Summary: Entering the 2012 season, Amerson was a consensus top-10 prospect. The junior was viewed as the best corner in the nation over the likes of Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, Washington’s Desmond Trufant and LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu before his dismissal. The lofty projection was because Amerson had an amazing sophomore season that had many saying he was the next Nnamdi Asomugha.
Amerson set college football on fire in 2011 as he totaled 13 interceptions to lead the nation. That set both school and ACC records since it was the second-highest total in FBS history. He also had 59 tackles and five passes broken up. That season came out of nowhere after his true freshman season when he started nine games and had zero interceptions, 57 tackles and a forced fumble.
As great as Amerson’s sophomore season was, his junior year was almost equally bad as he was routinely torched for long touchdown passes. Starting in the first game against Tennessee, Amerson was targeted and tested downfield. He was beaten for a 41-yard touchdown and a 72-yard touchdown by Tennessee’s dangerous passing attack.
After that teams routinely took advantage of Amerson trying to make interceptions by burning him with double moves. He was so quick to try and jump the route that the receivers would turn vertical and get a lot of separation.
There were some good moments as well as Amerson totaled 61 tackles, five interceptions and 12 passes broken up in 2012. He had an ugly game against Miami.
Amerson probably should’ve returned to school following a disappointing junior season, but he entered the 2013 NFL Draft instead. He had a good 40 time (4.44) at the Combine to help his stock. It was needed as there were speed concerns around him.
Amerson would be better off in the NFL going to a zone team. He is great at jumping routes and could have more success with that in a zone scheme, plus have safety help behind him in case he gets caught on a double move. Amerson could be a great fit in a Tampa 2 system.
Amerson is a pure ballhawk with amazing ball skills. When the ball is in the air, he is extremely aggressive. Amerson attacks the pass at the highest point and has superb hands to make receptions. He looks like a natural wide receiver with his hands and body control. Amerson’s innate ball skills are extremely rare. He also is very dangerous on interception returns.
Amerson does not look like he has the quick feet, fluid hips and change of direction skills to pull off man coverage in the NFL. His team could mix in some man, and he could survive, but playing him in a scheme that forces him to play on an island would be very risky. If Amerson is playing man, he would be better off in bump-and-run where he could use his size and strength to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage to reroute them and disrupt the timing of the play.
The NFL is a passing-driven league and cornerbacks with Amerson’s size and ball skills are a tough commodity to find. It wouldn’t be surprising if Amerson rises leading up the draft as teams begin to feel that his flaws are correctable. He has some unique talents. If Amerson goes to a quality defense that uses him correctly with a good secondary coach, he could be a steal.
Player Comparison: Sean Smith. There are some similarities between Amerson and Smith. They both have a mix of length, ball skills and coverage ability. They also are prone to taking some risks that caused them to get burned. Smith (6-3, 218) is a solid No. 2 cornerback, and Amerson could turn into that in the NFL. The Dolphins drafted Smith out of Utah in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Miami, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Carolina, Tennessee, Atlanta, Oakland, Washington
There are lot of teams on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft that could consider Amerson. The Dolphins need cornerback help after seeing Sean Smith leave in free agency. Miami is planning on playing more zone, so Amerson could be a good fit. The Dolphins also have a lot of picks on the second day so Amerson could be a target for them.
Tennessee signed a lot of free agents, but cornerback was a need position the team didn’t address. Amerson could be in the mix for the Titans on the second day.
Tampa Bay had one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history last year and is in dire need of some talent at corner. Amerson is not a great scheme fit in Greg Schiano’s defense, but the Bucs taking Amerson in the second or third round wouldn’t surprise anyone.
The Panthers lost Chris Gamble this offseason, who was the best player in their weak secondary. They will probably seek some cornerback help in the 2013 NFL Draft. Amerson could factor in for Carolina in the second round.
Washington needs secondary help at cornerback and safety. General manager Bruce Allen and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris like corners who are ballhawks.
The Falcons need cornerback help after losing Dunta Robinson and possibly Ben Grimes. A corner like Amerson could be in play for Atlanta’s second-rounder. The Bears need some young corners to develop behind their aging veterans. Amerson could be in play for Chicago’s second-round pick.
Oakland needs secondary help at corner, and Amerson could be a nice boom pick for the Raiders in the third round.
2013 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie’s | Walt’s
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