Who is the Alliance of American Football star the Houston Texans need on their roster?
I’ll admit it, as a football junkie I’ve been watching the Alliance of American Football excessively, and there is one player that has caught my eye that the Houston Texans need on their roster in 2019. That player is Birmingham Iron cornerback Jamar Summers — formerly with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft out of the University of Connecticut.
In 47 games played as both a cornerback and free safety, Summers tallied 182 total tackles, 12 interceptions (eight in his sophomore year), 21 pass deflections, a fumble, and a touchdown. However, the 23-year-old didn’t stick with the Steelers despite being a priority undrafted free agent, and found himself signing with the AAF playing for the Iron.
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Through just three games with the Iron, Summers has racked up some eye-popping stats to the tune of seven tackles, seven pass deflections, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Even more impressive, Summers has only allowed two receptions for a total of 17 yards and no touchdowns in the young season.
Pro Football Focus has seemed to notice as well, as Summers has earned an 85.9 grade to start the season.
Summers is about as physical as they come when in press man coverage. He knows how to use his 6-foot, 190-pound frame to his advantage by using his hands to create favorable leverage at or near the line of scrimmage. The play below is an example of such, where he disrupts the wide receiver’s slant route by being first to place his hands on the receiver, in turn, winning the initial leverage battle.
Some might call this a hold, but it is within five yards of the line of scrimmage, making it legal. Summers overpowers his wide receiver by being quicker with his hands and by reading his hips, which you will see is a testament to his awareness and instincts.
Summers is about as mean and aggressive as a cornerback can get, but he’s not a dumb one. I haven’t once seen him get fooled by a double move. More importantly, he has been outstanding in reading and reacting to receivers hip movements to create favorable leverage, which is vital while playing man coverage.
Summers also has been impressive when dropping into zone coverage. Although he isn’t an explosive cornerback in terms of burst, he tends to use his length and play strength to his advantage when breaking up passes.
Notice on the clip above that Summers looks to be playing in a deep third zone, which indicates that he’s in Cover 3. His goal is likely to protect the sticks, which he does. He doesn’t fly to the ball to get the pass deflection, but he times his jump well — a testament to his instincts, then uses his long arms to break up the pass.
Summers is versatile, as he played two positions while at Connecticut. Before the NFL Draft he was mainly looked at as a free safety due to size and athletic concerns, which may be a reason he was cut from the Steelers and signed by the AAF. Summers has improved on Lance Zeurlein’s concerns of him, as the draft expert noted in 2018:
"Free safety with cornerback experience, but may not have the reactive athleticism or burst to handle coverage duties from the slot. Summers will get bullied in the box due to his lack of size and thump and may be best suited competing for a backup role as a single high safety."
Like many young cornerbacks, his measurables and times have overshadowed his instincts, timing, and aggressiveness. That could all translate well to a defense that typically plays zone coverage, especially Tampa, a defensive scheme the Texans often find themselves in.
However, because of how physical Summers is at the line of scrimmage, he also might see interest in the NFL as a man coverage, bump and run type cornerback. At the end of the day though, Summers has shown that he deserves a shot in the NFL, especially considering that he’s only 23 years old.
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