In order to familiarize fans with some of the top names in the 2014 NFL Draft, Chargers.com will be highlighting a different prospect each weekday leading up to the first day of the draft on May 8th.
We continue the series with a scouting report of Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard.
Name: Darqueze Dennard
School: Michigan State
Weight: 199 pounds
As we head toward the 2014 NFL draft, cornerbacks continue to gain a great deal of accolades. While many players are jockeying to be among the first ones selected in a deep group, Darqueze Dennard's name is constantly at the top of the list.
The 2013 winner of the Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive back in the country, the Michigan State star was also the first player in school history to be a unanimous All-American selection following another standout season. Dennard totaled 62 tackles, 10 passes defensed, a career-high four interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss as a senior for the Spartans. He elevated his game in the Rose Bowl victory over fifth ranked Stanford, helping Michigan State limit the prolific Cardinal passing attack to just 143 yards, the second lowest total of the season. Dennard also came up huge in the Big Ten Championship game, compiling three tackles, two passes broken up and a forced fumble in the team’s upset win over second ranked Ohio State. Over four years, he recorded 167 tackles, 20 passes defensed, 10 picks, 10 tackles for loss and one sack.
At 5-11, 199 pounds, Dennard is built well for the position with an ideal frame, broad shoulders and a muscular physique. Physical in his coverage, he excels at blanketing the receiver, using his long reach to disrupt the opponent while his deceptive speed allows him to stay stride for stride with him. Equally important is that Dennard rarely panics. He plays with a calm, confident demeanor that he will shut down his opponent on each snap. The corner is also regarded as a strong leader by example with tremendous instincts.
Like a handful of other top prospects, Dennard’s biggest enemy thus far has been the injury bug. He suffered a season ending knee injury in 2010 forcing him to miss the final five games of the year, sat out three games in 2011 due to a concussion and played the majority of the 2012 season with a sports hernia that required a pair of surgeries. Dennard was completely healthy in 2013 and showed how dominant he can be when on the field. Should he continue to maintain his health in the pros, he figures to have a productive career at the next level.
40-yard Dash: 4.51
Bench Press: 15 reps
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed above do not represent the opinions or policies of the San Diego Chargers’ front office staff, coaches or executives.