2016 Preseason All-American Projections: Cornerbacks

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2016 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2017 NFL Draft.

First-Team Cornerbacks:

Jalen Tabor, Florida

While Vernon Hargreaves III received more attention in 2015, one could make the argument that Tabor was the Gators’ best cornerback at times during the season. Hargreaves started the year well, but Tabor was playing better late in 2015 when Hargreaves seemed to be protecting himself. Tabor showed that he is a gritty, physical corner with the ability to line up against a variety of receivers.

As a true freshman, Tabor totaled 31 tackles with an interception and eight passes broken up that year. It was an impressive start to his collegiate career. Last year, he was the starter with Hargreaves and turned in a superb season. Tabor had 40 tackles, 14 passes broken up and four interceptions – two of them being pick-sixes – in 2015. The sophomore did hurt his draft stock with a one-game suspension though.

The 6-foot, 191-pounder has the speed to run with fast receiver and enough size to play big wideouts. Tabor was functional to go against big wideouts, fast receivers, and tight ends. He looks like an isolation man-cover corner and could be even better having gained more experience. If Tabor isn’t looking ahead to the NFL and protecting himself, he could easily be the best cornerback in college football season.

Desmond King, Iowa

As a freshman and sophomore, King was a solid contributor for Iowa, but he took his game to another level as a junior. King had 69 tackles with eight passes batted as a freshman. A year later, he improved his ball skills with five breakups and three interceptions to go along with 64 tackles. In 2015, King was second in the nation with eight interceptions and also contributed 13 passes broken up. Along with his ball skills, the junior had 72 tackles on the season.

King considered entering the 2016 NFL Draft, and if he had, he probably would have been selected in the first two rounds. King is listed at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, and he could be smaller than that. Thus, King could be more of a slot for the NFL. However, his coverage skills and ball skills are not in question. His interception totals may go down this year considering teams will probably be throwing away from him.

To go along with being excellent at making plays on the ball, King is a good run defender and tackler. He has been a steady, consistent producer for Iowa, and there is no reason to think he won’t have another good season – although his pick total may not be as high as last year.

Second-Team Cornerbacks:

Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson

Tankersley was a backup as a sophomore and freshman, but he was one of many Clemson players to have a breakout 2015 season. As a junior, Tankersley had five interceptions, nine passes broken up and 48 tackles. Teams avoided throwing at Mackensie Alexander, and Tankersley held up well with more passes coming his direction. He will be the lead corner for the Tigers in 2016. Tankersley (6-1, 195) has some size to him, and he could be even better with a year of experience.

Tre’Davious White, LSU

White has played well the past three seasons with reliable cover skills and being a solid contributor in run support. He had 44 tackles with seven passes broken up in 2015. White struggled to defend against big receivers last year, but is adept at preventing separation from receivers. He has shown steady ball skills, batting away seven passes in 2013 and six as a sophomore. The senior has the potential to take his game to another level in 2016 and rise higher if he improved this offseason at defending against big wideouts. White (5-11, 191) is fast enough and also is a dangerous punt returner.

Third-Team Cornerbacks:

Adoree Jackson, USC

Jackson’s became a starter as a freshman and was a sensation who also contributed as a wide receiver and returner/coverage defender on special teams. Defensively, he had 35 tackles with eight passes broken up and one interception at corner in 2015. Jackson also caught 27 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns on offense. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 30 yards per kick return. As a sophomore, Jackson showed improvement in his coverage skills, and for the next level he could project more as a slot corner and returner rather than a receiver. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder is an athletic play-maker. He has a lot of upside to be a star this season for the Trojans.

Cam Sutton, Tennessee

Sutton was solid for Tennessee in 2015, and teams generally seemed to avoid throwing his direction last year. He totaled 28 tackles, one interception and six passes broken up for the season. Sutton made a bigger impact in his previous two seasons as he was excellent for the Volunteers in 2014. Sutton is a very physical defender who plays with a chip on his shoulder. As a sophomore, he recorded 37 tackles with three interceptions, 13 passes broken up and four tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder recorded 39 tackles, seven passes broken up and two interceptions as a freshman. Sutton could easily be rated higher on this list.

Honorable Mentions: Virginia Tech’s Brandon Facyson, Washington’s Sidney Jones, LSU’s Dwayne Thomas, San Diego State’s Damontae Kazee, Michigan State’s Demetrious Cox, Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie, Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis, Florida’s Duke Dawson, Alabama’s Tony Brown, Connecticut’s Jamar Summers and Kansas’ Greg Allen.

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