This is a five-part series in which I will take a glance at who to watch for this offseason as the draft process begins. There is still a lot left to be determined, but this will give you an early glance at who some of the top candidates are at each position. In this fourth installment, we will take a look at the cornerback position.
#1 Greedy Williams – LSU – SO: Will be considered by many to be the best cornerback in this year’s draft. He has top-notch athleticism, length, size, and speed. He can do everything you want and need your corner to do, and he’s is a ballhawk and isn’t afraid to tackle. There is some concern about his concentration at times as he seems to lose focus. While he is one of the younger corners in the draft (21 years old), he has a lot of experience in his two seasons at LSU. He is very athletic and flexible, which allows he him to make a lot of plays. He needs to work on tackling as he misses a few that he shouldn’t, but that could be a lack of focus. When he is locked in, he is quite possibly the best corner in the nation.
1st Round Grade – Top 32 Pick
#2 Deandre Baker – Georgia – SR: Baker is a physical player, who plays with high energy and feistiness. He plays very physically at the line of scrimmage and down the field. He uses this physicality to get receivers off their routes or slow them down, as his lack of long speed gets him beat often. He’s very effective versus the run and turns a lot plays back inside. A very intelligent player, with good instincts and knows when and how to pass receivers off.
A solid tackler, who can be overaggressive at times. Has played both outside corner spots and the nickel in college and can play in press or zone coverage, which is his strength. Deandre is a ballhawk and will make a lot of big plays. He will excel when he can use his physicality. He’s not one of the biggest or fastest in this class but is one of the smartest. Has experience against opposing teams best receivers, in the SEC.
1st Round Grade – Top 25 Pick
#3 Julian Love – Notre Dame – JR: One of the most versatile corners in the draft. He can play both corner and safety, and that will help his draft stock significantly. He has home run type playmaking ability, as he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He’s an excellent tackler which is something you don’t see from corners. His size and speed will draw some hesitation from scouts, but his game film shows what he can do. Has outstanding instincts and anticipation. He played his best as a boundary corner or as a safety. Needs to clean up his routes when covering receivers and false steps. Love reads the plays well and has good closing abilities.
2nd Round Grade – Top 50 Pick
#4 Lonnie Johnson Jr – Kentucky – SR: A big, strong and physical corner, who could be looked at as a safety by some. As long as he tests well on the field, with his size and speed, there are a lot of advantages having him at corner. He had a very good senior season at Kentucky, while his numbers may not entirely reflect it. He has ball-hawking skills and is a fierce, big hitter. He’s long and has length, which teams love, especially a team like the Seattle Seahawks. He has played safety position early in career, and that versatility will be a plus for him. What position teams see him playing will determine where he’s drafted.
3rd/4th Round Grade – Top 100 Pick
#5 Rock Ya-Sin – Temple – SR: Here is a player that will go later in the draft but one worth keeping an eye on. He has good size and length and plays with a physical style. Has good flexibility and agility, but takes long strides and needs to improve footwork. Ya-Sin is a solid tackler and is effective against the run. Needs to improve his locating and ball tracking skills, but he will and does make a lot of plays, as long as he’s in position. He’s a bit of a project type player, but there is a lot of potential for teams to like and work with.
4th Round Grade – Top 125 Pick