Alfonzo Dennard is an extremely interesting prospect. He provides a lot of things that NFL teams are searching for at the cornerback position. Unlike Dre' Kirkpatrick, who I covered earlier this week, Dennard's talents stand out to me.
I am going to be providing you with a scouting report for the Nebraska product smack dab in the middle of his most important postseason even, the NFL Scouting Combine.
Frame: Alfonzo Dennard might not be the tallest of defensive backs standing at 5'10", but he is built extremely well at 205 pounds. This enables the corner to get physical at the line and impede the progress of receivers before they hit their route. Nebraska utilized this advantage to the best of their ability and NFL teams are sure to take notice.
Football IQ: This is probably the most surprising part of Dennard's game. He fully understands when to sit in zone, play press or shield off the deep route in over the top coverage. You just don't see this a lot when it comes to younger corners. This will also make his transition to the NFL much easier.
Press coverage/Physical: As I mentioned before, Dennard does a great job jamming the receiver at the line. He did play a lot against a lot of smaller receivers in the Big 12, but Dennard was able to jam the likes of Justin Blackmon at the line, which bodes well for his durability at the next level.
Instincts: His reaction skills are tremendous for someone that hasn't played corner for all too long. Dennard does a great job reacting to the receivers route and stepping up in man coverage. He often anticipates where the receiver is going and jumps them at the point of contact. Also does a good job utilizing the sideline as an extra defender.
Technique: Dennard struggles a great deal in back peddling because of his relatively stiff hips. This causes him to get turned around on occasion, which makes him vulnerable to the big play. This aspect of Dennard's game needs to change relatively quickly before he can be a major contributor on the outside in the NFL.
Risk taking: While being someone that loves to jump routes, Dennard can get beat a great deal taking chances. We have seen this from a lot of corners coming down the pike and it takes a special one to overcome it mentally and become more apt at understanding when to be a risk taker. Dennard wouldn't fall under that category at this point.
Scheme specific: Zone coverage teams might like Dennard's ability to improvise on the outside, but that scheme takes away from his true talents of being a press cover man. Therefore, teams aren't going to spend a first round pick on a defensive back whose strengths run contrary to their scheme.
Draft status: Late first round pick. A good combine and pro day could push him up to the early 20's.
Player comparison: Carlos Rogers