NFL Draft Position Rankings 1.0: Cornerbacks
By Jim Johnson
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Ranking the ACC, SEC, Sun Belt, and SoCon 2017 NFL Draft prospects.
The 2017 NFL Draft is just a couple of months away and, as always, the bulk of the top talent is coming out of our coverage area -- the ACC and SEC (with some Sun Belt and SoCon players as well) -- so I will be releasing fluid position rankings throughout the run-up to April 27th. This ranking only includes players from teams that we cover, meaning some of the major players from the other conferences will not be included. Curiously, the rankings wouldn't look much different even if they were, though.
1. Tre'Davious White, LSU
There's a misguided notion that White's value is limited to a slot corner, perhaps because of the perception that he plays soft, but he's an inch shorter and five pounds lighter than Marlon Humphrey, the prototype. Can hold his own outside, or in the slot, increasing his value, if anything. Allowed completions on just 41.7% of throws into his coverage last year. Good ball skills, and a sure tackler. Willing to come up and make stops against the run. Excellent in press, but needs to improve in off coverage. White has pro bowl potential, can fit in just about any system, and on top of everything, can be a lethal option on special teams.
2. Teez Tabor, Florida
People can worry about the combine and pro day numbers all they want, but the production is the production and the film doesn't lie. Everything but the athletic measurables scream future All-Pro. During his time at Florida he had nine picks, 23 pass breakups, and opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating 41.2 on throws into his coverage (if you throw the ball into the ninth row on every play, your rating would be 39.6). He's aggressive and physical, with a playmaking mentality, that could thrive in any scheme. Maybe the combine numbers are right, and he'll get killed by deep speed in the NFL, but his abslutely ridiculous numbers at Florida make him a worthwhile investment.
3. Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson
Ideal combination of size, speed, fluid hips, and ball skills. Can play outside, on either side of the field, in any scheme. At his best in press man coverage, able to stick with even the best route runners. Fits in to a zone scheme, as well, utilizing his speed and burst to close the gaps in off coverage. Overly physical at times, leading to unnecessary penalties. Inconsistent ball tracker, needs to get his head around quicker. There's definitely some things to clean up before he can be a top tier starter, but the pros so greatly outweigh the cons for Tankersley, his potential is off the charts.
4. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
Physically, like a created player on Madden. Smooth change of direction, great acceleration, and legit 4.4 speed that come through on tape. Athletic enough to cover for mistakes. Excels when he keeps the play in front. Elite in zone coverage. Gets off blocks quickly to snuff out screens. Sure tackler in the open field. Struggles with deep balls, in man. Needs to improve ball tracking. In a zone heavy scheme, Humphrey could be very good from day one, but looking ta his strengths, plus his struggles in man, he could be better suited at safety.
5. Quincy Wilson, Florida
An aggressive gambler, always looking for, and often finding, big plays. Big, prototypical modern corner. Capable of finishing receivers' routes before they even get started with a lethal jam off the line of scrimmage. Although, he can occasionally get beat inside for chunk plays if he fails to connect on the jam. Attacks the ball and has a high percentage of interceptions given how little he was thrown at. Relies on size and play strength in man coverage down the field. He may not be able to get away with as much physicality in the NFL, as he was in college. Could be a day one starter if he gets in the system.
6. Cam Sutton, Tennessee
Showed out at the Senior Bowl after busting it to get back on the field, following an injury that sidelined him for six games in the middle of the season. Excels in zone coverage, when he can keep everything in front of him. Good ball skills. Picks up on screens early and nips them in the bud. Struggles in man and can get beat by double moves in press. Misses way too many tackles. May see the field first as a punt returner, but definitely has the skills to, at least, start as a slot corner in the NFL.
7. Corn Elder, Miami
Scouts might call him undersized, but he sure doesn't play like it. Still, fits in best as a slot corner in the pros, not because of his height, moreso due to his lack of straightaway speed and propensity for getting beat in man. Solid in zone coverage. His best asset may be his ability against the run. Very sure tackler in the open field. If properly utilized, Elder could be an immediate impact player.
8. Marquez White, Florida State
Only gave up two touchdowns, into his coverage, over the past three seasons at Florida State. Good size, and plays with above average awareness. Needs to utilize his body more, too finesse for someone with his physical gifts. Saw a lot of time on special teams in college, which may be his best bet to get on a roster early.
9. Aarion Penton, Missouri
Really attacks the ball in the air, and does a good job of high pointing it, although that's partly because, given his size, he doesn't have much of a choice. Not as fast as one would hope for at his stature. Great ball skills make him worth a day three selection, but his overall lack of size and athleticism limits his upside.
10. Jack Tocho, NC State
Hyper-intelligent athlete with good understanding of the position and his role in the defense. Great size for a cornerback. Subpar athleticism. Was eaten up by Deshaun Watson and Clemson's receivers, but other than that was quietly very solid. Awareness and instincts, plus size make him an attractive project, but the questions about his speed and lateral agility are difficult to overlook.