The NFL, and elite college teams, are increasingly targeting taller and taller cornerbacks. That trend should only increase, as the Seattle Seahawks just won the Super Bowl with jumbo cornerbacks. Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage cornerback Tarvarus McFadden fits the bill, but some have questions about his ability to stay at corner at 6'3 and 195 pounds.
McFadden is a composite five-star recruit on 247Sports as of early March. Individually, he is the No. 5 cornerback for ESPN, the No. 4 corner for Rivals, the No. 4 safety for 247Sports and the No. 2 safety on Scout.
Wherever he ends up playing, though, his talent will be in demand. Although National Signing Day is still a year off, McFadden already holds early offers from 28 different programs, including LSU, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee.
I think McFadden can stay at corner for one simple reason: He'll pick a school that desires big cornerbacks and fits its scheme to them. He might not be a cornerback in all systems, and that's OK. Some small corners can't play in systems designed for big corners.
There's a lot to like about McFadden. One of the most important things is to realize that he is not a finished product. Almost 6'3, he has room for another 15-20 pounds on his frame. And that's scary, considering that he is already a physical player.
I asked McFadden what his strengths are, and he said size and length. I agree. It's clear on tape that McFadden presents a physical challenge for opposing receivers and passing games. When he plays with good balance and leverage, he can use his long arms to extend and jam receivers quite well. I do want to see him bend more frequently when he presses so he can be in a better position to turn and run. He shows the ability to do so, but must work on the consistency. He will also become even better in press coverage when he puts on additional muscle.
McFadden has better bounce in his step than some would expect for a defensive back of his size. He shows good quickness and hips for a player of his size, but those, along with his top-end speed, are simply OK or good for the cornerback position. This is part of the trade-off a defense makes when it decides to go with large corners. But this is the key: He has good enough hips, acceleration, quickness and change of direction to be a 6'3, 210-pound cornerback, whereas many players his size simply do not and must play safety.
McFadden's length also shows up when contesting throws. A receiver can look open, and suddenly, his hand flashes in from off screen to break up the pass.
McFadden said that he needs to become better in off-man coverage and work on his ball skills. While I agree with his assessment, it's likely that the school he chooses will not use him all that much in off-man coverages, as it's not the best use of his skill set.
The ball skills are another story. McFadden's are simply not very good. His ability to track and find the football is just OK, but he really needs to do a better job hauling in interceptions.
For his size, he really should be a better tackler. Too often, McFadden just throws a shoulder and tries to take out a player's legs. He must bring his arms, and his feet cannot stop on contact.
With teams like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU all demanding length at corner, almost without exception, McFadden might even be underrated by some. I think he has the potential to be a multi-year starter at the BCS level and an NFL player. He compares to Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner (6'4, 220).