Mailbag: NFL Draft Cornerback Prospect Alterraun Verner, NBA Draft Prospect Jordan Crawford, & More

April 2, 2010

Our readers always provide us with good comments and questions. Here is our latest sample from this week's reader mailbag:

1. Mike,

I got to hand it to you, you nailed the East Regional bracket in your prediction. I thought Kentucky would go all the way, but their sorry outside shooting did them in, just like you said. I wanted to ask you which of the four remaining teams do you have winning it all and why?

Antonio Lopez
Orlando, FL.

A: Thanks for the kind words Antonio, but if you saw my Midwest bracket, you might withdraw some of that praise! Of the four remaining teams, I think West Virginia should take it all, based on their stifling defense and the play of stars Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler.

Butler is the Moutaineers' go-to option in the clutch, and more often than not, he delivers. Ebanks is an outstanding defender at multiple positions, whose length can make things difficult for the Singlers, Haywards, and other stars left in this Tournament.

Still, at this point, anyone can win it.

Tom Izzo will have Michigan State pounding the glass and defending, but at some point the Kalin Lucas injury should catch up to them.

Duke for the first time in years has some bigs who can bang down low while Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and company do their thing on the perimeter.

However, West Virginia already has faced a tougher interior tandem in Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson, and thus, the Mountaineers will not be as overwhelmed on the boards as they were in the regional final.

Of the remaining teams, Butler is the X-Factor, as they will be playing only 6 miles from campus, and are capable of matching teams bucket-for-bucket with versatile forward Gordon Hayward and scorer Shelvin Mack.

Look for a Butler-West Virginia final, with the Mountaineers winning the championship.

2. Mike,

The 2010 NCAA Tournament seems to have had more upsets than in recent years. It appears that parity is hitting modern college hoops, and that the mid-major schools have improved their individual talent with dudes like Omar Samhan. Which player in this year's Tournament do you think has helped his NBA draft stock the most?

Josh G.
Tacoma, Washington

A: Jordan Crawford. Prior to the Dance, Crawford was known unfairly as just the guy who posterized LeBron. This season at Xavier he proved to be much more, averaging 20 points per contest. Under the brighter lights of the Tournament, Crawford then raised his game one more notch, putting together three outstanding efforts in Xavier's Sweet 16 run.

Although only 6'4", Crawford's excellent length and leaping ability allow him to play much bigger, and thus, he projects as a capable 2 at the next level. His capacity to finish at the rim already is well known, but in the Dance he also proved that he can take and make treys come crunch time. Furthermore, Crawford demonstrated a decent ability to create his own shot when needed.

At a minimum, Crawford's play put himself into the early-to-middle part of the second round, or possibly higher, given his athleticism and upside.

3. Yo,

I'm a Chargers fan still in mourning from the loss to the Jets. Now that the team is getting rid of Antonio Cromartie, LT, and Jamal Williams, there will be a lot of pressure on the front office to draft the right guys. I am guessing they use a day one pick on a running back who I assume will get playing time. Are there any late round or undrafted free agent cornerbacks you think are capable of making the roster and doing something besides just playing on special teams?

Romero V.
Chula Vista, CA

A: One potential late round steal at corner is UCLA's Alterraun Verner. Although Verner did not clock a blazing 40, he is an intense competitor and a true playmaker with a nose for the football.

Throughout his collegiate career, Verner has shown excellent ballhawking instincts, with several "pick six's" on his resume. Verner has a real future as a zone corner because he is adept at reading the quarterback and decisively breaking on the ball. Similar to Asante Samuel, Verner is not afraid to leave his man or area in order to gamble and make a play.

In addition, Verner has proven solid in run support. A sure tackler who will breakdown and wrap an opposing ball carrier, Verner is not afraid to get physical when necessary.

The main question with Verner is whether he has that second-gear speed to defend on deep routes. However, such questions, even if valid, should not scare teams into thinking he is a liability in man coverage.

In other words, Verner has the physical tools, hips, and enough closing speed to be a solid man defender in short and intermediate routes, especially if he is guarding an opponent's third receiver.

Verner would be a good value if selected anywhere in the fourth round or later.

4. Mike,

I think a lot of people are underestimating Roy Jones in his fight with B-Hop. I know Jones' is slower and his reactions are not as good as back in the day, but I think he will still be the quicker guy in the ring on Saturday night. With the way Hopkins starts slow in the early rounds, and has a low punch rate, I think Jones will steal many rounds and earn a decision victory. Y'all must of forgot!

Marcus J.
Grand Rapids, MI

A: I agree Hopkins is a slow starter, but Jones is not much of a high punch volume guy himself. Moreover, if Hopkins shows the same level of activity as in his fight with Kelly Pavlik, then The Executioner could be the busier guy in the ring.

Hopkins does not have one-punch KO power, so even with Roy's glass jaw, this fight could go the distance. Still, with all the pride and bad blood between these two, there should at least be a few exciting, competitive rounds.

Look for Hopkins to win by unanimous decision.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for


  1. Verner was the best corner in the Pac 10 last year. He is underrated.

  2. Dear Mike-

    What does the Herald predict for the Lakers' fortunes this season?

    Roxanne J., Fountain Valley


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