Saturday, April 26, 2008

A look at the Chargers' top draft pick

Here's a look at the Chargers' top draft pick, cornerback Antoine Cason out of Arizona, courtesy of

A shutdown cornerback in the mold of former Arizona standout Chris McAlister (Baltimore), Cason ranks with the elite defensive prospects eligible for the 2008 NFL Draft. With his added responsibility handling punt returns as a senior, he is the first Arizona player to earn All-Pac-10 Conference accolades on defense and special teams in the same season.

Cason comes from a family rich in sports tradition. His father, Wendell, was a defensive back at the University of Oregon (1981-84) and went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons (1985-87). Antoine's brother, Dione, ran track at Washington State. His cousin, Ken-yon Rambo, was a receiver at Ohio State (1997-2000) before playing for the Dallas Cowboys (2001-02) and New York Jets (2003). Another cousin, Aveion Cason, was an All-American tailback at Illinois State (1997-2000) and presently plays for the Detroit Lions (2001-02, 2006-present) after seeing stints with St. Louis (2001, 04-05) and Dallas (2003) in his career.

At Los Alamitos High School, Antoine Cason earned second-team All-CIF Southern Section and first-team Division I All-CIF honors as a senior. He was a member of the Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100, Prep Star All-American and Super Prep All-Farwest squad. He earned from a three-star rating and was ranked 38th among the nation's defensive backs.
As a senior, Cason recorded 41 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He added first-team All-League as a junior, as he registered six interceptions. The Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year and first-team All-League pick as a senior, he added Orange County Register first-team All-County honors that year. He also competed as a running back and lettered in track.

Upon enrolling at the University of Arizona in 2004, Cason was thrust into the starting lineup at left cornerback, where he would go on to start all 46 games during his collegiate career. He earned All-Pac-10 Conference honorable mention and was selected to the Football Writers Association and The Sporting News Freshman All-American teams. He also garnered TSN Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.

He finished 2004 with 70 tackles (54 solo), 5 1/2 stops for losses, four interceptions, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in interceptions, fifth in forced fumbles and ninth in passes defended. He began his career in explosive fashion, as he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after posting 13 tackles (12 solo), including one for a loss, forced two fumbles, broke up one pass and returned an interception four yards vs. Northern Arizona.

In 2005, Cason ranked fifth on the squad with 50 tackles (38 solo), including 2 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He deflected five passes and intercepted three others while playing strong-side cornerback. He was also named to the All-Pac-10 Conference second-team. After the season, he joined the Wildcats' 2006 outdoor track team, performing in the sprints and relays.

As a junior, Cason received first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference honors, becoming just the fifth cornerback in UA history to do so. The semifinalist for the Thorpe Award was also a two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Washington State and California). He ranked third on the team with 62 tackles (48 solo), including two stops for losses. He caused and recovered a fumble, batted away seven passes and had three interceptions. He again competed on the 2007 Wildcats outdoor track team after the football season.

Cason earned All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and in 2007. He added All-Pac-10 Conference first-team honors as a defensive back and return specialist. He ranked fifth in the league with 27 punt returns for 271 yards (10.0-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns. He tied with teammate Nate Hess for second in the Pac-10 with five interceptions, returning two pass thefts for scores. He deflected 14 passes and was third on the squad with a career-high 71 tackles (56 solo), including one sack and four stops behind the line of scrimmage. He was a finalist for the Thorpe Award and semifinalist for the Bednarik Award.

Cason started all 46 games during his Arizona career. He ranks fourth in school history with 15 interceptions, shattering the old Wildcats record with 349 yards in returns and a career average of 23.26 yards per interception return. He deflected 32 passes, caused five fumbles and recovered another. He also registered 253 tackles (196 solo) with a six-yard sack and 14 stops for losses of 43 yards. In his only season as a punt returner, he totaled 271 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 27 attempts (10.04-yard avg).


sam said...

This was just what the Chargers needed. Hoepfully they can get an offensive tackle & running back today.

kareem said...

It sounds like the Chargers got them a playmaker in Cason, which is what they needed. He sure has a great background of coming from atheletes in the family. Here's hoping he will be a real contributor with the Chargers immediately.