The spread’s been berry, berry good to…

college cornerbacks.

This is good news for general managers, because teams are so desperate that they’ll draft basically any corner these days. Last year, teams selected 31 defensive backs in the first four rounds — up from 22 from five years ago, during the 2012 draft, this despite the fact that last year’s crop was not considered particularly great. Prospects who could be drafted Thursday include Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, Washington’s Kevin King, LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Florida’s Quincy Wilson, and USC’s Adoree’ Jackson.

There are a few theories that explain the cornerback boom (and why it will last at least a few years), but mostly it comes down to the proliferation of the spread offense. The point of the spread is to overextend the defense by putting more receivers on the field. With an increased demand for wideouts, there’s an increased supply, forcing more elite athletes to choose other positions to get noticed. Upon switching to corner, those athletes are testing the “10,000-hour theory” of defensive back play, chasing teams like Baylor, Oregon, and Texas Tech all over the place. During the 2016 college season, 26 teams faced at least 35 passes per game — in 2006, only two teams faced that kind of passing barrage.

It’s led to some rethinking on troop deployment, too.

College corners are seeing more passes and more snaps. The hurry-up craze has led some college defenses to adopt a rotation system. Back in 2008, Aliotti was the defensive coordinator for Oregon and he started to treat his defense “like a hockey team,” rotating players whenever possible to minimize the fatigue caused by the fast pace. “We got to a place where we had 20 to 23 guys we could count on each game,” he said. “You needed to combat the passing. We’d switch out a linebacker and one or two corners per play, I don’t think anyone did that prior to us.”

Aliotti is now an analyst with the Pac-12 Networks, and he’s since visited with many coaches, including Alabama’s Nick Saban, to discuss how to utilize a similar rotation system. The idea has spread throughout college, Aliotti said. Ohio State has rotated their defensive backs in recent years, and could have as many as three picks in the top 15 of this draft.

The result?  Mo’ backs and mo’ money for mo’ backs.

… Mike Farrell, national recruiting director at Rivals, said youth players have been figuring out what positions to play earlier on in order to “go where the money is in the pros.” The spread has made good corners a hot commodity in the NFL, and they get paid like it. According to Spotrac, there are 10 cornerbacks who average over $12 million a year; there are six receivers who average that. Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson, Joe Haden, Desmond Trufant, Stephon Gilmore, and Richard Sherman are currently on contracts worth at least $40 million guaranteed. Darrelle Revis is basically Warren Buffett.

Hmmm… I wonder if anyone’s shown Mecole Hardman this yet.

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9 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

9 responses to “The spread’s been berry, berry good to…

  1. Macallanlover

    I think Hardman’s preference for CB coming into UGA was driven by exactly this. While you cannot blame him for wanting to max out his earning potential, you have to play your best cards, and he just seems to be a natural fit for offense. Seemed to be trying to force the CB fit, hope he doesn’t get caught into that “tweener” position we have seen before where an athlete ends up as an unemployed hybrid who wasted these development years. It looks like we will soon have adequate depth and will not have to switch a player due to some emergency need, like we did with Malcom Mitchell for a few games.

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  2. Marc

    Mecole in spring 2016
    Georgia has an experienced secondary, but Hardman sees a career path as a cornerback.

    “That’s where all the money is,” he said. “You see cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson, Josh Norman, Darrelle Revis sign these big contracts just because they can cover and I think that’s what I can do. I can cover just like them. I think I’ve got a good chance to become a good corner.”

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    • I thought there was a quote like that, but I was too lazy to research. Thanks for catching it.

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      • AthensHomerDawg

        ATHENS – Mecole Hardman began lobbying to play receiver at Georgia before he arrived on campus. It came in the form of a tweet to Kirby Smart in May of 2016:

        “I heard you might need some fire power at WR?” Hardman wrote. “Just call my name and I’ll give you more than you need.”

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  3. kdawg

    Interesting, the Aliotti rotation system could also explain why we took so many CBs in last year’s recruiting class. Really an unbalanced amount based on current #s and historic CB allotment of the roster. Many were screaming for Kirby to take the DL who committed to Ole Miss(can’t remember his name) instead of the extra CB, but this could be the reason why Kirby did so

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  4. Shane#1

    Dare I dream that Hardman could be another Boykin? A shut down corner that can be an explosive weapon on offense using plays designed for his skill set. Yeah, I am going with that thought.

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