If you were ranking players on how they look on film, University of Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason would be one of the top cornerbacks. He started all 46 games with the Wildcats, finishing his four-year career with 253 tackles, 32 deflected passes and a school-record 15 interceptions. It was on interceptions that he was particularly dangerous, averaging 23.3 yards per return.
Special teams were another positive for Cason as he ran back two touchdowns and recorded 271 return yards on 27 attempts. Foolishly, teams were willing to challenge him last year, and Cason didn't buckle under the pressure. There were 73 passes sent his way last year and only 23 ended up complete. He might not have the speed, but he has done everything in his collegiate career to suggest he'll be a solid defensive back at the next level.
His performance at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine has only backed up what scouts already knew. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash (4.39 unofficial), which was a bit quicker than they expected but still behind the top cornerbacks in the draft. His strength was better than others at the positions as he bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times, and his agility was a strong point as he took 4.08 seconds to complete the 20-yard shuttle drill. He did not have the impressive workouts of some other cornerbacks, but if you are looking for someone who stood out in games (which is when it counts); Cason is among the best in this class.
Cason has good size for the position (6-foot 1/8, 191 pounds) but has room to add more bulk should he need it. His long arms and reach allow him to get to most deep balls. Not only does he have the reach, but he also times his jump well, making it tough for receivers to get the ball when he is on them. His hips are loose when he runs, which allows him to come out of his backpedal smoothly.
His timing helps him not just on jump balls, but also Cason when he has to make a break on the ball. This is tied to his outstanding recognition of the play and ability to read receiver's routes. He does not follow the quarterback too long, which keeps him from biting on play-action passes, and he is a quick thinker who can pick up the play before the snap. This is one reason why he intercepted so many balls. With his intelligence, Cason is able to use his above-average acceleration to get to the ball quickly and either deflect or intercept it. He excels in zone coverage. Once he has the ball, he is a threat to run it back as he shows good vision, both on defense and special teams.
If are you looking for a model citizen to grab in this year's draft, Cason could garner some consideration. His intangibles might be among the best, especially at this position. He was a co-president of the Arizona Student Athlete Advisory Board. He volunteered at his church. He participated on the school's track team. His cousin, Aveion Cason, was an All-American tailback and currently plays for the Detroit Lions. Antoine's father was a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons. Antoine was nominated for the Ronnie Lott Trophy, which is given to the senior football player who shows athletic ability and a sense of community. In short, Cason is a solid player both on and off the field.
Speed is one area where Cason could use some work. His 40-yard dash at the combine was just 4.45, putting him below the top-tier corner backs in this respect. He could struggle to turn and run with receivers at the next level, especially the further down the field he gets. Once receivers kick it into another gear downfield, Cason might be a step behind.
With his speed a drawback, Cason needs to be more aggressive in jamming receivers at the line. He does not get good placement with his hands, which could allow receivers to go right by him in the NFL. It could result in struggles with man-to-man coverage. It is important he gets a good press on the receivers as he does not have the speed to recover if they get behind him.
Cason could use some more pop in his tackles. He forced five fumbles in college, but his tackles do not generate the kind of power they could. He can still wrap up effectively; however, he will not blow up many guys.
Expected Draft Placement
Cason's intelligence and work ethic mean he likely will be able to contribute from Day 1. The Arizona Cardinals are looking for a cornerback with the 16th pick, but that is likely too early to select the local product. Instead, look for him to go somewhere near the end of the first round or the early second round.
The Dallas Cowboys could look to him with the 28th pick or the Green Bay Packers might consider him at the 30th spot. Green Bay plays a man press coverage, which isn't ideal for Cason, however. If he drops into the second round, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills are both teams who could select him.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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