ability. Uses his long arms very effectively to rip free from blockers. Surprisingly fluid hips for a cornerback of his size. Capable of changing directions well to maintain close proximity to the receiver. Good ball skills, including the ability to extend and pluck outside of his frame.
Weaknesses(also from CBS Sports):
Not nearly as physical as his size would indicate, especially when tackling. Frequently relies on ducking his head and swiping at the legs of ballcarriers. Could be viewed by some as a potential safety convert but hasn't played this position before and will need to develop more physicality and reliability as an open-field tackler.
While fluid in changing directions, is susceptible to double-moves because he doesn't possess ideal initial burst and possesses just fair straight-line speed, overall.
From the analysis given by CBS, they compare his playing style to Brandon Browner which is a good for Day 2 pick. However, judging from his Senior Bowl practice and his play during the game, he may not remain there for much longer. Analysts have talked about to lengths about his size and his ability to play safety (I'm presuming FS). Judging from the praise he's receiving after the Senior Bowl, he has shown to be physical enough to jam and re-route receivers while being able to deflect passes. From now until draft day and training camp, he will be swamped with comparisons to Richard Sherman which he enjoys and strives for(Except he will have a bigger rookie paycheck). But whether he is the next Sherman or Browner, it's a win-win scenario for a secondary that is constantly in the reconstructing phase. Is he a starter? After a tremendous performance during his practices and Senior Bowl game, he can be a Day 1 starter. Is he a 1st rd pick? Almost. He definitely has the talent and the physical attributes too think he will have high upside. Makes you hope that Haslett has been keeping tabs on this guy? He may not be in the first round mocks now but he will be an early to mid second round pick which definitely benefits us. If he tears up the combine then he could be a trade-up candidate for those in the first round which would put him out of our reach.
Draft projection: 3rd rd( CBS sports, nfldraftscout.com) 2nd-3rd(my projection)
Comparison: Brandon Browner - Richard Sherman(without the headaches)
Here is the litany of sites that have examined and/or praised Jean-Baptiste:
-Senior Bowl NFL.com(http://www.vikings.com/media-vault/videos/NFLN-on-Nebraska-CB-Stanley-Jean-Baptiste/b9773795-8b05-449c-96ac-7ed4b9d74268)
-Post Senior Bowl tweets by analyst (Omaha.com: http://sports.omaha.com/2014/01/23/what-others-are-saying-stanly-jean-baptiste-impresses-at-senior-bowl/#.UuXm3BDnbIU)
-ESPN 980 (http://redskins.espn980.com/bloggers/chris-russell/item/981-senior-bowl-skins)
-CBS Sports Player Analysis (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/2042647/stanley-jean-baptiste)
-Fansided.com practice analysis: (http://fansided.com/2014/01/24/senior-bowl-2014-stanley-jean-baptiste-receives-praise-performance/)
-Washington Post: (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/football-insider/wp/2014/01/23/nebraska-cb-stanley-jean-baptiste-hopes-to-follow-richard-shermans-path/)
- 2013 Highlights(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cqnT3rumXg)