INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Defensive back Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska participates in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Another philosophical shift this season for the Colts on defense will be to move away from a Cover-2 defensive scheme to one that relies on blitzes for pressure. This shift will have over-arching effects on defensive personnel including a dramatic shift at CB. No longer can the Colts focus on small quick corners that excel only in zone coverage. Bigger corners with the ability to play press-man will become the new norm.
Enter Alfonzo Dennard. While not as big as other corners, he plays with a physical style that makes it hard for receivers to separate from him. He missed 3 games this past year with a leg injury and was still a first-team All-Big Ten selection and named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. He was instrumental in helping hold opposing Big Ten quarterbacks to a conference-low 51 percent completion percentage. He posted 31 total tackles and six pass breakups on the year.
The 2010 season tells more of the story though. The corner opposite Dennard in '10 was Prince Amukamara. That year, when it appears that he was targeted often, he led the team with 4 INTs and 7 Pass Deflections. It appears someone else was the bigger target this past season. For his career, he notched 97 tackles, including four tackles for loss. He also recorded 21 pass breakups, four interceptions and four quarterback hurries.
At almost the same size as Antoine Bethea, Dennard has a little more bulk on his frame than most corners.This may account a bit for his lack of top end speed. If the press at the line does not give him the upper hand, most NFL receivers will have the ability to run past him.
After the jump we'll look at what the draft sites say and get to his combine work.
Don't forget to check out all the draft profiles HERE.National Football Post - Alfonso Dennard
He's strong/feisty, can press off the line and turn and run. Needs to clean up some technical flaws both in press and off the line, which hinders his balance. But can be a guy who could start both on the outside and in the slot at the next level.
Feisty, highly confident and competitive with a short memory, Dennard is a man-cover corner who always will have size limitations. However, has starter-caliber ability combined with desirable football character. Ideal inside nickel back with a ceiling as a No. 2.
Like his classmate Jared Crick, Dennard played alongside premier talent (New York Giants' 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara) early in his career and also missed some playing time as a senior due to injury (leg). But unlike Crick, Dennard was less tested as a senior once back from injury because he lost that elite player on the opposite side. He has some of the same traits as Prince in that he is smart, plays with instincts and understands how to support in run defense and play the role of a staunch football player at the corner who does more than just cover. While he is not particularly stellar with any singular trait, he has the size, athletic ability, and overall above-average skills that blend together to make a nice prospect. He is the type of corner who could contribute heavily on special teams in his rookie year, and although he has not been tested much working in the slot, could likely be picked in the late first or early second round.
Here's a YouTube link with a bunch of in game footage.
My Take for the Colts -
I like players that have "feisty" and "smart" in their profile. It's a good type of player to have. While this is the kind of player the new defensive scheme requires, he would need to be selected at the beginning of the 2nd round. I think there will be more value on the board at that point. I see the NT/DT being the pick at the top of the second. If teams begin to waiver based on his speed and a fall ensues, he would be a steal at the top of the third.