NFL Draft: Scouting the Cornerbacks

One of the richest positions in the draft, talent will be available early and often at cornerback. As many as five players hold first round grades with an additional seven possessing initial day skill. Here are scouting reports on the top twelve cornerbacks.

Full Name: Tye Hill School: Clemson Pos: CB

Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 185 40: 4.38 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Former running back who switched to cornerback as a sophomore and has started ever since. All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 43/3/4. Junior numbers included 52/21.

Pos: Terrific shutdown cornerback coming off an outstanding senior season. Quick-footed in reverse, fluid flipping his hips and loses nothing transitioning with opponents. Easily stays downfield with receivers, reading their eyes then getting his head back around to locate the ball. Quick planting to the throw and adjusts in midair to make the interception. Physical and supports the run.

Neg: Marginal size and loses out in battles. Has average hands.

Analysis: A track sprinter who translates his speed onto the football field, Hill has been on a straight shot up draft boards the past six months. Performed well last season then had an outstanding Senior Bowl. First-round selection who should quickly break into a starting role at the next level.

Full Name: Antonio Cromartie School: Florida State Pos: CB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 208 40: 4.51 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Missed the entire ‘05 season after injuring a knee in the pre-season. All-Conference selection the prior year with 22/4/6. Saw extensive playing time as a true freshman, posting 19/1/2.

Pos: Natural cover corner who shuts down opponents. Physical, sized well and jams opponents at the line. Mirrors receivers down the field and offers blanket coverage. Flips his hips in transition, quickly gets his head back around and immediately locates the ball. Aggressive in run defense.

Neg: Lacks quick and fluid footwork in reverse. Slow reacting to receivers' moves.

Analysis: A junior who entered the season with high grades before his knee injury, Cromartie offers terrific upside for the next level. Will see playing time as a rookie if given a clean bill of health.

Full Name: Kelly Jennings School: Miami-Fl Pos: CB

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 180 40: 4.47 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-Conference honors as a senior after posting 31/3/13. Junior totals were 25/2/5.

Pos: Natural cover corner with starting abilities in the NFL. Quickly transitions off the line, runs with opponents downfield and stays with receivers out from breaks. Instinctive, quickly locates the pass and has good ball skills. Fluid in all his motions, quick-footed on the field and willing to mix it up.

Neg: Possesses a slim build, gets out-positioned or loses out in battles.

Analysis: A consistent player, Jennings took his game to another level as a senior and now sits as a possible first-round selection. Has the skills to be used in either zone or backed off the line of scrimmage and should quickly break into a starting line-up.

Full Name: Johnathan Joseph School: South Carolina Pos: CB

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 193 40: 4.37 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Junior college transfer coming off a breakout campaign. Posted 55/4/9 last year after playing in just two games during his initial season with the program.

Pos: Nice-sized athlete with excellent upside for the next level. Physical, will mix it up and defends the run. Quick moving in reverse, displays an excellent break to the ball as well as a burst of closing speed. Gets vertical to defend the throw and adjusts in mid-air for the interception. Follows receivers across the field or mirrors them down the flanks and positions himself to make a play on the ball.

Neg: Displays a lot of hesitation in his game and is not instinctive. Misses tackles. Prefers to side-shuffle.

Analysis: A developing cornerback, Joseph flashes the ability to completely shut down opponents. Still raw and a prospect who needs a lot of development yet offers the underlying skills to start in the NFL.

Full Name: Ashton Youboty School: Ohio State Pos: CB

Ht: 5-11.5 Wt: 189 40: 4.47 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors as a junior after posting 56/1/9. Tied for the Big 10 lead in interceptions as a sophomore with four.

Pos: Nice-sized prospect who flashes ability as a shutdown corner. Fluid transitioning off the line, quick closing to the play and offers solid ball skills. Strong at the point and physically beats down opponents to defend the throw. Has a burst of closing speed breaking to the throw.

Neg: Suffered a hip pointer in the middle of his junior season and struggled during the second half of the year. Does not display a good sense of timing or wherewithal. Bites on play-action passes and seems to forget where he is on the field.

Analysis: A good athlete with exceptional corner size, at times Youboty looked like a dominant player the past two years. Struggling down the stretch of '05, he offers tremendous potential yet has a ways to go before completing his game.

Full Name: Richard Marshall School: Fresno State Pos: CB

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 189 40: 4.47 Year: 4Jr

Bio: All-Conference selection as a junior after leading the team in tackles, posting 78/3/11. Sophomore totals included 61/3/5.

Pos: Physically gifted cornerback who shuts down opponents. Works to get out of jams against opponents at the line of scrimmage, displays good footwork in all directions and loses nothing in transition. Displays a great burst of speed, timing and flashes on the scene. Clings to opponents in downfield coverage, not afraid to mix it up, and is a willing defender in run support.

Neg: Hesitant in zone coverage. Struggled against top competition last season.

Analysis: Possessing excellent size/speed numbers, Marshall is an athletic prospect with a great amount of upside. Needs to fine-tune his game yet offers starting potential.

