Countdown to Kickoff: 21 Days...
Rod Sweeting (graduated/NFL Draft)
Depth Chart Speculation
|Position||First String||Second String||Third String|
|CB1||Louis Young (Sr)||D.J. White (So)||Zach Allen (R-Fr)|
|CB2||Jemea Thomas (R-Sr)||
Domonique Noble (R-So)
Lynn Griffin (R-Fr)
|Denis Onuwala (R-So)|
This unit is the reason that I say that our defense returns "8 starters conservatively", because losing Rod Sweeting wasn't exactly a crushing blow based on his performance last year before halftime of the Florida State game. I thought that he had actually not started a couple or three games in there, but upon further review he was indeed a starter in all 14 games. To be totally fair to Sweeting, he put on a show in the Sun Bowl (he was the game's MVP) and in the NFL Combine, and it sounds like he's making a name for himself in camp with the Saints, but I can't sit here and say he was an All-American candidate last year at Georgia Tech.
Now that we have that out of the way, we have two really good cornerbacks starting with us. I know we all have our own opinions on each (cough), but Jemea Thomas is currently the 5th-ranked FS in the 2014 NFL Draft rankings, while Louis Young is a top-40 cornerback with a lot of potential to shoot up that list if he has a better season than last. Young struggled last year with a broken arm, playing at times with a well-wrapped cast on his arm, but also acknowledged in yesterday's edition of "The Process" that he wasn't physically or mentally prepared for the season as well as he should have been. Here's to hoping he pulls a T.J. Barnes and comes to play in a big way for his senior season.
Behind Young and Thomas are some more solid players who just need some more game experience. D.J. White got some playing time last year and figures to be a great third corner. He should be in position to start next year as we replace Young and Thomas. He's a smaller guy at 5'11" and 185 pounds, which fits the ideal mold for a CB as he's naturally very agile while still a fundamentally sound tackler. From there, we have slightly bigger guys Domonique Noble and Lynn Griffin. Noble contributed last year between back-up duty in the secondary and regular duty on special teams. He played quite a bit as a part of the "safety by committee" that included Jamal Golden and Chris Milton. Noble in particular is very rangy guy who has a lot of potential as he continues to grow into this secondary. Griffin was a high school safety who moved over to CB this fall to add some extra depth. Georgia Tech signed three secondary players this year -- Paul Davis, John Marvin, and Corey Griffin -- but Davis moved to OLB while the other two are pure safeties. Griffin is about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, which is big for a cornerback. If he can effectively pick up the position, he'll help bridge the gap to this coming signing class, where we have 3-4 cornerbacks coming in.
The last couple of guys in line are Denis Onawalu and Zach Allen, a couple of walk-on guys who, as with every walk-on guy, will be given an opportunity to prove themselves. However, given the talent of the 5 guys in front of them, it'll be a long mountain to climb in order to see significant time.
This unit is probably about as deep as it needs to be -- there are 5 solid guys that can be counted on in both zone and man coverage. There isn't an excess amount of talented guys here, but there's enough unless disaster strikes. We know what we're going to get from Young and Thomas at the very least, but especially on Young's end there's plenty of improvements to be made and to expect. Combined with the safeties, our secondary may be the most talented unit top-to-bottom on the entire team...but we'll talk more about that tomorrow.
How are you feeling about the cornerbacks this year? Were you impressed by them last year, or disappointed? Do you see a better year ahead for Louis Young?