NFL Draft

Kozora: 2017 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

Just as we did yesterday, we’re breaking down my personal cornerback rankings for the 2017 class. Great chatting with you guys yesterday on my thoughts and yours as well. Again, these are my personal rankings of the players I’ve watched. Not who fits with the Pittsburgh Steelers, not where I think these prospects will actually get drafted.

1. Marlon Humphrey/Alabama – 6’0/2 197

Young guy, still 20 years old. Started as a redshirt freshmen for Nick Saban. Straight line speed (4.41). Plays pocket well, strong hands. Aggressive, willing, and overall solid tackler in the open field. Experience in man, zone, pattern matching, though route recognition in matching needs improvement. Shows patience in press and ability to flip his hips, no stiffness. Athletic family. Inconsistent play and did give up some deep balls but put in routinely tough matchups. Can get overaggressive and gamble in coverage, give up the big play. Production wasn’t great.

Personal Grade: Early 1st

2. Marshon Lattimore/Ohio State – 6’0 193

Top athlete. Fluid turn, no stiffness and good punch in press man. Willing tackler and supports the run. Stays in-phase in man coverage, ability to find the football and contest at its highest point. Great workout, 4.38 40 and 38.5 inch vertical and 11 foot broad. Skinny frame, small hands. Only one year of production. Four interceptions in 2016. Redshirt sophomore.

Personal Grade: Early 1st

3. Kevin King/Washington – 6’3 200

Rare size. Solid punch and ability to jam at the LOS but isn’t his only way to win. Does nice job to fake a jam, not shoot his hands. Better in off man and zone than expected, fluid turn. Aggressive, great ball skills and uses size/length to make plays on the ball. Fluid in pedal and turn for how big/long he is. Elite workout numbers (4.43, 39.5 vert, 3.89 short shuttle). Willing but needs to be a more consistent tackler, needs to go higher and see what he hits. Can get aggressive in man coverage and look for the ball, getting out of phase. Cornerbacks/safety experience.

Personal Grade: Mid-1st

4. Chidobe Awuzie/Colorado – 5’11/7 202

Combination of physicality, football IQ, and athleticism. Great blend. Big hitter and one of the best run supporting corners in this class. Violent attitude. Reads route tree well and anticipates where they’ll break. Quick feet and COD ability (4.14, 6.81 shuttle drills). Versatile, experience as a safety, nickel, and outside corner. Three year starter, 255 career tackles. 4.43 40. Short arms and small hands. Needs to improve technique in press, punch with correct hand in order to open his hips.

Personal Grade: Late 1st

5. Tre White/LSU – 5’11/1 192

Great feet and change of direction ability. Good straight line speed. Times his jumps well and ability to play the pocket. Able to play outside or in the slot. Adequate tackler. 47 career starts, started as an 18 year old freshman in the SEC. Lacks gaudy INT numbers, 6 in career. Rare guy who could start in the slot Day One.

Personal Grade: Late 1st

6. Gareon Conley/Ohio State – 6’0 195

Played on the outside and in the slot. Tested really well, 4.44, 37 inch vert, 6.68 three cone. Fluid athlete and does well in man coverage. Finds the ball in the air and does well to finish plays. Willing tackler and closes quickly downhill. Weak upper body strength. Pushed around by stalk blocks and catches too often in press. Six career INTs, 4 in 2016. Trouble finishing as a tackler.

Personal Grade: Mid 2nd

7. Damontae Kazee/San Diego St – 5’10/2 184

Great feet, fluid turn and ability to transition out of his pedal. Small but plays big, one of the top tackling CBs in this class. Physical, sacrifices his body and puts his all into every tackler. Violent impact. Played press at Senior Bowl and did well. High IQ and allows him to break on the ball, make splash plays. Great hands and ability to finish. Top level production. Hard worker, team-oriented, humble guy. Obviously smaller size. Projected to play in slot but has makeup to stay outside like Tavon Young. Doesn’t have a ton of experience in the slot and will have to learn but skillset translates. Short arms, lacks long speed (4.54). 41 career starts, 17 interceptions (school record).

Personal Grade: Late 2nd

8. Adoree’ Jackson/USC – 5’10 186

Quick feet and ability to transition out of pedal in off coverage, able to click and close. Good football IQ and ability to close. Shows technique in-phase and plays the man, not the ball, when appropriate. Willing to support the run. Return value and spent time on offense. Undersized and can get bullied around on the outside. Footwork isn’t great in the slot and in press, clunky. Struggle at catch points. 139 career tackles, 37 receptions, 27.1 KR average.

Personal Grade: Late 2nd

9. Shaquill Griffin/UCF – 6’0/1 194

Triangle numbers (4.38 40). Fluid in man coverage, able to sink his hips and change directions. Uses length well and finishes the play, great ball skills. Aggressive and physical against the run. Has to show better technique downfield, not try to reroute as WR swaps hips. Might not play quite to timed speed. Two year starter. 6 INTs in career.

Personal Grade: Early 3rd

10. Cordrea Tankersley/Clemson – 6’1/2 199

Height/weight/speed guy (4.4). Uses length well, plays pocket exceptionally well. Good hands and shows body control along the sideline. Productive career. Looked better on tape but jumped horribly (29.5 inch vert). Lanky frame. Inconsistent tackler. Too grabby in coverage. Some think he should move to FS. 9 career INTs. Spent one year at Military Academy.

