Photo of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Grade
?
  • 4.33 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 38.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 131.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.74 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.06 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'2" Height
  • 182LBS. Weight

Overview

Not since Aeneas Williams terrorized receivers at Southern University (1987-90) has a Division 1-AA cornerback dominated like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Thrust into the starting lineup midway through his freshman campaign, the speedy defender has shown exceptional shutdown ability and displayed the natural hands needed to excel as an interceptor. He also excelled as a kickoff returner and saw action as a receiver during his senior campaign.

In 39 starts for the Tigers, opposing quarterbacks completed just 55 of 161 passes (34.16%) thrown in Rodgers-Cromartie's immediate area. He intercepted 11 of those throws, deflected 25 and held the opposition to a miniscule 3.54 yards per pass attempt, the best of any collegiate defensive back over the last three seasons.

In addition to his stellar play, Rodgers-Cromartie has also been a standout performer for the TSU track team. Despite juggling football spring drills with the indoor and outdoor track seasons in 2007, he qualified for the NCAA Mid-East Regionals after he captured the Ohio Valley Conference long jump title (25' 0.75"). In only his second outdoor event, he was named OVC Male Athlete of the Week after finishing third at the Penn Relays with a conference-best long jump of 24'10".

During the OVC Indoor Track Championships, Rodgers-Cromartie was name the top male athlete with a sensational performance. He won the 60-meter dash (6.89), long jump (25' 0.75") and high jump (6' 9.5") and finished second in the triple-jump (48' 8"). What made those finishes even more impressive was the fact that he performed most of the indoor season while nursing an ankle sprain.

Excelling in two sports is nothing new for Rodgers-Cromartie. The All-Area and All-District defensive back and wide receiver at Lakewood Ranch High School was regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the South, receiving a four-star rating from Rivals.com. The High School Recruiting Report named him the most underrated prospect in the state of Florida. He also competed as a jumper and sprinter on the track team.

Rodgers-Cromartie enrolled at Tennessee State, where he shared playing time with Aaron Strong for the first half of the 2004 campaign. He would go on to start six games at strong-side cornerback, including the last five games. He posted 33 tackles (22 solo) with a stop for a loss while recovering two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown. Named the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Newcomer of the Year by The Gridiron Report, he also batted away three passes and returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns. He blocked a punt for an 11-yard return and also had a 19-yard kickoff return.

As a sophomore, Rodgers-Cromartie started every game. He ranked fifth on the team with 41 tackles (34 solo), including three stops behind the line of scrimmage. He deflected five passes, intercepted another and returned a blocked punt 17 yards. He also gained 34 yards on two kickoff returns and caught one pass for eight yards in brief action as a receiver. He allowed just 1.86 yards per pass attempt, the lowest total by a Division 1-AA defender in a season since Aeneas Williams averaged 1.99 yards (on 58 throws) for Southern University in 1990.

The junior defender ranked third in the nation and led the OVC with six interceptions in 2006. He finished fourth on the squad with 47 tackles (37 solo) and two stops for losses. He also blocked two kicks and had seven pass deflections, earning first-team All-OVC and All-American honors. He allowed just 3.64 yards per pass attempt, the best figure in the Division 1-AA ranks for the second consecutive year.

In 2007, Rodgers-Cromartie earned third-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report. He added All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team accolades for the second straight year, as he was used not only on defense, but also handled kickoff returns while seeing brief action on offense. He recorded 37 tackles (28 solo) with two stops for losses and a pair of fumble recoveries. He deflected 11 passes and picked off two others, returning both interceptions for touchdowns. He also blocked four punts, gained 38 yards on a reception, 16 yards on four punt returns and 16 yards on two carries, finishing his final campaign with 1,016 all-purpose yards.

In 44 games at Tennessee State, Rodgers-Cromartie started 39 times. He recorded 158 tackles (121 solo) with eight stops for losses of 30 yards, adding 14 more tackles on the kick-coverage units. He recovered four fumbles, returning one for a touchdown and blocked eight kicks. He deflected 26 passes and intercepted 11 others for 314 yards (28.5-yard average) in returns with four touchdowns.

