Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2009 Round 7 #227 – Dallas Cowboys – CB Mike Mickens

With the 18th pick in the 7th round, the Dallas Cowboys select Cincinnati cornerback Mike Mickens, the second Bearcat they’ve taken in this draft. notes, “Mickens led the nation in interceptions last season and was a track superstar in high school. He has speed and very good quickness. This is exceptional value for a pick in the seventh round. Mickens has a chance to be the third corner for the Cowboys.”


For 46 consecutive games, Mickens was establishing his reputation as one of the premier pass coverage defenders in college football. It seemed certain that big things would happen, but covering a deep route in the 2008 Louisville contest, Mickens felt a pop in his left knee. Tests after the game revealed that he suffered a torn meniscus and cartilage damage. The injury would sideline him for the final three regular-season games. He would return for the postseason tilt vs. Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, but he was not 100 percent after undergoing arthroscopic surgery.

He would also have to pull out of the Senior Bowl, as he experienced swelling in the knee during practices in Mobile. He also was unable to work out at the Scouting Combine in February.

Mickens was a two-time All-Greater Western Ohio Conference cornerback at Wayne High School. He helped the Warriors to a 24-9 record and two league titles during his three seasons. He amassed 205 tackles and 10 interceptions, blocked four field goals and returned a kickoff for a touchdown during his career.

The talented athlete also excelled in track, becoming the state 300-meter hurdles champion as a junior. He was also part of the school’s 4×400 meter relay team, helping them to a second-place finish at the state finals during his sophomore year.

Upon Mickens’ arrival at Cincinnati, it was evident that he was going to be something special. He did not play in the Rutgers game, but went on to start 10 games at right cornerback for the Bearcats in 2005. The Freshman All-American second-team pick by Football News, he deflected 14 passes and intercepted another that year. He also finished sixth on the team with 51 tackles (38 solos), making 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

As a sophomore, Mickens shifted to left cornerback. Constantly challenged by opposing quarterbacks, he made them pay by pulling down three interceptions to go with 15 pass breakups. He again finished sixth on the team with 59 tackles (39 solos), but was more involved in run support than he was as a freshman, registering a sack, 2.5 stops for loss and a forced fumble. His 18 total passes defended ranked eighth in the nation, earning him All-Big East Conference second-team recognition.

Mickens was named All-American and All-Big East Conference first-team as a junior. He combined with fellow cornerback DeAngelo Smith to register 14 interceptions, the most by a cornerback duo in the major college ranks in 2007. Mickens’ six pass thefts rank second on the school single-season record list, as he brought two of those thefts back for scores, gaining 136 return yards. He delivered 53 tackles (33 solos) and deflected six passes while also recovering a fumble.

The 2008 Thorpe Award semifinalist and preseason All-American managed to earn All-Big East Conference second-team honors as a senior, despite missing three late season games. He gained 158 yards (fourth-best season total in the Big East) on four interceptions, scoring for the third time in his career on interceptions. He added ten pass deflections and two stops behind the line of scrimmage, as his career-high 70 tackles (46 solos) ranked second on the squad.

High School

Attended Wayne (Huber Heights, Oh.) High School, playing football for head coach Jay Minton…Two-time All-Greater Western Ohio Conference cornerback…Helped the Warriors to a 24-9 record and two league titles during his three seasons…Amassed 205 tackles and 10 interceptions, blocked four field goals and returned a kickoff for a touchdown during his career…Also excelled in track, becoming the state 300-meter hurdles champion as a junior…Part of the school’s 4×400 meter relay team, helping them to a second-place finish at the state finals during his sophomore year.


Positives: Legitimate cover corner. … Possesses the quick feet and smooth hip turn to change direction and blanket his assignment. … Often forces the quarterback to go to his second option. … Reads the action quickly and gets an excellent break on the ball. … Cognizant defender. … Experienced in man and zone coverage with the combination of athleticism and instincts to play in either scheme at the next level. … Has a second gear to close and uses his long arms well to deflect passes. … Physical enough to make a big hit after his man makes the catch. … Improved hands for the interception in 2007 and has 14 picks and 44 pass breakups over his career. … Natural with the ball in his hands, returning two of his six interceptions for touchdowns last season. … Quick to come up in run support, even when pressing in man coverage, and flashes physicality that belies his frame. … Coachable. … Very confident in his ability. … Plays with attitude, will not back down from any receiver. … Leads by example on the field.

Negatives: Feasts on hastily thrown passes in zone coverage behind a dominant pass rush. … Must improve his ability to beat running back blocks when on the blitz. … A bit tall and stiff in his backpedal, which can make it hard for him to recover when the receiver runs a quick out. … While physical, Mickens has a tendency to lead with his shoulder when making a big hit, instead of wrapping up securely. … Left knee injury that cost him three games in 2008 and sidelined him for the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine is a significant concern.

Injury Report

2008: Suffered left knee cartilage damage and a torn meniscus vs. Louisville (11/14), missing the team’s final three regular season games vs. Pittsburgh (11/22), Syracuse (11/29) and Hawaii (12/06).

2009: Pulled out of the Senior Bowl after his left knee experienced inflammation during practices, and was unable to work out at the Combine.

Scouts, Inc. gives him a decent grade.

Overall Football Traits
Production 2 2005: Mickens starts nine out of the 10 games he appears in accumulating 51 tackles and one interception. 2006-’07: Mickens starts all 26 games accumulating 112 tackles and nine interceptions. 2008: Mickens starts 11 games accumulating 70 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, four interceptions and 10 passes broken up. He earned first team All-Big East honors in 2007 and 2008.
Height-Weight-Speed 3 Decent top-end speed and good height but below-average bulk.
Durability 4 2008: Misses final two regular season games after having arthroscopic surgery on left knee to repair torn cartilage. Returned in time for team’s Orange Bowl appearance but did not work out at the Combine.
Character 3 There have been no off-the-field or academic issues to our knowledge.
Defensive Corner specific Traits
Recognition Skills/Toughness 2 Finds and gets to the ball very quickly. Shows above-average awareness in zone coverage. Plays with an edge and great confidence but can do a better job of controlling emotions on the field. (See 2008 Oklahoma game)
Closing Burst 3 Displays good short-area burst and can get a tremendous jump on the ball when reads the routes correctly but doesn’t stay low in backpedal and can be a quarter-count late transitioning out of it as a result. Lacks ideal recovery speed.
Fluidity 2 Fluid hips and can change directions quickly. Smooth turning and running with receivers. Can latch on to the receiver’s hip when tracking the ball downfield and forces receivers to go though him to make a play on the ball.
Ball Skills 1 Playmaker. Aggressive going after the football.  Big hands and isn’t going to drop many passes gets hands on.  Does a good job of getting head turned around in time to locate the ball when asked to turn and run with receivers. A threat to take it the distance after every interception.
Run Support 3 Willing to step up in run support but can get engulfed by bigger receivers and needs to do a better job of shedding blocks. Does an adequate job of wrapping up and getting ball carriers to the ground but slides off the occasional tackle and not a big hitter.

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