Top Five 2019 NFL Draft Prospects- Cornerback
These guys will be asked to shutdown an opponents receiver corps. Today I rank the top five cornerback prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Greedy Williams- LSU
Bio: Due to the team's depth at cornerback, Andraez "Greedy" Williams was forced to redshirt his first year. In 2017, he led the SEC with 11 passes defended and six interceptions while being named first team All-SEC. He was again named first team All-SEC as well as second team All-American in 2018 after posting nine pass breakups and two interceptions.
Strengths: Long, tall frame. Length to slow receivers at the line trying to start the route. Calm and patient in the early stage of the play. Has the agility and balance to recover from bad reads. Feels the flow of the route and can mirror the receiver's steps. Open hips allow easy change of direction. Knows how to position himself to make plays on the sideline. Eight interceptions in two years as a starter. Able to keep eyes focused between the receiver and quarterback in man and zone coverage. Route anticipation to break on routes. Long strides to crash the passing lane. Long arms to get in front of the catch point.
Weaknesses: Muscle mass and strength needed in frame. Physical receivers can shove him aside. Average release mirror. Lacks initial quickness to follow early crossing routes from the slot. Early recovery acceleration is just average. Grabbing receivers while trailing will lead to penalties in the NFL. Consistent trouble at locating the ball when back is to the play. Plays the hands of the receiver rather than the ball. Pass breakups are resulted from long limbs rather instincts. Won't fight to get off blocks. Below average skills as a tackler with poor wrap up technique.
Pro Comparison: Aqib Talib
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Byron Murphy- Washington
Bio: An All-American at receiver and a finalist as the top defensive back in high school football, Byron Murphy signed on to play cornerback at Washington. He earned first team All-Pac-12 and second team All-American accolades as a sophomore with 58 tackles, four for loss, led the team with four interceptions, 13 pass deflection and a touchdown.
Strengths: Body is slightly underdeveloped, but doesn't look small. High football IQ and instincts for the position. Taught to keep eyes in sight of the quarterback for proper recognition. Plays within his range. Quick feet that are able to plant and go. True playmaker. Had seven interceptions and 20 passes defended against just 87 targets. Good body control downfield to track down and make a play on the football. Super competitive in run support. Runs downhill and hits like a charging safety. Has enough quickness and grit to play across slot receivers.
Weaknesses: Shorter, lighter, and slower than most outside cornerbacks. Has played in just 20 college games. Missed seven games as a junior with a broken foot. Footwork to adjust to receivers getting free is below average. Grabs and attaches to receivers in order to mirror the route. Comes in too hot and can run himself out of the play. More quick than fast with questionable long speed on go routes. Shaky backpedal and lacks smoothness when changing direction. Can be hindered by larger receivers. Doesn't look to be a great jumper. Average recovery acceleration when beaten in press coverage.
Pro Comparison: Denzel Ward
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Oakland Raiders
3. Deandre Baker- Georgia
Bio: In four years at Georgia, Deandre Baker showed great improvement each season. As a senior, he earned both first team All-American and All-SEC while winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back with 40 tackles, two interceptions and a team-high 10 pass breakups.
Strengths: Consistency and competitiveness are staples of his game. Had five interceptions and allowed no touchdowns over the last two years. Confident as a press corner. Occupies release point to slow down routes. Has quick get off to turn and sprint when required. Quick footwork to keep pace with early in the route. Feels receiver's route speed and stays in tune. Good feel for route development and knowing when to break. Phenomenal field awareness and is constantly coaching up his teammates on the field. Stays low and spies on underneath routes from off man coverage. Surprising acceleration to close. Challenges throws by playing the edge. Good timing on high throws. Precise and aggressive swats at the catch point. Able and willing tackler in the open field.
