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This year’s group of corners is a talented group of players. I predict about 4-6 of them to be off of the board in the first two rounds. Here is the list of my top 5 and an additional 5 to look out for in later rounds.
1. Morris Claiborne 5-11 188lbs LSU
Strengths: Has great technique, smooth hips, great footwork, and ball skills. Isn’t the athlete that his former teammate Patrick Peterson is, but he has better natural corner skills. He is able to be left on an island by himself and he can handle top flight WR’s on his own. Also has Kick and Punt Return Skills as well.
Weaknesses: Is kind of thin, but seems to have a frame that he can add good weight to. Is willing to tackle in the run game, but I would like to see better form with his tackling. I’ve seen him duck his head down often to tackle players.
Grade: Top 3-5 pick
2. Janoris Jenkins 5-10 193lbs North Alabama
Strengths: Is a shade behind Claiborne when it comes to natural cornerback skills and ability. He’s that good. Was a three year starter and one of the best corners in the SEC before being kicked off the team. Is equally effective in press man coverage or off of the line. Has great anticipation skills, similar to that of Asante Samuel. Has experience running kickoffs and punts, returned 3 for TD’s this past season.
Weaknesses: His off the field troubles are what’s keeping him from being drafted in the top 15 of this draft. It’s the only thing that’s scares teams and has him going in the 2nd or third round.
Grade: Mid First round
3. Stephon Gilmore 6-0 190lbs South Carolina
Strengths: Is a good press coverage corner, uses his long arms to his advantage at the line of scrimmage and displays good hips and footwork. Has great speed and catch up speed. Is a willing tackler in the run game. Has been a starter from day one as a true freshman.
Weaknesses: Isn’t as good when playing off when he’s in press or right at the line of scrimmage. Can get sloppy with his technique at times and get beat with double moves.
Grade: Mid First Round
4. Dre Kirkpatrick 6-2 185lbs Alabama
Strengths: Very physical corner, is at his best when playing zone coverage. Instincts and play recognition has gotten better from sophomore to junior seasons. Is a good tackler, not afraid to put a hat on a ball carrier and deliver a blow. He will be a perfect fit on a team with a zone based scheme. He really reminds me of Charles Tillman from the Chicago Bears.
Weaknesses: Isn’t much of a man corner. Doesn’t display the natural man cover ability, hips, and footwork. Doesn’t have great hands or ball skills, drops potential interceptions or knocks balls down instead of going for the pick.
Grade: Late First round
5. Casey Hayward 5-11 192lbs Vanderbilt
Strengths: Does a great job reading the quarterback and playing the ball in zone coverage. He’s at his best in the zone, would be a fit for a team that runs a lot of cover 2 and 3. Isn’t a knockout artist, but he’s a willing tackler. Gets his hands on a lot of passes.
Weaknesses: Isn’t great in man coverage, has problems keeping up with elite speed downfield. Doesn’t have great change of direction skills and gets beat often.
Grade: Mid 2nd round pick
Next 5: Trumaine Robinson 6-2 204lbs Montana, Josh Robinson 5-10 199lbs UCF, Josh Norman 6-0 197lbs Costal Carolina, Brandon Boykin 5-9 182lbs Georgia, Ron Brooks 5-10 190lbs LSU