Has good size coupled with good hips and footwork to match up in man coverage. Does a nice job turning and running with wideouts to defend the deep pass. Does a good job turning to locate the deep ball in the air and will play the ball in the air. Times his jumps well on jump ball situations. Will undercut the deep route when working off the receiver. Shows burst to drive on the underneath reception to prevent yards after the catch, showing he can keep things in front of him. Flashes awareness when working in zone, able to move in space and can key on the quarterback. Able to work in press coverage, showing ability to knock a receiver off his route. Works out of the slot. Does a nice job in run support, willing to come up and set the edge against the outside run. Can beat the block by the slot receiver and make the stop on the screen. Will wrap up and drag down the ballcarrier, and has good closing burst to make the stop in space. Flashes burst off the edge to impact as a blitzer. Can contribute on special teams as a returner.
Is an unpolished tackler that needs to get stronger. Tends to be a drag-down guy that doesn't consistently wrap up. Won't always get the jam when working in press coverage. Can draw flags downfield because he can get handsy and create too much contact with receivers when he gets beat. Doesn't always turn and locate the deep ball, especially on plays when the receiver gets by him.
Minnifield is a player I've seen progress over the years and become a better corner with each year. He looked like a solid ball-hawking zone corner as a junior, but didn't possess the ideal hips and burst to really be an impact man corner. But this past year, he showcased improved man skills, although he still has a ways to go. His father, Frank, was a Pro Bowl corner for the Cleveland Browns (1984-92). He's a nice slot corner that is capable enough as a man or zone corner, that at the very least he can add value as a nickel corner if not develop into a good starter on the outside. The issues for him are durability concerns, as he had surgery on his knee following this past season.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/22) vs. N.C. State: 1 target, 0 rec., 0 yds; 1 blocked FG
(10/27) at Miami: 1 TFL; 6 tgt., 3 rec., 17 yds, 5.7 avg, 12 YAC, 1 TDs, 1 PD
(11/26) vs. Virginia Tech: 2 penalties (pass interference); 1 tgt., 1 rec., 36 yds, 0 YAC, 0 TDs
2011: 12 GP/12 GS, 50 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 3 INTs, 8 PD, 0 FF, 0 FR; 1 blocked FG; 1 PR-12.0 avg, 0 TDs
2010: 12/12-48-3.0-0.5-6-4-0-0; 13-6.5-0
2009: 12/1-28-2.0-0.0-2-2-0-1; 20 PR-4.4 avg, 0 TDs; 22 KOR-23.3 avg, 0 TDs
2008: 12/2-25-0.0-0.0-2-4-0-1; 21 KOR-23.3-0
- missed bowl game in 2011 due to knee injury
- bothered by ankle injury late in 2010
I think Minnifield if his knee is fully recovered should be able to contribute early as a nickel corner. He won't be great in that role immediately, but he has room to grow. I like the fact that he looked like a much improved player from his junior year to his senior year, and I think that growth potential can continue on the next level. He can start out as a nickel corner for the first year or so of his career, and while he probably won't be great in that role immediately, I do think he can be solid or above average. And I think in time, he can polish his game up a bit more that he can be trusted to move outside and be a quality starter there. He's not an elite athlete by any means, and his success at the NFL level will depend on his work ethic and sound technique. But I think he has good size, good speed, ball skills, and has already shown solid growth and has NFL bloodlines. I think he has No. 1 corner potential, but probably not a guy that you can expect to produce year after year in that role. But I do think he can potentially be a solid No. 2. He's better in zone than he is in man, and would probably benefit from playing in a scheme that mixes up both. He's not going to be a guy you want to leave on an island against a Larry Fitzgerald-type of receiver, but I also don't think he's going to be a guy that will back down from that challenge. If he doesn't develop, then he'll still likely be a solid No. 3 and nickel guy that may never be reliable enough to trust as the No. 2 guy long-term. I would compare him to a poor man's Brandon Flowers. He definitely needs to add strength as he only had 7 bench reps at the Combine. But like smaller corners like Flowers, and Brent Grimes, I think he'll be better than what people think he should be on paper and he should have a long productive NFL career as a starter.
Minnifield's experience in the slot means that he can come in right away and compete for the job, and I think definitely has the potential to win it immediately. I think in a year or two the Falcons can shift him outside. While he's not the ideal big, physical corner that you want in Nolan's scheme, he's a much more physical corner than his smaller stature and strength numbers would indicate. And similar to a player like Grimes, the word "soft" is not going to be used to describe him. Unlike Grimes, Minnifield doesn't wow you with his athleticism, so he probably won't be the No. 1 guy. But as a potential second-fiddle that can play inside/outside for the Falcons for years to come, he can definitely add value. And because of that versatility, I think he winds up playing much longer than either Franks or Owens does in a Falcon uniform.
Minnifield's ability to contribute right away as a nickel guys makes him a nice pickup in the latter half of the second round. While he lacks the elite tools to really vie with corners taken in the Top 50, I'd put money on the fact that he'll have a longer NFL career than many of those drafted ahead of him.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Man Coverage: 6.5
Zone Coverage: 7.0
Ball Skills: 7.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.