Full Name: Alan Zemaitis School: Penn State Pos: CB

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 194 40: 4.51 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-Conference honors after his sophomore and senior campaigns. Numbers last season included 51/6/10 after 47/2/6 as a junior. Career-best totals of 71/4/8 came as a sophomore.

Pos: Coachable, shutdown cornerback with plenty of upside for the next level. Physical throughout routes, displays good footwork in all directions and quickly reads the action. Quickly breaks to the pass and gets vertical to make the interception. Displays terrific hands for the pick, consistently stays with assignments and positions himself to make a play on the ball.

Neg: Rarely used in zone and presents himself as a cornerback best facing the action.

Analysis: An instinctive ballplayer with solid physical skills, Zemaitis is a high-character prospect with great work habits. Offers starting potential in the NFL and will see plenty of playing time as a rookie.

Full Name: Charles Gordon School: Kansas Pos: CB

Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 180 40: 4.62 Year: 4Jr

Bio: Multipurpose player awarded All-Conference honors at cornerback and special teams last season. Defensive numbers included 21.5/2/3 with a 9.7 average on 41 punt returns. Also lined up at receiver and totaled 34/313/2. All-America and All-Conference selection as a sophomore when his defensive numbers 57/7/8.

Pos: Explosive athlete who impacts the game in a variety of ways. Quickly diagnoses the action at cornerback, works well with safeties and immediately breaks to the throw. Displays footwork pedaling in reverse, loses nothing in transition and has opposing quarterbacks throwing away from him. Reads receivers' eyes then quickly makes a play on the ball. Soft-handed receiver continually making the difficult reception down the field with defenders draped on him.

Neg: Lacks top-end speed and not winning foot races. Has trouble battling big opponents.

Analysis: A tremendous athlete who contributes in all phases of the game, Gordon is a playmaker every time he steps on the field. The greatest value is his potential as a shutdown cornerback, yet the versatility to break games open as a return specialist will get him on the field as a rookie.

Full Name: Cedric Griffin School: Texas Pos: CB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 199 40: 4.57 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Four-year starter used at both corner and safety. All-Conference selection as a senior after 86 tackles and 15 pass defenses. Junior numbers included 68/2/6. Outstanding special-teams player throughout college.

Pos: Physical cornerback with good upside potential. Jams opponents at the line, fluid turning his hips and easily runs downfield with receivers. Quickly breaks to the throw, has a burst of closing speed as well as a hard-hitting style. Active in run defense, attacks opponents and shakes the ball loose with jarring hits.

Neg: Mentally hesitant, slow locating the ball and gives up receptions when he should not. Struggles making plays with his back to the ball.

Analysis: A terrific athlete with good upside, Griffin could start at the next level in the proper system. Best in a zone system or press coverage.

Full Name: Marcus Maxey School: Miami-Fl Pos: CB

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 198 40: 4.50 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Posted 24/2/3 as a full-time starter during his senior campaign. Junior numbers were 21/0/3 when he started four games.

Pos: Developing cornerback with excellent size/speed numbers. Easily runs downfield with opponents, quickly locates the ball and displays a good move to the throw. Gets vertical and adjusts to defend the pass. Explosive breaking to the play and has a good burst of closing speed. Fast enough to make up for mistakes.

Neg: Marginally productive based on limited playing time. Does not consistently use his size as an advantage.

Analysis: Offering outstanding upside potential, Maxey is a raw prospect who should get better with experience. Could be used in a variety of systems and has starting potential.

Full Name: William Blackmon School: Boston College Pos: CB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 198 40: 4.47 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Two-year starter at cornerback before moving to receiver as a senior, leading the team with 51/763/4. Also averaged 22.2 yards on 22 kickoff returns last year. All-Conference selection as a junior with defensive totals of 46/3/2.

Pos: Versatile football player with the ability to be used at a variety of positions. Solid pass catcher who displays a sense of timing. Effortlessly adjusts to the errant throw and shields away opponents with his frame. Quick-footed, sells routes and displays a burst of acceleration. Possesses top ball skills at cornerback, recognizing the action and forcing quarterbacks to throw away from him. Physical, mixes it up against opponents and works to get involved.

Neg: Gets tall in his backpedal on defense. Must improve his tackling technique. Lacks true top-end speed.

Analysis: A bright, articulate prospect who wants to improve, Blackmon offers a good degree of upside and versatility at the next level.

Full Name: Anwar Phillips School: Penn State Pos: CB

Ht: 5-11.5 Wt: 193 40: 4.52 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Two-year starter who posted 30/1/10 as a senior after junior totals of 41/4/10.

Pos: Confident, physical corner with excellent measurables. Fluid moving in reverse and smooth transitioning to run with opponents. Works well with safeties, displays a solid head for the ball and quickly breaks to the action. Comes up the field in run-support fighting to get off blocks, and has a burst of closing speed.

Neg: Comes out of his backpedal quickly and prefers to side shuffle. Has trouble staying with receivers out from their breaks. Does more hitting than wrap-up tackling. Makes questionable decisions.

Analysis: A defender with solid natural abilities, Phillips flashes skill yet needs to play with solid fundamentals on an every-down basis. Offers potential at corner and safety.

Complete Cornerback Rankings - Complete NFL Draft Rankings

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