Official Grades and Scouting Reports: 2019 Cornerbacks

Welcome, to the ninth of my official draft reports for the 2019 NFL draft. I will be going position by position giving a full report and grade on every player that I have scouted this season. Obviously, I can’t scout every single prospect in the entire country since I am a one man army and a full-time college student. I’ve tried to get at least 20 done at each position, so I think I’ve covered a pretty good chunk of the players who will be drafted. Each article will start with the worst and get to the best, so if you want to skip down to some of the better prospects you can do that.

Each profile will have some biographic data including name, school, year, height, weight, and “Red Flags”. It will also include a numerical value between 1 and 10 that will dictate there placement in the rankings. The number is calculated based on my own personal grading formula for draft prospects. The profile will have a “round grade” that is based on a scale that I will put at the end of this introduction. Round grades are not a prediction of where a player will get drafted, but where I think they should be drafted.  Last but not least, the profiles will include a small paragraph on my overall thoughts on the prospect and some explanation on their NFL outlook. I’ll try to explain some of each players strengths and weaknesses as well.  

As always you can hit me up on twitter (@DanteCollinelli) if you want to discuss my rankings further. I love talking ball with people so please let me know what you think.

 

Grading Scale

 

First-round: 8.75-10

Second-round: 8.74-7.45

Third-round: 7.44-6.15

Fourth round: 6.14-4.85

Fifth round: 4.84-3.55

Sixth round: 3.54- 2.25

Seventh round: 2.24- .095

UDFA: 0.94-0.0  
Number 23: Jamal Peters, Mississippi State

Image result for jamal peters mississippi state

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 218

Round Grade: UDFA

Number Grade: 0.75

Red Flags: None

 

Early in the season, there was buzz from certain draft media members that Peters could have the makings of a first round pick. That talk put him on my radar and, at first, I was on board with the idea. Peters has the perfect size and length that teams look for in a modern-day press-man corner. Sadly, looking after watching his tape that is all Peters really has going for him. Peters gets burned too easily down the field by speed. He doesn’t have the quickness to keep up with smaller “route running” receivers either. His footwork at the line of scrimmage is all over the place and will have missteps often. Peters will have to try and make the NFL as a special teams player.

 

Number 22: Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State

Image result for kendall sheffield

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’11 and 185

Round Grade: 7

Number Grade: 1.35

Red Flags: Suffered torn pectoral muscle at the combine.

 

Sheffield was billed as a speed demon coming out of Ohio State with reports saying he would run the fastest 40-yard dash in the class. While that is great and all, two problems get in the way for Sheffield. One, he got injured at the combine so he never got a chance to run his forty. Two, there is more to playing cornerback than just being fast enough to keep up with receivers. Sheffield makes too many false steps at the line of scrimmage which leaves him with a lot of ground to make up down the field. His transitions in and out of breaks can be really choppy at times as well. Sheffield may have value as a returner or special teams gunner because of his speed but his corner play leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Number 21: Hamp Cheevers, Boston College

Image result for hamp cheevers boston college

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’10 and 170

Round Grade: 7

Number Grade: 2.28

Red Flags: None

 

Cheevers is the first of a couple of guys who I think should be considered as “slot corner”. Cheevers has a rail-thin frame and gets bullied by bigger receivers on the outside. His best traits should translate well to the slot. Cheevers does a nice job exploding out of breaks to keep up with receivers. His foot speed is also above average which will him stick with those pesky small slot receivers at the next level. The reason Cheevers is a lot lower than some other slot corners is that I have questions about his coverage IQ. He missed a little too many assignments for my liking in 2018. He isn’t going to add anything at the catch point either because he will get out muscled just about every time. If you’re looking for a slot corner Cheevers could be a late day-three steal, however, anything past that is not good value.

