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2013 NFL Draft Discussions: Cornerback David Amerson


For this draft discussions post, Tiller joined Steve Shoup in a 'Shoup vs Tiller special' and I stepped into a moderator role to keep things under control. Any regular readers will know things between these two can get pretty intense, so I thought throwing them a prospect that they have vastly different opinions on would be a good place to start. David Amerson had a down year in his junior season at North Carolina State in which much was expected from him, having put up an amazing 13 interceptions the year before. He elected to declare for the NFL Draft this year instead of staying in school for his senior season.

Tiller, what qualities does Amerson have that peak your interest in him?

Tiller: I really like the size/speed blend Amerson brings to the table. He was 6'1" 205, with almost 33" arms and 10 1/2" hands at the combine. He ran a 4.44 second 40, had a 35.5 inch vertical, and did 15 reps at 225. These measurables, combined with excellent balls skills, physicality, a smooth back-pedal and hip flexion, and the ability to set the edge as a boundary corner against the run, make him an impressive all-around cornerback.

Amerson has become a student of the game, and his coaches raved about his preperation for opponents, and how diligently he studies opposing teams game tape. This was evident in 2011 when he really made the jump to elite status. He plays the ball extremely well when the receiver is in front of him on in-breaking routes, and routinely beats his man to the spot. He does a nice job planting his back foot, and driving on routes as he reads the quarterbacks eyes. He can shadow, and turn and run with the receiver on the 9 route, and plays good hip-to-hip technique. He doesn't have phone booth quickness, but he makes up for this with long arms and long strides.

Steve, what aspects of Amerson's game give you a cause for concern?

Steve: My biggest issue with Amerson is I believe he both carries a high bust factor and even if he does make it as a starting NFL corner he will take some time to develop into that role (probably at least 2 years). I thought he made a big mistake coming out as a junior, and would have been much better served staying another year and trying to iron out some of his issues.

On paper he's impressive from a height/speed combo, and looking at his big 2011 year with 13 reps you'd think this guy would be a lock for a first round pick, but he really had a down 2012 and got exploited in a number of areas. Despite having a red-shirt freshman corner and a converted back-up safety opposite him opposing teams seemed to have little fear in challenging Amerson in 2012. Typically you'd expect in college for opponents to avoid Amerson and his side as much as possible, but just about every team seemed comfortable attacking him. Amerson was extremely susceptible to double moves, and despite his straight line speed, he didn't show an ability to catch up with receivers once they got past him (unless the ball was horribly underthrown). Given his size you'd expect him to be in press coverage more, but he typically played off man or zone coverage. While some of that has to be on the coaching staff, It doesn't really bode well that he will be able to use that size effectively at the next level. Also concerning is just how many open field tackles he missed, as well as easily getting blocked out of plays. Those are two additional areas you'd expect his size to be a positive for him

My other real question with Amerson is just how natural are his coverage abilities. I think he has nice ball skills as evidenced with his 18 career interceptions, but I just don't see consistent good coverage. I see poor technique that he makes up for primary by playing inferior opponents who make too many mistakes (something that isn't likely going to happen at the next level). I don't see natural abilities with his backpedal, flipping his hips or in the short area, and that is why I feel there is a good chance he never realizes his potential.

Strong words Steve. Mike Mayock recently said that Amerson "Gave up more vertical touchdowns than any corner I've ever seen in my life". It's pretty apparent whenever I've watched Amerson that he likes to jump short routes and ends up biting on a lot of fakes. So Tiller, how do you see a guy that vulnerable to double moves and getting burnt fitting in with a Redskins defense lacking the safety help he'd require?

Tiller: I think Amerson struggled some with the double moves, that's for sure, but I don't see it as a technique issue, or a physical limitations issue. I see it as a lack of discipline. To me, this is easily corrected through good coaching, and learning to trust your keys, and know your opponents tendencies. I would be more concerned if he was just getting straight out beaten on go routes, or was too slow out of his break to make a play on the football. Neither of these are problems for him. When I put in the UConn tape, I see him run hip to hip with receivers. I watch the UNC game from 2011(and they have some pretty good athletes), and I see a kid who has a smooth back-pedal, can plant and drive through the receiver, and can play physical in the run game, against an NFL caliber back. I put on tape of the 2011 Louisville game, and again, I see a kid who is agressive in press-man, and who plays cover 2 about as good as any cornerback in the country.

If I look at just the Tennessee game, where he didn't play well against one of the best receivers in the country, I come away scratching my head, but when I look at his whole body of work, I see the talent that scouts and coaches raved about during his All-American sophomore season.

To me, his mistakes are correctable, and that is the main reason I think he will succeed at the next level. GM's and coaches will all tell you that you can't coach speed and you can't coach size.

The games that you point to are mainly in 2011, are you concerned at all about the performance drop from that year to this year?

Tiller: Yes the drop-off in performance concerns me a bit, but I also want to see how a corner responds when faced with adversity. He came off a bad game against Tennessee, to have a very good game against UConn. As we know, cornerbacks need to have short memories, and Amerson showed me that he can make adjustments, bounce back, and play well a week after one of his worst games.

I also look at his youth, and think to myself that here is a kid I can mold in the image of my team. Now having said this, I also feel his skill set is strong enough that he can learn on the go, rather than having to sit for a year before he contributes. Unlike some corners who have come out in recent years, and may have peaked, I view Amerson as a kid who has yet to even realize his full potential, and to me that is scary in a good way. This kid is only going to get better with better coaching and film study.

Steve, if Jim Haslett is allowed to have his way, the Redskins defense will be extremely aggressive with this blitzing just like they were in the week 17 match up with the Cowboys. Amerson's strengths are playing off-man and breaking on quick routes. Wouldn't that be a perfect fit in the Redskins defense?

Steve: Though I think Amerson could fit schematically with what the Redskins run, I just don't know how quickly he could see the field. This year he really gave up a lot of catches (and yards after the catch, on the underneath stuff, so while it is his strongsuit, I don't think he's NFL ready. He had is only real impressive games versus teams with poor quarterbacks and/or poor receivers. I think he's going to need developmental time if you want to get even above average play out of him.

There's been speculation that some scouts and teams project him as a free safety in the NFL. I'd like to hear your thoughts on how you think he'd perform there and if you feel he'd be better off there.

Steve: At one time I thought free safety might be his best fit, but I no longer feel that way. I think he bites too often on double moves and pump fakes for me to trust him as the last line of defense in a secondary. His poor run support throughout this past season also worries me about him making the transition to safety. I think he just needs to develop as a corner, and hopefully bring value in that capacity.

Tiller: I think he has the physical tools to play safety, but his skill set will be most effective at corner. I like him as a corner who can lock down the opposing teams biggest, most physical receiver. As a tackler, I think he needs to improve a bit in the open field, and I feel that he'd be a bit more risky at safety than he would be at corner.

To wrap things up, what round would you pick him and what round do you think he'll end up being selected?

Tiller: I would definitely take him in the second, and I think he goes no later than the end of the second.

Steve: For me I wouldn't even consider him in the 2nd round due to my questions about his ability to succeed (esp. early on), if he was still available with the Redskins 3rd round pick I'd consider it assuming the other CB's and Safeties I had rated higher were off the board. I'm guessing he'll be off the board with a late 2nd- early 3rd round pick.

So what are your thoughts on David Amerson and who do you agree with more, Steve or Tiller? Join the conversation in the comments section below.