Prospect Preview: Cornerbacks

Cornerback must be the most frustrating position to play in the NFL, I feel bad for every cornerback out in the world. Cornerbacks have to defend some of the athletic and fastest athletes in the world but they must do it all without touching them. Pass interference is one the most objective and most argued calls in all of sports. Guess what though? The offensive player almost never gets called for the penalty so defenders are at a huge disadvantage. Now we have the new helmet rule in the NFL which seems to be drawing a lot of controversies already and the season has not even started yet. Opposing offenses are not doing corners any favors these days either because most offenses heavily focus on the passing game. The one advantage all of this gives cornerbacks is that because their position is so difficult they are getting paid handsomely in free agency (which they should be). This years draft class has a lot of raw talent but that comes with a lot more questions than answers.

 

  1. Greedy Williams/ LSU

 

Greedy Williams is probably the unanimous CB 1 at this point in the season and it is easy to see why. At 6’1 and a great wingspan, Williams possesses all of the physical tools you could ask for out of the cornerback position. As far as on the field goes Williams makes plenty of plays that will translate to the NFL. He has an innate ability to transition from one stance to another when mirroring WRs which really impresses me sometimes. His athletic ability is off the charts which he demonstrates down the field playing the ball in the air. Williams is good but I do have some legitimate concerns about him. The first and most troubling one was his performance against Calvin Ridley ( first round pick and my WR 1 from last year). Ridley was the most talented WR that Williams saw last season and he looked really bad. He gave him a lot of cushion and looked like he was not even trying to tackle him after he caught the ball. That segways nicely into my next concern. Williams has some shoddy effort at best. In the run game, he almost never attacks because he prefers to be a bystander. When his receiver makes a catch on him (which admittedly does not happen often) he always just dives at their ankles instead of making a legit attempt at a tackle.

 

 

  1. Deandre Baker/ Georgia

 

Deandre Baker fits a very specific cornerback prototype and it is uncanny. He is the perfect example of an up in your face, physical press corner. My favorite part of Baker’s game is his first jab at the line of scrimmage. As a corner, you only get five yards to put your hands on a WR so you need to make the most of it and Baker does that. Baker also rarely allows an inside release for his WRs which will serve him well at the next level because of how frequent the slant route is run. Baker also can hold his own in the run game making him easier to put on the field at the next level. My concerns with Baker are mostly about his downfield speed. Many times on tape he was getting burned down the field but often the quarterback would miss the throw or the WR would drop the pass. Bakers size is also a question mark at this point in the year. He most likely would have to put on some more weight for training camp if he stayed at this weight. Overall Baker is my favorite of corner who is physical and gets into your face but if you get by him he will not be able to catch you.

 

  1. Amani Oruwariye/ Penn State

 

Amani Oruwariye has my favorite name in the draft so far and he has a chance to be one of my favorite players. Oruwariye of all the corners in this class is the best at playing the ball in the air. He can make some pretty crazy body adjustments while also being able to high point the ball. Oruwariye possesses impressive short area quickness which helps him in zone coverage schemes. It is really fun to watch him close in on WRs that camp in his zone looking for an easy catch. Oddly enough my biggest concern about Oruwariye is that he has not made any starts yet for Penn State. Now he has always played a lot of downs for the Nittany Lions but it is slightly concerning he never got a start. This season he is expected to start so I’m hoping his quality of play won’t go down because he is getting a lot more looks than usual.

 

  1. Mark Gilbert/ Duke

 

Mark Gilbert is actually someone who has been on my radar for a while now because of his relation to the future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis. The most obvious thing that anyone can see when watching Gilbert play is that for a corner, he has great hands. Gilbert lead the ACC in interceptions last season and a lot of them are impressive. I always try not fall into the trap of loving a corner just because they have a lot of interceptions but Gilbert displays a lot of the other skills I look for. His man coverage ability is right on par with a lot of prospects in the way that he mirrors WRs. One of the thing that impressed me most about Gilbert is how much Duke trusted him. On most defensive snaps Gilbert was left on an island one on one with no safety help. That is something rare at the college level. All of my concerns for Gilbert can be summed up in one word, strength. Gilbert is rail thin and gets ran over in the run game often. He also can struggle with bigger WRs who can just out muscle him for the ball.

 

  1. Mike Jackson/ Miami

 

Mike Jackson can definitely be a first round pick on what is a stacked defense for the Hurricanes again this season. Jackson is just one of those guys who is going to give you solid play every single week. He did not wow me in any particular area but checked all of the boxes. He has smooth hips and mirrors well in man coverage. His closing speed is solid when asked to play zone coverage and I saw him hold his own in the run game. Jackson also has some good size being listed at 6’2 on the official Miami Hurricanes page. Some of my concerns with Jackson is that he tends to get beat deep sometimes and his footwork can be slow. Also, a prospect who does not wow me in any one area will always fall lower on the list because in the NFL you sell yourself by having a calling card. With all of that said Jackson has a great opportunity to improve his stock this season because scouts are going to be watching that defense all season.

 

 

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