For the last few months, this draft class has received high praise for the depth and talent it offers at the cornerback position. The wide range of talent and assortment of different types of cornerbacks is especially exciting for teams in desperate need of boosting their secondary talent (@EAGLES) and even teams looking for depth will be pleased with the developmental players this year. With the depth in talent in this class, there is very few that separates the top guys from each other so the difference between the 12 best cornerback and the sixth could be minute, preferential things and it does not mean a player is awful. With that being said, here is a look at this awesome class.
NOTE: I am not a doctor and dropping guys purely for currently sustained injuries is a useless practice for me given an inability to quantify injuries into evaluation. Evals are based on known aspects of a player's resume (Tape, athletic ability, etc.)
30. Howard Wilson, Houston: Wilson was a do it all player for the Cougars; playing on defense, offense and special teams. He was able to impact each facet of the game with his raw athleticism, so his position in the NFL is a bit of a question mark. He is a well built 5'11", 205 pounds and is worth a look as a cornerback who can contribute on special teams.
29. Xavier Coleman, Portland State: With 35 games started under his belt, Xavier Coleman is an experienced cornerback. The 5'11", 190 pound cornerback is a fluid but not dominating athlete, yet wins with consistent technique and physicality in coverage. He would be a very good late round pick up who can bring experience, savvy and physicality to a team.
28. Treston Decoud, Oregon State: At 6'2" with 33 inch arms, Treston Decoud has the physical profile of today's NFL cornerbacks. While he is a strong, physical player who tackles well, Decoud's athletic limitations will hurt what he is able to do in the NFL. Ideally he is a Cover 2 cornerback or possibly switch to safety.
27. Jack Tocho, NC State: A well built cornerback, Jack Tocho offers a lot in terms of physicality and run defense. In coverage, Tocho is at his best as a press cornerback, but winning at the line is essential for him given marginal movement skills.
26. Will Likely, Maryland: Will Likely is an enigma. At 5'7" and 180 pounds, Likely has unprecedented lack of size for the modern cornerback position. However, Likely was consistently the best player on his defense during his four years at Maryland and among the better defenders in his conference. He is an instinctual, twitchy athlete with great ball skills and technique. Not to mention, he is also a very good kick returner. His chances of being an NFL cornerback are not likely, however (sorry) because of how small he is and what bigger receivers could do to him in coverage. It is a damn shame given the type of college player he was, but maybe he gets onto the field as a dime defender.
25. Marquez White, FSU: White stands out in terms of his press and mirroring ability at the cornerback position. He has good size, but lacks run defense and ball skills. White would be a solid depth player who could potentially develop into a perimeter defender.
24. Arion Penton, Missouri: Penton is an undersized cornerback who lacks elite athletic ability, but he is also a very physical player with truly outstanding ball skills. He is best suited as a zone cornerback and may be relegated to the slot in the NFL, but it is hard to see Penton not being a role player on a team with his playmaking ability.
23. Sojourn Shelton, Wisconsin: Another undersized cornerback, Shelton is one of the more adept and consistent cover cornerbacks in this draft. He has very smooth athletic ability and is a sound, savvy technician against the pass. His lack of size hurts his run defense and ability to contest catches against bigger receivers, but his overall coverage ability makes him a very viable slot cornerback prospect.
22. Shaquill Griffen, UCF: Shaquill Griffin is a tremendous athlete with great size, playmaking ability and overall physicality. Unfortunately, he is still incredibly raw at the position and way too inconsistent at this point, but he has a massively high ceiling that could prove to be a big payoff for an NFL team.
21. Channing Stribling, Michigan: Stribling was forced into action this season on short noticed and rewarded Michigan by leading them in interceptions. The 6'1" cornerback has great size that he uses well at the line of scrimmage and when the ball is in the air. He is a physical player with ball skills but his game is limited by his lack of athleticism.
20. Damontee Kazee, SDSU: An older, smaller prospect; Kazee might get passed over by a lot of teams due to lack of measurables but they would be missing out on a contributor. Kazee was productive from year one in college and proved to be one of the most consistent playmakers in college football over the last four years totally 22 total turnovers during his time at San Diego Sate. Kazee is an average athlete with not so great size, but his instincts and technique should make him a playmaker at the next level, even in a smaller role.
19. Jeremy Cutrer, MTSU: A former high profile high school recruit and LSU commit, Jeremy Cutrer endured a tough life to get to this moment as an NFL prospect. He is a high character player with good coverage skills and physicality. He is not the most well built or the fastest player, but he has a decent sized frame and his play above the shoulders is exactly what you want from a cornerback.
18. Cameron Sutton, Tennessee: Cameron Sutton was on pace to start every game of a four year career before breaking his ankle during his senior season. Sutton is an experienced and savvy player with good technique, but lacks the build and physicality to consistently affect receivers in coverage. He is a fluid coverage player, but his ball skills could improve. If he can get healthy, Sutton would be a solid addition to a team who could start on the outside but excel as a slot cornerback.
17. Desmond King, Iowa: King was incredibly productive at Iowa and an emotional leader on that defense. Despite this, King lacks the size that many teams covet at the cornerback position, prompting talks of moving him to safety. Regardless, King is an instinctual, physical player with strong ball skills and consistent technique. I see King excelling at as Cover 2 cornerback or slot cornerback, but a transition to safety may be best for his career.
16. Corn Elder, Miami: Elder is an underrated player in this talented class. He is a solid athlete, but more importantly he is a physical, instinctual player with awesome tackling ability. He is not a guy who can consistently be trusted as a deep cover man, but he brings a physical element to defenses that teams will like.
