Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #20 – Tampa Bay Buccanneers- CB Aqib Talib

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Bucs are on the clock.

Most of the linemen are gone but almost all the skill position players are still on the board. Do they take a quarterback here or trust one of the dozen they have now?

The pick is in: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

Scouts, Inc.: 23rd

Strengths: Possesses outstanding combination of height, bulks and natural athleticism. Has long arms and very good leaping ability. He displays fine all-around ball skills (at CB, WR and RS). Is naturally instinctive. Spends most of his time in man-coverage  both in tight press and off with a 7-to-10 yard cushion. Is not afraid of a physical challenge and possesses the size to match-up one-on-one versus bigger receivers on an island. Does an excellent job of disengaging from blocks. Productive versus the run and is a decent tackler. Versatile athlete with the potential to play multiple roles for the NFL team that drafts him. While it’s rare to see a two-way player at the next level, he has flashed the big-play ability to potentially contribute as a return specialist and occasionally on offense. Very durable athlete.

Weaknesses: Gambles too much in coverage. Generally plays fast but does not possess elite recovery speed. Thinks he can recover better than he actually does, which leads to too many big plays allowed (See: vs. Nebraska WR Maurice Purify in 2007). Footwork needs lots of polishing. For example; Kansas CB’s use an open-hip stance with inside foot dropped when working in off-coverage. He comes out of that stance high and struggles to break on the ball in front of him quickly enough. Makes a lot of plays in run-support but doesn’t love to mix it up. Lacks power as a hitter and more of a drag-down tackler.

Overall: After redshirting his first year in Lawrence, Talib played 11 games (nine starts) and turned in 54 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass break-ups in 2005. He started all 10 games in 2006, leading the nation in pass break-ups per game (2.8) and the Big 12 in interceptions (six). As a junior, Talib developed into an all-around force and capped his season with MVP honors at the Orange Bowl. He finished 2006 with five interceptions (two for touchdowns), 13 pass break-ups and 66 tackles on defense. He added eight receptions for 182 yards and four TDs on offense (after scoring on a 42-yard reception as a sophomore). Talib also returned two punts for 21 yards. Talib is undisciplined in coverage at times and his footwork needs some polishing. As a result, he’s not as consistent as teams’ would like from a first-round cornerback. However, his combination of size, athletic ability, instincts and ball skills is very good. In addition to his talent as a cover corner, he has shown the ability to contribute in the return game and as a wide receiver on offense. Talib should be one of the first-five cornerbacks selected in the 2008 class.

Rick Gosselin: 22nd

Mel Kiper: 14th

Talib is a great talent with some “character” problems, notably marijuana use. Ricky Williams notwithstanding, that’s not a reason to pass on a great corner.

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