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Ranking the top 20 cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Rhode Island at Virginia Tech Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If the Eagles have a non-wide receiver need, it is cornerback. Last year’s defensive backfield was hampered by injury, bad depth and poor play. It is crucial for the team to get quality players across from Darius Slay and in the slot to run Jonathan Gannon’s defense. Luckily, this class is deep with cornerback talent and the Eagles may be lucky enough to find two quality starters or some high upside depth. Here is how the class ranks.

1) Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Funny enough that a lot of the best cornerbacks in this class are legacy players with dad’s who made a big impact in the NFL. Patrick Surtain was a physical playmaker for the Dolphins during his career and his son has a similar trajectory. Surtain II has immense physical talent and flashes potential as a ball hawk and run defender. He is highly experienced and still, somehow, can keep getting better.

Pro Comparison: Carlton Davis

2) Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

A high school quarterback, Caleb Farley took to the cornerback naturally with his great size and athleticism. His pairing of physical gifts and a high football IQ made him a great defender at Virginia Tech, but he should continue to improve if he stays healthy and keeps working on the technical aspects of the position.

Pro Comparison: Antonio Cromartie

3) Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

The son of Joe Horn, no one should be surprised that Jaycee is a hell of a football player. Horn is not only a great athlete with fantastic size, but his badass level of physicality makes him a tone setter in the defensive backfield. Horn’s physicality is a double edged sword that can get him into trouble, but at his best he looks like a true number one cornerback.

Pro Comparison: Aqib Talib

4) Asante Samuel Junior, Florida State

The third legacy player in our rankings, every Eagles fan should be familiar with whose shoes Asante Samuel Junior will be trying to fill. The thing is, Samuel has his dad’s athleticism, but stylistically they are different players. While the senior Samuel was a risk taking ball hawk, Junior is a scrappy coverage corner who turns every snap into a fist fight. In a good way. Asante Samuel’s size might limit him to the slot in the NFL, but teams will love the energy and physicality he brings to every snap.

Pro Comparison: Mackenzie Alexander

5) Eric Stokes, Georgia

Georgia had a fantastic secondary in 2021 and Stokes was a big part of that. Stokes is a phenomenal athlete who can run with anyone in coverage. He is a technically gifted cornerback who can mirror receivers; playing on the perimeter or in the slot. While he is not overly physical, teams will love what he can provide as a pure cover corner.

Pro Comparison: Desmond Trufant

6) Tyson Campbell, Georgia

Another piece in Georgia’s secondary, Tyson Campbell also has a promising pro trajectory. The 6’1” cornerback has great size and linear speed, but is most impressive when attacking the football. Teams will value Campbell’s potential as an outside cornerback who can create turnovers and play a physical brand of defense.

Pro Comparison: Kristian Fulton

7) Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

One of the offseason’s fast risers, Greg Newsome has immense potential with his physicality, size and speed. Newsome is a prototypical outside cornerback in terms of physical profile and mentality. He has room to grow mirroring receivers in man coverage and converting pass break ups into interceptions, but it’s hard not to love the football ahead of Greg Newsome II.

Pro Comparison: Darius Slay

8) Elijah Molden, Washington

Elijah Molden is next in line of talented Washington cornerbacks who head to the NFL. Molden is a slot specialist whose instincts, quickness and physicality make him ideal to match up with receivers in the middle of the field and also serve as a de facto box defender. Molden’s size will knock him down on some NFL team’s boards, but that doesn’t change that he will be a difference maker in the league.

Pro Comparison: Kenny Moore II

9) Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

As far as traits go, few in this class can stack up to Ifeatu Melifonwu’s size (6’3”, 205) and speed at the cornerback position. Factor in a physical mentality and long arms and you have yourself one hell of a press cornerback. Injuries kept Melifonwu off the field for much of his college career, but his 2020 season was enough to show he could be a quality player in the league. His size certainly keeps him from being an agile cornerback, but there is absolutely a role for him in the NFL considering where he excels.

Pro Comparison: Xavier Rhodes

10) Paulson Adebo, Stanford

Paulson Adebo was a star ballhawk at Stanford, picking off eight passes in only two years of starting time. His length, ball skills and sometimes overwhelming physicality often offsets his average movement skills. Adebo hasn’t played in a year and only started two years in college, but it’s hard not to love a guy with his knack for the ball.

Pro Comparison: Jaylon Johnson

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11. Thomas Graham, Oregon

12. Shaun Wade, Ohio State

13. Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina

14. Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon

15. Marco Wilson, Florida

16. Camryn Bynum, California

17. Kary Vincent Junior, LSU

18. Rodarius Williams, Oklahoma State

19. Ambry Thomas, Michigan

20. Tre Brown, Oklahoma