15. Jourdan Lewis, Michigan: Despite his size, Jourdan Lewis has been one of the more productive, efficient defenders in college over the last two seasons. He is a fluid athlete with consistent technique who allowed less that 35% of passes to be completed into his coverage over the last two years. Teams will probably be concerned with his size, but he will make a team happy that decides to overlook that.
14. Rasul Douglas, WVU: A tall, well-built cornerback with great ball skills is an easy sell in today's NFL. Factor in solid tackling ability and immediate impact in limited starting time and it is easy to fall for Rasul Douglas. He is an average athlete, however, and he really only thrives as a press cornerback on the perimeter. However, his traits are very valuable in the NFL and it would not be surprising to see him scooped up early in the process.
13. Kevin King, Washington: Another tall cornerback, Kevin King is an outstanding athlete at the position and flashes really impressive ball skills. Besides that, he could stand to improve his technique and awareness a lot, but the pay off on betting on his upside could be huge.
12. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado: Chidobe Awuzie assuaged the fears of a lot of evaluators after a strong combine. The well built cornerback was a productive player at Colorado due to his technique and awesome physicality in run and pass defense. He is a bit smaller, but does not play like it. While Awuzie could majorly benefit from moving to safety, he deserves a shot to see if he can thrive at cornerback.
11. Quincy Wilson, Florida: Wilson has the size and athletic ability you want from a cornerback, but the lack of physicality he has despite his size is really frustrating. Wilson needs to prove he can be a physical player and succeed in situations where he isn't just covering number two receivers in college.
10. Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado: Despite being the less heralded of the Colorado cornerback duo, Ahkello Witherspoon is a better prospect. While he does not have Awuzie's overall savvy, he has great size, athletic ability and ball skills. He could stand to be a more physical run defender, but the tools as a cover man are all there for Witherspoon. (Listen to Witherspoon's interview with BGN Radio here.)
9. Fabian Moreau, UCLA: Moreau may go later due to an injury he suffered a few weeks ago, but he is a talented player worthy of top 50 discussion. As a former running back, Moreau has awesome athletic ability and a well built frame. While his athleticism is often evident in coverage, his instincts could stand to get better and ball skills need improving . Of course, as being relatively new to the position, it is easy to project improvement for Moreau given he fully recovers from a pectoral injury.
8. Teez Tabor, Florida: Teez Tabor is the enigma of this draft class. The well built, heady, physical cornerback has some of the better tape and stats of any of these cornerbacks this year. However, Tabor absolutely tanked the draft process with consistently horrible testing and, in junction with reported off the field issues, hurt his stock massively. Tabor allowed four touchdowns over the last two seasons but also picked off eight passes during that time and contributed as a run defender. I am taking a leap of faith here despite his tested athletic ability and he better hope an NFL team does as well because he did not help himself this offseason.
7. Adoreé Jackson, USC: On the flip side of the athletic spectrum, Adoreé Jackson not only is an awesome athlete, but he consistently got better every year he was at USC. While he is still inconsistent in coverage, the flashes he has in terms of ball skills are absolutely amazing. Also he is a hell of a return man. He has one of the higher ceilings for a cornerback in this class and if he continues to get better, he should hit that ceiling sooner than later.
6. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama: Humphrey is one of the more violent tackling cornerbacks I have seen come out of college in a long time. His physicality is awesome and the fact that he is a well built, highly athletic prospect with NFL bloodlines makes him even more intriguing. Humphrey is a raw coverage player, especially in man coverage and he could transition to the safety position to work to his strengths. Despite that being in question, it is worth noting that he is still a very young prospect with a ton to like about him. Needing improvement should be expected at this age for a prospect and what he brings to the table now is exciting.
5. Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson: Tankersley is a pure man cover cornerback with speed, length and very good ball skills. He is an older prospect with some inconsistencies as a tackler and in off coverage, but his polished ability as a press man cornerback will help an NFL teams immediately.
4. Tre'Davious White, LSU: Tre'Davious White is not a flashy player. In fact, his consistency as a defender will almost bore you. He is incredibly dependable on the outside and has experience being an impact slot defender. He lacks ideal bulk at the position and he is not high impact tackler, but his mirroring ability in coverage will make an NFL team happy for a very long time.
3. Gareon Conley, Ohio State: A part of Ohio State's magnificent secondary, Gareon Conley is an outstanding athlete and cover cornerback. His speed and size is exactly what NFL teams want on the perimeter of their defenses. The only thing keeping him from being the best cornerback in the class is the fact that he is a truly atrocious tackler and the lack of effort and physicality he brings to the run game is a defensive liability. The fact that he is that bad as a run defender and still be ranked this high should say something about how good he is in coverage.
2. Sidney Jones, Washington: It is so unfortunate that Sidney Jones tore his Achilles during his pro-day. Jones is an incredibly gifted cover cornerback who has good size, athletic ability, consistent technique in coverage and awesome ball skills. While being a good cover guy, Jones is also a dependable run defender. It is a relative unknown as to how Jones will be affected by his most recent injury, but everything else about him puts him among the best cornerbacks in this class.
1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State: In limited starting time, Marshon Lattimore asserted himself as being the best cornerback in this draft class. Lattimore has great size, speed and all around coverage ability while ask flashing the ability to be physical. For such a young prospect to also be so athletic and advanced in coverage is very encouraging. Even with so much competition vying for the top cornerback spot, Lattimore's elite coverage skills make him the best of a great batch.