100 Once in a decade prospect
95-99 Elite talent
90-95 Solid top 10 pick
85-90 Solid first round pick
80-85 Late 1st-early 2nd
75-80 Solid 2nd round pick
70-75 Solid 3rd round pick
65-70 3rd-4th round pick
60-65 4th-5th round pick
55-60 5th round pick
50-55 6th round pick
45-50 7th round pick
40-45 Undrafted, invite to training camp
30-40 Career practice squader
20-30 No NFL future
0-20 No football future
1. Joe Haden (Florida) 91
3/18/10: Turns out that 4.57 40 from his Combine was a result of a sore back. Haden ran a 4.43 40 at his Pro Day, in the rain nonetheless, so I’ll move him back to his Pre-Combine status. He’s still, by far, my top cornerback.
3/2/10: Not going to knock him down too much, but the 4.57 at 5-11 193 hurts his chances to go in the top 10 as he competes with Derrick Morgan, Rolando McClain, and Jason Pierre Paul to go 7th to Cleveland. I do expect him to run a little better at his Pro Day, but really his lack of speed today can be attributed to his running style, which shouldn’t hurt him on the football field. He doesn’t have good track speed, but he has football speed.
A former quarterback and wide receiver, Haden has all of the physical tools necessary for the NFL and he showed this year that he can be an amazing shutdown corner. He plays with great physicality and strength and uses those to shutdown the opposing wide receiver. He doesn’t scream #1 corner at me just yet, but he’s only 20 and in his 3rd year playing the position so if his development continues as it should, the sky is the limit for him. He is good against the run and as a blitzer which are rare, but useful skills for a cornerback to have.
2. Kyle Wilson (Boise State) 84
3/2/10: He didn’t run, but he didn’t need to. First he benched 25 reps of 225 pounds at 5-10 194. Then he ended his day by being, by far, the most impressive cornerback in the drills. If his 40 time is under 4.5 at his Pro Day, which it should be, he could be a first round pick lock.
1/27/10: Another impressive cornerback, Wilson has shown once again why, before his disappointing senior year, he was a possible 1st round pick. He has probably brought himself back into 2nd round contention with his good Senior Bowl week.
He had a bit of a down year this year which hurts because his athleticism at 5-10 185 doesn’t jump off the page and that could drop him to the 3rd round in a strong cornerback class. However, he projects as a nice nickel back with the potential to be a #2 corner at the next level. He also is a good punt returner.
3. Brandon Ghee (Wake Forest) 83
3/2/10: Ran a very impressive 4.37 at 192. He’s an even better athlete than I believed and has a ton of upside if the coaches can bring it out of him. He probably isn’t going to slip out of the first 50 picks
Excellent size for a corner at 6-1 195 and he used that size to frustrate corners this year. His stats don’t jump out at you with only 1 interception in his entire college career, but he has 4 forced fumbles which is amazing for his position and he’s got good shutdown abilities and great athleticism. He projects as a nice #2 corner or nickelback at worst.
4. Donovan Warren (Michigan) 82
3/18/10: Didn’t look great at his Pro Day, running a 4.62 and struggled in drills some as well. I still am very high on him and his shutdown skills, but it doesn’t look like a lot of people agree with me.
3/2/10: Didn’t come out and impress at all today like I was expecting. I’m a big supporter of his, but I have to knock him down a bit after a poor day which started with a 4.59 40 at 5-11 183.
Not getting the hype yet, but I’m not sure why. This former elite recruit had an amazing freshman year, but a down year in his sophomore year, before bouncing back in an amazing why this year as a junior. Guys simply didn’t throw on him because he was able to turn some of the best receivers into guys that simply weren’t open. Despite not getting thrown on a ton, he managed 66 tackles and 4 interceptions, showing his good hands, position, and strength against the run. Despite being only 6-0 182, he’s very physical against the run and against his man and for that he has drawn premature comparisons to former Michigan great Charles Woodson.
5. Javier Arenas (Alabama) 78
He could be a decent nickelback and showed good abilities at the cornerback position this year in his 2nd full season at the position, with 70 tackles, 5 sacks, and 5 picks, but his value is as a kick returner. He is one of, if not the best kick returners in the nation so in addition to being a solid nickel corner at the next level, he’ll be a great kick returner as well. He may also pull a Devin Hester and switch over to wide receiver as he’s shown good hands and abilities in the open field.
6. Kareem Jackson (Alabama) 77
3/2/10: Not necessarily known as a speed guy, but a 4.41 40 at 5-10 196 could have moved him up into the 2nd round. He ran over an entire tenth of a second faster than teammate Javier Arenas, who was always known as the speed gu
The other Alabama corner, Jackson is the better of the two in terms of potential at the cornerback position, though he doesn’t have Arenas’ kick returning abilities. Jackson would be the best fit in a bump and run scheme at the next level where his size 6-0 200 and physicality will reign over his projected poor 40 time. In the right scheme, he’s a #2 corner.
