For a player that most casual fans had never heard of as recently as two months ago, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has created arguably the biggest buzz heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. A tremendous natural athlete from little known Division I-AA Tennessee State (the Tigers, in case you were wondering), Rodgers-Cromartie managed two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns and established a school season-record by blocking four kicks during the 2007 season. In addition to his defensive duties, he also returned kicks and played occasionally on the offensive side of the ball.
Rodgers-Cromartie started to receive national exposure leading up to the 2008 Senior Bowl in late January, a game in which he recorded four solo tackles and had one of the South's two interceptions. His stock continued to rise at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine where he ranked at or near the top among all defensive backs in numerous events, which should come as no surprise considering his success as a track athlete at Tennessee State. He definitely has an NFL pedigree, too, as he is a cousin of San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
Standing 6-foot-1 1/2, Rodgers-Cromartie has the kind of height that general managers covet with the increasingly tall receivers in the NFL. He is a phenomenal natural athlete as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds, and he registered a 38 1/2-inch leap in the vertical jump to lead all defensive backs. That blend of height and vertical leap make him a difficult target for quarterbacks to go after on the ever more popular jump balls. He also has long arms to help break up those passes.
Rodgers-Cromartie has more than just his physical attributes working for him, using an attacking style of playing the position as he likes to read the quarterback's eyes and jump routes. He has good hands for a defensive back and is highly elusive once he has forced a turnover.
He doesn't take plays off and is a tireless pursuer all over the field. He wraps up well after first contact, which helps make him a quality tackler in the open field. Considering he had four blocked kicks in 2007 and experience as a return man on kickoffs, he is a prime candidate to help on special teams at least early on in his career.
While Rodgers-Cromartie has good height, his frame is still fairly wiry as he weighs just 184 pounds. That lack of bulk could adversely affect him when trying to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, fight off blocks or come up in run support. Adding strength will likely be a priority.
The level of competition is another strike against Rodgers-Cromartie, who clearly wasn't matched against too much NFL-level talent during his collegiate career at Tennessee State. He's also a bit raw, having not played high school football until his senior year. He may well experience some growing pains once he makes the jump.
Expected Draft Placement
The sky seems to be the limit for Rodgers-Cromartie at this point, who began as a second- or third-round sleeper and has since elevated himself to the point where it now appears highly unlikely he'll make it through the first round without hearing his name called. The earliest he could be drafted is within the first 10 picks in Round 1. The latest he is likely to come off the board is at No. 18 to the Houston Texans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 20), Dallas Cowboys (Nos. 22 and 28), Tennessee Titans (No. 23) and Green Bay Packers (No. 30), which are all potential landing spots for this year's draft darling. KFFL currently projects him being a selection of the Baltimore Ravens at No. 8 overall.
About Herija C. Green
A graduate of the prestigious Top Gun school, Green's ego writes checks his body can't cash. When he's not overdrawing his ego's bank account, Green enjoys games of beach volleyball, riding his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, and buzzing the tower (whether the pattern is full or not). He resides in the Danger Zone and yes, Ice... Man, he is dangerous. He also writes.
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