This is it -- the final piece of the final position preview before training camp. If you missed Part 1 of the cornerback preview, then here it is. Part 2 is much shorter, with only three players remaining. While none of these three players specifically have a great chance at making the final roster, chances are at least one of them will end up on the 53-man list, with one or two of the other players headed to the practice squad.
6. COYE FRANCIES - BACKUP ROOKIE CORNERBACK
Should we judge Francies' potential based on the round he was chosen in, or the round he could have been chosen in? While Francies was a sixth-round pick, being drafted after Don Carey no less, here is the scouting report that the Sporting News had on him prior to the draft:
Francies first grabbed our attention with his playmaking ability at Oregon State in ’06. But he was then dismissed from the Beavers and had to sit out the ’07 season after transferring. His blend of athleticism and speed is hard to find in tall cornerbacks, and he also shows good instincts, ball skills and the willingness to tackle in run support. He played safety at times in ’08, and that versatility further boosts his value. A strong Senior Bowl week makes squeaking into the first round a possibility, with a high second-round pick almost a certainty.
In fairness, the Sporting News gave him the highest rating. In terms of consistency, most of the other major draft sites projected him as a fourth-rounder, which makes him the type of player you can gave the "steal" label to.
Why did Francies' stock slip? It could be due to "character issues", since Francies was arrested and thrown off Oregon State's team in 2007 for having illegal weapons possession. The last Browns cornerback to see their stock fall due to off-the-field-issues was Eric Wright, although he was still taken in the second round. However, this really seemed to be Francies' only known character issue.
Mocking the Draft, our SB Nation affiliate, had this scouting report on Francies before the draft:
Strengths: Francies has the perfect height for the position with long arms. He plays faster than he times and is a solid athlete. He has good agility and fluid hips, which allows him to effortlessly turn and run with receivers. Francies is a traditional press coverage cornerback who likes to jam at the line of scrimmage. A solid tackler for the position. Times his jumps well and gets his arms in receiver's faces. He can close on the ball really well and gets up to speed quickly. Willing to help in run support. Also returned kicks in college. Team captain as a senior.
Weaknesses: After going to junior college and being dismissed by Oregon State, Francies is lacking in experience. He only played two seasons of college football. Hands are questionable -- Francies only had eight career pass breakups and four interceptions. Slight frame, so he may not have the strength to jam as well at the next level. Should probably add at least 10 pounds of mass. Somewhat inexperienced in zone principles and it may take him some time to learn different schemes.
Final word: Francies was kicked off Oregon State following the 2006 season after being charged with possession of a loaded firearm. Charges were dismissed and Francies has had no other know character problems. At OSU he looked good in a slightly limited role. He went on to star at San Jose State across from Christopher Owen. Francies is intriguing because of his size and upside due to limited experience. He may not be a starter immediately and is best suited for man coverage.
If a youngster is going to be a gem in the secondary this year, bank on it being Francies. Our Denver Broncos affiliate also ran a piece on Francies before the draft, where his 40-time is mentioned in the notes section. He either runs a 4.35 or 4.63 in the 40-yard dash!
Final Roster Odds: 50%
Practice Squad Odds: 80%
7. GERARD LAWSON - BACKUP CORNERBACK
Despite playing in 15 games last season, Gerard Lawson only had two tackles on the season. If I recall correctly, I don't believe he ever saw the field as a defensive player during the regular season. Initially, it was believed that he was kept on the final roster due to the injury to Joshua Cribbs at the start of last season. Syndric Steptoe was Cribbs' replacement, but in case something happened to him, Lawson was the next returner in line.
When Cribbs came back, Lawson's role seemed to be nothing more than the third-string kick returner; something that's almost unheard of for a player who doesn't contribute elsewhere on the team.
Lawson will have a tough time beating out 9-year veterans for the third or fourth cornerback position, and if the team keeps a fifth cornerback, chances are they will take a chance with one of their draft picks. Lawson is a returning player, but his odds almost make him seem like an undrafted free agent. Last year in the preseason, I felt that Lawson had some trouble tackling but had a higher awareness level than the other players competing for the fifth cornerback role.
Player Quality: TBD
Final Roster Odds: 25%
8. DON CAREY - BACKUP ROOKIE CORNERBACK
Just in terms of "feel", I would say that Coye Francies is to Eric Wright as Don Carey is to Brandon McDonald. The problem for Carey is that unlike when McDonald was drafted, there aren't a lot of roster spots to be won. That leads me to believe that in the end, Gerard Lawson will be cut, either Hank Poteat or Corey Ivy will be cut, Coye Francies will make the final roster, and Don Carey will make the practice squad.
Here is what the Sporting News said about Carey prior to him being drafted:
Strengths: Has the size, strength and toughness to be a solid in coverage. Looks the part. Is a solid tackler, especially in the open field. Shows the quickness to stay in the hip of the receiver on quick-hit routes. Is strong in bump-and-run coverage, and mirrors receivers all over the field. Has the power to re-route the receiver off the ball and keep him from getting into his route. Shows good recovery ability. Is explosive. Reacts naturally to the ball in the air, and always seems to be around the ball. Is a smart player and a willing learner.
Weaknesses: Has not face a high level of competition. Shows raw technique and fundamentals. Must learn how to read and play in "off" coverage. Must shed blockers faster. Shows below-average hands, catch most passes with his body.
Bottom line: Carey is a good small school player who will get drafted and start by Year 2. He just needs some seasoning. He played a lot of man-to-man coverage in college and will have to learn the nuances of zone coverages. The step up in competition will be Carey's biggest adjustment.
If you missed it, a few months ago, the Scout.com ran a nice story on Carey.
Final Roster Odds: 25%
Practice Squad Odds: 80%
Cornerback Position Quality (from Part 2): Not applicable
That wraps up our training camp positional previews for 2009! A few players from the previews have been waived, so some time over the next few days, I'll post a roster list broken down by position. More features are set to come too to summarize everything, such as combining all of the training camp polls together and seeing who came out victorious.