7. Myron Lewis (Vanderbilt) 77
3/2/10: Kind of like Chris Cook, a cornerback with free safety size who had questions about his athleticism and speed. A 40 time alone won’t kill all of those concerns, but a 4.45 at 6-2 203 certainly helps as he tries to get drafted on day 2.
Suffers from the Sean Smith dilemma, is he a big, slow corner or just a safety. How NFL scouts answer that question could be the difference between 2nd and 3rd-4th round for him. It may help him some that Sean Smith did a decent job in his first year as a starter this year for the Miami Dolphins. The 6-3 205 Lewis had 169 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 5 sacks, and 10 picks in his 4 year career at Vanderbilt.
8. Domonique Franks (Oklahoma) 75
A bit of a surprise entry into the NFL draft after two years as a starting cornerback for Oklahoma, Franks played in the shadow of Oklahoma’s offense for 2 years, but is very good, especially athletically in his own right. Whether he puts his athleticism together and becomes something in the NFL is a question that has not yet been answered.
9. Devin McCourty (Rutgers) 74
3/2/10: Had the fastest (official) 40 time of any defensive back (though tape suggests Taylor Mays did run faster and the Combine measurers just messed up) running a 4.34 at 5-11 193. He could be the Raiders’ pick in the top of the 2nd round and he could actually go higher than that. He was impressive in the Senior Bowl and combine drills as well.
1/27/10: Not very big, but he really is scrappy and hustles on the field in a big way. He covers very well and also can kick into a zone style scheme.
What McCourty lacks in size, 5-11 190, he makes up for in heart. He doesn’t do one thing particularly well, but he should fit into any scheme as a #2 guy.
10. Perrish Cox (Oklahoma State) 74
Good size, 6-0 195, and hands, 10 picks in 4 years, but unless he improves his man skills better he’s nothing more than a nickelback or free safety in a man scheme. He has better potential in a zone scheme though and he’s also a good kick returner, though not Javier Arenas esque. His 4 years of experience at the position are both a plus and a minus because he has the experience, but you’d think that for his athleticism, after 4 years of a position, he’d be a much better shutdown corner, which he is not.
11. Syd’Quan Thomspon (California) 73
He’s ready for the NFL right now as a nickelback, but he lacks the upside, athleticism, and coverage skills to be a future starting cornerback. He is 5-9 and could run a 40 in the 4.5s which could drop him into the 4th round. He also returns punts well.
12. Walter Thurmond (Oregon) 72
He was a future 1st round prospect in 2007 after 103 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 picks, 1 touchdown, and 18 pass breakups. However, he has had a ton of injury issues since then. He played alright through injury in 2008, but only managed to play 4 games last year thanks to a bum knee. He didn’t work out at the combine which shows he may still not be healthy, but when healthy he’s an amazing talent. He was the most promising young corner in the country as a freshman in 2006 as well as a sophomore in 2007.
13. Patrick Robinson (Florida State) 71
1/30/10: You have to take Robinson’s good game with a grain of salt, because he only seems to play well when people who can give him money are watching, but it was a good game nonetheless. He showed his excellent footwork and size and was probably the best cover corner in the game. He almost had 2 interceptions as well, though both were just out of his reach.
All of the athletic skills in the world, but there’s a rumor going around that he hasn’t been playing hard in college because he’s worried about not getting hurt and ruining his NFL career. That’s not a good sign. He was good in the Senior Bowl and Combine, but I believe he was just playing for money there. If he actually tries in the NFL, he’s a first round prospect, but I have some concerns about whether or not he’ll do that.
14. Jerome Murphy (South Florida) 70
A good corner with good size, and long arms, who plays vertically, but his cover skills need some work and he doesn’t have good recovery speed.
15. CB Rafael Priest (TCU) 67
3/15/10: Didn’t run because of his foot injury. He’s still a favorite sleeper of mine, but I was expecting his foot to be healed by now.
He did an excellent job as a shutdown #1 corner for TCU. He played in 11 games and had 6 pass deflections, but only had 18 tackles. There are two ways you could possibly explain how he played that many games and had that few tackles, one, he let every receiver he guarded go for a touchdown, or two, quarterbacks rarely completed passes on him. Two is the most logical answer and it is the correct one. He didn’t have the toughest competition, but he shutdown everyone he faced. There are some concerns, how will he adjust to more athletic NFL corners, especially since Priest’s athleticism doesn’t jump off the page. He’s also small and not good against the run, but you can definitely see the upside here. He reminds me a lot of Quincy Butler, a former TCU cornerback, now of the St. Louis Rams. In his first season in the NFL, after bouncing around practice squads for years, Butler was a very good shutdown corner for the Rams this year, though in limited playing time, as opposing quarterbacks went 11 for 25 for 145 yards and a touchdown against him this year.
