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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Will Antoine Cason be selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft?

    PRO: Cason should be 1st-round pick


    Each of the last three Thorpe Award winners – for the top defensive back in college football – before this year’s winner, Antoine Cason, were drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft – two in the top 10.

    Those three players were Texas’ Aaron Ross and Michael Huff and Auburn’s Carlos Rogers, none of whom had nearly as much of an impact on their team as Cason did for Arizona.

    Some other past winners of the award are Michigan’s Charles Woodson, Ohio State’s Antoine Winfield, Oklahoma’s Roy Williams and Kansas State’s Terrence Newman, all of whom were drafted in the first round and eventually found much success at the next level.

    Cason, who has marked the Arizona football program with countless memories, is projected as a second-round pick, something that could be classified as an insult.

    Admittedly, Cason didn’t have a solid combine, which could be turning NFL coaches away from rolling the dice on him late in the first round, but when looking at most mock drafts, there are up to five other cornerbacks who are selected in front of him. Troy’s Leodis McKelvin, Tennessee State’s

    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kansas’ Aqib Talib, South Florida’s Mike Jenkins and Virginia Tech’s Mike Flowers are all considered to be better picks.

    Maybe one or two players could possibly make the case of being a better value than Cason in the first round, but all five is almost a joke.

    The combine doesn’t examine the ability to make plays in real-life game action and the capacity to step up in the biggest games, something Cason did repeatedly.

    Two of the biggest games that are most likely burned into Arizona fans’ memories forever were the 2006 Homecoming win over then-No. 8 California and last year’s Thursday night win over then-No. 2 Oregon. In both games, Cason took an interception back for a touchdown.

    Maybe something just as valuable as Cason’s big play ability was the way he carried himself. As one of the more recognizable athletes on Arizona’s campus, Cason always carried himself in the most respectable and classy fashion.

    Whoever gets Cason in the second round, if he unjustifiably falls that far, may land the biggest steal in the NFL draft’s recent memory.

    Ari Wasserman, assistant sports editor

    CON: Cason needs to prove more


    Antoine Cason has been the face of Wildcat football for the past few seasons and made his fair share of big plays, but questions remain about his ability to play at the next level despite his Thorpe award.

    First-round draft picks don’t get burned by players from so-called lesser conferences and aren’t inconsistent players. New Mexico’s Travis Brown caught 10 balls for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the Lobos’ 29-27 win in Tucson last year. The very next week Cason held likely first-round choice DeSean Jackson of California to just 39 yards on three catches. That kind of inconsistency won’t be tolerated in the NFL.

    Cason does have NFL size at 6 feet tall, but weighing only 190 pounds could hurt him if he covers bigger, stronger receivers like Dallas’ Terrell Owens or Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. Granted, Cason probably won’t be matched up against star receivers in his rookie season, but I don’t think Cason can match up with NFL talent play after play and NFL general managers agree. ESPN draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper both have Cason slotted to go in the second round, as does the April 21 issue of ESPN the Magazine.

    Cason ran a 4.52 40-yard dash and pounded out 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press exercise, but the main knock on Cason isn’t on his physical tools. Cason isn’t fluid in his hip movements, has trouble recovering when beaten and has difficulty shedding blockers, according to multiple scouting reports. One report on Cason says he isn’t “”quite the pro prospect that his college press clippings would lead you to believe.”” Those might sound like minute details, but if a cornerback can’t turn his hips correctly while covering his man, can’t shed blocks and can’t recover if he’s beaten, then he won’t have a man to cover for very long because he’ll be out of work.

    I’m not saying Cason will flame out of the NFL before his rookie contract expires. His intangibles are off the charts, but I don’t see him making the kind of impact Wildcat fans want him to have. Cason can be a good nickel back, but I doubt he emerges into a shut-down corner.

    Brian Kimball, assistant sports editor

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