As the same with the safeties, cornerbacks are crucial for a successful team defense against today’s NFL offenses. My series on evaluating each positional group in the NFL Draft continues with the cornerbacks. Who is the best player in the position group? Safest pick? Boom-or-bust pick? Underrated? Sleepers? Let’s dive in!
Best Player in the Position Group: Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State)
For the second year in a row, a team in the Top 5 is going to take a cornerback and be extremely happy with the physical specimen they are getting (Jalen Ramsey to Jacksonville last season). Lattimore has the skills to be a lockdown corner due to his rare speed and recovery ability in man coverage. The scary part may be that he is still raw in some areas of his game. We likely could see Lattimore being the best cornerback as a rookie and then one of the best in the league in a few years.
Safest Pick: Gareon Conley (Ohio State)
Conley is a player who will likely getting taking in the first round because you know what you are getting with his ability. He is a solid overall corner with great length and size on the outside. He can play man or zone and do both with above average production. He may not be an elite athlete, but he knows how to play the position very well and can be a quality starter for a decade in the NFL.
Boom-Or-Bust Picks: Teez Tabor (Florida) & Adoree’ Jackson (USC)
Tabor gets consideration from teams because of his ball skills. He has the ability to get his hand on the ball in the air and nab interceptions. The issue will be his character concerns and blown coverages on tape. There are times he looks like a first-round Top 10 player with his ball skills, and then a couple plays later gets beat easily. A coach who thinks he can coach this issues will take him early.
Jackson is a playmaker in open space. His ability to turn in big plays as a return man will help his overall draft stock. This is when it gets interesting because he has the ability to be a deadly return man for a team, but may lack consistently in playing cornerback. Even if you are great in the return game, it’s hard to keep you on the roster if you can’t contribute anywhere else. He should go to a zone coverage team that can use his ability to make plays with the ball.
Underrated: Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)
The more tape and investigation I have done with Tankersley, the more I like him. He likely will be higher on my draft prospects board as we get closer to the draft. A very productive corner in college with the ideal measurables. He will be a solid man corner and in run support for a team that values those two aspects in a cornerback’s game. The appropriate defensive scheme, likely a 3-4 team that relies on cornerbacks being able to mirror receivers in man coverage, will be very happy to have him.
Sleeper: Shaquill Griffin (Central Florida)
A player who caught my eye during combine coverage. I had to go back and do some more investigation on him as a player. The physical abilities are one of the best in the class, but he needs coaching and technique work. I could see him being a versatile defensive back in the NFL. I think a team that relies on zone coverages and players that can play in space will snatch him up to possibly play slot corner. He may be comfortable in the future as part of base defense with two safeties as that team’s strong safety that also needs to be good in coverage.