Cowboys Watching At Least Two Cornerbacks Not At 2011 Senior Bowl

Despite Jerry Jones' musings at the Senior Bowl that he was satisfied with the play of the Cowboys cornerbacks in 2010, it appears that he may have been sending out infamous Jerry smoke signals again.

Draftinsider.net reports that the Cowboys are targeting two underclass cornerbacks in the draft.

Sources have told us that Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are targeting two underclassmen cornerbacks in this draft; Brandon Harris of Miami and Patrick Peterson from LSU.  Different sources have told us if the draft were held today the Cowboys would look to move up and grab Peterson, while Harris is a second choice they’d be happy with.

Patrick Peterson I can deal with in the first round, he is rated as a top 3 or 5 prospect on a lot of draft boards. Brandon Harris I can deal with in the second round. However, I don't know whether or not Peterson deserves a trade up to go and get, or if Brandon Harris is worthy of trading down within the first and selecting. CBSsports.com ranks Peterson 1st overall and Harris 26th overall. This report doesn't mention Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara, who has been linked to Dallas in several mock drafts. These mocks don't take into account moving up and down, obviously- so they saw the need for Dallas and assigned them the highest available player for the ninth pick. Draft gurus, here is your chance to enlighten us on your thoughts on the three corners.

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O.C.C. outlined the need for improved cornerback play in his positional review here. To say the least, this was the worst Cowboys secondary play that we may have seen in recent memory. 

In 2009, the Cowboys ranked 16th in the league with a defensive passer rating of 83.5. One year later they were down to 29th with a DPR of  92.8. What changed is that the Cowboys gave up longer throws, for more yards, more often.

Here are pieces of the nfldraftscout.com's Rob Rang scouting reports on the two young men suggested.

Patrick Peterson - from Rob Rang

Read & React: Possesses good instincts for the position. Reads his man and will sneak a peek at the quarterback, showing the anticipation necessary to make the big play. Can get over-aggressive and bite on double-moves, though he shows good straight-line speed to recover and possesses excellent ball skills.

Man Coverage: Rare fluidity and straight-line speed for a defender of his size. Quick feet and balance when backpedaling and when he switches to a side shuffle technique. Will occasionally misjudge the speed of his opponent when in off-man coverage, allowing the receiver to eat up too much of the cushion... Times his leaps well and can high-point the ball due to excellent hand-eye coordination.

Zone Coverage: Good recognition for zone coverage, but will drift out of position when he's reading the eyes of quarterbacks, resulting in some big-play interceptions, but also in allowing receptions when savvy passers bait him. Quick feet and balance to change directions. Good route anticipation. Switches off his target quickly when he sees the quarterback throwing elsewhere. Closes on the ball quickly.

Run Support: When not in press coverage, reads run quickly and either provides the contain to push the runner back inside or makes the tackle himself. Focuses on his primary target - the receiver - when he's in press coverage and can be a step slower to recognize run. TTakes good angles to the ball and has the speed to run down the ballcarrier.

Tackling: Reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down well in space to make the stop against elusive athletes.

Intangibles: Confident, almost cocky demeanor on the field. Possesses the short memory of all great cornerbacks. Extremely competitive. Seems to relish the battles against top receivers in man coverage. 

Brandon Harris

Read & React: Quick to recognize run and does a nice job of coming up in support. Reads the body language of the receiver and is typically in good position to a make a play on the ball due to his instincts and standout athleticism. Rarely out of position, especially when playing man to man. Does a nice job of focusing on his receiver rather than peeking into the backfield, though this leads to fewer interceptions than he'd have if he "cheated" more.

Man Coverage: Better in man to man coverage than zone due to his pure athleticism. Quick feet, loose hips, good balance and outstanding speed to remain in the hip pocket of his opponent. Keys on the receiver and gets his head around late.

Zone Coverage: Improved his overall recognition as a junior, but remains a better man to man corner than zone defender. Good feel for where receivers are around him, but can get flat-footed and savvy QBs can "push" him laterally, opening up holes for receivers to expose. Generally a reliable open-field tackler, but isn't a punisher.

Run Support: Recognizes run quickly and isn't afraid to come up in support. Good agility and flashes physicality to break free from receiver blocks. Maintains his containment responsibility and will force the back inside. Isn't a physical tackler, too often resorting to duck and swipe techniques, but gets the man on the ground.

Tackling: A reliable open-field tackler, but isn't always pretty doing it. Has a tendency to lead with his shoulder and/or lunge at the defender, resulting in some precarious tackles. Flashes the ability to deliver a pop, but relies too much on arm tackles. Did take a terrible angle on a big play by Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd in the Sun Bowl.

Intangibles: Passionate and accountable. Quoted as saying that he and his classmates (2008 signing class) should dedicate their 2010 season to head coach Randy Shannon and that they were largely to blame for Miami's inconsistency. (Despite Harris' words, Shannon was ultimately fired.)

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