NFL Draft

Straley: 2022 Top Ten CB Rankings (And Which Fit Best For Pittsburgh)

Check out Owen Straley’s top ten cornerbacks of the 2022 NFL Draft along with some of the most sensible fits for the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout this weekend’s draft.

1. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati

Height: 6026
Weight: 190
Arm Length: 33 1/2
Wingspan: 79 3/8
Hand Size: 9 5/8
40 Yard Dash: 4.41
10 Yard Split: 1.54
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 1st team All-AAC 2019-2021
  • AAC DPOY in 2021(second unanimous selection in league history)
  • 99 tackles 5.5 TFLs 3.5 sacks 18 PDs 9 INTs 1 FF 3 TDs
  • 2021: 40 tackles 5 TFLs 3 sacks 1 FF 3 INTs 4 PBUs 1 TD
  • Did not allow a single touchdown in over 1,000 career coverage snaps
  • Allowed just 13 catches for 117 yards during his 2021 season per PFF
  • Allowed the third lowest passer rating in the FBS in 2020 per PFF, made more plays at the catch point than first downs he allowed
  • Allowed a 39.4 passer rating when targeted as a freshman in 2019
  • 325 of 390 total coverage snaps came in press coverage in 2021
  • Was targeted on average just 2.7 times per game in 2021, allowing just 0.25 yards per coverage snap
  • Allowed a 20.4 passer rating when targeted as a junior in 2021

Sauce Gardner is a prospect that has been on the radar of many in the Draft community since his standout freshman season in 2019. His combination of world class arm length, top end footwork, and elite speed make him an absolute nightmare for receivers in press coverage. He varies his approach in press coverage to keep receivers guessing and is often able to close receivers’ airspace quickly with patience and physicality at the line of scrimmage.

While he predominantly aligned in press coverage, his work in off man coverage and zone assignments is similarly impressive, where his patience, ability to key opposing quarterbacks drops, and efficiency in his transitions allow him to keep routes in front of him while simultaneously contesting quick game “access” routes.

Sauce has the coveted ability to function at a high level on an island, which will allow defensive coordinators to roll coverages away from him and force quarterbacks to take chances against his stringy press coverage. He is simply the best cornerback prospect I have evaluated since I began covering the draft back in 2020, and enters the NFL ready to become a long-term building block in any defensive scheme. That being said, it would be a surprise to see him fall out of the top 10 picks on Thursday night.


2. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Height: 6002
Weight: 190
Arm Length: 30 5/8
Wingspan: 74 1/9
Hand Size: 9 5/8
40 Yard Dash: 4.37(PRO DAY TESTING)
10 Yard Split: N/A
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: 38.5
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 73 tackles 7 TFLs 2 FFs 2 FRs 20 PDs 6 INTs
  • 2019(freshman season): 38 tackles 1 TFL 1 FR 15 PDs 6 INTs
  • Only played in 10 games over his final two seasons after playing in 15 as a true freshman
  • Received First Team All-America honors in both 2019 and 2020
  • Started all 25 games which he appeared in at LSU
  • Top ranked recruit in the nation coming out of high school
  • Recorded a pair of interceptions in the 2019 SEC Championship game, providing a standout performance to help the Tigers in their eventual National Championship run
  • Served as a punt returner at the collegiate level, averaging 11.3 yards per return in his career, including an impressive 16.2 yards per return in his 2020 sophomore season

After serving as a standout on LSU’s 2019 national championship defense, Stingley Jr. was heralded as a generational talent at the cornerback position. In evaluating his tape, he undeniably has the best ball skills in the 2022 class when healthy, along with elite hip mobility and efficient footwork in coverage.

Given the lack of recent tape, playing only three games this past fall and seven in his 2020 sophomore campaign, it will be interesting to see if teams at the top of the draft have removed Stingley Jr. from their board altogether. Regardless, on tape, he is inarguably the second best cornerback in this 2022 class, and has the potential to offer more inside/outside versatility than Sauce, who undeniably functions best on the boundary. While it’s hard to project where Stingley Jr. will ultimately be selected given the fact that he has not played a full season since his standout freshman season, if he is available in the mid to later portion of the first round, any team that selects him could find unprecedented value.

3. Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 194
Arm Length: 31 1/2
Wingspan: 76 7/8
Hand Size: 9 3/8
40 Yard Dash: N/A
10 Yard Split: N/A
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 75 tackles 5.5 TFLs 1 sack 1 FR 5 INTs 15 PDs 1 TD
  • 39 tackles 3 TFLs 3 INTs 8 PDs
  • 2021 First Team All-ACC
  • 2020 Second Team All-ACC
  • 5 Star Recruit out of high school, ranked #8 in his class by Rivals
  • Played 981 defensive snaps in 35 games played, with 15 starts
  • Did not participate in any combine events due to quad injury

When evaluating Andrew Booth Jr., it quickly became clear that his athleticism and ball skills were undeniably at the top of this year’s class. While he is currently at his best working in zone assignments, namely as a deep ⅓ defender in Cover 3 and a flat defender in Cover 2, he produced some impressive reps when given the chance to showcase his skills in press and off man coverage. In off coverage, Booth Jr. lacks the patience to consistently contest quick game, but his ability to cover ground quickly and efficiently out of his breaks makes him particularly effective against intermediate route concepts.

His tackling isn’t perfect, and could use some technical refinement, but his ability to trigger quickly and finish through ball carriers with physicality makes him one of the premier run/screen game defenders in this year’s class. At the collegiate level, Booth Jr. rarely allowed downfield separation, showcasing the ability to high point the football at a higher level than any of his peers in the 2022 class.

While he’ll need to work on using his hands to avoid giving receivers free releases in press coverage, Booth Jr. has all of the athletic tools to eventually become a dominant corner at the NFL level with the potential for inside/outside versatility. He’ll likely hear his name called at some point on Day 1.


4. Trent McDuffie, Washington

Height: 5106
Weight: 193
Arm Length: 29 3/4
Wingspan: 72 3/8
Hand Size: 8 3/4
40 Yard Dash: 4.44
10 Yard Split: 1.58
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 94 tackles 1.5 TFLs 3 FFs 3 FRs 2 INTs 10 PDs
  • 2021: 35 tackles 1 TFL 6 PDs
  • Served as a punt returner for the Huskies, averaging 14.8 yards per return, including an impressive 18.7 yards per return as a sophomore in 2020
  • 2021 All-Pac-12 First Team
  • 2020 All-Pac-12 Second Team
  • Started all but three games in his collegiate career at Washington

The first of two Washington corners on my big board is Trent McDuffie, a versatile corner who showcased inside/outside versatility along with the ability to affect the game from within the box at the collegiate level. McDuffie has extremely fluid movement skills for the possession, allowing him to play effectively in both press and off coverage alignments despite his lack of desired arm length. He also offered some punt return ability for the Huskies, proving to be dynamic with the ball in his hands.

While his ideal home might be in the slot at the next level, the position has become just as valuable as the boundary in the modern NFL, where teams make a living out of 11-personnel. Adding McDuffie could prove invaluable, as his ability to provide stingy man coverage while also serving as an asset in the run game will allow any defense to become more equipped to defend the growing number of teams than can run the ball effectively from 11-personnel sets. He’ll most likely be selected somewhere in the middle of the first round and it would be very surprising if his name isn’t announced at some point on Day One.

5. Kyler Gordon, Washington

Height: 5114
Weight: 194
Arm Length: 31
Wingspan: 74 3/4
Hand Size: 9 1/4
40 Yard Dash: 4.52
10 Yard Split: 1.59
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 98 tackles 3 TFLs 2 FFs 1 FR 2 INTs 14 PDs
  • 2021: 46 tackles 1 TFL 1 FF 2 INTs 9 PDs
  • 2021 All Pac-12 First Team
  • 2020/2019 All Pac-12 Honorable Mention
  • 2021 was his first season as a full time starter in as part of a talented Washington secondary
  • Was named Washington’s Special Teams player of the year in both 2019 and 2020 before becoming a full time starter in 2021

The second of two elite Washington cornerback prospects in this year’s draft is Kyler Gordon, who played across from McDuffie over the past three seasons. Similar to his counterpart in McDuffie, Gordon provides inside/outside versatility, excelling both in man coverage assignments and providing great run support from the cornerback position.

Gordon is great in press coverage, where his combination of patience and physicality to flatten routes consistently makes it tough for receivers to reach their landmarks without disruption. He enters the NFL ready to compete for a sub package role immediately and could serve as a contributor on special teams early in his career, an area he excelled at the collegiate level. Gordon simply has a nose for the football and can help any defense generate turnovers in a variety of ways. He will likely be selected in the late Day One, Early Day Two range and exits college as one of the most polished cornerbacks in the draft, ready to contribute immediately.


