When it comes to this year’s cornerback class, most everyone is familiar with the top names. Denzel Ward, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, and others are firmly entrenched as first round prospects.
However, the cornerback class is deeper than some believe. It isn’t at the level of last year’s group, but it has late round talent that is worth a look. One of those guys is Parry Nickerson from Tulane.
What’s unfortunate about smaller school prospects is that there isn’t a lot of tape out there for the public. I could only find one game on Nickerson, and that game just happened to be against Memphis. For those following closely, Memphis has a talented wide receiver this year in Anthony Miller. In this game, Nickerson did cover Miller pretty frequently. Here are my notes from this game.
What He Does Well
Nickerson impressed me a lot in his game against Memphis. The first thing that jumps out to me with corners is whether or not they are willing to get dirty and come up to tackle. If I were a GM, I would want corners who are willing to come up and tackle well. The good news is I saw that with Nickerson. He is an able and willing tackler.
What else did I see from Nickerson? His speed was on display early and often, and you see that in a couple plays from that game. On one, Nickerson undercut a wide receiver screen and ended up running the receiver down. On another occasion, Nickerson had the speed to recover after getting beat to the inside and make a nice play on the ball. Speed isn’t everything, but it certainly helps to be able to recover like that and hang with speedier receivers down the field.
The other thing that stood out about Nickerson is his ability to go to work when the ball is in the air. He plays extremely aggressive with the ball in the air, and walked away with multiple pass breakups in the game (two of which were against Miller). He also plays with great timing, and doesn’t get his hands in too early, which of course leads to penalties.
Where He Needs To Improve
No prospect is without fault in this draft. Everyone has things to improve upon. This section isn’t about ripping prospects apart, and it won’t be that. What this will be is pointing out some things where guys can improve.
One thing about Nickerson is his thinner frame. When he takes on blocks on the outside, he often gets overpowered by receivers. This isn’t a huge deal, but corners who help in run support can be very effective players on any defense.
Nickerson is also a bit raw when it comes to flipping his hips, changing direction, and recognizing routes. Nickerson got away with it a bit in his game against Memphis due to his recovery speed, but in the NFL the margin of error is much slimmer. He is a quick player, but sometimes he assumes a deeper route and flips around too soon. A big example in the game is Nickerson flipping his hips and getting beat on a comeback route. More development from coaching can help, but it is something he needs to work on. Mirroring wideouts is important for a corner. Recognizing how wide receivers operate will only help him in the long run.
With how raw Nickerson is at this point, it’s likely we will see his name come off the board on day three. However, Nickerson has a leg up because of his speed, which you cannot teach. This speed, combined with his willingness to tackle, could land him on special teams early, and he could work his way to the gunner position sooner than later. As far as a corner goes, he does have work to do technically.