Photo of Antoine Cason
Grade
?
  • 20 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 128.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 4.08 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'0" Height
  • 190LBS. Weight

Overview

A shutdown cornerback in the mold of former Arizona standout Chris McAlister (Baltimore), Cason ranks with the elite defensive prospects eligible for the 2008 NFL Draft. With his added responsibility handling punt returns as a senior, he is the first Arizona player to earn All-Pac-10 Conference accolades on defense and special teams in the same season.

Cason comes from a family rich in sports tradition. His father, Wendell, was a defensive back at the University of Oregon (1981-84) and went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons (1985-87). Antoine's brother, Dione, ran track at Washington State. His cousin, Ken-yon Rambo, was a receiver at Ohio State (1997-2000) before playing for the Dallas Cowboys (2001-02) and New York Jets (2003). Another cousin, Aveion Cason, was an All-American tailback at Illinois State (1997-2000) and presently plays for the Detroit Lions (2001-02, 2006-present) after seeing stints with St. Louis (2001, 04-05) and Dallas (2003) in his career.

At Los Alamitos High School, Antoine Cason earned second-team All-CIF Southern Section and first-team Division I All-CIF honors as a senior. He was a member of the Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100, Prep Star All-American and Super Prep All-Farwest squad. He earned from Rivals.com a three-star rating and was ranked 38th among the nation's defensive backs.

As a senior, Cason recorded 41 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He added first-team All-League as a junior, as he registered six interceptions. The Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year and first-team All-League pick as a senior, he added Orange County Register first-team All-County honors that year. He also competed as a running back and lettered in track.

Upon enrolling at the University of Arizona in 2004, Cason was thrust into the starting lineup at left cornerback, where he would go on to start all 46 games during his collegiate career. He earned All-Pac-10 Conference honorable mention and was selected to the Football Writers Association and The Sporting News Freshman All-American teams. He also garnered TSN Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.

He finished 2004 with 70 tackles (54 solo), 5 1/2 stops for losses, four interceptions, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in interceptions, fifth in forced fumbles and ninth in passes defended. He began his career in explosive fashion, as he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after posting 13 tackles (12 solo), including one for a loss, forced two fumbles, broke up one pass and returned an interception four yards vs. Northern Arizona.

In 2005, Cason ranked fifth on the squad with 50 tackles (38 solo), including 2 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He deflected five passes and intercepted three others while playing strong-side cornerback. He was also named to the All-Pac-10 Conference second-team. After the season, he joined the Wildcats' 2006 outdoor track team, performing in the sprints and relays.

As a junior, Cason received first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference honors, becoming just the fifth cornerback in UA history to do so. The semifinalist for the Thorpe Award was also a two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Washington State and California). He ranked third on the team with 62 tackles (48 solo), including two stops for losses. He caused and recovered a fumble, batted away seven passes and had three interceptions. He again competed on the 2007 Wildcats outdoor track team after the football season.

Cason earned All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and Rivals.com in 2007. He added All-Pac-10 Conference first-team honors as a defensive back and return specialist. He ranked fifth in the league with 27 punt returns for 271 yards (10.0-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns. He tied with teammate Nate Hess for second in the Pac-10 with five interceptions, returning two pass thefts for scores. He deflected 14 passes and was third on the squad with a career-high 71 tackles (56 solo), including one sack and four stops behind the line of scrimmage. He was a finalist for the Thorpe Award and semifinalist for the Bednarik Award.

Cason started all 46 games during his Arizona career. He ranks fourth in school history with 15 interceptions, shattering the old Wildcats record with 349 yards in returns and a career average of 23.26 yards per interception return. He deflected 32 passes, caused five fumbles and recovered another. He also registered 253 tackles (196 solo) with a six-yard sack and 14 stops for losses of 43 yards. In his only season as a punt returner, he totaled 271 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 27 attempts (10.04-yard avg).

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a developing frame with room to carry additional bulk with no loss in quickness...Possesses the long arms and reach, along with very good timing and leaping ability, to get to a pass at its highest point...Displays natural hands to make the interception and demonstrates good vision and running stride to gain valid yardage after the interception...Runs with a normal stride and shows steady acceleration to reach his top speed...Smart, instinctive player who has demonstrated an ability to learn and retain information, demonstrating the ability to make quick reads and react to the action in front of him...Hard worker in the offseason training program and has improved his overall quickness while competing on the school's track team as a sprinter...Plays with alertness and shows no hesitation in his reactions, making quick and proper adjustments on the field (shows proper timing moves to make plays on the ball in flight)...Competes for the ball and when tackling, will deliver a blow and try to dislodge the ball -- has five forced fumbles during his career...Plays with alertness and is quick to diagnose the play, mirroring the receiver on deep patterns...Maintains position on the receiver in man coverage, whether playing, trailing, covering or allowing cushion on the pass...Has a good feel for zone coverage, adjusting to the receiver throughout the route's progression...Makes plays on the ball, showing vision, instincts, and the ability to anticipate, as he has superb reaction skills, displaying exceptional timing and a break on the play, with excellent hand-eye coordination...Has enough confidence in his closing speed to be utilized on occasion as a blitzer (must come off the edge rather than shooting the gaps)...Snatches the ball naturally on the interception, possessing the hands of a receiver...Shows athleticism while moving to the ball, coming out of his backpedal cleanly, whether using the side-pedal or shuffle technique...Displays the balance, body control and footwork to come out of his breaks cleanly, showing crispness in his plant and drive...Has good ball concentration while extending and catching the pass in his hands, as well as the ability to adjust to the ball over his outside shoulder...Works to play off blocks and close on the ball inside the tackles, but is best when making plays outside the box...Has the loose hips to change direction cleanly, especially when trying to redirect the outside running game back inside...Does not get fooled much by play action, as he won't spend too much time eyeing the quarterback. Negatives: Shows good foot quickness, agility, and body control to turn, but he's not always fluid...Has quickness to accelerate on breaks, but lacks a strong burst and great top-end speed...Has a developing frame, but needs to add more bulk and strength, as he can be washed out of the play by a physical blocker when coming up to make a play in the box...Classroom work is only adequate...Plays with good toughness, but could be more aggressive and show more urgency at times, as he fails to get good hand placement on the receiver...Must get more physical and develop upper-body strength, as he is only adequate in attempts to press, failing to consistently impede the receiver's route progression...Shows good foot quickness and hip turn, keeping tight coverage, but isn't always fluid...Gets turned around at times and doesn't possess a burst or the top-end speed to recover (gets a bit narrow in his base, failing to clear his feet on the move)...Slips on his backpedal plant at times and while he has good acceleration, he lacks a closing burst (does not have the explosive speed to quickly recover)...Active in run support, but his effort in this area is inconsistent, as he does not have the power to deliver blow-up tackles...Hits and wraps up adequately, but fails to generate much power on contact. Compares To: CHRIS McALISTER-Baltimore...Cason's game is similar to that of the Ravens' McAlister, another former Arizona cornerback. He looks natural making plays on the ball in flight, showing the long arms and reach to get to the ball at its high point. He does a nice job of keeping plays in front of him, but needs to get more aggressive with his hands, as he lacks the placement and strength to consistently reroute receivers. He has good timed speed, but appears to lack the second gear to explosively close on the ball. Opponents challenged him often in 2007, targeting 73 passes into his area, as they averaged 11.2 yards on their 23 completions, but he has very good timing and ability to deflect the pass, obvious by the 50 passes that his coverage assignments failed to catch.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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