Getting to Know Your Newest Cardinal: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

The Cardinals used their first round pick on, arguably, the most athletic and most prolific corner in the draft, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Unless you’re just a huge fan of D-II Champoinship Subdivision football, you probably had never heard of DRC until talk of the 2008 draft started. DRC started the draft process with more question marks than answers since few had seen him play, much less heard his name. He open eyes and silenced critics though with a great week of practice at the Senior Bowl and an even better game recording four tackles and one interception. We'll get much more information and coverage on DRC leading up to the season, but for now here’s what you need to know about your newest Arizona Cardinal.

He’s dominated his competition like no one has before: DRC played on an average to below average Championship Subdivision team that finished 5-6 his senior year, but that didn’t stop him from finishing one of the most prolific collegiate careers in recent memory. He started six games as a true freshman and never again left the starting lineup. At the end of his senior season his stats were mind-boggling. In 44 career games (39 starts), teams threw in his immediate area 161 times but completed just 55 of them (34.2% completion percentage). Those attempts led to just 620 yards (3.85 yards per attempt) and 3 touchdowns. That was the lowest yards per attempt of any defensive back in college football over the past three seasons. He also deflected 25 of those passes in addition to 11 interceptions, four of which were returned for scores. He also blocked eight kicks, recovered four fumbles and returned 36 kickoffs with an average return of 23.9 yards. He followed up his stellar collegiate career by going to Mobile and dominating the entire week of the Senior Bowl. He was rarely beaten and consistently showed the athleticism and dynamic play making ability that landed him in the conversation as the best cornerback in this year’s draft.

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He is most athletically gifted cornerback in the draft: Athletic ability doesn’t translate to a success on the field but at a position that requires elite athleticism, it certainly helps. In a league where offenses place such a huge emphasis on mismatches, they’ll be hard-pressed to find a mismatch for DRC. He has the size and ability to match up with any wide receiver in the league in time. He’ll have to add 10 pounds of bulk or so but that’s not uncommon for skill players coming out of college. At the combine, DRC proved he was the elite prospect by performing in the top 4 cornerbacks in the forty, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone, and 60 yard shuttle and he was the top performer in four of those drills. In case anyone is thinking that DRC just had a great day or had stellar training leading up to the combine, he was a standout for the TennesseeState track team in addition to his prowess on the football field. His senior season, he won the conference title in the 60 yard dash, long jump, high jump and finished second in the triple jump.

Rodgers-Cromartie may not set the NFL world on fire from the start of the 2008 season, but keep an eye on this kid. He does have his weaknesses as does any prospect. Some scouts have noted that he can get overconfident and reckless at times leading to penalties. Others note that he’s not a great tackler or overly willing to provide run support, but there is some hope that with added bulk that will improve. DRC will likely be given every chance to earn a starting job in training camp and should also contribute in the return game. His swagger and unique abilities will be an instant upgrade to a defensive secondary that needs both.

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