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Richard Marshall, Fresno State

We’ve talked about Marshall quite a bit on Patriots.com but after watching film on him, I came away even more impressed. I think Marshall is the most complete corner in this draft. He’s a tough, physical cornerback who actually led Fresno State in tackles last year with 78. On film, this guy made a ton of tackles. Whenever there was a running play, Marshall either made the tackle or was in the vicinity ready to make one.

The other thing I like about Marshall is he plays big receivers well. He has a knack for going up and knocking the ball away from taller receivers and that’s something you just can’t teach. Marshall made a lot of big plays for the Bulldogs – taking three interceptions back for touchdowns and also serving as a kick returner.

Don’t worry about the level of competition either. Fresno State may not play in a big conference but they traditionally have one of college football’s toughest schedules. Besides, Marshall’s best game last year came against USC’s Dwayne Jarrett – a future high first- round draft pick. I think Marshall is the second best cover corner behind Hill but his ability to play the run makes him the best overall cornerback in this draft. He’s definitely the kind of player Belichick likes and playing for Pat Hill at Fresno State certainly improves the odds of Marshall becoming a Patriot on draft day.

A lot of people laughed at us (and WretchedOne) when we came back from the Combine and said Marshall was a possibility for the Patriots at 21. While he may not go to New England with the 21st selection, Marshall has pretty much nailed down a spot in Round 1 of the draft.

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I like this:

Antonio Cromartie, Florida State – If Cromartie returned to Florida State, he probably would have been a top ten pick in next year's draft. He only had one start in college, missing all of the 2005 season after having surgery on his ACL, LCL and hamstring. Cromartie's injuries were serious but it appears that he's fully recovered and has his speed back. The former Seminole turned heads at his pro day by running a 4.38 40-yard dash and displaying a 42" vertical jump.

At 6-2, 210 pounds, he has the size teams look for in a cornerback. With those physical attributes, Cromartie could turn out to be a steal in this draft. On tape he showed that he's strong in coverage and he always has his head up looking back for the ball. Even though Cromartie didn't start a lot of games at Florida State, he made a ton of big plays for the Seminoles. He's the kind of player who is always around to scoop up a fumble or grab a deflected pass out of the air and return it for a touchdown.

Cromartie isn't quite as polished as some of the other corners in this draft due to his lack of playing time but if he can stay healthy, he has the athletic ability to be one of the best corners to come out of this class.

And this:

Donte Whitner, Ohio State – After Huff, I believe Whitner to be the best safety in this draft. He has similar skills to Huff in that they both excel in coverage and play physical close to the line of scrimmage. Whitner has blazing speed and he'll make an excellent centerfield-type free safety because he's able to cover so much ground.

The thing that impressed me the most about Whitner is that even though he's more of a coverage safety, he's an extremely physical tackler. He fights off blocks well, makes a ton of tackles behind the line of scrimmage and in my opinion is the best blitzing defensive back in this class. What teams are getting in Whitner is a complete football player. He's the kind of player that can line up anywhere and he'll be able to do whatever is asked of him.

The Dolphins could really use a defensive back with Whitner's versatility, so expect him to be on their radar with the 16th pick but if he lasts until 21, he would make a heck of a selection for the Patriots. Whitner would solidify the Patriots uncertain safety position for the next decade.


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