 

Number 20: Kris Boyd, Texas  

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Khris Boyd

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’0 and 195

Round Grade: 6

Number Grade: 3.85

Red Flags: None

 

Boyd has all the physical tools you could want in a corner but he fails in the technical aspect of playing the position. He does a good job being physical through the contact window with a strong first punch in man coverage. When in zone coverage, Boyd did a decent job sitting on the top of routes and then working downhill to make a play on the ball. Boyd just bought way too much cheese at the line of scrimmage that put him behind way too often. He has stiff hips so his transitions leave plenty of room for separation. Boyd provides some value as a press-man corner but needs considerable technical work before he should be allowed into an NFL game.

 

Number 19: Derrick Baity, Kentucky

Image result for derrick baity kentucky

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 182

Round Grade: 5

Number Grade: 3.85

Red Flags: None

Baity is actually an okay press-man corner with all things considered. He does a good job being patient at the line of scrimmage and not false stepping. I thought he did a good job playing through the contact window with his hands. His transitions are fairly smooth most of the time and he’s got enough speed to keep up with most vertical threats down the field. The most concerning part of his game are the lack of ball skills. There were too many plays on his tape where he would be stride for stride with a player and then not even contest the catch. When he does go up at the catch point his small frame leads to him getting mossed. Baity isn’t a great run defender either because he struggles to get off of blocks. If Baity can pick up some ball skills and disengagement techniques he can be an adequate starter in the NFL.

 

Number 18: Isaiah Johnson, Houston

Image result for isaiah johnson houston

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 195

Round Grade: 6

Number Grade: 3.96

Red Flags: None

 

Isaiah Johnson is the first of many super raw cornerbacks in this class who have great physical profiles that teams will overdraft them for. I’ll start with the pros, Johnson has exceptional length which makes him effective at the catch point and when closing off throwing windows in zone coverage. His speed is good enough to keep up with just about anybody down the field so he won’t get burned often. Johnson is new to the position of cornerback, and you can tell when watching his tape. His footwork at the line of scrimmage and down the field is super sloppy which allows for easy separation. He didn’t do a good job using his length to affect receivers through the contact window. The simple way of putting that is he isn’t a good press corner despite having the traits of a press corner. Johnson is a full-blown developmental project with enough traits to get excited about on day-three.

 

Number 17: Saivion Smith, Alabama

Image result for saivion smith alabama

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’1 and 198

Round Grade: 5

Number Grade: 4.07

Red Flags: None

 

Smith is someone who got overshadowed a good bit on the Alabama defense, and I think he could have benefited from returning for his senior season. Smith has a good first punch at the line of scrimmage which can stun receivers. He does a good job in “bail technique” where he can see routes developing in front of him and then react. Smith has a pretty aggressive nature which benefits him at the catch point and when he comes up to make plays in the running game. My biggest issue with Smith is around his overall long speed and short area quickness. His testing numbers from Alabama’s pro-day were not great so those concerns still exist for me. He lost too many receivers coming in and out of breaks with them. Smith can provide value as someone who can be an effective zone corner if but in a position to be over the top of routes.

 

Number 16: Jimmy Moreland, James Madison

Image result for jimmy moreland

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 5’11 and 175

Round Grade: 5

Number Grade: 4.21

Red Flags: None

 

Moreland has had a pretty good rise during the pre-draft process this season. First, he balled out at the Shrine Game which earned him a call up to the Senior Bowl. He then proceeded to have a pretty good showing there as well. Moreland is another corner who can only make a living in the slot because of his small stature. Moreland has quick feet and does a good job mirroring receivers all the way down the field. His short area quickness allows him to stay hip to hip with his receiver in and out of breaks. So, Moreland’s greatest strength is his ability to play in the slot, but that is also his greatest weakness. Teams do not value slot corners like they do outside corners. Moreland gets bullied on the outside all the way down the field and at the catch point. If you need a starting slot corner Moreland might be able to come in and fill that role right away.

Number 15: Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt

Image result for joejuan williams vanderbilt

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 208

Round Grade: 5

Number Grade: 4.42

Red Flags: None

 

Joejuan Williams is who fits all of the size requirements but doesn’t exactly back any of it up on tape. Williams does a good job staying in the hip pocket of his receiver in the shorter parts of the field. His ball skills are above average with a couple of really impressive flash plays on tape. His length gives him a natural advantage at the catch point and in closing windows when asked to play zone coverage. One of the biggest question marks with Williams was his long speed down the field. His combine numbers didn’t make me feel any better about it, so I think he will get burned a lot at the next level. Williams needs to be more consistent when he is pressing at the line of scrimmage. He needs to time his punch better and become more patient with his feet. Williams has some intriguing upside as a press-man corner but still needs technical work before he can make an impact on the field.

