2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Jason Verrett, CB TCU

Dec. 29, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Jason Verrett (2) looks on during the first half against the Michigan State Spartans during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In his time in Fort Worth, TCU head coach has been able to bring in some top level defensive player to his program and currently he seems to have a pair of them on his roster this year.  One of them, Devonte Fields, could be one of the best pass rushers in his class when he is eligible for the NFL Draft.  The other is one of the best cornerbacks in the country in Jason Verrett, who is going to be a senior.  His junior year was impressive with 46 solo tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions and 16 pass deflections with a blocked kick.

Verrett has great vision, tremendous instincts and is able to contribute in all areas of the game for the Horned Frog defense.  He is a terror in coverage, whether man or zone, with the ability to make plays on the football.  While he has been a productive run defender, his tackling could improve and he could use additional strength going forward.  Still, the only thing that could keep Verrett out of the first round might be his height if he is shorter than listed and he is talented enough where that might not do the job.

Vitals & Build

Verrett is listed at 5’10” 180lbs and while he just might play low to the ground, the height appears generous.  He possesses terrific feet, body control, and acceleration.  His strength is not great but he has some habits that make him look weaker in terms of functional strength than he probably is.  The best asset Verrett appears to have is his combination of vision and how fast he reacts off of what he sees.  Both appear uncanny and the combination makes for a truly special athlete that looks and plays faster on the field and makes him cover a tremendous amount of ground.  Verrett appears able to continue adding strength and if that strength brings him more confidence, that could be the key for him.  Beyond that, he is an impressive athlete that has some gifts that simply cannot be taught.

Tackling

Verrett’s tackling is not great in terms of technique.  He tends to throw his body at the opponent, leaves his feet and will put his head down against bigger ball carriers.  Verrett does a good job of wrapping up as a tackler but is often dragging opponents down rather than driving them because he does not have his feet under him.  He is able to chase down tackles from behind well with the speed to close.  When taking on bigger ball carriers from the front, he is undersized can be overwhelmed, especially when he throws his body at them and is just a big weight rather than a tackler.  He does a decent job of wrapping up an opponent’s legs to take them down, but keeping his feet and driving would help him do it more effectively.

Run Support

While he is not an ideal tackler, he does do a terrific job of diagnosing and reacting to the run call.  As a result, he is able to get in and make plays before blockers do at times and make the tackle before the play develops.  Verrett actually does a better job of taking on and shedding blocks than he does tackling.  He is perfectly comfortable to slip blocks without taking himself out of the play and that keeps opponents honest and enables him to use his hands and at least not give up any ground.  Verrett is also able to use his hands to negotiate blocks and get past them.  If he can continue to do this and get better at it as a senior, it could make a huge difference for his ability to be an effective run defender in the NFL.  If he could bring that type of patience and technique to his tackling, he could be a complete run defender despite his size.

Man Coverage

Verrett has great feet, quickness and the fluidity to be a tremendous asset in man coverage.  He is routinely in the hip pocket of opponents and can run with them step for step.  Occasionally, he will get beaten by double moves but he can lock on and shut down opponents with the ability to make plays on the football if teams insist on throwing at him anyway.  There are times when Verrett will run the route for his man.

Verrett is able to play low to the ground and has a good backpedal with the ability to shift and drive on the ball.  If he cannot get to the interception, he is often able to get in and deflect the pass.  Outside of the occasional double move, if Verrett is going to be beaten, it is going to be underneath and not down the field.  He can lull opponents into a false sense of security at times and then make a big play.

Zone Coverage

As good as Verrett is in man coverage, he might actually be better in zone.  His athleticism, especially when it comes to his ability to see the field and process information in a way that makes the game look like it is slower for him than anyone else on the field.  He has the awareness and appears to put in the film study where he can anticipate what the opponent is running and beat them to the spot.  This puts a huge emphasis on opponents to run extremely crisp routes and makes it so they can never take the ball coming to them for granted.  If they make a bad assumption and try to let the ball come to them, Verrett may cut underneath and take it the other direction.

