2014 NFL Draft Prospects: CB Kyle Fuller may not be elite athlete, but a strong technical zone cornerback

Ned Dishman

Virginia Tech cornerback may not have Justin Gilbert's athleticism, or Darqueze Dennard's smoothness, but he has the best combination of those traits between the three of them, and may be an attractive second round option. If he falls that far.

If you're looking to win an easy bet, put some cash on the Steelers selecting a cornerback in this draft.

Which round? Good question.

The top two cornerbacks, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, could end up being available when the Steelers choose at 15, but they might have a better set-up either trading down in the first round, or hoping Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller is on the board when they select at No. 46 overall.

Dennard is probably the best all-around cornerback of the trio and Gilbert is the best athlete. Fuller, though, may be the best zone cornerback, making him a better fit for the Steelers.

Fuller plays with great balance. Watch how he maintains his leverage, pushing the receiver toward the sideline, not giving him the inside angle. He sees the route coming and executes a fundamentally sound wrong-turn. He stay on top of the receiver, keeping stride with appeared to be a deeper post route. It looks like a shallow throw, and Fuller sees it the whole way. Since he maintained balance and speed, he's on top of the receiver and able to swat the ball away.

That balance helps him play with excellent technique. That technique makes him as annoying as a gnat to opposing receivers and quarterbacks.

Whatever conflict the Crimson Tide are trying to force Fuller into on this play, it fals. The ran an underneath route over to Fuller's side, but he's watching the passer as well as maintaining coverage on the receiver. He sees by the receiver's reaction the ball is on the way. Watch how quickly he turns his hips around and turns himself into the receiver.

Those hips seems to be smooth enough when defending inside, but he struggled a bit when taken out wide. Alabama seemed to figure it out eventually, and a better throw probably results in a completed pass.

Credit should be given for his effort in rallying to still make a play on the ball, and with deep help, he can afford to be in a trail technique, but he clearly is caught leaning, and in doing that, he showed some stiffness in turning and running.

All corners get beat at some point. Alabama set him up well, after having gone inside on him multiple times. But how many cornerbacks show this level of instinct and desire to make a play against a running back? Remind you of a certain Steelers player? Fuller was clearly aiming for this from the start of Va. Tech's game against Georgia Tech. He hit on it fairly quickly into it. He has a nose for the football and is a willing hitter in the run game. Gilbert didn't really show that, and Dennard didn't show the same level of playmaking ability Fuller did. He may be the best traits of both players and one who might be available in the second round.

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