Weaknesses: Small by pro standards with thin lower half. Matching with NFL size on the outside could pose a problem. Opened up too early from press fakes against Alabama receivers. Gets grabby when trying to trail more complex routes. Physicality at the top of routes will draw penalties in the pro game. Plays too tall in the open field. Struggles to read quarterback's eyes to low when to jump routes. Inconsistent at getting free from blocks on outside runs. Lacks great hands for more takeaway opportunities.
Pro Comparison: Josh Norman
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Kansas City Chiefs
4. Trayvon Mullen- Clemson
Bio: A star wide receiver in high school, Trayvon Mullen played reserve defensive back and special teams as a freshman. As a junior, he was second team All-ACC with 37 tackles, four for loss, an interception, and four pass breakups while being named the Defensive MVP of the team's national championship win with six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception.
Strengths: Tall and long. Has experience in a variety of coverage schemes. Offenses rarely targeted him. No touchdowns and fewer than 300 passing yards allowed against him. Can hit with powerful pop from press coverage. Uses lateral quickness to mirror and slow receiver's release. Fast feet and quick burst to chase down out of transition. Basketball mentality to box out and crowd the ball. Smooth and agile hips to recover when mistakes are made. Rarely beaten downfield in Clemson's defense. First cousin of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Weaknesses: Few plays made in three seasons. Thinly built in his lower body. Can be slow to sift through release angle. Has problems following more complex routes. Below average balance in coverage. Inconsistent a staying to his assignment. Feet get over anxious with wasted motion. Instincts are basic and doesn't look to diagnose the play via the quarterback. Tackling technique is poor, dropping his head into contact.
Pro Comparison: Jalen Mills
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Cincinnati Bengals
5. Amani Oruwariye- Penn State
Bio: As a junior, Amani Oruwariye earned second-team All-Big Ten honors with eight passes defended and four interceptions. The following year, he was named first team All-Big Ten after leading the Nittany Lions with 12 pass breakups and tying for the team lead with three interceptions to go along with 51 tackles.
Strengths: Big size with above average length. Passes the eyeball test. Can hassle receivers once he gets his hands on them. Good anticipation and reaction in zone coverage. Impressive tracking and ball locating while trailing. Doesn't overreact to double moves. Physicality limits catch radius around his wing span. Good ball production with seven interceptions over the last two years. Smartly drives to the ball and allows length to make plays. Physical and assertive when defending catch points. Winner against 50/50 balls. Willing to get in the grind as a run stopper.
Weaknesses: Only one season as a fulltime starter. Additional technique work is needed. Stiff hips and heavy feet when trying to march routes from backpedal. Slow to plant feet and take off out of backpedal. Slow to speed up when changing direction. Only a fit for certain schemes. Crossing routes can get the best of him. Lack of long speed and recovery traits are concerning. Forced to stay high in off man coverage due to his lack of speed.
Pro Comparison: Prince Amukamara
Projected Round: 2
Possible Landing Spot: New England Patriots
Other Notable Prospects
Rock Ya-Sin- Temple
- Aggressive when ball is in the air, poor footwork
Julian Love- Notre Dame
- Compact body, better football player than athlete.
Saivion Smith- Alabama
- Physical in coverage, over aggressive at times.
Kendall Sheffield- Ohio State
- Good closing and recovery speed, questionable ball skills
Lonnie Johnson- Kentucky
- Fluid hips, not a polished product.
Darnell Savage- Maryland
- Physical for his size, easily baited.
Justin Layne- Michigan State
- Rare height, struggles against smaller receivers.
Kris Boyd- Texas
- Great in runsupport, slow to change direction.
David Long- Michigan
- Prototype size, not a willing tackler.
Hemp Cheevers- Boston College
- Extremely quick, slim build.
Isaiah Johnson- Houston
- Imposing size, still very raw
Michael Jackson- Miami
- Solid press corner, poor footwork
Joejuan Williams- Vanderbilt
- Great size, too physical for his own good.
Jimmy Moreland- James Madison
- Quick with good ball skills, seriously undersized.