Detroit Lions Draft Prospects: Prince Amukamara


Prince Amukamara

Prince Amukamara

Position: Cornerback
School: Nebraska
Height: 6’
Weight: 206 lbs.
Arms: 30 1/4″
Hands: 8 1/2″
40 yard dash: 4.43 sec
3-cone: 6.97 sec
Broad Jump: 10’8″
Vertical: 38″
Bench press: 15 reps

NFL.com Combine Profile:

Amukamara has the size, speed and awareness to start from day one and turn into one of the league’s finer players at the cornerback position. Takes advantage of his instincts and smarts in zone coverage but also has the ability to hold up when asked to cover on an island. Possesses good overall ball skills and hands. Will help out and support the run. Durable, aggressive, competitive and hard-working. No major weaknesses in his game, but isn’t an elite, quick-twitched athlete or a true burner in terms of straight-line speed. Amukamara will likely be selected early in the first round.

Patrick Peterson is universally regarded as the top cornerback in the upcoming NFL draft but he will be selected well before the Lions get on the clock at pick 13. Prince Amukamara is the consensus number two cornerback and while it may be a remote possibility that he will be available for the Lions, it is realistic enough that we should get familiar with him as a player.

Calling Prince Amukamara’s rise to a probably first round draft pick as a cornerback surprising is probably an understatement. Scout.com rated Amukamara as a three star recruit out of high school and ranked him as the 47th best running back prospect in the country. Rivals.com gave him the generic “athlete” label and ranked him 57th within that group of players, also as a three star recruit. His current status as one of the top prospects in the draft certainly speaks well to his character and commitment to the game.

Patrick Peterson is a freakish combination of size and speed that few others possess, including Prince Amukamara who is not gifted with the same fleetness of foot. The knock on his speed wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t on full display last fall when Nebraska played at Oklahoma State. The best way to put it is that Justin Blackmon abused Amukamara for most of the game. Here are the highlights of that game:

Before you get scared and start thinking that Amukamara will be a bust it should be noted that Justin Blackmon abused a lot of corners last season (111 catches for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns) and while those clips certainly don’t look good, they don’t represent his total body of work. He also answered some questions about his speed by posting a solid time in the 40 yard dash at the combine. ESPN.com’s scouting page for Amukamara suggests that the perception over his play versus Blackmon may have been overblown:

Biggest matchup problem was versus Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) in 2010. But Amukamara did not play as poorly as the perception. Blackmon pushed off on the 36-yard catch in 2nd QTR. Amukamara runs step-for-step with Blackmon on the 2nd QTR P.I. penalty (and it’s debatable if he makes contact or not). And while Amukamara does get beat on the flee-flicker (80-yard TD with 6:11 remaining in 2nd QTR), he shows recovery speed to get back into the play. From that point on, Blackmon was targeted three times versus Amukamara and caught one pass for three yards.

He may not possess the top end speed that will allow him to make up for mistakes, he is fast enough to play cornerback in the NFL. The National Football Post concludes with a similar final impression:

A fluid, balanced corner who possesses only average deep speed, but looks like a guy capable of starting at a number of spots in an NFL secondary. However, I don’t think he will ever be a real blue-chip corner.

Considering the overall lack of shutdown corners in today’s NFL makes me less concerned over the comment about not becoming a real blue-chip corner. The Lions should be considered fortunate to draft a solid corner in the first round considering their history of such picks at that position.

One of the reasons the Lions quickly switched Amari Spievey to safety last season is that he struggled playing man coverage. He played a lot more zone at Iowa which allowed him to see the field in front of him, like a safety. Prince Amukamara is much different. He is regarded as solid in press coverage as well as zone and has a knack for locating the ball and solid catching skills when the opportunity for an interception arises.

Prince Amukamara may not have a dimension of his game that is truly amazing but he is a well-built corner with solid fundamentals. He may not have a great strength to his game but he doesn’t have any great weaknesses either.

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