Assessing Need: Cornerback

Cornerback

Starter: Marcus Trufant

Age: Turns 30 Christmas Day.

Health: Injured last year, but excellent for most of his career.

Contract: Four years remaining.

Performance: Very good before last season.

Starter:

Nickelback: Josh Wilson

Age: Turned 25 March 11.

Health: Mostly good.

Contract: Two years remaining.

Performance: Excellent (for a nickelback).

Depth: Kelly Jennings

Age: Turns 28 November 30.

Health: Perfect.

Contract: One year remaining.

Performance: Good cover, no ball skills.

Depth: DeAngelo Willingham

Age: Turned 23 January 15.

Depth: Roy Lewis

Age: Turns 25 May 19.

Etc.

Position need: Debatable. I have never been a fan of the hyper secondary replete with talent that some favor, and can not think of a time that has actually worked. Part of the problem is that I think corners have early peaks, and that by the time we know about them, they are beginning to decline. Part of the problem is that secondary play is hard to interpret, even for those with game film. For a season+, Jennings had convinced the NFL he was a precocious young cover corner, and he was in some ways, until quarterbacks started testing him.

I think this unit could add another low-level starter and play pretty well with its existing talent. It needs a healthy Marcus Trufant, because he provides competent cover of number one wide receivers. Wilson could start and play nickel, especially if his awareness continues to improve. I haven't given up on Jennings. I may be the only person, but I haven't.* Seattle started Trufant and Wilson when it could, and cycled in Jennings in nickel situations. He would slide outside and free Wilson to play his more natural position. Long term, Seattle probably needs talent, not only to fill out its secondary, but to eventually take over for Trufant, who has one or two peak years remaining (hopefully). Short term, I would invest in the pass rush and offense and hope more favorable game states and shorter clocks can make Seattle's talented unit emerge.

*Let me explain: Jennings is fast, healthy and a good athlete. This was his performance at the 2006 NFL Combine:

Combine: 4.45 in the 40-yard dash ... 2.6 20-yard dash ... 1.55 10-yard dash ... Bench presses 225 pounds 17 times ... 40-inch vertical jump ... 10'0" broad jump ... 4.0 20-yard shuttle ... 31-inch arm length ... 8 -inch hands.**

Boy does that hand size ever seem glaring now. Still, excellent measurables all around. Jennings is a good athlete. His problem is mass and ball skills. He doesn't play the ball well, and that further damages his ability to match against larger receivers that can box him out. However, he's still healthy, he is gaining invaluable experience, and his tool set should age well. When you look at Jennings, he doesn't look like he has lost agility or speed. He's lean, and might not fill out until his late twenties. For Jennings, that could be the sweet spot between remaining speed, size, and developing ball skills. If he wasn't so close to being a very good cover corner, I might have given up on him, but I think a late-career performance something like Shawn Springs-lite is still possible.

**Campus: Campus: 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... 285-pound bench press ... 385-pound squat ... 296-pound power clean ... 35-inch vertical jump ... 32 1/8-inch arm length ... 9-inch hands...

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