Personal Grade: Early 3rd

11. Quincy Wilson/Florida – 6’1/4 212

Great size, looks the part. More fluid in his turn than expected. Improved hand usage and punch from 2015 to 2016, carried hands higher at the LOS. Uses leverage well along the sideline in coverage. Length to finish the play. Good effort guy. Doesn’t play to size as a tackler. Lacks desire to play the run. Has to open his hips sooner in coverage, not until WR gets even.

Personal Grade: Early 4th

12. Desmond King/Iowa – 5’10 201

Physical, supports the run as well as anyone. Good tackler and force defender. Locates the football well, soft hands and shows return/running back background is evident after the interception. Fluid hips. Experience in man and zone. Elite starting experience, 52 in total. 263 career tackles, 14 INTs, eight of them in 2015. Three in 2016. Lacks long speed. Many have suggested move to safety. Zone corner if he stays. Must use leverage better and control WR release. Stock dropped in 2016 and was quiet during Senior Bowl.

Personal Grade: Mid 4th

13. Corn Elder/Miami (FL) – 5’10/1 179

High football IQ. Quick feet, explosive out of pedal, and creates power on contact despite his smaller size. Versatile, played everywhere in the secondary, best fits in the slot. Disappointed with 40 time at Combine (4.55) but rumored to have been hurt and ran well at Pro Day (high 4.3’s). Going to be valuable special teamer. Underweight with poor length (30 7/8 arms). Drops eyes as a tackler. 21 career starts, only 4 turnovers. 2 total kick/punt return TDs in career.

Personal Grade: Mid 4th

14. Cam Sutton/Tennessee – 5’11/2 188

Fluid athlete and turn. Able to recover when he’s beat, works hard to get back in-phase. Good football IQ, moved to safety for Senior Bowl and handled it well. Also played outside corner and slot there. Punt return ability. Below average size, not the strongest, has to be more aggressive in the run game. Free safety might be his best home at the next level. 4.52 40. Not a lot of tackles, 127 in 45 career starts. 7 career picks. Three career PR touchdowns.

Personal Grade: Early 4th

15. Ahkello Witherspoon/Colorado – 6’2/6 198

New-wave size. 33 inch arms. Ran well at the Combine (4.45). Maybe best ball skills in this class, plays pocket tremendously well and was 2nd in NCAA in pass breakups in 2016 (22). Great leaper on tape and testing (40.5 inches). Length lets him recover when he’s screwed up. Awful tackler, maybe the worst of anyone in this class. Legitimately may have missed more than he made (23 made in 2016). Lanky frame and can get beat up. Tackling angle too low, bad force defender. 21 career starts, left school as a junior. Wants to be a doctor after football.

Personal Grade: Early 5th

16. Marquez White/Florida State – 5’11/6 194

Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Does well to jam at the LOS. Willing tackler. Field side corner, played in space. Long speed is questionable (4.59) but numbers indicated explosion (36 inch vert, 10’3″ broad). Too grabby in coverage, prone to penalties. Two year starter, just three career picks. Played on basketball team freshmen year.

Personal Grade: Late 5th

17. Rasul Douglas/West Virginia – 6’1/5 209

Looks like a corner. Picked up the defense quickly and flourished as a starter, eight interception in 2016 to tie for NCAA lead. Length allows him to play the pocket and compete at the catch point. Good effort player. Played pretty clean in coverage. Average speed. Really stiff in change of direction, allows too much separation on underneath breaking routes. Isn’t comfortable in off man. Average tackler and trouble getting off stalk blocks in the run game. Spent two years at a JUCO before transferring to WVU.

Personal Grade: Early 6th

18. Teez Tabor/Florida – 6’0/4 199

Does well in zone, reads the QB and breaks on the football. Takes good angles to the football in coverage, plays to upfield shoulder. Blend of playing the ball and securing the tackler. Strong punch in press with patient feet. Ran ugly at the Combine (4.62) and even worse at Pro Day (4.7’s), sending up red flags. Only a 32 inch vert. Doesn’t pass athletic baseline to think he’ll succeed despite some quality traits. 26 career starts. 8 INTs. Left school as a true junior.

Personal Grade: Mid 5th

19. Najee Murray/Kent State – 5’8/5 182

Obviously undersized. Plays big, competitive, like his attitude. Times his jump and plays the man/pocket, reads the receiver’s eyes/hands well. Not a super physical tackler but reliable wrap up player who supports the run. Versatile, played everywhere, but will slide into the slot in NFL (where he played most of the time in 2016). Shows good effort, heart. Catches in press coverage, hands need to be tighter. Two year starter. 103 tackles, 2 INTs. Originally committed to Ohio State, played there freshmen year. Broke team rules, had request for scholarship granted, transferred to Kent State.

Personal Grade: Late 6th

20. Jalen Myrick/Minnesota – 5’9/5 200

Blazing fast, 4.28 40. Nice click and close. Willing tackler, embraces the run. High energy player, has some swagger and competitive. KR/PR experience. Really struggles to find the football vertically, lack of length/size doesn’t help either. Stiffer than I expected. Tons of issues playing the catch point, even when he’s able to diagnose the play. Aggressive and can get burned. 21 career starts, 5 INTs. 24.5 KR average, one career score.

Personal Grade: Priority Free Agent

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