If he ultimately becomes a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, it will be hard to find a better success story than that of TCU cornerback Jason Verrett. As an undersized player who focused on offense in high school, Verrett didn’t receive any scholarship offers. He decided to attend Santa Rosa Junior College, and after concentrating on playing defensive back, he received a scholarship offer from TCU.
Even after Verrett became a Horned Frog, though, he still faced adversity. In his TCU debut, he gave up three touchdowns to a Robert Griffin-led Baylor passing attack. After the game, Verrett debated quitting the team, and even announced his intentions to head coach Gary Patterson. Ultimately, though, he decided to stay, and the rest is history as Verrett has become a shutdown corner and was named a first-team All-American in 2012.
The hunger that Verrett displayed on his journey to TCU is evidenced by his style of play. Despite his size, he’s an exceptionally hard hitter and never backs down, whether he’s trying to get in on a tackle or battling a receiver. He’s pretty solid in every facet of the game, but his most marketable skill is his dominance in press coverage. He keeps fighting until the whistle, and it’s hard for a receiver to out-muscle him.
Verrett’s weaknesses as an NFL prospect are more or less beyond his control. His size will surely be looked upon negatively by some teams, especially if they think that it will be something that causes him to be injury-prone throughout his career.
They may see him matched up against receivers such as Oklahoma State‘s Charlie Moore, who picked up a few long receptions against Verrett and forced him to take two pass interference penalties, and be concerned that he’ll be limited to a slot role in the NFL. For sure, Verrett will need to work on his downfield coverage near the sidelines, as he needs to find a way to maintain his physicality without getting a pass interference call.
It’s difficult to say whether any of the cornerbacks in this year’s draft class will end up being first-rounders since so many of them are similar in their level of talent and skill set. But, Verrett’s consistent on-field results and hardworking attitude should make him desirable to teams.
If anything, his high level of character may give him a leg up over players like Ohio State‘s Bradley Roby and Florida‘s Loucheiz Purifoy, who have had run-ins with the law and have been criticized for a lack of effort at times.
- Fantastic in press coverage
- Is a hard hitter
- Extremely aggressive and does not back down in man-to-man coverage
- Can effectively play on both the left and right sides of the field
- Very good at playing the run
- Solid in pursuit and is a great tackler
- Capable of being a defensive playmaker; had six interceptions in 2012
- Struggles at times to contend with bigger, more physical receivers, especially when they try to stretch him deep
- Undersized; some teams may see him only as a slot corner
- Physical style of play and lack of size may make him an injury risk
Verrett’s had a very solid 2013 season, which has led some to believe that he’s the best coverage corner in the 2013 draft class. He and his fellow defenders have held opposing passers to a 52.5 completion percentage, good for 15th–best in the country. He’s also contributed 34 total tackles.
Things have been more difficult for Verrett recently as he’s been dealing with injuries, and balls haven’t been getting thrown his way as much due to his dominance. Overall, he hasn’t been as effective as he was in 2012 — he has just two interceptions, as compared to his six in 2013 — but he’s been solid enough that it shouldn’t affect his draft stock.
2014 Draft Projection: First Round