|Anthony Standifer (#3, with ball)|
The 6'1", 178 lb. cornerback is a somewhat under-the-radar recruit to the services, which baffles me a bit because I was smitten with Standifer when I first learned about him a couple months ago. He's a 3-star to both 24/7 Sports and Scout, the latter of which ranks him as the #26 cornerback in the land. Rivals and ESPN are still waking from their long winter hibernations.
Speaking of recruiting rankings, in a rare bout of the dreaded I-agree-with-Tom-Lemmings, I have to admit that I . . . agree with Tom Lemming, who ranks Standifer as the 98th best player in the country. The kid had 44 tackles, 9 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble as a junior. When the ball is in the air, he goes up and gets it at its highest point. He also has very smooth hips for a kid who's 6'1". (Check out the clip at 2:05 of the highlights below, which showcases both of those skills.) I also really like the way Standifer deals with blockers; they're nuisances to him and he finds crafty ways to get around people who are in his way. At 2:37 and 3:54 below, watch how he ducks inside the blocker and gives the blocker his back to hit. In those instances, the blocker either allows him to make the tackle or the ref throws a flag for blocking in the back. These things are done in the manner of a natural athlete, not someone who ponders what to do for a split second before making the play. Another plus is that Standifer doesn't suffer from Cullen Christian Paralylyzing Fear of Making a Tackle. Standifer doesn't really light anyone up, but he's not afraid to stick his nose into the fray, either.
There are some concerns about Standifer. He doesn't have great straight-line speed, he's a bit skinny, he doesn't look to have much experience in press man coverage, and his backpedal needs some work. That first drawback should be somewhat mitigated by the fact that Standifer is likely headed for the boundary (or solid) corner position, which is predicated more on physicality than pure speed. Those last three things are correctable, and while they might be cause for concern in the short term, a couple seasons of weighlifting and solid coaching ought to fix them.
Standifer offers Michigan some versatility in that he could play some free safety, so Michigan isn't locked into playing him at corner if his speed is too much of a concern. When I first saw his film, though, the player that popped into my mind was Chris McAlister, of Baltimore Ravens fame. I'm not quite sure that it's an apt comparison, but there we are. I also see a little bit of Donovan Warren in Standifer, and that might be more accurate. Warren was a cornerback/safety tweener by the time he left college, but he was a solid college cornerback despite being timed somewhere between a 4.59 and a 4.68 prior to the NFL Draft. I have doubts that Standifer can be a truly elite corner because of his lack of high-end speed, but I think he has sufficient speed to be an impact corner in the Big Ten.
Standifer is the 14th commitment in Michigan's 2012 class. There are roughly four more spots to fill, but more slots will probably open up before February.
TTB Rating: 83 (Prospect Rating System)