NFL Draft Rankings: Cornerbacks

NFL Draft Rankings: Cornerbacks

I’ve finally reached the position group Philadelphia Eagles fans really care about, the cornerbacks. It’s top heavy, bottom heavy and just deep throughout the draft. It also happens to be the position the Eagles haven’t gotten right since 2010 and their biggest need at the moment.

The Eagles have picked the perfect time to come into the draft needing a cornerback. First off, they don’t have to force a pick early because they can go into the season with Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson on the outside and be okay. There is also so much depth at corner in the draft that they can get a starter as early as their 14th overall pick and as late as one of their two fourth round picks.

Before I unveil my corner rankings, let’s first talk about what Jim Schwartz targets at corner to give us a better idea of who he will target. To play in this defense, corners need to be fast and they need to be comfortable in both zone and single high coverages.

Tackling is also key, but it’s not everything. You don’t want to draft a corner who tries to avoid tackling(Quincy Wilson) but being a big hitter at corner won’t help you if you aren’t solid in coverage. Speed, fluid hips and great ball skills are the key here. Also, it’s important to note that in the five years Schwartz was the head coach in Detroit, the earliest they ever drafted a corner was in the second round. Corner was always a need, yet in five years he spent 3 first round picks on the defensive line, none on the secondary.

Cornerback Rankings

1) Marshon Lattimore/Ohio State- He was only a one year starter in college because of hamstring issues earlier in his career, which has scared a lot of people off from ranking him higher. Not me. He was healthy throughout 2016 and during all his workouts. He’s long, physical and has elite recovery speed. He’s a tough corner to separate against and even when he does give up a step to his man, he makes it up so quickly that quarterbacks are weary of testing him deep.

2) Teez Tabor/Florida- This kid is a perfect reason to hate the combine. If he had held out from running in Indy and at his pro day he would be a consensus first round pick. But because he ran a slow 40 at both events, on possibly a bad hamstring. I don’t care, his tape shows a ton of speed and he’s the smartest corner in this class. He was a leader of a loaded secondary and was very good at reading and baiting quarterbacks.

3) Adoree Jackson/USC- He gets labeled as just a soft, speed corner…until you watch him on tape and he proves you wrong. He’s a physical, smart and very, very fast corner. He’s going to develop into a corner quarterbacks stay away from because he is a good route jumper and when he jumps that route, it’s basically like giving 7 points to your opponent.

4) Cordrea Tankersley/Clemson- There are stretches on tape where Tankersley is the top corner in this draft and there are other stretches where he just seems bored on the field. He’s every top of corner you could ever need in a defense whether it be press, off, zone, man, physical ball skills or anything else. He’s just so inconsistent that you don’t know if you are getting a top 10 player or a future bust.

5) Kevin King/Washington- 6’3 corners aren’t supposed to run as well as King did at the combine(4.43 40, 6.56 3-cone). He has range, he changes direction with ease and he’s a good athlete. If he cleans up his technique he should develop into a Pro Bowl corner very quickly.

6) Tre’Davious White/LSU- Great ball skills and fear no one. Followed LaQuon Treadwell for four quarters against Ole Miss in 2015 and rebounded nicely after giving up a couple of early catches. Not a elite athlete, but good quickness and he finds the ball very quickly. His ball skills will allow him to develop into a very good starter in this league.

7) Gareon Conley/Ohio State- Very patient corner, always reacts to his man’s first move, rarely puts himself in a bad position right off the snap. Pretty good movement skills, good feet, but not great recovery speed. Not a strong corner either, struggles in run support(but not because of effort) and will lose a lot of 50/50 balls against stronger receivers.

8) Ahkello Witherspoon/Colorado- Another 6’3(6’2 3/4) corner who moves really well for his size. Got overshadowed a bit in college playing opposite of Chidobe Awuzie, but trust me this kid is the better outside corner prospect. He’s not nearly as quick as King, but he’s a terrific athlete who can stay with any receiver. The biggest knock on him is his ball skills. At times he reacts slower than you would like and has trouble locating the football quickly. His length helps make up for that, but it’s still an issue that usually never goes away. Ball skills are something that corners either have right away or they don’t. It’s not a technique skill, it’s just something you naturally have or you don’t.

9) Fabian Moreau/UCLA- Reminded me a lot of Jalen Mills on tape. Good press corner, knows how to use the boundary to his advantage, but not a great recovery corner. Doesn’t have the make up speed to recover against the receiver if he doesn’t win with his jam at the line of scrimmage. He’s a solid tackler and a good zone corner who is very capable of jumping routes when he has help over the top. It’s when he doesn’t have as much help that I worry about him.

10) Rasul Douglas/West Virginia- Probably the best pure zone corner in this class. Great size at 6’2, 200, very instinctive, forced a ton of turnovers in college in both phases. Reminds me of  a Charles Tillman or Richard Sherman. Great size, great instincts, just not great speed. If you employ a ton of man coverage, you want to match-up Douglas with the bigger wide receiver, which is something he did frequently in college.

11) Sidney Jones/Washington- This ranking is all about his achilles injury he suffered at his pro day. If you could guarantee me he could play as a rookie and would be 100% coming back from this injury he would be my #2 corner without a doubt. Before the injury he was a really instinctive corner with outstanding feet. But because of the injury he is a major risk.

12) Corn Elder CB/Miami- Quick, intense and physical are the best words to describe his game. I love this kid in the slot or as a versatile safety. He’s outstanding in run support and he’s tough to separate against in short areas. He’s also an outstanding gunner on special teams, the best I saw on tape from this class.

13) Marlon Humphrey/Alabama- Ideal zone corner. He’s outstanding in run support and he loves to come in and deliver jarring hits. His issue in man is that his hips are too stiff and he isn’t fluid in his movements. He got beat deep a lot in college, despite having a ton of help around him. It’s hard to find corners as good as he is against the run, but on third down you are going to have to slide the safety or overall coverage more to his side because he can get exposed on any given play.

14) Desmond King/Iowa- Was a great outside corner in college, but he is going to have to play inside to succeed well in the NFL. He does not turn his hips well at all and has little to no recovery speed. What he does have are outstanding ball skills and great quickness. He’s also a great tackler and good return man so he’ll be a valuable asset on special teams.

15) Damontae Kazee/San Diego State- Another solid corner prospect who lacks the speed and length to play on the outside, but has everything you want out of a slot corner. He’s physical, tackles well in run support, is quick and possesses great ball skills.

16) Cam Sutton/Tennessee- Can play inside or outside, but his short arms and average vertical may force teams to view his as a slot corner only. My biggest issue with him as how uninterested he seems to be in run support. I love his hands and his ability to change direction quickly, but his lack of physicality is really going to limit him in this scheme.

17) Brendan Langley/Lamar- Really raw corner prospect who started his career at Georgia and later transfered to Lamar because of a lack of playing time. Georgia bounced him around from offense to defense. He’s a good athlete so I can see why they wanted to try him out on both sides, but they never really committed to either position with him. At Lamar he got a lot more reps at corner, especially this past season. He’ll be a major project, but he’s a 6’0, 200 pound corner with a ton of speed. He’s worth a late round pick.

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