16. Chris Cook (Virginia) 65
3/2/10: He has free safety size, but he’s looked like a natural corner in this draft preseason, impressing as a big corner in the Senior Bowl and during Senior Bowl practices. A 4.43 40 surprised me a ton at 6-2 212 and is just the cherry on top for a guy who is quietly moving himself up very quickly. He could be a 3rd rounder.
1/30/10: I was confused about why he was invited to this game, but he proved me wrong making some nice plays and being a very tough physical cover guy. He’s still a tweener, not fluid enough to play cornerback, but not quite big enough at 6-1 210 to be a free safety, but I can see him getting drafted in the late rounds.
He’s a bit of a tweener as a free safety and a cornerback, too small for safety, not fluid enough to play safety, but he has good upside at two positions.
17. Trevard Lindley (Kentucky) 64
3/2/10: Only benched 9 reps of 225 pounds and had a 4.53 40 at 5-11 183, but he was one of the worst cornerbacks in the cornerback drills. He has really disappointed in this draft preseason and has fallen from one of my favorite underrated prospects, to a 4th or 5th round guy
1/27/10: Whether it be his injuries that are still plaguing him or whatever, this is not the same guy we saw at Kentucky in 2007 and 2008. He looked like a stick figure at his weigh in and was 2 inches shorter than what he was listed at in college and he really has looked out matched by almost every wide receiver he has faced this week and has had a really hard time breaking out of the jam at the line of scrimmage, which is not a surprise because of his extreme lack of bulk.
He was one of my favorite cornerbacks in 2008 and could have been a 1st round pick, but then he got hurt this season and was never the same. His shutdown skills were strongly lacking this year and his athleticism is pretty bad. He’s very skinny and pretty slow and has looked really bad in everything he has done in this draft Pre-Season, but I still see some upside in him. I still see some of the player I loved in him so this is a wishful 4th round grade.
18. Crezdon Butler (Clemson) 63
3/2/10: A very impressive 4.41 at 6-0 191, plus he did well in his positional drills, which I find to be the most important thing from him as a late round prospect.
A fairly standard cornerback who should be a good depth guy at the next level, but he’s pretty skinny and doesn’t do anything extremely well. He’s a solid pick.
19. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (IUPUI) 61
4/9/10: First of all, how did his parents name him, hit random keys on a keyboard (or typewriter, considering his birth date)? Second of all, there’s an Indiana in Pennsylvania? What? All that aside, AOA is a very athletic cornerback with good speed and amazing kick returning ability. His 4.31 40 time, a major improvement over his 4.43 from the Combine, shows more of that amazing speed we were expecting from him. He could get drafted in the 4th on upside and he’s certainly one of the more intriguing small school mid round prospects. He averaged 29.7 yards per return on kick returns last year and 12.5 yards per return on punt returns. He also scored 5 special team touchdowns.
Could be a decent nickel corner with his speed and good hands, but if he’s drafted, it’ll be as a kick returner first and a depth cornerback second. He scored 5 special teams touchdowns last year and ranked among the best in the league in both kick and punt return yards. He had 8 picks in 2008 though, but only 2 last year.
20. Amari Spievey (Iowa) 59
If you’re looking for a cornerback you’ve never heard of that could go in the 2nd rounder, this guy is your guy. Several teams, including reportedly the Falcons, have given him a first round grade, which means we could see him go off the board a lot higher than we expect. He could also fall into the 5th because of the depth of this cornerback class. That’s how deep the class is. I will be fairly conservative with his grade because I think he lacks elite coverage skills.
21. AJ Jefferson (Fresno State) 57
An athletic freak that caught many people’s eyes at the Combine, including Mike Mayock, who said he could be a 3rd rounder when it’s all said and done. I love his physical upside, 6-0, long arms, 44 inch vertical, a 4.43 40 and I have no doubt that he could be a good cornerback in the league someday, but the key word is could. At the very worst, he’s a #3 or #4 cornerback who can help on special teams. He’s very similar to Antoine Cason.
22. Jordan Pugh (Texas A&M) 56
A three year starter against some of the toughest quarterbacks and wide receivers in the college game and he has held his own against some talented receivers. He isn’t a true shutdown guy, but he should be rated higher than most scouts, who put too much value on interceptions, have him. He only has 4 career picks.
23. Patrick Stoudamire (Western Illinois) 53
For my exclusive interview with Patrick Stoudamire, click here.
24. Alterraun Verner (UCLA) 53
25. David Pender (Purdue) 50
26. LeRoy Vann (Florida A&M) 49
27. Walter McFadden (Auburn) 49
28. Kevin Thomas (USC) 46
29. Devin Ross (Arizona) 44
30. Chris Hawkins (LSU) 42
31. Mike Newton (Buffalo) 41
32. Bryan McCann (SMU) 41