Rodgers-Cromartie also had two receptions for 46 yards, two carries for 16 yards and six punt returns for 44 yards (7.3-yard average). He added 859 yards on 36 kickoff returns (23.9 avg). Of the 161 passes thrown into his territory, the opposition managed to catch just 55 balls (34.16 completion percentage) for 620 yards and three touchdowns. He allowed just 3.85 yards per pass attempt during his career with the Tigers.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a tall, well-built frame with long arms, thick thighs and calves, tight abdomen and a frame that can carry additional bulk if he's moved to free safety at the next level...His range and fluid hips might make him a better fit at free safety at the next level, as his explosive closing burst reminds many of Philadelphia's Brian Dawkins... Does a nice job of slipping through trash to make plays in run force (made 22 of his 47 tackles in 2006 and 15 of 37 hits in 2007 vs. the run)...Self-starter that pushes others around him, showing a passion for the game that drives him to succeed...The thing you see constantly on film is his ability to identify his keys and react in an instant as the play develops (no need to digest)...Can mirror in the short area and shows quick reactions when playing off the line...Has outstanding feet and balance when adjusting to the receiver's moves and can flip his hips, redirect and plant sharply coming out of his breaks without needing to gather...Demonstrates a keen comprehension of zone concepts, along with the range and suddenness in his movements to react instantly to the ball in flight...Looks natural and continuous flipping his hips and coming out of his breaks cleanly...Explodes off the snap and can stay stride for stride with the receivers...Has the loose hips needed to quickly change direction and displays good explosion closing on the ball...Will cover ground suddenly tracking the ball in flight and has no problems running or trailing receivers throughout the route...Has the body control to make proper adjustments in attempts to get to the ball in flight...Can generate a strong jolt to reroute receivers at the line and knows how to stay on the hip of the receivers through their routes...Best when playing off the line, as he takes good angles in pursuit...Shows good awareness looking up receivers and anticipating the quarterback to jump the play...Has the speed and rip move to slip off the blocker's shoulder and displays the closing burst to pursue when he penetrates the backfield...What is evident on film is his upper-body strength, using it well to take on blocks and shed when working along the perimeter...Knows how to make adjustments to break down and fit when playing in the open and shows good desire to make the play...Has the speed to accelerate throughout the route and when he mirrors and trails the receiver, he is efficient at staying tight through the deep routes...Shows very good balance in his backpedal, as he is explosive in his plant and drive when he locates the ball...Needs to get stronger in his press technique, but he is smooth turning on the ball thanks to above average hip flexibility, as he transitions with no wasted motion...Has the range to pursue plays across the field and can run stride-for-stride with the speedy receivers. Negatives: Does get a bit reckless in his play, resulting in costly penalties...Flagged three times in the first two games of 2006 for pass interference, and will get overconfident in his press-coverage skills, which isn't necessarily a weakness...Needs to do a better job of securing the ball on kickoff returns (had two costly fumbles in 2007)...Very effective in press coverage, but when he spends too much time attacking his man rather than playing off, he does not always anticipate the quarterback's moves...Shows urgency closing on the ball in man coverage, but sometimes rounds his angle to the ball after planting...Has natural hands, but you would like to see him use his incredible leaping ability more in attempts to break up or intercept the ball (needs to time his leaps in order to get to the ball at its highest point)...Must use his hands better to keep blockers away from his chest when trying to slip blocks working in trash...Does not work well vs. combo blocks, making him only adequate in filling the alleys...Easily engulfed when trying to slip past blocks in close quarters...Adequate tackler who will ankle bite at times rather than take on ball carriers head on...Will uncoil, but does a poor job of wrapping up...Has good closing speed, but when playing in the zone, he can get caught out of position when peeking into the backfield too long...As a senior, he struggled some with his jam technique as hands got outside his frame, but did compensate with good closing quickness...In the open field, he failed to face up as a tackler and looked sloppy breaking down his final year (see 2007 Southern and Eastern Kentucky games. Compares To: TERENCE NEWMAN-Dallas...Rodgers-Cromartie is slightly faster than Newman, but he needs to show better patience in his play, as he does tend to get a bit out of control at times. Even though he has the speed to stay with receivers deep, he gets a bit reckless in his press-coverage technique and must do a better job of keeping his hands inside the frame when attempting to jam his opponent at the line of scrimmage. He added kickoff returner to his resume as a senior, but needs to be more conscious of securing the ball. Like Newman, he will utilize his quickness to excel in man coverage, but he needs to do a better job as a tackler, as he appears to be an ankle-biter rather than a face-up, wrap-up tackler.
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
CONTENT
15