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NFL Draft Prospect to Keep an Eye On: CB Ras-I Dowling

Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling has been making headway as of late and is now back in the first round discussion. In what is a pretty good class of cornerbacks this year, Dowling ranks 9th according to CBSSports position rank system. He may be moving up that board with recent workouts going phenomenally. 

Dowling fits the profile we've seen emerging as a prototypical Pete Carroll corner - he's 6'2, 200 lbs and extremely fast. At his recent pro day, he was timed in the 40 at 4.33 and 4.36, very good times for a corner his size. His main problem has been injuries - he missed almost his entire season with different health issues -, and is why he is ranked so low among the corners this year. Now that he's apparently healthy, he's shooting back up draft boards.

According to's Gil Brandt, he's a late first rounder and should definitely be gone by the middle of the second round. We'll see, but Dowling is a guy that Hawks fans should have on their radar. Walter Thurmond was a player that saw his stock fall last year because of injury issues, and the front office took a chance with the Oregon CB. The Hawks have been known to take guys with injury concerns but high upside, so Dowling wouldn't be a huge surprise. 

Here's what CBSSports has said about Dowling:

Read & React: Experienced corner who has seen all the tricks. Rarely out of position, even against double-moves, due to his instincts and vision. Keeps an eye on the quarterback and breaks on the ball quickly. Height and long arms make it very difficult to beat him over the top.

Man Coverage: Has the long arms and good upper-body strength for an effective jam at the line of scrimmage. Is often able to disrupt route timing. Good balance and opens up his hips smoothly. Can lose a step in transition but has surprisingly good acceleration and at least fair straight-line speed. Rides the receiver downfield, keeping good contact throughout the route. Faster on the field than he'll be on the stopwatch.

Zone Coverage: Savvy zone coverage defender. High in his backpedal, but is surprisingly fluid. Keeps his eyes on the quarterback, but has a good sense of where his receiver is. Will bait the passer into making the throw. Reacts quickly because of his vision and acceleration.

Closing/Recovery: Lacks elite recovery speed, making him susceptible to double-moves by NFL route-runners. Shows good instincts, however, and his rare height and arm length make throwing over the top of him dangerous. Locates the football quickly and is an explosive leaper with good timing and good ball skills.

Run Support: Reads run quickly and fights through receiver blocks efficiently through lateral agility and good upper-body strength. Willing to take on bigger ballcarriers with no hesitation. Uses the sideline to help defend the run. Understands his role in keeping contain and pushes the action back inside when he can't make the play. Willing to take on blocks to free up teammates for the easy stop.

Tackling: Good balance and lateral agility to handle tackling smaller, quicker players in the open field. Breaks down well and makes strong, secure tackles. Likes to intimidate his opponent with big hits. Will hit-lift-drive the ballcarrier into the ground when he can, resulting in impressive stops. Good pursuit and takes good angles to the ball, masking a lack of elite straight-line speed.

Intangibles: Played a postgrad season for coach Robert Prunty at Hargrave Military Academy following his senior year at Deep Creek High School. Had appeared in 35 of a possible 37 games for the Cavaliers prior to his senior season. Only started twice in five games played in 2010 due to injuries. Fractured his left ankle Nov. 13 against Maryland. Well respected teammate. Hard worker. Team captain in 2010. Nominee for the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

He may be a guy to target in the 2nd round if he falls that far and the Hawks haven't already taken a CB in the first. If he falls even further like Thurmond did, I'd definitely take Dowling.