One of the first things that general manager Steve Keim talked about when identifying the Arizona Cardinals’ team needs heading into the offseason was getting younger, longer and more athletic on the defensive side of the ball.
That makes sense in a lot of ways, as the Cardinals have added two names to their private workout list that embody that mantra (check it out here).
Then there is the interesting private visit the Cardinals have scheduled, and that’s the one with TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, maybe the most talented cover man in the draft.
(All comparable data is purely number-driven, not comparing style of play and courtesy of mockdraftable.com).
Here’s a closer look at 2013 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
• Elite short-area quickness, change of direction ability and mirroring make Verrett the ideal slot corner for the NFL.
• A true ball hawk that attacks the ball in the air.
• Stays low in and out of backpedal.
• Disciplined cover man that stays attached at the hip in coverage.
• Excellent hand usage and physical ability against short routes.
• Fluid hips with turn and run ability on deep and intermediate routes.
• Physical, determined tackler, not afraid to stick his nose in to help in the run game.
• Size/strength ratio is on the extreme low end of the spectrum.
• Loses on outside, downfield routes too often due to size limitations.
• Overly aggressive, which will cause him to draw penalty flags often early in his career.
• Can be overpowered by good blocking wide receivers.
Unbelievable coverage ability coming out of TCU. Concerns about his size and physical strength are real, though, as he could struggle to play the outside corner position in the NFL.
Projects more as an elite slot corner in the NFL, one that can match up with anyone in the slot because of his sticky coverage ability, but he could be a mismatch liability at times.
He has to get in with a team that has bigger corners and one that can slowly bring him along as a slot guy and give him opportunities against bigger wide receivers before he is asked to match up one on one on an island with bigger wideouts in the NFL.
Visiting with a plyaer like Verrett shows some of what the Cardinals are thinking.
Elite coverage guys always have a place in the NFL, and the Cardinals have one in the slot already in Tyrann Mathieu. But bringing in another potentially elite slot guy like Verrett could mean the Cardinals are looking at moving Mathieu around even more than they did in 2013. Only about 28 percent of his snaps occurred at the safety position in 2013 — this could be a sign they want to play him more at that position in the future.
It could also mean that the Cardinals want as much flexibility as possible, and that means bringing in players with similar abilities so they can interchange parts and not miss a beat.