I will admit that I am enamored with size in the defensive backfield. I have either been looking at Captain (bless his heart) whiffing on a ball by inches that was destined for completion, or Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner shutting down receivers with such consistency that it's like it was mere child's play as compared to our young corners.
Enter Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Keith McGill (a.k.a. Optimus Prime). Both are raw, and perhaps nothing to get too excited about right now because it's early, but both seem to be moving in the right direction. With some coaching, they really may be a good fit in our system (think cover 2/zone). They certainly made some good impressions at the Senior Bowl, so keep them on the radar.
Per CBS Sports:
Arms: 32 3/8
Hands: 8 1/2
STRENGTHS: Boasts excellent height and length for the position. Gets a strong initial jam to re-route receivers when playing press-man coverage. Often asked to play off-man principles, as well, showing the patience to allow receivers to get near him before beginning his turning motion. By doing so, Jean-Baptiste is able to sneak a peek toward the quarterback and break quickly on short and intermediate routes.Uses his long arms and strong hands to bat away passes as they arrive, demonstrating good hand-eye coordination and leaping ability. Uses his long arms very effectively to rip free from blockers. Surprisingly fluid hips for a cornerback of his size. Capable of changing directions well to maintain close proximity to the receiver. Good ball skills, including the ability to extend and pluck outside of his frame.WEAKNESSES: Not nearly as physical as his size would indicate, especially when tackling. Frequently relies on ducking his head and swiping at the legs of ballcarriers. Could be viewed by some as a potential safety convert but hasn't played this position before and will need to develop more physicality and reliability as an open-field tackler.While fluid in changing directions, is susceptible to double-moves because he doesn't possess ideal initial burst and possesses just fair straight-line speed, overall.COMPARES TO: Brandon Browner, Seattle Seahawks - Like Browner, Jean-Baptiste combines size, ball skills and surprising fluidity to intrigue as a super-sized cornerback. Browner only re-emerged as an NFL player in recent years, however, after languishing in the CFL in part due to a lack of straight-line speed inconsistent effectiveness as an open-field tackler. Should the light turn on for Jean-Baptiste, he could stick in the NFL. Without greater reliability as a tackler, however, his time in the league could be short.
Hands: 10 1/4
STRENGTHS: Tall, well-proportioned athlete with intriguing fluidity and straight-line speed. Frequently asked to play press in Utah's scheme and displays the balance, agility and acceleration to perform well in this role at the next level.
Alert defender who plays the ball well, using his height, leaping ability and long arms to bat away passes. Baits quarterbacks into throwing underneath routes and shows an explosive downhill burst to close. Generally effective open-field tackler with the long arms to wrap securely.
Signed with Utah as a JUCO All-American free safety at Cerritos College and logged five starts in this role for the Utes in 2011. Has the length, instincts and athleticism to project nicely in the NFL. Served as the gunner on kick coverage and handled outside duties on punt returns.
WEAKNESSES: Often lines up with his hips open, helping him turn more efficiently to run downfield with receivers. Often sneaks in a strong pop on the receivers deep downfield, which could earn him holding penalties in the NFL. While physically imposing, McGill shows only average toughness, too often hand-fighting with smaller receivers' blocks downfield rather than aggressively defeating them and attacking the ballcarrier.
A bit hesitant when forced to break down and make tackles in the open field and can resort to lunging attempts at arm tackles rather than driving through the ballcarrier. Only fair hands for the interception and will occasionally drop easy picks (Arizona State).
Missed as many games as he played while at Utah, losing the final eight games of the 2011 season due to a shoulder injury and rehabbing the entire 2012 campaign following surgery to correct the issue.
COMPARES TO: Trumaine Johnson, Rams -- Like the young Rams standout, McGill has the length and athleticism scouts adore at cornerback. Whereas Johnson had to answer character questions before getting drafted, NFL teams may need reassurance of McGill's durability before drafting him as high as his talents warrant.
Like I alluded to, I am perhaps not as objective when it comes to who I would prefer the Panthers to draft when/if it comes to corner. I haven't done nearly as much research on corners as I have receivers, but just the thought of these two towers in the backfield makes me smile about as much as thinking about Kevin Benjamin and Brandon Coleman to the left and right of Cam.