Here comes the most loaded position in this class the corners. This list may be longer than normal since there are so many good prospects that can leave some real impact in this league. If you are a team in need of corners this is the year for you. As usual I will do Most Pro Ready, Best Upside, Dark Horses, and Busts. Also as per usual I love comments and feedback, but also can live without the rude comments calling me a hack. Since I know I am a hack since I am not a pro scout or anything of the sort. Just a guy with some hot takes and what I think reasonable assessments on prospect and draft scenarios. So, without further adieu here we go!
Most Pro Ready:
1) Sidney Jones CB Washington 6-1 170 lbs
I know some will expect other highly touted corners like Lattimore, Humphrey, or Quincy Wilson here, but to me they are all still green players who have a high ceiling. Jones to me is an experienced corner who you know what he is going to give you right away and lock down a side of the field right away. As a three year starter he has a lot of experience going against the high powered offenses of the Pac 12 and is getting taught good technique by some of the best secondary coaches around, just look at the history of successful Husky corners. He has the ideal size and speed you want from an outside corner with a lot of swagger too that you need at the position. Some may worry about his slight frame, but he has a lot of toughness and tenacity to over come it. His ball skills and ability to change the game with his awareness at attacking the ball can tilt the game in his team's favor more often than not. I can see him being one of the best corners in the league for a very long time.
2) Jalen "Teez" Tabor CB Florida 6-0 201 lbs
People are going to worry about Tabor due to his cocky attitude and difficulty to coach, but I think most corners need some swagger and confidence on the outside to make them a good player. To me he is a long time starter who learned from an excellent secondary coaching staff to come into the NFL and contribute immediately at a high level. He is a bit bigger than people will expect due to his ability to play small and keep low hips to turn and smother quick receivers. His ability to mirror receivers may be the best in the draft in my opinion and his ball skills are equally impressive. His willingness to attack in the run game can use some work, but he is a good tackler when faced with a runner in the open field. I actually like him better than his teammate Quincy Wilson who still needs work to become a top corner while Tabor is right out of the chute a finished product.
3) Jourdan Lewis CB Michigan 5-10 188 lbs Arm Length: 31"
For the NFL, Lewis may be relegated to being a slot corner and an emergency outside corner, but that does not mean he is bad in coverage or anything. In fact I think Lewis has some of the best coverage abilities in the draft and could actually prove to be a solid outside corner if given the shot since he looked great out there against the bigger receivers of the Big 10. I love his leaping ability for a smaller player and his ability to attack the ball in the air. He seems to come away with a lot of splash plays at big moments that can help swing the momentum in your team's favor. For a player his size he is a good run defender as well with good willingness to come down and make tackles, which will earn him good marks with coaches. He is a good versatile corner who will be a great pick from day one no matter if he plays outside corner or slot especially, in today's NFL where wide open offenses are becoming more and more common.
1) Marshon Lattimore CB 6-1 192 lbs
I know Lattimore has a shot to be the first corner taken in the draft, but I would like to hedge my bets on one year starters especially ones that are so young. Lattimore only had one full year starting this past season as a redshirt sophomore, but his athletic upside and solid coverage abilities will have scouts and GMs in love with him. He has good fluidity in his hips, solid footwork, and ball skills to turn into a very good corner in this league. I can see him having the same progression as his former teammate Eli Apple who had similar tools and lack of experience who started off slow in the NFL. His explosiveness however, gives him a higher ceiling than say Sidney Jones and others in this draft. I really hope he does not turn into Mo Claiborne or Justin Gilbert who were two low experienced high upside corners, but other young Ohio St players have developed nicely in the NFL so I expect the same from Lattimore.
2) Adoree' Jackson CB USC 5-11 185 lbs
Full disclosure Jackson is one of my favorite prospects in the draft and in my opinion may be the most purely athletic players in this draft. He was able to skate on just his speed in coverage at the college level and will definitely need to refine his coverage technique to better combat savvy receivers in the NFL. Jackson showed some of that technique and footwork this season, but I think moving him around on offense and defense slowed his development with so much on his plate. His ball skills though was on full display while on offense, but he showed he was just as good at it on defense creating plenty of scoring plays on interceptions causing quarterbacks to avoid him. His size will obviously hurt him and may force him to stay at the slot corner, but like Lewis that's basically a starter in today's NFL. To go along with his defensive abilities Jackson's returning skills is also a great plus for him to make a quick impact for his team.