 

Number 14: Mike Jackson Jr., Miami

IMG_2261
Mike Jackson

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’1 200

Round Grade: 4

Number Grade: 5.06

Red Flags: None

 

Jackson is strictly a press man corner which isn’t really a bad thing it just limits what teams will take him. He does a good job with his first punch to redirect receivers off of their spots. Jackson will use his natural size to pin receivers up against the sideline and suffocate their routes. Jackson has some good ball skills on tape and was frequently wearing the turnover chain for the hurricanes this season. Jackson struggles to change directions because his hips are pretty stiff. His backpedal is stiff, as well, so I can’t see him being much of an option in off-man or zone coverage. His long speed isn’t great either so if he doesn’t get hands on the receiver early they will blow right by him. Jackson could find the field early depending on what team drafts him, but he needs to be in the right scheme.

 

Number 13: Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky

Image result for lonnie johnson kentucky

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’3 and 206

Round Grade: 4

Number Grade: 5.57

Red Flags: None

 

Say hello to yet another cornerback who checks all of the size boxes but has bad tape. Johnson uses his length to affect receivers at the catch point with high frequency. He made some impressive plays on the ball in the Bowl Game against Penn State this past season. Surprisingly, I actually think that Johnson has fluid hip movements for someone as big as he is. He can unhinge quickly from his backpedal to turn and run down the field. The frustrating thing about Johnson is that he doesn’t always use his tools all that well. When asked to play press man he doesn’t use his length enough to suffocate receivers and will open up his hips too soon leaving him open to being burned down the field. Again, Johnson has great traits but needs to use them better or he might not have a defined role at the next level.

 

Number 12: Mark Fields, Clemson

Image result for mark fields clemson

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 5’11 and 180

Round Grade: 4

Number Grade: 5.67

Red Flags: Grumblings of character concerns from Clemson coaches.

 

Mark Fields is such a weird evaluation because you watch his tape and he looks like the best cover corner on Clemson. So, what gives then? He wasn’t on the field all that often and it wasn’t because of injury. Fields was a backup for his entire time at Clemson and just didn’t get a lot of snaps. When he is on the field, Fields shows elite down the field speed with smooth transitions in and out of breaks. His ball production is actually pretty high, especially, for someone who didn’t play that many reps. According to Bleacher Reports draft analyst Matt Miller, Clemson coaches felt “rubbed the wrong way” by Fields so he didn’t get on the field that much. My only knock on Fields on the field play is that he can be too overconfident at times in his speed which leads to some false steps. He’s a smaller player so the slot might be the best place for him at the next level.

 

Number 11: Montre Hartage, Northwestern

Image result for montre hartage

Class: Senior

Height/Weight 6’0 and 195

Round Grade: 4

Number Grade: 5.87

Red Flags: None

 

Hartage is one of my sleepers picks in this years draft class not just with corners. He showed off tremendous ball skills while at Northwestern. He was able to use his patience in zone coverage to bait quarterbacks into bad throws. He does a great job playing through the hands to the receiver to break up passes. His reps in press coverage show some scheme versatility because he possesses a good first punch at the line. Hartage isn’t a great run defender and will often shy away from contact. His speed down the field is also a question mark for me because on tape you can see receivers start to separate from him around 20 yards down the field. He needs to do a better job in out of breaks of staying with receivers. Hartage should be a zone corner at the next level with some man to man upside for good measure.

