Early on in the draft evaluation process for myself, one thing became crystal clear. No matter who declares, and who doesn’t declare, the 2017 NFL Draft is going to be STACKED at cornerback. The biggest question mark is, “what kind of cornerback do you want?”
To quote a saying from a scout I know, it is almost likened to picking an ice cream flavor. Some prefer a flavor like ‘cookie dough’ and others like ‘rocky road.’ It really depends on what your flavor is. Some NFL teams play zone-based or Tampa 2 style of defenses. Others play more aggressive man to man systems. In this article, I will tailor to all the needs.
While I haven’t finished reviewing all the underclassmen that could possible declare, I finished many of them. If I leave a few off that could be early round draft picks, please forgive me.
Let’s look first at the best ‘Tampa 2’ or ‘Zone coverage corners.’ Chidobe Awuzie from Colorado is my absolute favorite. He’s a 4 year starter and has outstanding movement, flexibility, experience and size. Teez Tabor from Florida is another guy that fits this mold. He’s a physical turnover machine for Florida. He has outstanding read and react ability and tremendous ball skills. Desmond King is a senior from Iowa that is probably the most reliable tackler in the draft. He’s also a turnover machine and can really find and locate the football. He isn’t an outstanding athlete, and will give up on some underneath throws, but he’s as close to a Ronde Barber as your going to get.
Adoree Jackson from USC can play in any defensive scheme and some zone teams will love his big play ability and knock for finding the football. He’s a coverage liability at this time, but he shows the fluidity and instincts and athletic prowess to be a very good playmaker at the next level. Quite possibly the most explosive, playmaking defensive player in this draft.
When it comes to press man to man corners, there are a LOT to choose from. My two personal favorites are Cameron Sutton from Tennessee and Sidney Jones from Washington. Both are physical, competitive, nasty, chippy and aggressive corners that have the movement skills and height and length to be shut down guys at the next level.
Marlon Humphrey from Alabama is a redshirt sophomore that has all the traits teams are looking for, but is still a bit raw. A physical guy, but isn’t quite there yet in certain aspects of his game. Will need some time to develop, but will likely go higher than he should. Tre’Davious White from LSU is an outstanding change of direction guy. Shows the fluidity and movement skills to stick on receivers like glue and has a lot of experience for LSU.
Marquez White is a very chippy little guy that displays outstanding swagger and confidence. Very fluid and agile mover. Shows excellent coverage ability and movement skills. His biggest issue is holding up in the running game. He’s a liability tackling. Kevin King from Washington and Tankersley from Clemson have all the height and length you’re looking for. And Lewis from Michigan is a very solid man to man corner as well. But he might be limited to a slot corner.
All in all, the cornerback class is shaping up beyond nicely. The question is, “what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?”