clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking 16 cornerbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft

Who will the Eagles pick?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After hearing a lot about this year's cornerback class, it did not disappoint me when I started to watch these prospects. You guys know the drill by now if you've read my running back and wide receiver rankings, these are my rankings based on the Eagles scheme specifically. Keep in mind, I'm not predicting how Schwartz will rank them as he will have personal preferences, I'm ranking them based on their fit in his scheme in my opinion. Quick recap of what the Eagles do defensively, they rush 4 a lot and rarely blitz. When they do blitz, it's often a zone blitz and they only send 5/6 defenders. There's a lot of zone coverage, especially on 3rd down when the Eagles play a lot of cover 2. They play a lot of different coverages though. The idea behind rushing 4 is that your CBs should never really be left on an island, which is why Schwartz will value defensive lineman above cornerbacks. Also, just like my other rankings, these aren't my top 16 cornerbacks, these are the only players I've watched. This list is based purely on film too, so off-field concerns and injuries don't make a difference.

16. Rasul Douglas, WVU: Douglas has real talent and he could eventually develop into a really good corner. He didn't test great which was a shame, but he's extremely tall and lengthy and flashes excellent ball skills. He seems to always get his hand on the football and his size certainly helps with that. He's very good in zone so would work well in cover 2, but he needs to improve his technique in man coverage. He didn't press a lot but when he did he was very inconsistent, although he flashed the ability to punch hard and take a receiver out of the play. He has to stop lunging though and will struggle against quicker receivers.

15. Cameron Sutton, Tennesse: One thing I hate about projecting cornerbacks (or any position) is trying to project them to a role that they didn't do in college. I see Sutton as a slot cornerback, but I rarely saw him play there which makes him harder for me to project. Remember though, in the modern NFL a slot cornerback is worth a high pick, they are essentially starters. Sutton tested poorly but he has really good ball skills and looked very good in zone. His press technique looked pretty good but I'm not sure it translates to an outside corner in the NFL. He has good feet though and can mirror receivers and looks fluid in his movement. For a smaller guy he hits hard and is willing in run defense, which is important here as corners are often asked to set the edge.

14. Jourdan Lewis, Michigan: Similarly to Sutton, Lewis isn't the biggest and didn't test that well. His slow 40 was worrying considering his size, but I think his tape was good and he will be a good slot corner. Lewis is extremely competitive and feisty which Schwartz will love. He was too grabby on down field throws but showed the ability to make plays on the football consistently, I really liked his ball skills. He has great feet and should be able to stick close to receivers in the slot but I can't see him pressing receivers on the outside. His tackling was very solid for his size too which is good.

13. Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado: I hate to put too much emphasis on one game against a very good player, but John Ross destroyed Witherspoon and that game sticks in my mind. He couldn't get his hands on Ross at the line of scrimmage. Witherspoon has the size, speed and athleticism to be a good cornerback. He gets his hands on the football all the time and shows great ball skills. I didn't think he was particularly aware in zone coverage so it didn't surprise me when I saw that he has only played 1 year at cornerback. He looks raw on film but he's so fluid for his size and has great hips and feet. Considering his size, I thought he was quite weak in the run game but won't be a liability.

12. Adoree Jackson, USC: I get why a lot of people love Jackson because the athleticism jumps off the screen when you watch him. I'm not as high on him though as some. I can't see him playing on the outside personally, I see him as a slot corner and I think he has a lot to learn technique wise. He finds the football frequently and flies around the field, although he misses too many tackles. I didn't think he could press receivers well, he looked too weak and couldn't stop receivers gaining momentum. He's better in off coverage but I think he's very fearful of getting beat by deep speed and gave up too many catches underneath. He'll struggle on the outside against physical receivers a lot in my opinion.

11. Fabian Moreau, UCLA: I haven't watched a lot of Moreau so I don't feel that confident in this projection but anyway. Moreau is an incredible athlete and he looks it on film. However, he looked a little slow to find the football and he struggled to press receivers at time, Juju Smith beat him quite a few times. He does have great click and close speed and that means he can jump routes and break up underneath throws too. He has great recovery speed but he's too grabby downfield too. I thought his tackling was good and I saw him set the edge well.

10. Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson: Speaking of film I really enjoyed watching, I thought Tankersley flashed excellent cover skills. He tested poorly at the combine and he plays extremely soft which I admit really bothers me. But, I thought he flashed great ball skills and showed the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point with his long arms. He was extremely disruptive at the catch point and looked great in zone coverage. He showed the ability to press receivers and play tight man coverage but he panics like mad when he gets beat deep. He just grabs the receiver and gives up pass interference far too much. He has to improve his off coverage too. He has a lot of weaknesses but he flashes talent which is why I like him a little more than others.

9. Teez Tabor, Florida: I have no idea where to rank Tabor. I spoke about him at length on my podcast at around the hour mark, I recommend listening to that if you want more in-depth thoughts on him. I love Tabor's film, I think it's excellent. But, I can't draft a cornerback who ran a 4.7 until day 3. I just have to assume he was hurt or something, I really don't know. He doesn't play slow on film, he has excellent press technique, great ball skills and showed the ability to shut down receivers on the outside. He's technically excellent in coverage. However, when he's in off coverage he flips his hips very early and does seem fearful of getting beat deep. That's a concern. You saw with Jalen Mills last year, if you have no recovery speed you have to be technically excellent nearly every snap or you will give up big plays.

8. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado: Awuzie tested excellently at the combine and he has seemingly been rising up draft boards ever since. He moves very fluidly but a little erratic and I think he will be a slot corner. He needs to improve his ball skills but he always seems to be around the football. He got beat a little bit too much for my liking, but he showed he can mirror receivers with really smooth hips and he looked really good covering some of the shiftier receivers in the slot. He blitzes extremely well from the slot too. I've seen some suggest that his blitzing won't be utilized here, but I actually think Schwartz would use him from time to time. Schwartz showed he was willing to send zone blitzes with 5 rushing at times, he is just very opposed to all out man blitzes. Awuzie has to get a lot better in the run game though, he missed too many tackles.

