This post covers my preliminary rankings of the top defensive cornerbacks entering the 2017 NFL Draft. For analysis of the respective rankings of certain prospects, see the corresponding footnotes (+).
DEFENSIVE CORNERBACK: (+)
1. Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State) | 6’0 195 (++)
2. Quincy Wilson (Florida) | 6’1 210 (+++)
3. Gareon Conley (Ohio State) | 6’0 195 (++)
4. Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) | 6’1 205 (++++)
5. Teez Tabor (Florida) | 6’0 190 (+++)
6. Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson) | 6’0 200 (+++++)
7. Desmond King (Iowa) | 5’11 205 (++++++)
8. Sidney Jones (Washington) | 6’0 180 (+++++++)
9. Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) | 5’10 190
10. Tre’Davious White (LSU) | 5’11 190
11. Cam Sutton (Tennessee) | 5’11 190
12. Fabian Moreau (UCLA) | 6’0 205
13. Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado) | 5’11 205
14. Adoree Jackson (USC) | 5’11 185
15. Rasul Douglas (West Virginia) | 6’1 208
16. Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado) | 6’2 195
17. Kevin King (Washington) | 6’3 192
18. Howard Wilson (Houston) | 6’0 185
19. Marquez White (Florida State) | 6’0 180
20. Corn Elder (Miami) | 5’10 175
(+) This is a very deep class without a clear top 10 talent at the top (at this point). However, there’s a couple prospects in this class that could easily work(out) their way into the top 10 after closer game review and individual workouts.
(++) With all due respect to Florida’s CB duo, Ohio State’s Marston Lattimore and Gareon Conley formed the best CB duo in college football last season. Lattimore, is the tentative #1 prospect in this draft. At 6’0 195 (with room to add bulk), Lattimore exhibits excellent athleticism, hip fluidity, foot speed and anticipation in press man coverage. He’s competitive and shows signs of an advanced feel for baiting QBs (see first INT of Mayfield in Oklahoma game) while demonstrating timing and exceptional closing speed to make up ground when he’s seemingly beat. He’s also a willing run defender and could become very good in this department with added bulk. At this point, the only real mark against Lattimore is inexperience. But he otherwise displays the requisite skill set to develop into a shutdown CB at the next level… Lattimore may project as the better prospect, but Ohio State trusted Conley to consistently shadow the opposing team’s #1. Conley exhibits a comparable skill set to Lattimore but with slightly inferior agility and foot speed. Conley is, however, more physical at this point. Both should be first round picks and Lattimore stands a chance to sneak into the top 10.
(+++) Unlike Ohio State’s duo, Florida’s duo of Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor are more distinguishable. Wilson played press man and routinely shadowed opposing team’s #1 wide receivers. At 6’1 210, with very good athleticism and ball skills, Wilson has the skill set to develop into a shutdown CB at the next level. If there’s a criticism to Wilson’s game, its that he isn’t as physical as his frame suggests he should be. In the Alabama game, he missed multiple tackles and seemed tentative defending the run, generally. Regardless, Wilson’s a first round talent with an outside shot of landing in the top 10… Tabor was at his best playing off-man coverage, where his exceptional instincts, closing speed and ball skills play up. Tabor will not be a shutdown CB at the next level–while he shows adequate press man skills, he lacks the physicality to play that role consistently against elite receivers. But for the right team and scheme (zone or off-man), he’s a dangerous ball hawk and worthy late first round selection.
(++++) At 6’1 205, Humphrey displays the best physicality among CB prospects in this draft class. Conversely, the main concerns with Humphrey are makeup speed and pure ball skills. At this point, Humphrey projects as a late first to early second round selection.
(+++++) At 6’0 200, Clemson’s Corder Tankersley has the build to move up draft boards post-workouts. I need to watch more but he’s very solid on tape. Preliminary concerns are average hip fluidity and not being as physical as he’s capable of being. But he’s a fringe first round talent that could sneak into the top half of the first with excellent workout numbers (or fall into the second with average numbers).
(++++++) Some have started to project Iowa’s Desmond King as a safety given concerns over body type and deep speed. I personally think these concerns are overblown given that King is otherwise displays the strength and athleticism to be an effective cover corner. Right now, he’s a second round talent that could slip into the third round.
(+++++++) At 6’0 180, Washington’s Sidney Jones is a surprisingly physical press man cover corner. The primary concern with him his lack of bulk. It’s reasonable to assume that his wiry frame will fill out at the next level, but that’s not a given (his frame feels similar to Brent Grimes’ in terms of lacking bone density). I need to do more work on Jones, but early review shows a second round talent.