6. Kaiir Elam, Florida

Height: 6104
Weight: 191
Arm Length: 30 7/8
Wingspan: 76 1/2
Hand Size: 8 7/8
40 Yard Dash: 4.39
10 Yard Split: 1.55
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 78 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1 FR, 5 INTs, 20 PDs
  • 2021: 29 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 INT, 5 PDs
  • All-SEC First Team(2020)
  • Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalist(2020)
  • All-SEC Freshman Team(2020)
  • Started 26 out of 30 career games at Florida
  • Son of former NFL safety Abraham Elam and Nephew of former Ravens safety Matt Elam

While he doesn’t possess the world class arm length of Sauce Gardner, Kaiir Elam is another intriguing prospect for teams in the draft coveting length and athleticism at the position. Elam is able to use his patient feet, length, and physicality to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage and does a great job of squeezing receivers into the sideline downfield.

In zone coverage, Elam has great instincts and range to cover from the sideline to the hashes in Cover 3 assignments. While his physicality and technique are inconsistent in the tackling department, he has flashed the ability to improve that facet of the game at the next level. He’ll likely hear his name called somewhere in the late Day One, Early Day Two range. 

7. Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State

Height: 6021
Weight: 199
Arm Length: 30 3/4
Wingspan: 73 3/4
Hand Size: 9
40 Yard Dash: 4.33
10 Yard Split: 1.52
Short Shuttle: 3.94
3 Cone: 6.48
Vertical: 40”
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: 132

  • 205 tackles 10 TFLs 1.5 sacks 6 FFs 13 INTs 54 PDs 2 TDs 1 BLK
  • 2021: 50 tackles 2 TFLs 3 INTs 8 PDs 1 BLK
  • 2021 Third Team AP All-American/All-WAC First Team
  • 2018/2020 All-Southland Conference First Team/2019 All-Southland Conference Second Team
  • Posted the quickest short shuttle of any prospect at the 2022 NFL combine, with a time of 3.94 seconds(no other prospect cracked sub 4.00 seconds)
  • Posted the fastest 3 cone time of any prospect at the 2022 NFL combine, with a time of 6.48 seconds
  • Posted the 6th fastest 40 yard dash(4.33 seconds), 7th best broad jump(11’0”), 11th best vertical jump(39’5”) of all prospects at the 2022 NFL combine

Zyon McCollum is certainly a prospect that I am higher on than many in the draft community. Despite his status as an FCS prospect, McCollum produced gaudy numbers in the ball production department and has the tape to back up the numbers. In press coverage, McCollum is extremely patient, forcing receivers to take wide releases where he can dictate their route and locate the football.

Similar to Andrew Booth Jr., McCollum tape flashes downright elite ball skills and high point ability at the catch point. Moreover, McCollum flashed plenty of inside/outside versatility at Sam Houston State, proving to be an extremely effective run defender from within the box. He functions at a high level both from within the slot and on the outside, working best in press man coverage, but also proving to be an effective zone defender as well.

He is an extremely high level athlete, as evidenced by his testing numbers, and it is evident on tape, where he has some of the most fluid hips I have ever seen on a cornerback prospect at the collegiate level. He’ll most likely hear his name selected somewhere on the latter half of Day Two, likely seeing his stock boosted by a standout combine performance.


8. Roger McCreary, Auburn

Height: 5113
Weight: 190
Arm Length: 28 7/8
Wingspan: 70 5/8
Hand Size: 9
40 Yard Dash: 4.5
10 Yard Split: 1.59
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 135 tackles 10 TFLs 1 sack 1 FF 2 FRs 6 INTs 38 PDs
  • 2021: 49 tackles 2 TFLs 1 sack 1 FR 2 INTs 16 PDs
  • 2021 Bednarik Award Semifinalist
  • 2021 All-SEC First Team

Roger McCreary is another prospect who exits the collegiate level with notably impressive numbers in the ball production department. While lack of ideal measurables and testing numbers likely prevent him from being selected on Day One, one could easily argue that his tape is that of a top prospect.

