The 2017 draft class has a wealth of talent at the cornerback position, which is good news for teams that are without elite cornerback talent. There are easily 4-7 cornerbacks that could be taken in the first round of upcoming draft. Many rankings consistently have the top 6 cornerbacks, in varying order, Marshon Lattimore (OSU), Gareon Conley (OSU), Tre’Davious White (LSU), Teez Tabor (Florida), Quincy Wilson (Florida), and Marlon Humphrey (Alabama). Each one of these corners offer different skill sets and seeing how they transfer to the NFL will be quite interesting. After watching 4-6 games on each player mentioned I will offer my take on each player and how their skills will transfer to the NFL.Rankings will go in order of how I think their skills will transfer to the NFL.
I am not including Sidney Jones (Washington) due to the Achilles tear suffered at his pro day. Recent reports say he could possibly return for his rookie year, but my bet is on a redshirt season to make sure he heals up properly and hope to get him back at full potential.
- Marshon Lattimore (OSU) Height:6’0″/ Weight: 193 /4o time: 4.36
Has some of the best footwork and pure skill among all the corners for only being a redshirt sophomore. His speed is on display throughout the games with his ability to break on the ball. Rarely gets beat long when in man coverage due to blazing speed and ability to recover ground quickly if beat slightly. There was one instance where he got beat in the PSU game down the sideline, but was due more to ball placement and not getting head around. He is a very willing tackler and will get his nose dirty on the outside and when on the end of the line of scrimmage. On certain occasions can get stuck on the blocks of wide receivers, but even when stuck still maintains outside leverage to force play back inside. He was asked to play zone and man at Ohio State which shows his versatility. On film he seems to have good awareness and play recognition to not get lost in coverage. A concern noted by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report are his history of hamstring issues that have plagued his college career. The hamstring is not expected to drop him very far down the board and he has the chance to be a special corner, making an impact immediately as top cornerback in almost any scheme. Will most likely be the first cornerback taken in the draft. Expected top 10.
2. Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) Height: 6’0″/ Weight: 197/ 40 time: 4.41
Humphrey is more of a physical player that has deceiving speed and impressed with his 40 time at the combine. He likes to get his hands on the receiver at the line and can often bully smaller receivers with his strength. His strengths allow him to disrupt timing of the routes and often takes his man out of the play. He plays with great instincts that put him in the right place. He does not mess around on screen plays and aggressively comes up to punish the receiver showing off good tackling skills. Since he is a physical corner there are times when his physicality gets the best of him and he over extends his hands leaving him vulnerable to be run by. On film his biggest weakness is on the deep routes when he gets run by due to over-extension and somewhat tight hips. He is slightly slow on the flip and it shows when a receiver wants to take him downfield. For a team looking for a press corner and having a safety over-top he would be a perfect fit. Possible to go top 10 depending on team’s style of play.
3. Teez Tabor (Florida) Height: 6’0″/ Weight: 199/ 40 time: 4.62
Of all the players being broken down in this post this is the one I find most appealing. To start he has had off-field issues with a one game suspension in September of 2015 for a failed drug test and was then again suspended for the first game of the 2016 season against UMass for a violation of team rules. With those incidents behind him (hopefully) he is one fine cornerback. He stays in great position shadowing the receiver and trusting his instincts on when to break on the ball. Tabor continually high-pointed the ball and broke up passes with strong swipes. He is a physical corner that likes to mix it up on the field and has the swagger that I believe is necessary to play corner at high level in the NFL. He has fluid hips and his game looks so natural that his talent could exceed where he is drafted by a mile. He does get handsy downfield which is a concern when getting to the league, due to all the touch penalties that are called. I wouldn’t consider him a bad tackler, but he is a leg diver that is not very involved in the run game. His draft selection could come in the late first round or even the second round due to his off-field conduct. This is my steal of the top-tier players in this class.
4. Tre’Davious White (LSU) Height: 5’11″/ Weight: 192/ 40 time: 192
This is a senior that plays with intelligence from all the snaps he has logged over his college career. He can play slot or outside which is great for a team looking for versatility. He plays an interesting press coverage and almost hops instead of moving feet which keeps the receiver face up on him for longer than more press corners. During coverage he tends to allow some separation, particularly when a receiver crosses his face. Bigger receivers can push him around some, but his recovery skills are great and he often breaks up passes that other corners would be unable to. Due to his stature he does get touchy downfield which can lead to penalties. An average tackler, but still willing to stick nose in and do dirty work. His pass break-up skills are his prime attribute and allow for him to be able to deal with separation that he allows. Will only fit certain teams style, but one who utilizes him right will be getting a player with tons of big game experience against top-tier competition. Could go mid first round to late first round.
5. Quincy Wilson (Florida) Height: 6’1″/ Weight: 211/ 40 time: 4.54
After reading about a player for so long at the top of rankings I can say I did not see what I expected. He is a long quarterback that has room to grow and could become Sherman like, but I do not see that attitude in his play style. He has good technique and speed for a bigger cornerback and was asked to play in a stingy Florida defense. For being a big corner he did not use his hands as much as I anticipated, but that can be adjusted upon with work. He has good pass breakup skills and good ball location skills that allow for him to hang with most receivers. What I find lacking is his intensity to compete in the run game and just tackling in general. I don’t think I have seen a corner as exposed in the run game as him in the Alabama game. He has no willingness to be involved in the run game and consistently gets blocked on short screen passes or swing passes. He is a liability to tackle anyone with constant head ducking while diving and lunging. He could go anywhere in the first round or fall out of the first round depending on who you talk to. I don’t see him as a top corner, but instead as a project that has the tools to develop with passionate coaching.
6. Gareon Conley (OSU) Height: 6’0″/ Weight: 195/ 40 time: 4.44
This ranking at the bottom of the six just shows how good this crop of corners are. Conley has a good amount of game experience that leads him to play confidently. He has good snappy quick hips and has speed to burn that allows him to stay near receivers through all types of routes. His speeed allows for him to recover when beat and does a good job of turning and running to regain good position. During his backpeddle he does occasionally get a little high in his stance which causes him to flip his hips slow. He never gets beat badly, but on alot of routes there is seperation between him and the receiver that an accurate quarterback will exploit. He tends to tackle high and that could be problematic at the next level with bigger stronger men running around the field. His strength seems to be average which leaves him getting stuck on blocks and losing contain. With more fine tuning he could turn into an above average corner, but I don’t see greatness in him. Looks to be more of end of the first round pick.
Let me know what you all think @Brett_Ness4