3) Rasul Douglas CB West Virginia 6-2 204 lbs Arm Length: 32 1/8"
One thing you know about West Virginia is that they have some of the best athletes in the country with their willingness to poach good sometimes troubled players at the junior college level. Douglas fits their mold very well as a big and fast athlete who has a lot of roughness around his edges coming to the NFL. He fits the long armed mold more and more teams around the league are seeking. Douglas flashed a lot of ability at the Senior Bowl, but also showed his lack of experience in coverage getting beat on quick moves. Just like many West Virginia products who have that same problem I think given time Douglas can become a nice weapon on defense taking on taller receivers. If he can some how improve his speed it can help his transition more, but if he is in a bump and run or zone coverage scheme I can see him working out very well as he grows at the position.
1) Cordrea Tankersley CB Clemson 6-1 200 lbs
For a player who played on one of the best defenses in the country he is not getting a lot of love for being the top corner on that defense. He comes into the league with the same size and athletic abilities as last year's 2nd rounder and former teammate Mackensie Alexander. In most scouts opinion he could actually be better than his former teammate thanks to his better hip fluidity and ball skills. His size makes him a good combatant against taller receivers and his speed to keep up with them is very good trait. However, he can get a bit too handsy so he should work on that in the NFL. His experience and solid body of work though makes me believe he can come in and contribute right away especially, with how he took on Calvin Ridley of Alabama who is a possible to receiver in next year's draft. He really should not be a dark horse, but since he is getting so little love and possibly could end up being a late 2nd round pick I consider him one who can turnout better than some of the first round candidates.
2) Kevin King CB Washington 6-3 192 lbs
I think I may be a little too high on King, but in my opinion being one half of the best pass defenses in the country is not something you do by accident. He is a very tall corner who may ultimately be moved to safety, but he has the fluidity enough to defend high caliber Pac 12 receivers so why not in the NFL. King has the ability and experience playing in the slot, safety, and outside corner which could only help his draft stock in my opinion. His speed might not be the best, but if he is put in a zone where he can utilize his quick instincts and arm length he could turn out to thrive in the NFL. He has good ball skills to boot with 6 picks last year while getting a lot of attention playing across from Sidney Jones. In fact after being targeted 110 times last year he only allowed one touchdown, which to me is absolutely ridiculous. I have no clue why people are so quiet on him, but whoever drafts him I think is getting steal.
3) Damontae Kazee CB San Diego St 5-10 183 lbs Arm Length: 29 7/8"
Kazee may be limited by his size in the NFL, but he plays with a ton of heart and instincts to be a solid back up to begin his career and eventually turn into a top end starter in the NFL. He is a good run defending corner who has a lot of ability attacking ball carriers with his good tackling abilities. His tenacity will earn him good marks with coaches and GMs to catch on with a team even if he goes undrafted which, I doubt he will be anyways. He has a very good awareness when the ball is in the air and ability to turn quarterbacks mistakes into scoring plays for his team. I doubt he will ever be a total lock down corner however, becoming an average to high end starter is a very good chance for Kazee. He needs to continue to refine his technique to make up for his lack of top end speed as well as make smarter decisions when going all out for balls in the air to sometimes make the safe play instead to prevent big broken plays for the opposing offenses.
1) Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama 6-1 196 lbs
I have a few problems with the highly touted corner from Alabama. For one he played coverage behind one of the best defensive fronts in the country that allowed him to play in coverage for very short periods of time. Secondly, out of all the first round corners that Alabama has sent to the NFL in recent years such as Dre Kirkpatrick, Kareem Jackson, and Dee Milliner have all had very minimal success at the next level, which has me worried about Humphrey's success at the next level. Plus, he is a very green player who has problems being beaten over the top by taller receivers and accurate passers just look at his low end success against Ole Miss' offense which had both when Chad Kelly was healthy. He could possibly overcome all of that at the next level with his high end athleticism and mental make up, but I would not use a first round pick on him with his ability to be a massive bust in my opinion.
2) Quincy Wilson CB Florida 6-1 213 lbs
To me Wilson has Justin Gilbert written all over him as a high end athlete who teams will want to bring in and mold around their defense, but his lack of overall experience and technique will be his undoing. He is very physical in coverage with his big size and relies on it too often in my opinion and will get called on a lot of P.I. calls in the NFL. His teammate Tabor proved to be the more reliable Gator corner on many occasions last year and Wilson benefited from it allowing him more chances to make a play on the ball to showcase his athleticism. His inability to keep consistent coverage against quicker receivers can also be a problem that pushes him to play safety. Much like Humphrey he has massive bust ability in my opinion so I would not be willing to use a first round pick on him, but some team will hoping to land a stud.