At 6-0, 185 pounds, Chase Minnifield certainly has the body of an NFL cornerback, but is he worthy of a first round pick?
The previous two years has seen a pair of University of Virginia corners drafted at the top of the second round: Ras-I Dowling went 33rd in 2011, while Chris Cook went 34th in 2010. Is this the year a UVa corner is selected in the first 32 picks?
Chase Minnifield sat the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Auburn due to the knee injury. After Christmas, he underwent a knee arthroscopy surgery to address floating cartilage particles that nagged him for most of the 2011 season, the procedure reportedly went well and Chase was expected to be back to full strength in roughly two weeks.
However, he was not able to participate in this year's Senior Bowl, something that along with missing the bowl game, may cause him to be a forgotten man during the draft process.
Height: 6’0, 185 pounds | CB | Virginia
Agility/Hips: Not in the league of other elite level CBs, this may be his greatest weakness, and the reason he did not dominate on a more consistent level. Has returned kicks in college - with good production - but unlikely to be a return man at the NFL level.
Speed: Reportedly, Minnifield has run as low as 4.38, although an official 40 time at the NFL combine under 4.48 could be enough to satisfy NFL scouts that he has the speed to be a first round pick.
Ball Skills: Plays the ball well. Great hands. Shows great foot speed and burst. Very balanced and aware of his body. Able to adjust to the ball in flight. Able to make the diving interception and win jumpballs. As a junior, Minnifield was fourth nationally and second in the ACC with six interceptions. QBs tended to avoid throwing his direction as a senior, which explains his decreased interception total (3 interceptions).
Instincts/Recognition: Minnifield's instincts are top-notch. Anticipates the route well. Has a high football IQ.
Tackling/Run Support: An able and willing tackler. Not afraid to play in the box and attack the line of scrimmage. Technically sound tackler, who breaks down well in the open filed against elusive athletes.
Zone coverage: Shows the skills to excel in zone coverage, Is tall with long arms, which enables him to reach the ball at its highest point.
Man coverage: Shows he can be physical enough in man coverage, but Virginia plays more of a zone-coverage scheme, and NFLs teams that play more of a press-coverage are likely to look elsewhere.
Final Word: I believe Minnifield is a better pro-prospect than previous UVa corners. Minnifield has the size/speed measurables to justify a first round selection, the interceptions to demonstrate production, and the NFL bloodlines to intrigue NFL scouts.
*Chase Minnifield is the son of Frank Minnifield who played cornerback for the Browns during the late 80’s. He was named Pro-Bowl four times and was known for his hard hitting style and aggressive play.