Despite lacking arm length, McCreary’s combination of patience at the line of scrimmage and quick feet to mirror opposing receivers make him particularly effective in press coverage. He saw some experience in the slot at Auburn, and that may end up becoming his path to finding a home at the NFL level. Nonetheless, his dominance against SEC competition makes him one of the most NFL ready prospects in the draft, wherever he ultimately ends up playing. He’ll most likely hear his name called somewhere on Day Two.

9. Jaylin Armour-Davis, Alabama

Height: 6’0 ⅝”
Weight: 197
Arm Length: 30 ⅞”
Wingspan: 74 ½”
Hand Size: 9 ¼”
40 Yard Dash: 4.39
10 Yard Split: 1.54
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: 34.5”
Bench Press: 14
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 36 tackles 1 TFL 3 INTs 9 PDs
  • 2021: 32 tackles 1 TFL 3 INTs 7 PDs
  • 2021 All-SEC 2nd Team
  • Was first named a starter at the cornerback position in fall camp of this past season, primarily saw special teams and sub package work in 2019 and 2020
  • Redshirted in 2018 following a knee injury which kept him out for the entire season

Jaylin Armour-Davis burst onto the scene this past fall, earning All-SEC 2nd Team honors in his lone season as a starter for the Crimson Tide. After sitting behind a talented cornerback room, which at one point in his career included both Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain II, Davis made the most of his opportunity in 2021, flashing top end athleticism and great ball skills when competing at the catch point.

Armour-Davis has some of the best hips in the class, and is particularly effective in off man coverage assignments, where his ability to weave with receivers and close on routes allows him to play top down and compete at the catch point. He enters the NFL with the ability to provide inside/outside versatility, providing the ability to serve as an effective defender when working in the box and defending opponents screen game. He’s an intriguing mid round prospect that will likely hear his name called on the later side of Day Two.

10. Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Height: 6013
Weight: 193
Arm Length: 30 5/8
Wingspan: 73 5/8
Hand Size: 9 3/8
40 Yard Dash: 4.54
10 Yard Split: 1.54
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: 17
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 170 tackles 5 TFLs 4 FFs 10 INTs 35 PDs 1 TD
  • 2021: 44 tackles 1.5 TFLs 2 FFs 3 INTs 11 PDs 1 TD
  • 2021 Jim Thorpe Award Recipient(Nation’s best DB Award)
  • All AAC First-Team Selection in both 2021 and 2020
  • Was a graduate student playing his 5th season at Cincinnati this fall
  • Older brother, Christian Bryant, played five NFL seasons after being selected in the 7th round out of Ohio State in the 2014 NFL Draft

As Sauce Gardner played predominantly on the boundary, his counterpart, Coby Bryant served as the primary field corner across from him over the past three seasons. His best trait is undeniably his ball skills, where was consistently able to compete at the catch point, showcasing a knack for creating turnovers. This past season, he was given the Jim Thorpe Award, a recognition given annually to the top defensive back at the collegiate level.

In off man and zone coverage assignments, Bryant is able to keep routes in front of him and react downhill, where he plants and closes ground efficiently to be disruptive at catch point. His tackling isn’t always consistent, but he has shown the ability to provide some physical sticks coming downhill and has a knack for forcing fumbles with both raking the pocket and utilizing the “peanut punch”. While his lack of ideal measurables and long speed concerns will likely push him into the late Day Two, Early Day Three range, Bryant’s ball skills and versatility in coverage should make him an asset in any NFL defense.


Early Round Targets for Pittsburgh

Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
Kyler Gordon, Washington

Mid Round Targets for Pittsburgh

Zyon McColumn, Sam Houston State
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Late Round Targets for Pittsburgh

Kalon Barnes, Baylor

Height: 5114
Weight: 183
Arm Length: 31 3/4
Wingspan: 76 3/4
Hand Size: 9 7/8
40 Yard Dash: 4.23
10 Yard Split: 1.49
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 69 tackles 3.5 TFLs 1 sack 1 FF 3 INTs 17 PDs
  • 2021: 24 tackles 1 TFL 1 sack 1 INT 6 PDs
  • Played in 41 games over his four year career at Baylor, 2018-2021
  • Was a three star receiver coming out of high school
  • Two time Texas 100m and 200m state champion in high school
  • Owns the Texas high school 100m record, which he set with a mark of 10.22 in 2017
  • Came to Baylor as a receiver before moving to cornerback during fall camp in 2018
  • Was a member of the Baylor track and field team before leaving the team to focus on football



Kalon Barnes, a prospect that I got to witness in person at the East-West Shrine Bowl, is an extremely gifted natural athlete with blazing long speed, solid hip mobility, and great patience in coverage. In press coverage, he is able to force receivers off their path with quick feet and solid patience before using his advantage in speed to carry receivers downfield and squeeze them into the sideline.

