Kendall Fuller among 3 buyer-beware CB prospects

Sam Monson identifies three top CB prospects that have plenty of questions marks surrounding their play.

| 6 months ago
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Kendall Fuller among 3 buyer-beware CB prospects

PFF’s team of draft analysts has spent the past weeks and months putting together their overall draft board and positional prospect rankings, in preparation for the 2016 NFL draft.

In doing so, PFF has identified players at each position who qualify either as potential buyer-beware prospects, based on where these players are showing up on most evaluators’ draft boards.

Here are three buyer-beware prospects among this year’s cornerback class:

1. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Kendall Fuller’s final season was a disaster. He tried to play through an injury, was completely embarrassed my Ohio State’s Michael Thomas among others before shutting it down. His 2014 grade is much higher, but even so much of his draft stock seems to surround the notion of “NFL bloodlines,” given that he will be the fourth Fuller brother to make the NFL. Impressive as that is, it doesn’t make me expect greatness from him, especially as none of the other three that have preceded him have been that impressive at the pro level. Fuller plays the ball pretty well, but does not look strong and seems like a player that needs to be in a zone scheme to be truly effective in the NFL.

He has some tools to work with, and over the past two seasons allowed just 44.7 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, but he was also beaten for an average of 14.7 yards and didn’t look like a player that would dominate consistently. He is projected by many to be a second-round player, but that seems too optimistic.

2. Maurice Canady, Virginia

There may be no bigger disconnect between the general draft community and PFF than on Maurice Canady. Many like him as a second- or third-round selection, but after a couple of seasons of average-at-best grading, I’m not sure he should be drafted at all. Over the past two seasons he has surrendered 10 touchdowns and given up over 1,000 receiving yards, 529 of which have come after the catch. He flashes the ability to break on the ball and disrupt the pass, but they come largely because he is squatting on short passes and gambling that the play won’t end up behind him. The Notre Dame game this past season showed the double edge to that attitude, when late in the game he came from a long way off to break up a pass on a hitch, only to be beaten a couple of plays later by the same look when the Irish ran a double move on him leading to a walk-in touchdown. Canady simply doesn’t look like an NFL corner down to down.

3. Artie Burns, Miami

Artie Burns looks every bit an NFL corner, and is an ideal physical specimen from a size and speed standpoint. The issue is that his down-to-down play isn’t that special; he has a lot to work on to succeed at the NFL level.

Burns hasn’t been bad in the past two seasons, but measurables are pushing him higher up boards than his play merits. There are some impressive numbers in there. He has allowed just two touchdowns over the past two seasons, one each year, and allowed an NFL passer rating into his coverage this past season of just 40.8. He is extremely physical in man coverage and can squeeze a receiver right off the field if given the chance, but his zone play lacks in technique and awareness. He plays as if just getting to a landmark and then trying to read the quarterback’s eyes to make the play, rather than showing any understanding of where the threat is coming from given the receivers and route combinations in his area.

There is definitely a lot to work with in Burns, but he needs to get a lot better to become a solid starting NFL corner. He certainly feels a lot more like a mid-round developmental prospect than a second-round sure thing.


| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

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