If there’s any product of TCU’s 2013 football season that could make a splash during the NFL Draft, it would be former cornerback Jason Verrett.
With nearly every analyst harping about the hindrances of his size, Verrett is not the most coveted corner on the board; his career with the Frogs, however, certainly seemed to prove that size does not always matter.
After a strong season last year, the 5-foot-9 Verrett earned Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, leading many to expect him to be drafted in the late first round or early second round.
Here are five reasons why Verrett deserves a first-round pick:
Speed is quite possibly Verrett’s greatest asset. He was the second-fastest corner in the 40-yard dash and fifth-fastest player overall at the NFL Combine, tying with Rice’s Phillip Gaines at 4.38 seconds.
With “excellent short-area burst and flexibility to seamlessly redirect his footwork to mirror receivers in space,” according to CBSSports.com, Verrett knows how to control his feet.
His speed gives him a distinct advantage over larger corners, and Verrett has better control of the more technical aspects of the position.
Not only is Verrett quick on his feet, but he’s quick in the mind as well.
According to ESPN Insider, Verrett has “above-average FBIs”—that is, “football instincts.”
“Verrett reads plays well and usually has a grasp on where the offense is going to with the ball,” according to MassLive blogger Nick O’Malley. “Rarely did I see him fooled on a play or beaten cleanly on a route.”
Verrett will be a good pick for the New England Patriots, according to O’Malley.
Football can be a mental game just as much as it can be physical, which is why Verrett’s intelligence and ability to predict a wide receiver outshine his size limitations.
Verrett has proven he can do it all. Like on this blocked kick. Recall how he swept in to ruin West Virginia kicker Tyler Bitancurt’s “supposed-to-be-game-winning” kick in 2012. Instead, Verrett’s move took the game into a second overtime, with TCU winning 39-38.
On Pro Day, Verrett showed up to complete 19 reps on 225-pound bench press. Not bad for a corner about to go through shoulder surgery. Verrett fought through that torn labrum in 2013, missing only one game last season.
While his skill and size may not be an issue in the draft, Verrett’s recovery from surgery might be a factor. Nonetheless, his fighting spirit may eventually earn him a starting spot on an NFL team.
No off-the-field issues
Contrary to popular belief, the actions of one aren’t representative of the entire TCU football team. Verrett doesn’t have off-the-field issues, unlike Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, who was arrested in 2013 after a bar fight.
Verrett has kept a clean slate during his time at TCU, which may separate him from other cornerbacks on the draft board.
With all that said, here are three teams that should draft him:
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers could use Verrett’s skills on their defense, which ranked 29th in defended passes for the 2013 season. Earlier in March, the Chargers signed former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Brandon Ghee, who hasn’t had extensive experience due to injury.
If the Chargers are looking for big corners like 6-foot, 200-pound Ghee, they’d likely reach for Nebraska’s Jean-Baptiste Stanley or Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller. But both Stanley and Fuller lack in speed, according to NFL.com.
The Chargers are better off with Verrett, a Fairfield, Calif., native who would likely love to play for his home state.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are another California team in which Verrett can fit well. Since letting go of Carlos Rogers in free agency, the Niners have an uncertain cornerback situation. They’ve resigned Perrish Cox, who started for nine games during the Niners’ regular season and two games for the Seattle Seahawks, registering five tackles in total.
San Francisco was a hair short from playing in the Super Bowl last season. An addition of Verrett could possibly help them take the next step.
Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert holds the fastest cornerback time in the NFL Combine, but he’ll likely be taken earlier in the draft. With Leon Hall recovering from a torn Achilles, Verrett would make nice addition to the roster, joining former Frogs Andy Dalton and Marshall Newhouse.
Even if Verrett doesn’t get drafted in the first round, likely due to team needs, he could still find a spot in the early-to-mid second round. The NFL Draft is scheduled to begin May 8.