His range in covering ground makes him extremely effective in Cover 2 and Cover 3 assignments, where he breaks efficiently from his crossover run. While his ball skills and effectiveness in shedding blocks will need to improve at the next level, his upside with proper development is extremely intriguing for any team. He could prove to be a steal if available on Day 3.

Dallis Flowers, Pittsburg State

Height: 6004
Weight: 195
Arm Length: 31 3/4
Wingspan: 78 1/4
Hand Size: 9 1/2
40 Yard Dash: 4.37 (PRO DAY TESTING)
10 Yard Split: N/A
Short Shuttle: 4.34 (PRO DAY TESTING)
3 Cone: 6.98 (PRO DAY TESTING)
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: 10’11” (PRO DAY TESTING)

  • 2021: 21 tackles 1.5 TFLs 4 INTs 10 PDs 17/573 yards on 17 kickoff returns(33.7 YPA), 2 return touchdowns(98 and 95 yards), both of which were taken on the opening kickoff
  • First Team All MIAA as a cornerback/Second Team All MIAA as a return specialist in his lone season at Pittsburg State
  • Played at NAIA Grand View University before transferring to Division II Pittsburg State for his final year of eligibility
  • Two time NAIA All-American selection both at cornerback and kick returner
  • 2019 at Grand View: 33 tackles 5 INTs, 738 all purpose yards(38.1 yards per KR, 11.1 yards per PR)
  • Broke former Arizona Cardinal John Brown’s kick return average record in his lone season at Pittsburg State
  • Born June 4, 1997, will be 25 by the time his rookie season begins
  • Also attended Tiffin University and Robert Morris University before transferring to Grand View


Dallis Flowers is another prospect who had an impressive performance in both the 1v1 and team sessions during the East-West Shrine Bowl practice week. He was able to frustrate a talented group of receivers in press coverage with patient feet and physical jams at the line of scrimmage. His length allowed him to consistently make plays on the football, particularly in the red zone.

After dominating at NAIA Grand View University both as a cornerback and kick returner, Flowers transferred to Division II Pittsburg State this past fall. Flowers’ combination of speed and size to break arm tackles could make him an extremely effective kick returner at the next level. As a cornerback his long strides and ability to stay patient at the line could make him effective in press man coverage assignments at the next level.

He”ll likely hear his name selected somewhere on Day 3, where he could likely provide immediate impact as a kick returner and a capable press man coverage defender at the corner position, Flowers provides solid upside on Day 3.

Jack Jones, Arizona State

Height: 5106
Weight: 171
Arm Length: 30 3/4
Wingspan: 74
Hand Size: 8 7/8
40 Yard Dash: 4.51
10 Yard Split: 1.54
Short Shuttle: N/A
3 Cone: N/A
Vertical: N/A
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A

  • 92 tackles 2.5 TFLs 1 sack 4 FFs 6 INTs 26 PDs 1 Blk 1 TD
  • 2021: 42 tackles 2.5 TFLs 1 sack 3 INTs 9 PDs 1 Blk 1 TD
  • 2019/2021 All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention(only played one game in 2020 before suffering a season ending injury)
  • Played in 25 games at Arizona State, starting in 24
  • First enrolled at USC in 2016 as a freshman, before starting at cornerback in all 14 games as a sophomore in 2017
  • 2017: 40 tackles 1 FF 1 FR 1 Blk 4 INTs 12 PDs
  • Attended JUCO Moorpark College after leaving USC following both academic and legal troubles
  • Will turn 25 in December of his rookie season


Jack Jones had productive stops at both USC and later Arizona State in his collegiate career, showcasing great ball skills, quickness coming out of his breaks, and a quick trigger in the run game. He also gained experience both on the boundary and in the slot at Arizona State, which will likely help him in his transition to the slot position at the next level.

Jones has a knack for creating turnovers, and tackles extremely well in the open field for a player of his stature. While his lack of functional strength can affect his ability to shed blockers, he is often able to trigger quickly and use his quickness advantage to evade blockers in open space. He has the skills to compete for slot snaps immediately as a rookie. He’ll likely hear his name called somewhere on Day Three.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!