Darqueze Dennard - DB Michigan State, 5’11”, 199 LBS, 30.25″ Arm Length
Drafted Round 1, Pick 24 , Cincinnati Bengals
Combine Results: 4.51 Forty | 15 Reps Bench Press
- Tied a Spartans bowl-game record with two interceptions in an Outback Bowl victory over Georgia, including a 38-yard touchdown return.
- Was the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s best defensive back in ’13, starting 14 times at boundary corner and recording 62-10-4 with 3.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
- Became the first Spartans cornerback to earn unanimous first-team All-America honors and also was selected as the Big Ten’s Defensive Back of the Year. Team captain.
- Did not do drills at the NFL Scouting Combine because of a left hamstring injury.
NFL Impact: Dennard brings plenty of physical skills to the NFL along with an exorbitant amount of quality personality traits. The Michigan State product is well built physically and has a good amount of strength for his size and position. Extremely competitive, he brings a love to the game that very few show. While not the fastest defensive back in the 2014 NFL Draft, Dennard has an elite skill-set which includes great field vision and anticipation of the ball to go along with an above-average reaction to the play at hand. Quick with above average instincts. He also is a great, natural leader who leads not only by example, but holds himself to the highest discipline and expectations. He must learn to stay healthy though as injuries had affected his collegiate career.
Fantasy Impact: Rookie defensive backs usually do not make much of an impact for their NFL teams as there is a major learning curve compared to other positions. Dennard will have to work on his coverage to help support his teams rush defense and needs to get better at separating himself from blocks. In due time the athletic defensive back should take the leap towards being one of the stars in the NFL at his position, but that usually takes a good three years. What works in his favor is that he didn’t rely on his speed when beating his college counterparts, but rather with his instinct, work ethic and very good physical tools. While many highly rated defensive backs don’t pan out, Dennard is as close to a sure thing as you will get in 2014. While he will help make what ever team who drafts him defense more formidable in the secondary, don’t expect him to rack up a ton of interceptions or tackles. But even in IDP leagues, you really aren’t relying on rookie defensive backs to anchor your squad. If you are, then you are in trouble.