Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DMN Print: Top Cornerbacks

Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (AP Photo)
Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (AP Photo)
Thankfully, for many franchises this is yet another draft dense with cornerbacks. As the college and pro games continue to emphasize the idea of spreading out the defense and attacking them with even more passing, every team will need three “starting” corners. This year’s crop is pretty impressive, with a handful expected to go in Round 1 and likely a dozen or more in the Top 100 picks.

Sturm’s Top 10

Click on the highlighted names for Bob Sturm's individual analysis of players or here for his complete list of 2015 NFL draft profiles.
1.   Trae WaynesMichigan State6-0186Fast, big, and best in class
2.   Kevin JohnsonWake Forest6-0188Excels in any scheme and good size
3.   Marcus PetersWashington5-11197Best press corner skills
4.   Byron JonesConnecticut6-1199Grabbed attention at combine with skills
5.   Eric RoweUtah6-1205Maybe best free safety in draft, too
6.   Ronald DarbyFlorida State5-10193Track star with cover talents
7.   Ifo Ekpre OlomuOregon5-9192ACL injury has dropped stock for many
8.   Alex CarterStanford6-0196Another possible safety/CB combo
9.   Jalen CollinsLSU6-1203Many have him much more highly ranked
10.   Steve NelsonOregon State5-10197Tenacious; Orlando Scandrick clone

Spotlight player

Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

Johnson has the size, mentality and makeup to look for in a corner. He seems capable in man coverage and often runs hip-to-hip with the receiver. He loves attacking the line of scrimmage and also is able to find the ball in the air and make a play. He is beyond confident and occasionally has to be reeled in, but emotionally, he is ready to rumble. He likes to hit.
Unlike another corner valued in a similar spot — Marcus Peters from Washington — Johnson is far more ready to attack the line of scrimmage and is a true team defender, which make his abilities far more useful. I am confident he has the skill set required to deal with the challenges ahead, and he has all the attributes you look for in a first-round corner. He also looks able to contribute on special teams and provide depth.
His negatives are that he borders on overaggressiveness, making him susceptible to double moves, and he can get “grabby” in coverage, which can draw flags. But, if you are Dallas and in need of a player that fits your scheme with tremendous upside and looks to be a real value, Johnson would be pretty high on the list if he falls to No. 27.

The Best

Trae Waynes, Michigan State

Waynes satisfies all my questions about a guy excelling at the next level. He can run the routes for the receiver before the receiver gets to where he is going. He can mirror his man with incredible ease. Now, there is no point in drafting a press-man corner if you simply want to play soft man coverage all day. That said, when someone presses the top college receivers every Saturday and wins more than he loses, then runs a 4.31 at the combine with a 1.53 10-yard split, you assume he doesn’t make it to pick No. 15.


Ronald Darby, Florida State

Darby runs the 40, vertical jumps, broad jumps, and has 10-yard splits near the top-5 percentile in his position group. That means he will always have an extra gear. He is quick and can recover with ease, but he doesn’t have to recover that often. He doesn’t see a ton of action because his guy is rarely even close to open.

Best of Texas

Kevin White, TCU

Sometimes prospects have great measurements, and sometimes you admire a guy for his battle skills and confidence. That is White. He is small — 5-9, 183 pounds — and at 4.63 in the 40, he is not particularly quick either. But he gives you everything he has, gets physical and attacks the ball when the moment dictates. It is dangerous to add value to a player because of the program they represent, but he embodies the TCU-style player that Gary Patterson consistently produces.

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