Cornerbacks who have the height and length to cover taller wide receivers can be hard to find in the NFL draft, and the ones who match the size with enough skills are prized draft picks. North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren coached Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) at Kansas, and knows a gifted, bigger corner when he sees one.
For Doeren, Wolfpack cornerback Dontae Johnson qualifies.
Doeren said his 6-2, 200-pound corner reminds him of Talib, according to charlotteobserver.com.
"I don't think there's ever been a moment in football's history where people wouldn't say they'd like to have big corners," Doeren said. "Just the fact that there were a couple that got famous this year probably helps them. But I know all defensive back coaches feel the same way. You're trying to stop tall receivers with short guys, and sometimes it's difficult. Having that additional length out there can help you make a few more plays."
Doeren was referring to Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (6-3), who helped key the NFL's best secondary on its way to a Super Bowl championship. The quickness and change-of-direction skills required of cornerbacks, however, is why smaller prospects often win out. Johnson could be different. But unlike Talib, NFL teams as sold on Johnson as Doeren is can probably get much more of a draft-day bargain on him. Talib was drafted with the No. 20 overall pick in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is still among the league's top cover men six years later.
Johnson helped his draft stock with a 4.45 clocking in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, and his 11.06 60-yard shuttle time was the best of every cornerback in Indianapolis. According to NFL.com's scouting report, however, Johnson projects as a mid-round pick.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.