 

Number 10: Justin Layne, Michigan State

Image result for justin layne

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’3 and 185

Round Grade: 4

Number Grade: 6.3

Red Flags: None

 

There are some people who believe Justin Layne is a top-five cornerback in this draft class but I don’t see it. He has the height and length to be an effective press-man corner at the next level but has some technical problems. Layne has pretty good ball skills that are helped by his IQ in zone coverage and his natural length. He does a good job coming downhill to make a play on the ball. Layne is a physical run defender and will lay down the wood on ball carriers around the line of scrimmage. Layne starts to lose me when talking about his ability to change directions on a dime. He has an extra step when going in and out of his breaks giving the receivers a chance for easy separation. His hips can be a little stiff at times too so, I worry about his ability to keep up with better route running receivers. Layne has the tools to be an elite press-man corner but he didn’t play with that style in college.  

 

Number 9: David Long, Michigan

Image result for david long michigan

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’11 and 187

Round Grade: 3

Number Grade: 6.49

Red Flags: None

 

Long popped off at the combine with a blazing forty-time and three-cone times putting his name on the map. I like Long’s work at the line of scrimmage with staying patient and being squared up to the receiver at all times. Long is a zone cover corner when projecting his role to the next level. He does a good job using his speed and football IQ to close windows in zone coverage. He doesn’t bite on double moves down the field either so you want to see him get burned often. Long doesn’t have the short area quickness that typically goes with being a zone corner at the next level. With that in mind, I think his ball production will drop when he gets to the NFL. Long isn’t very good in run support either which may turn some teams off from him. Long can be a decent starter in a zone scheme at the next level.

 

Number 8: Julian Love, Notre Dame  

Image result for julian love notre dame

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’11 and 193

Round Grade: 3

Number Grade: 6.68

Red Flags: None

 

Love is someone who took a huge jump in play from his sophomore to junior season. This year his ball production went through the roof. He does a great job of playing through the hands of the receiver. Love is a zone corner through and through he uses his football IQ to break on the ball in the flats very well. Love has some elite short area quickness which allows him to close on the ball quicker than most. Love can be stiff in the hip at times which leads to him having trouble staying with receivers in and out of breaks. He’s a little too small to play man vs man on the outside of the defense so his versatility is very limited. Love has some questions with his long speed as well so when if forced to turn and run he will struggle. Love is a solid starting corner in a zone scheme will ball production to back it up.

 

Number 7: Trayvon Mullen, Clemson

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Florida State at Clemson
Trayvon Mullen

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 190

Round Grade: 3

Number Grade: 6.94

Red Flags: None

 

Mullen is another player with good height and length to be a man vs man corner, but he actually played that in college. He has good hand usage at the line of scrimmage with a good first punch to stun receivers. He does a good job of forcing receivers to the boundary making for some tough throwing windows. Mullen had good ball production at Clemson by using his length to disrupt the receiver at the catch point. He showed off his ball skills in the national championship game when he intercepted future Dolphin Tua Tagovailoa. Mullen can struggle with his transitions at times. He will get left at the line of scrimmage by receivers with a creative release. He doesn’t stay in the hip pocket when coming in and out of breaks down the field at times. Mullen provides a solid man coverage corner for a team willing to invest in his upside and ball production.

 

Number 6: Sean Bunting, Central Michigan  

Image result for sean bunting

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’1 and 180

Round Grade: 3

Number Grade: 7.00

Red Flags: None

 

Yes, I’m super high on a small school corner this year. Bunting has all the physical attributes to compete with the big school guys, and I would argue he uses them better than most of the bigger school guys. Bunting is a super smooth corner when going through his transitions. He can unhinge his hips and get vertical very quickly. He did a great job in zone coverage reading the quarterback’s eyes and then reacting to the play. His length gives him a weapon at the catch point to disrupt receivers with. Bunting is a little raw when it comes to his work at the line of scrimmage. His footwork can be sloppy at times, but I saw it improve as the season went on. His first punch at the line could also use some work as typically he doesn’t time it up well. Bunting has all the tools to be a scheme versatile starting outside cornerback with some refinement to his technical skills.

