New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Virginia CB Chase Minnifield
Last season, the New York Giants learned the hard way that one can never have too many cornerbacks. It is possible that the Giants could spend a middle round pick on a corner to bring in to challenge some of the veterans. One corner that stands out as a middle round pick is Virginia’s Chase Minnifield.
This offseason the Giants have brought in cornerback Antwaun Molden, safeties Steve Brown and Chris Horton, and re-signed cornerbacks Terrell Thomas, Michael Coe, and Justin Tryon. Aaron Ross was allowed to leave for more money via free agency and safety Deon Grant is likely not coming back, leaving an open competition for those two spots in the defensive backfield. Last year’s first round draft choice, Prince Amukamara missed a good portion of the season after breaking his foot and was only mediocre last season.
Minnifield comes from a football family. His father, Frank, was a Pro Bowl corner for the Browns in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Chase has a very good combination of size and speed, listed at 5-11, 185. He did not participate in the Combine because of an injured knee that required surgery. He did, however, run a 4.6 40-yard dash at his pro day. His time was mediocre, especially for a corner, but he is just getting back into shape following his injury. He is definitely faster than that.
Minnifield plays like he has been coached at the corner position his whole life, because he has been. He is a ballhawk, having picked off 13 passes in his four years at Virginia. However, he can sometimes fall in love with the interception and get burned in coverage. He has a habit of playing off of his man too much, hoping to jump the route and make the pick. This can be corrected with better coaching.
He is not afraid to make a tackle but won’t be on any highlight films for his bone-jarring hits. When he does leave his feet he tends to make little impact, especially on bigger receivers. He is a sound tackler and will more often go for the wrap-up and bring his man down. He isn’t the best in run support but he isn’t afraid to help out either.
Minnifield is best when he uses his head in coverage. He can take excellent angles, especially in pursuit, and prevent a big play from becoming out of control. His knee injury makes it hard to determine how fast he will play on the next level. However, on tape, he stayed with almost every receiver he lined up against. This also could be a result of his ability to diagnose receiver’s routes, something he excelled at and should bring with him to the NFL.
Minnifield might never reach the level his father did but he can be very effective as a nickelback lining up in the slot. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell liked to play some zones last season and Minnifield is best when playing in a zone defense. If the Giants were to draft Minnifield, he could easily compete with Prince Amukamara for the number three corner position and would certainly be an upgrade over some of the other corners on the Giants roster. He would also provide valuable insurance in case Terrell Thomas needs extra time to get back into playing shape after sitting out all of last season with an ACL injury.
In a perfect world for the Giants, Terrell Thomas would pick up right where he left off before his injury, Prince Amukamara will show the Giants why he was their first round selection, Corey Webster will continue to be a borderline Pro Bowler, and Molden helps out as the fourth corner, relegating Minnifield to special teams and occasional dime packages. Perfect doesn’t happen in football, at least not since 1972. Giants GM Jerry Reese knows first-hand how difficult it is to lose a major portion of one’s secondary and compete in today’s pass happy NFL. Adding someone like Minnifield makes absolute sense for the Giants, not just as insurance for this year, but for the future as well. In time, Minnifield could become a solid number two corner in this league and those are hard to find.