Trufant's franchise designation
keeps the first-time Pro Bowler in a Seahawks uniform through this upcoming
season, but all reports intimate that Trufant's people and the team's representatives
are fairly far apart on a long-term deal. Ruskell took cornerbacks first in
2006 (Kelly Jennings, at 5'11" and 178 pounds) and 2007 (Josh Wilson, at
5'10" and 188), and team needs would have most believing that another position
will get the first round pick this time. However, the depth isn't what the team
wants it to be -- especially if Trufant signs elsewhere after this season --
and there may be another d-back in the later rounds.
cornerback Tracy Porter, left, breaks up a pass intended for Oklahoma State wide receiver Adarius Bowman, right, in the first quarter of the
Insight Bowl college football game Monday, Dec. 31, 2007, in Tempe, Ariz.
(AP Photo/Paul Connors)
From a size and speed standpoint,
there are few 2008 prospects that would better fit the type for newer Seattle
cornerbacks than Indiana's Tracy Porter. The 5'11", 188-pound Porter was
known for his ball-hawking skills -- he picked off 16 passes in his collegiate
career, second in team history, and six in his senior season. "I've always
wanted the ball in my hands so I did whatever I could to get the ball in my
hands," Porter said at the 2008 Scouting Combine. "Playing defense,
you don't get many balls your way, but when the ball comes, you have to seize
the opportunity and I think I did a great job of that."
However, it was his performance
at the 2008 Scouting Combine that really started turning heads on a national
level. Porter put up a 4.37-40 yard dash on the RCA Dome track, and proved his
agility by tying with Oklahoma's Marcus Walker for the best 20-yard shuttle
(10-yard area) time among defensive backs. He finished behind only Dominique
Rogers-Cromartie in the 60-yard shuttle (20-yard area), proving that his deep
speed matches his short-area quickness.
Indiana's Pro Day on March
5 allowed Porter another chance to impress, which Is exactly what he did, running
in the 4.3-4.4 range and displaying good hands in drills.
His vertical hops come from
a longtime love of basketball -- more well-known for his hoops game at Port
Allen High School in Louisiana, Porter played football in his junior and senior
seasons only, Still, he was good enough to gain All-District honors in his senior
year. "The coaches tried to get me out for football since my freshman year.
I turned them down and said I wasn't a football guy. One day over the summer,
my friends and coaches were asking me over and over to come out. I decided to
go out for seven-on-seven over the summer and performed well, so I said I might
give it a shot."
One of two Indiana players
to start as a true freshman in 2004, Porter played in seven games and grabbed
three interceptions before a broken clavicle ended his season. He found his
feet further in 2005 and 2006, and enjoyed a breakout year in 2007. Six interceptions,
83 tackles and a first-team All-Conference selection later, Porter proved that
he was a well-rounded player with a commitment to better tackling. His run-stopping
ability is one reason that he's seen as a second-round-to-later pick, but work
is being done.
"My cover skills and
my speed," he said, when asked about his best attributes as a player. "I
have the ability to stay with the receiver, running deep routes and short routes,
and I have the skills to cover them as well. Hands on receivers is by far my
Porter ended his college
career in the Insight Bowl, as the Hoosiers grew into a winner through his time
at Indiana. "My freshman year, there wasn't a real winning attitude at
the school," he recalled. "My sophomore year is when Coach (Terry)
Hoeppner and his staff came in and turned the program around. We won more games
each year we were there. My freshman year we won three, then four, then five.
This year we won seven and went Bowling. I definitely think we improved as a
team, and I got better as an individual."
Then, it was on to the Senior
Bowl, where Porter impressed in practices and in the game. His speed, agility
and quickness in backpedaling and turning to cover were all noted by analysts.
Now, with the draft quickly
approaching, the next question for Tracy Porter is, where is the best fit for
him? Could he shine as a nickel reserve in the Seattle secondary and perhaps
in special teams as well? He was, after all, a dangerous punt returner -- averaging
13.6 yards per return over the 2006 and 2007 seasons -- and his ability to play
tight coverage at times is a trait noticeably missing from Seattle's secondary
over the last few years.
Porter said at the Combine
that Indiana played a lot of quarters coverage -- a scheme that splits the coverage
zones into fourths and afford cornerbacks less safety help than the traditional
Cover-2 defense -- and that this has allowed him to refine his solo coverage
abilities. It's a scheme that favors quick-reacting defensive backs.
According to former NFL
scout and current Scout.com Senior Analyst Tom Marino, tackling is still an
issue with Porter, though his other skills are solid. "He is fast, has
good feet, quick supple hips and can run with people down the field," Marino
said of Porter. "The big problem I saw is that he flat out won't hit anybody.
He is a poor tackler. He has very good skills but I also didn't think he competed
for the ball in flight. Punt return ability is a plus. I see him as a late first-day
guy with a chance to develop into a starter in time. A lot of coaches say cover
skills are what matter, but somebody has to tackle out there. If not, you better
have the skills of Deion Sanders!"
He may not be at that level
-- may not ever be -- but Tracy Porter will find a place in someone's secondary,
and he does fit the profile of cornerbacks Tim Ruskell has put on his draft
boards. Does it all add up? We can but wait and see…
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET,
a staff writer for Football
Outsiders, and he writes NFL previews for the New
York Sun. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.