When he is facing the line of scrimmage, he is able to keep track of opposing receivers and where the quarterback is looking to throw the ball.  He sees the field like a great quarterback does and seems to know where everything is going.  Combine that vision with an impressive ability to drive on the football and Verrett is someone who is able to get in position to make plays on the football and potentially cause turnovers.  He sees the field well enough where he drives on the football when thrown to receivers he is not covering, so he is that much of a bigger threat when it comes to zone coverage.  If he is not able to get to the play to make a play on the ball, he is at least able to minimize the damage from the run after the catch.

Ball Skills

Verrett has good ball skills and pretty natural hands, so that he is always a threat to make a play.  As was mentioned earlier, the game appears to be slower for him than most anyone else on the field and this is part of it.  He seems to have such good vision and part of it is his ability to concentrate and react to the football.  As a result, he is making the interceptions in crowded areas and has not been able to have a big return yet.  He had more total return yards on his one interception as a sophomore than he had in his six as a junior.

Because of his ability to make plays in off man and zone, even if teams try to avoid him, he has a knack for finding a way to make plays, so it will be interesting to see how many opportunities he has as a senior to cause turnovers.

System Fit

Verrett is a good fit in just about any scheme defensively except maybe press.  Though he can play man coverage, his best fit might be in a primarily zone scheme or a combo scheme that likes to mix up coverages.  Verrett is just so good facing the line of scrimmage and with the ability to break on the ball and make plays, whether they are thrown in his area or not.  He could end up playing on the strong side especially if he improves as a tackler this year, but Verrett can be excellent on either side.  It is difficult to say there is anything he cannot do and it comes down to what he does the best, but it could be an extremely competitive field to get his services in the draft.

Schedule

Sat, Aug. 31 vs. LSU
Sat, Sept. 7 vs. SE Louisiana
Thu, Sept. 12 at Texas Tech
Sat, Sept. 28 vs. SMU
Sat, Oct. 5 vs. Oklahoma
Sat, Oct. 12 vs. Kansas
Sat, Oct. 19 at Oklahoma State
Sat, Oct. 26 vs. Texas
Sat, Nov. 2 vs. West Virginia
Sat, Nov. 9 at Iowa State
Sat, Nov. 16 at Kansas State
Sat, Nov. 30 vs. Baylor

Notable Games

The opener against LSU is huge for both teams and Verrett has his work cut out for him.  Whether he is facing Odell Beckham Jr. or Jarvis Landry, he has his work cut out for him in coverage as they will test him with speed and power.  Oklahoma’s combination of speed in their receiving core combined with their ability to run the ball with Damien Williams could force Verrett to demonstrate his range and versatility.  Texas has a talented receiver in Mike Davis but the bigger test for Verrett could be the combination of Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown running the ball with a combination of size and speed.

NFL Comparison

Verrett’s game could be similar to that of Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman of the Chicago Bears, albeit a small version.  The Bears run a combination scheme that uses man as well as zone which could similarly make the most of Verrett’s ability.  Tillman is a player who can cause interceptions as well as deflect passes, but something he does well that Verrett could work to develop is his knack for causing fumbles.

Draft Projection

Verrett is largely NFL ready right now but further development when it comes to gaining strength and becoming a better tackler could help him take another step forward.  He is already a dynamic coverage threat as a corner in just about any scheme and could be a great player at the next level.  It is difficult to imagine he will escape the first round, but if he does, it could be due to poor testing much like with Johnthan Banks last year.  Verrett likely plays faster than he times and it would not be a surprise if he was 5’9” and change rather than 5’10”, but his play on the field based on last year warrants a first round pick.

Topics: 2014 Mock Draft, 2014 NFL Draft, Cornerbacks, Jason Verrett, TCU Horned Frogs Football

Want more from With the First Pick?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.