Friday, March 23, 2012

Prater could be enticing option after Round 2

With nearly every San Diego Chargers fan talking about how badly the team needs help at outside linebacker, strong safety, right tackle, and left guard, one position that seems to have been overlooked during the mock draft season is cornerback. As of right now there are four cornerbacks listed on San Diego's roster--Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, and 2011 draft picks Marcus Gilchrist (second round) and Shareece Wright (third round). Jammer will be 33 in June, and it's unclear whether or not Cason has a long-term future with the Chargers. And since no one knows how Gilchrist and Wright will pan out in the NFL, one has to believe cornerback is a spot the Chaargers must add depth to.

Despite there being more pressing concerns at other positions, cornerback may very well be addressed at some point in April's draft. San Diego general manager A.J. Smith will likely take a cornerback somewhere between the third and seventh rounds. One prospect expected to be selected within that area, probably in Round 4, is Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater.

At 5-10, 190 pounds Prater was a three-year starter for the Hawkeyes. In 2011 he had 51 tackles, a sack, four forced fumbles, and an interception. Playing left corner as his primary position, he is considered a defensive back capable of playing any type of coverage, and it was noticeable to some that opposing offenses weren't comfortable throwing in his direction. That could explain why he had just one interception last season, although he did finish his college career with seven picks.

"One thing I noticed in looking at 2011 tape was that opponents don’t throw his way very often," National Football Post's Greg Gabriel wrote in a scouting report on Prater. "In three games viewed I think I saw only 5 or 6 passes thrown in his direction."

Prater ran for scouts during Iowa's Pro Day this week. He didn't disappoint.

At the Iowa pro day cornerback Shaun Prater, who did not run at the combine due to a minor right knee flare-up, posted 40 times as fast as 4.39 seconds today. He also timed 4.19 seconds in the short shuttle.

Given Prater's experience and success at the college level, along with the speed he showed this week, it may be a good idea for A.J. Smith to seriously consider the Iowa cornerback after Round 2.

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