For that reason, two players stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of the cornerback group. Louisiana State's Patrick Peterson may very well be the best overall prospect in the entire 2011 class. The Jim Thorpe Award winner boasts a truly rare combination of size, speed and athletic ability and could be the highest-rated cornerback prospect of the last decade. Nebraska's Prince Amukamara displays a similar physical presence in the secondary and often earns comparisons to New York Jets' standout Darelle Revis for his style of play. Both players are a lock to be selected in the top half of the first round.
Peterson and Amukamara could be joined by two others in the first round. Colorado's Jimmy Smith possesses the ideal size and length combination to battle the league's behemoth receivers, but character concerns and off-field issues may cost him some money come draft day. Texas' Aaron Williams is another Big 12 corner that boasts exceptional size, however some teams may view him as a better fit at free safety due to his high backpedal and somewhat stiff hips.
Smith and Williams could potentially slip into the second round, where they will likely be joined by Miami's Brandon Harris. Unlike the previous four on the board, Harris doesn't have great size to matchup physically. Instead, he makes up for his stature with outstanding athleticism, displaying the quick feet, fluid hips and pure speed to stick to receivers like glue in man-coverage.
POSITION REPORT CARD
There is a slight drop-off after the first two players at the position, but that doesn't mean there aren't quality players to be had throughout the second and third day of the draft. This group is filled with intriguing depth from top to bottom, and don't sleep on some of the later-round small-school studs (not listed here, but watch out for The Citdel's Cortez Allen, Southern Illinois' Korey Lindsey and Northwest Missouri State's Ryan Jones). I've assigned this group a B-plus grade.
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