The Eagles added cornerback Nolan Carroll to the lineup in free agency. While Carroll has proven to be a suitable depth and possible starting option, the Eagles would be well-served to add youth to the position to make the position a strength. While the Eagles may avoid taking a cornerback in the first round, if the best player available is Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Philadelphia may consider adding him to their roster.
A product of Dry Branch, Ga., Dennard chose Michigan State after being top cornerback and returner in high school. As a true freshman, Dennard played in six games (two starts) before missing the rest of the season due to a knee injury. In his time on the field, Dennard had eight tackles (two for loss), one sack and a forced fumble. He was an honorable mention for the All-Big-Ten as a sophomore after collecting 42 tackles (one for loss), three pass breakups and three interceptions in 11 games.
Dennard was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior. He started in all 13 games and compiled 52 tackles (3.5 for a loss), seven pass breakups and three interceptions. As a senior, Dennard received the Jim Thorpe Award for being the nation's best defensive back. He was also a unanimous first-team All-American. He collected 62 tackles (3.5 for loss), 10 pass breakups, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was invited to the Senior Bowl but passed on the opportunity.
Weight: 199 lbs
Arm Length: 30 1/4"
40: 4.51 seconds
Bench: 15 reps
Dennard is extremely physical. He uses his hands very well to knock receivers off of their routes and thrives in press coverage. He is violent as a tackler and embraces contact. He is a natural tackler and uses good technique. He can stay even in coverage and will go up and knock the ball out of the air. He has a bit of play-making ability and had 10 interceptions in his college career. He is a very hard hitter. He has solid size as well.
He can be way too physical at times and will likely receive several more flags in coverage in the NFL than he did have as a college player. Dennard is good at holding and getting away with it, but nonetheless, he holds a ton. He is strictly a press corner and should stick to man coverage. Dennard had sports hernia surgery prior to the 2013 season.
Dennard is a physical cornerback with size that fits Billy Davis' mold. However, the Eagles rarely play press-man coverage and rely heavily on zone, something Dennard would likely struggle with. The Eagles may think they can teach him to play zone and that he could thrive in it, but that does not seem to be much of a fit on paper. Dennard is a sure-fire first round pick, so the Eagles would have to really be convinced he could fit to take him.