As Victor Hampton departs for the NFL, Gamecock fans are left wondering what will be missed more: Hampton's pure football talent or the confidence and attitude that he brought to the secondary. For the last two seasons, Vic has been the vocal leader and the face of the South Carolina secondary.
Physically, Victor Hampton is easily one of the most talented cornerbacks in this year's crop of defensive backs. Despite his obvious talents, NFL teams might be a little wary of just how high they select Hampton in the upcoming draft. A troubled past prior to his arrival to Columbia along with his recent involvement in a nightclub altercation in New York (from which Hampton was cleared of wrongdoing) could make him less attractive to prospective employers.
In our fourth installment of Gamecock Doppelgangers, we take a closer look at the pro potential of Victor Hampton and how he matches up to current pros with similar size and skill-sets who are currently having success in the NFL.
Hampton's Skill Profile
Victor Hampton measures at 5'10, 210 pounds and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. Despite being a smaller corner, Hampton is a fundamentally sound prospect. In three seasons, Hampton amassed a total of five interceptions. Those numbers aren't indicative of what he can bring to an NFL backfield. His ability to tackle (105 career stops) and make plays against the run help his chances of developing into a complete and balanced NFL defensive back. Hampton has a knack for being able to jump routes and make plays on timing routes. He could be coached up at the next level on playing the ball a bit more strategically and forcing more turnovers.
As Hampton enters the beginning of his professional career, expect him to be used in nickel packages, defending the slot receiver. He must learn to play "bigger" before he can be trusted as a No. 2 or eventual/potential No. 1 cornerback. In certain packages, you could see Hampton used in a No. 2 role while defending smaller receivers like DeSean Jackson or Antonio Brown. Match-ups will most likely dictate where Hampton is used on the field.
In addition to his duties on the defensive side of the ball, Hampton acquitted himself admirably as a return man. On 10 career kick returns, Hampton averaged nearly 25 yard a return. If Hampton finds himself buried on an NFL depth chart, he might be able to earn more playing time with consistent special teams play.
Hampton's Draft Stock
The dark cloud that lingers around Victor Hampton is the issue of maturity. Can Hampton consistently exercise good judgement to warrant an NFL team drafting him and paying him a large sum of money? At a time where Hampton had to keep his nose clean so close to the draft, he's found himself in questionable situations twice. With what we've seen in players like Aaron Hernandez and their checkered past as prospects, we might expect to see an uprise in NFL general managers cooling on the idea of drafting these questionable players.
Prior to Hampton's recent run-ins with the law, NFL draft experts were pegging him as high an early second-round pick and as low as a third-round selection. Hampton now figures to have fallen into fourth- or fifth-round territory, or potentially lower. It's also very likely that during the pre-draft visitation process, Hampton has had the chance to meet privately with higher-ranked executives to explain his past. After these meetings, teams are given the chance to know the prospects on a more personal level and might be willing to accept the past decisions and trust that the maturation process will come as his career progresses.
Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins
Grimes stands in at 5'10, 190 pounds and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. As an undersized cornerback, Grimes' has solidified his reputation as a premier NFL cornerback with scrappy play. In seven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins, Grimes has recorded 17 interceptions along with 274 tackles -- an average of 40 stops a season. Grimes has earned his way into the starting lineup with smart, disciplined play. He's exercised the ability to consistently tackle along with smart ball play through the air.
With similar size and speed, Brent Grimes is a great example of how you don't have to be a bigger cornerback like Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner and still have success. If Victor Hampton plays to the physical potential he has, there's no reason that he can't find himself in a similar situation down the road in his career.
Alfonzo Dennard, New England Patriots
Dennard measures at 5'10, 200 pounds and runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, cutting a very similar frame to that of Victor Hampton. Like Hampton, Dennard entered the 2012 NFL Draft with character issues. As you may recall, Dennard was also the gent who provoked Alshon Jeffery into the skirmish that ended the legendary receiver's Gamecock career 30 minutes early.
After slipping in the draft to the New England Patriots in the seventh round, Dennard played through his adversities and found himself starting for the Patriots and has amassed four interceptions and 68 total tackles during his first tow years in the league. With a solid training camp, Hampton can find himself of the good graces of his future defensive coordinator.
Dennard is also a great example of a draft day slide that's worked in his favor. He enters the midway point of his four-year rookie contract and has played his way into more money on the open market in 2016 or could command a contract extension from the Patriots.
Adam "Pacman" Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Pacman stands in at 5'10, 180 pounds and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and is one of the most recognizable names in the NFL. Even though he has a mile-long rap sheet, he's managed to play at such a high level that his off-the-field decisions haven't overshadowed his talent.
Coming out West Virginia University, Jones showed off dynamic play-making ability in the return game along with top-notch defensive play. In eight seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys ,and Cincinnati Bengals, Jones has recorded 8 career interceptions, to go with 235 tackles, average of 30 stops per season.
Jones has also managed to have a pretty decent career on special teams. Jones has returned 128 punts with an average of 10 yards per return, 5 in which have gone for scores. With similar size and return potential, Adam Jones might be a great reflection of how we can see Vic Hampton used at the next level.
Forgive the lack of a highlight reel. After eight professional seasons, nobody has created a highlight pump-up reel on YouTube.
For more on Vic Hampton, take a closer at what Gamecock Man has to say and how NFL scouts are projecting his upcoming draft status.
The NFL Draft is just four days away and be sure to keep up with us on Twitter and right here! We'll keep you up to date on where all your favorite Gamecocks land in the draft, beginning Thursday night at 8 p.m. EDT.