 

Number 5: Amani Oruwariye, Penn State

IMG_2259
Amani Oruwariye

Class: RS Senior

Height/Weight: 6’1 and 204

Round Grade: 2

Number Grade: 7.48

Red Flags: None

 

First off, Oruwariye has one of the best names in this draft class. Second, he’s a pretty good scheme versatile cornerback. Oruwariye is physical in the contact window when asked to play press-man coverage while using his size to push guys toward the boundary. In zone coverage, Oruwariye works best when he is able to sit on the top of routes and break on the ball. He has some pretty impressive interceptions on his tape because of his elite body control in the air. Something that stuck out to me was Oruwariye had trouble getting on the field in his first three seasons at PSU. Penn State isn’t exactly known to be DBU, so its something to keep in mind. Oruwariye also struggles when asked to change directions at times down the field. His hips can get a little stiff leading to some separation. A team who drafts Oruwariye is getting an all-around solid cornerback with scheme versatility.

 

Number 4: Rock Ya-Sin, Temple

IMG_2402
Rock Ya-Sin

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’2 and 190

Round Grade: 2

Number Grade: 7.85

Red Flags: None

 

Speaking of players with fantastic names, Rock Ya-Sin? I mean come on it doesn’t get much better than that. I had the privilege to scout Ya-Sin in person this past season and attend his pro-day. Ya-Sin is a bully at the line of scrimmage just beating up receivers with his first punch and big body. I liked Ya-Sin’s ball skills after watching him in person and on tape. I saw him make plenty of high point plays and a couple of juggling interceptions. He has the needed length to be effective as a zone corner and close down throwing windows which makes him scheme versatile. Ya-Sin may struggle with being penalized at the next level because he can get grabby down the field. His footwork at the line of scrimmage could use a little work too. He has a gather step before making his break that gives receivers an opening to get open. Ya-Sin can be a starter week one for a team running press-man coverage.

 

Number 3: Deandre Baker, Georgia

IMG_2258
Deandre Baker

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 5’11 and 185

Round Grade: 2

Number Grade: 8.28

Red Flags: None

 

Deandre Baker has been one of my favorite corners in this draft class since September and things haven’t really changed much. Baker is a uber physical man to man corner who just sticks to his man all the way down the field. Baker has good foot speed and will close down tight angles to make a play on the ball. Baker does a good job using his football IQ to mask some of his physical limitations. He’s always in the right place when playing zone coverage and reading the eyes of the quarterback. I had some questions about Baker’s long speed but he tested well enough at the combine to get by. The question is about Baker’s character. The chatter throughout the entire draft process is that teams were not a fan of his private meetings. I didn’t want to put a red flag because I can’t pinpoint where this started or why teams felt like he was snubbing them. Either way, Baker is an extremely productive and smart corner option at the next level.

 

Number 2: Greedy Williams, LSU

IMG_2257
Greedy Williams

Class: RS Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’1 and 182

Round Grade: 1

Number Grade: 8.85

Red Flags: None

 

I feel like if Greedy Williams just put in his best effort this year he would be the unquestioned CB 1 in this draft class. It is easy to see on tape that Greedy had no intentions of playing in the running game. He wouldn’t even move towards the line of scrimmage at times to help out his teammates. In coverage, Williams displays potent ball skills combined with elite length that make him a terror to throw the ball over. He has great long speed and can stay with any receiver at any part of the field. His hips are pretty fluid so he can stay attached to the hip pocket in and out of breaks. Willams has all the ability in the world to be a lockdown corner on the outside if he can just put in the effort.

 

Number 1: Byron Murphy, Washington 

IMG_2442
Byron Murphy

Class: RS Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’0 and 175

Round Grade: 1

Number Grade: 8.92

Red Flags: None

 

Byron Murphy is as close to a complete corner as you’re going to get in this draft class. In man coverage, he did a great job mirroring receivers down the field and using short-area quickness to close on the ball. He makes a lot of plays in zone coverage because of his high football IQ. He will read the eyes of the quarterback and react quickly to close on the ball to make the play. Murphy does a good job seeing what routes are developing in front of him and then jumping them. Murphy has fluid hips as well so he can turn and react quickly in zone coverage plus turn and run quickly when playing man coverage. The only grip about Murphy is that he is a smaller corner. I think some teams will view Murphy as a slot corner but he’s got the traits to be a day one starter on the outside.

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