7. Quincy Wilson, Florida: Wilson looked a little slow on film and it showed up at the combine. However, his tape is very impressive for the most part and he showed great anticipation to break up throws. He attacks routes and reads route concepts really well. He looked excellent in man and press coverage, he forces wide receivers to the sideline and can sit in receivers hip pocket. He sticks close to receivers on in breaking routes too. He can get beat deep if he struggles at the line of scrimmage and that is a legitimate concern.

6. Kevin King, Washington: King could certainly be the best cornerback in the NFL in a few years. His combine testing was unbelievable. People that size should not be able to move that well. However, I didn't think his tape matched his athleticism. He clearly moves incredibly well but I thought he got beat too much. He has incredible ball skills and uses his length to go up and get the ball and has a good feel for zone coverage. Considering he's so big, it surprised me how bad his press technique was. He didn't have a strong punch at the line of scrimmage and he has slow feet at times too. He needs a lot more strength and I think he'll struggle against smaller quicker receivers personally. He also misses way too many tackles considering his size. Based on the film, I would rank King below Tabor, but you can't ignore his combine. I still wouldn't take him at 14.

5. Tre'Davious White, LSU: White might be the safest cornerback in the draft. I question his upside and whether he can ever be a top cornerback, but he's technically excellent. He tested badly at the combine and that doesn't shock me because he doesn't look a great athlete on tape. He has unbelievable ball skills and always gets his hands in the receivers pocket and wins at the catch point consistently. He's aggressive and will jump routes too and looked really good at doing this while in zone and in off coverage. He can cover outside and in the slot which is so important these days too. He has great hips and feet and can mirror receivers. He doesn't press a lot and is a bit too grabby and may struggle against bigger receivers on the outside though. I probably wouldn't take White at 14 but I wouldn't mind if we did, I would be fine if we traded down a few spots and picked him up there.

4. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama: I love this guy. Honestly, I've been extremely tempted to make him my number 2 cornerback. Yes, his ball skills are not good and it's questionable how much he can really improve this. This is clearly his biggest weakness, but I do think in the Eagles scheme they can compensate for this and it shouldn't be a problem when he's playing cover 2 and has his eyes on the quarterback. He's only 20 years old too so he may improve. I love Humphrey because he brings an edge and an attitude to a defense. He might be the most physical cornerback I've ever scouted and he hits so hard. He's so competitive and feisty but he's also extremely athletic and moves really well. He's excellent in zone coverage and also shows the ability to play tight man coverage and can press receivers too with a really strong punch. He needs to refine his technique a little but I want this guy on my defense. I'm perfectly fine taking him at 14, Schwartz would love him and he would give this defense a nasty attitude that receivers will fear.

3. Sidney Jones, Washington: Obviously I wouldn't take Jones at 14 because of his injury, and I probably wouldn't consider him until the 3rd round at the earliest. His tape is excellent though, although I don't think he's as good as the top 2 corners in this class personally. Jones has great ball skills and can get his hands in the receivers pocket and wins at the catch point consistently. He's so aggressive when the ball is in the air and he looks like a receiver the way he tracks the ball. He's great in zone too and is very quick to diagnose throws in front of him. He has great hips, feet and technique but needs to add some strength as he can can get bullied by more physical receivers, he struggled with JuJu Smith. He's great in run defense too and is a very physical player, Schwartz will certainly want someone like Jones on the Eagles.

2. Gareon Conley, Ohio State: I don't know if Schwartz will like Conley as much as me because he isn't particularly physical but I think he's exceptionally good in coverage. He's only 20 years old but is technically very sound and rarely gets beat. He isn't very grabby as he wins by mirroring receivers with great feet and technique which is a very good sign. He got beat in contested situations at times by physical receivers but he's always around the football. He reacts extremely well to route concepts and is willing to come off his man early if he knows where the ball is going. He played a lot of bail coverage so he will have to improve his press technique but he can track receivers into the slot too. He needs to improve his run defense too and will have issues setting the edge if the Eagles draft him.

1. Marshon Lattimore: I know there are concerns about Lattimore because of his injuries and because he's new to the position, but he looked awesome on film. He has an exceptional combination of size, speed and length and he has great recovery speed. He has incredible ball skills and tracks the ball really well in the air. He has great feet and can flip his hips and get up to full speed extremely quickly. He shows the ability to play tight press man coverage but can be a little bit too grabby at times. He can be a shut down corner in the NFL if he continues to develop. I personally wouldn't be the biggest fan of trading up for Lattimore because it's such a good cornerback class, but I can totally understand why the Eagles might consider it if he falls out the top 8 or so.

Final Thoughts

The Eagles are extremely lucky because this is an awesome cornerback class. I would personally be happy with Lattimore, Conley or Humphrey at pick 14 but if they decide to go elsewhere they will have a lot of options in rounds 2 and 3 still. Trading down (although it's seen as a sin around here at times) and taking White also makes sense to me if the board doesn't fall the way they hoped. There's a lot of extremely athletic cornerbacks in this draft class (athleticism does matter at cornerback), but I worry about the Eagles coaching staffs ability to develop an athlete which is why I would rather them take someone who's better technically over the freak athlete, hence why I have Tre'Davious White over Kevin King. Especially if the cornerback is being asked to start in year 1. I won't be ranking any more positions because I haven't had the time to watch any other positions in-depth. I have watched some edge guys though and I'm going to try and get my top 14 options for pick 14 up before the draft!