116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
No. 27 ...
Right now, junior cornerback Sean Draper (6-0, 190) is known for a rather unfortunate couple of series against Michigan State last fall. Iowa was down to three corners and needed to play some nickel against the Spartans. Draper went in for linebacker Anthony Hitchens and MSU quarterback Connor Cook went to work.
First, it was a 46-yard TD pass to WR Macgarrett Kings. Out of a cover 1 look, Kings ran a post and crossed paths with an MSU receiver. When they crossed, Draper lost a step. He didn't recognize the route and lost position. That left Cook a comfortable place to throw the ball, in the middle of the field with no traffic underneath. Draper didn't make the tackle after the catch, swiping at the ball instead of securing a tackle.
Also, he also missed a tackle on a third-and-6 at MSU's 29 earlier in the drive, allowing WR Bennie Fowler gain 12 yards a first down.
'We gave up some plays, we made some good plays, so we'll just try to play better,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said in the postgame. 'We'll look at the film, and like we do at every position. If we think somebody else can play a little bit better, we'll give those guys an opportunity, but nothing major at this point.”
A re-entry ...
It was a blip, but it was something. When senior B.J. Lowery quietly exited the second half of the Nebraska game - when Iowa was in run-out-the-clock mode and trying to bring in its best win of ‘13 - Draper was the first corner in the game. He went in before Maurice Fleming, which you'd expect with Fleming being just a redshirt frosh last fall. Still, it was a positive for Draper in a season in which he didn't play in four of the final six games.
Plenty of competition ...
Draper and Fleming are in competition for the starting corner spot opposite sophomore Desmond King. Second place in that competition isn't guaranteed playing time in nickel or dime packages (and, with the emergence of third-down pass-rush packages, who knows how much extra defensive backs see playing time). The rise of the 'Raider” pass-rush package changed that flow last season.
And then there is the rise of Greg Mabin (6-2, 195-pound sophomore). He's feels as though he's the third man in the corner race, but he also opened eyes in the spring.
'I know Draper is working very hard and so is Maurice Fleming,” Parker said this spring. 'But there's another guy, Greg Mabin, who's made a lot of plays this spring and you guys probably don't even have him on your list. He's a very tall, lengthy guy and he's made a lot of plays for us and he can run. He hasn't had very much playing time and he hasn't tackled very much, but he's made some progress there. It's going to be a challenge to figure out. Right now, I couldn't tell you who is going to be the No. 2 corner.”
Mabin didn't make the top 45 (leaned toward receivers, perhaps too much), so I guess this is his entry.
Outlook ... Just going by who did what during spring, you really can't tell who leads this race. Draper was the starter in the Kinnick Stadium spring game, but he split reps equally with Fleming. On the second team, Fleming started and Draper took equal reps. There is really nothing that shows Parker's hand here (remember, he's the secondary coach).
And this is why Draper is rated so highly. He could be a No. 1 cornerback for one of the Big Ten West Division favorites. That's a big job and thus adds up to No. 27.
Notice that, in talking about Mabin, Parker said 'he hasn't tackled very much.” Do you feel like that will be a deciding factor here? Perhaps.
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