Top Five 2015 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. Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Bio: After playing alongside Darqueze Dennard, Tran Waynes established himself as a premier cornerback. In the last two years, he intercepted six passes.
Strengths: Good length. Loves to compete in man to man and is mentally tough. Asked to play on an island and did so successfully. Bump and run specialist and has recovery speed to make up for separation. Maintains feel for vertical threats and uses his frame to pin wideouts against sideline. Excels in deep man coverage and can be smothering. Acceleration and length to contest any throw on the field. Well coached and plays with proper leverage in coverage. Can be intimidating and disruptive against finesse receivers. Drives forward with burst and runs through targets jarring balls loose. Wrap up tackler who understands his responsibility against the run.
Weaknesses: Too many pass interference penalties. Would grab opposing wide receivers at top of route at times rather than trusting length and ball skills. Tight through hips and tends to play upright. Struggles to mirror and match against quickness. Hips and feet get clumsy in transition. Allows brief separation window at the top of short and intermediate routes. Fails to sink hips to stop causing balance issues. Sometimes plays with blinders on and anticipation is below average.
Projected Round: 1
2. Marcus Peters, Washington
Bio: Marcus Peters was the ideal defender on the Washington defense. He intercepted eight passes and had a touchdown in his college career.
Strengths: Prototype size for the position. Fluidity in his hips to flip and run. Competes hard out of man coverage and tries to intimidate receivers with his physicality. Can redirect talented receivers with his length and flat out stuff receivers with marginal foot quickness and strength. Stays in pocket of vertical receivers while turning to locate and track ball. Active and disruptive when ball is in the air. At his best when contesting catches and often comes away the winner on 50-50 throws. Outstanding feel for space with ability to track multiple receivers and quarterback at the same time. Closes on throws with above-average burst and brings some force on contact.
Weaknesses: Character and maturity issues. Suspended for one game in 2014 for a sideline tantrum that followed personal foul penalty. Was ultimately dismissed from team over multiple run ins with coaching staff. Inconsistent with footwork and loose with technique. Lacks patience in press and will open up early. Grabby off line of scrimmage and downfield when beaten. Average mirror and match and long speed. Overly emotional and prone to mental mistakes because of it. Slower than expected to squeeze routes in space. Doesn't take to coaching.
Projected Round: 1
3. P.J. Williams, Florida State
Bio: P.J. Williams was the Florida State shutdown man in the secondary. In his three years, he had five interceptions and was the defensive MVP of the 2013 national championship game.
Strengths: Possesses desired height, weight and speed. Able to face up and handle business from press coverage all game long. Length and strength to put a receiver into detour mode off the jam. Waits to open hips up until receiver has committed to his release. Able to turn, run and close and has feel to stay wired on inside or outside releases. Able to get on top of vertical routes and smother. Outstanding timing and ball skills to knock throw away. Instinctive and aware, extending outside of his area to make plays. Sure tackler in open field with second gear to explode into ball carriers.
Weaknesses: Physical down the field and could take time to acclimate to NFL contact rules. Stays on high side down the field opening himself to easy comebacks. Appears to lose some interest when asked to cover in zone. Won't be able to consistently jam savvy NFL receivers off the line. Motor runs hot and cold and although he shows up ready when stakes are high, but puts it in cruise control and play looks less motivated against lesser opponents. Inconsistent to step downhill and attack the run game.
Projected Round: 1-2
4. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
Bio: In three seasons at Oregon, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu helped the Ducks to a 35-5 record. He intercepted nine passes over those three years.
Strengths: Very fluid mover. He can transition like his hips are on a swivel and he has the foot quickness in tight spaces to match. Will transition from man or zone coverage and become a willing tackler against crossing routes that enter his side of the field. Not a robotic defender and adjusts on the fly as plays unfold. Doesn't shy away from tackling. Competitive and won't prematurely open up out of fear. Tracks the ball effectively and has plus ball skills. Mentally tough and twitchy. Aggressive for size in press coverage. Has experience outside and in the slot.
Weaknesses: Undersized. Suffered a severe knee injury after the regular season in preparation for the Rose Bowl. Unorthodox defender who rarely relies on technique and gets in trouble trying to bait throws. Spends too much time trying to read quarterback and jump routes. Prefers to play trail technique but lacks length speed to recover when challenged over the top against bigger targets. Missed more tackles in 2014 than any of his previous seasons. Can get wild and lose technique as a tackler.
Projected Round: 1-2
5. Jalen Collins, LSU
Bio: In three years at LSU, offenses wouldn't want to throw at Jalen Collins. He had 17 passes defended and three interceptions in his college career.
Strengths: Rare combination of height, weight, and speed. Has the foot quickness and twitch to trigger on demand. Uses soft feet to change direction and drive instantly on throws. Has arm length to play from trail position and still knock passes away. Desired awareness in zone with extended playmaking range. Will make plays outside of his area and has speed to come across field to chase down a loose running back or receiver. Able to redirect from press coverage and will only get better with more coaching. Leaper with the ability to challenge and win 50-50 throws. Does his part in run support.
Weaknesses: Has only started 10 games. Plays with talent over technique. Needs to improve patience in press coverage rather than opening up too early. More of a straight line burner than fluid, change-of-direction athlete. A little stiff hipped and is a tick slow to open and accelerate. Plays with build-up speed over instant gas. Inconsistent to turn and find/track the ball. Not a naturally aggressive, physical player. Can hit with force, but doesn't go out of his way looking for it.
Projected Round: 2