Scouting the Draft: Top 5 Cornerbacks

Scout's draft experts rank the Top 5 cornerbacks entering the 2014 NFL draft complete with each player's strengths, weaknesses and what pro their play most closely resembles.

1. Justin Gilbert | Oklahoma State

At 6-foot tall, 202 pounds with a 4.37 40 time, Gilbert is your prototypical cornerback. His height, weight and speed measurables are as good as you're going to see in a defensive back. Gilbert is an elite playmaker with natural instincts to pick balls off. His ability to jump routes is as good as anyone in this year's draft class. Gilbert is such a savvy ball-hawk due to his ability to intercept balls at its highest point. He's almost like a wide receiver the way he can snatch balls out of the air. Gilbert consistently keeps his head on a swivel, a rarity in the college game. Gilbert is great at turning his head when the ball is in his area. He's also a spectacle to watch as a playmaker, with six total touchdowns this past season. He can return kicks, punts, as well as a threat on interceptions with the ability to take any ball he gets his hands on to the house. Gilbert is also a sound tackler, which is somewhat surprising considering his playing style. His playing style is mostly zone. I'm not sure if that's due to the system he ran, but he just looked so much more comfortable in a zone scheme. In man, I can see his aggression as well as his technical footwork issues getting the best of him. Draft him as a zone guy and you'll reap the benefits. Another note worth adding is that is 2011 tape was great, his 2012 tape was mediocre, and his 2013 tape was superb. Draft with a bit of caution, and understand his scheme fit.

Comparison: Antonio Cromartie

Darqueze Dennard | Michigan State

Dennard is the toughest corner you'll see in this draft. Dennard is extremely physical and has the ability to take a receiver on an island, and essentially take them out of the game. He's very good with his hands and knows how to get in a receiver's head. He bullies pass-catchers with his feisty play, and has the lockdown ability in the pro game. Can press you with his excellent strength, and has the quick hips to stick with his man. However, he's purely a man corner and will get eaten up in a zone scheme. He's also faced some injuries and is a question mark durability-wise, especially with his play style.

Comparison: Poor Man's Darrelle Revis

Bradley Roby | Ohio State

Roby is a tale of two players. After his 2012 campaign many executives across the league expected him to be a surefire top 10 pick coming off such a strong season. However, in 2013 he had some inconsistencies that ultimately cost him some damage to his draft stock. He has the potential to be a terrific man corner, where at times he locked his opponent down with ease. He also is excellent at getting his hands on the football, with extremely quick eyes, and the ability to turn his head. The Buckeye standout might be the best ball hawk in this class, with a rare ability to jump routes, with great awareness of the route tree. He also displays terrific speed, which is a bit odd considering he has slow hips, which is the biggest weakness in his game. He's a very good blitzer could play corner or safety in the pro game with his physical playing style.

Comparison: Asante Samuel

4. Jason Verrett | TCU

Type quick twitch muscle fibers into an internet search engine and a picture of Jason Verrett will pop up. The former Hornfrog star is as explosive of an athlete as you're going to see. His hips are extremely fluid, and he's able to pick up ground on wide receivers in no time. He's undersized but will get in your face and is a scrappy tackler, delivering blows as if he's Roy Williams. Verrett is a very good man corner due to his excellent makeup speed, and should thrive in the pro game. However, he's undersized, and has mediocre eyes, which is a bad combination, and a bit worrisome.

Comparison: Antonie Winfield

5: Lamarcus Joyner

NFL scouts have questioned whether Joyner is a legitimate corner at the next level, but few have doubted the fact that he's going to be an excellent football player. His playing style is very similar to Tyrann Mathieu's and expect him to have the same level of success in the pro game. While being undersized, Joyner hits like a truck. He's a true thumper, stopping halfbacks in their path regularly. He's a water bug across the field, always finding the ball. He's a true playmaker, showing his ability to find interceptions and fumbles with the Seminoles. In the pro game, a defensive coordinator must get creative with a guy like Joyner, using him in the nickel, outside, as well as spotting up at safety. However, his mediocre physical assets as well as being undersized may be his only factor to holding him back in the pro game.

Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu


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