Ranking Top 24 Cornerbacks

Why settle for a pecking order of 10 or 12 prospects when you can get the opinions of scouts on 24 cornerbacks who meet the Packers' height requirements?

Here is how Packer Report ranks this year's prospects at cornerbacks, based on conversations with three scouts, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, and the NFL's longtime lead scout, Dave-Te' Thomas.

Note: The Packers haven't taken a short cornerback since Ron Wolf took Terrell Buckley with his first-ever pick in 1992. Thus, we have left off the likes of Tyrann Mathieu, Robert Alford and the other corners shorter than 5-foot-11.

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama (6-0, 201): Our Cream of the Crop.

2. D.J. Hayden, Houston (5-11, 191): Hayden is one of the more remarkable stories in recent draft history. As a senior, he was first-team all-Conference USA despite missing the last few games after tearing his inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart, during a practice in November. According to the team physician, the injury is fatal 95 percent of the time. At the time of the injury, he led the conference with four interceptions. "It's the most unique injury in the history of the draft," Packers scout Alonzo Highsmith told reporters at Hayden's pro day. "The only people that ever had it aren't alive and doctors have never seen it." In 2011, he forced five fumbles. Ran 4.40 at the pro day; his 33.5-inch vertical being about the only cause for concern. "People were labeling him as a sixth-, seventh-rounder but they got down there for his pro day and everybody's eyes just bugged out of their head," said Thomas, who has Hayden ranked No. 1 at the position.

3. Desmond Trufant, Washington (6-0, 190): Trufant was the best cornerback at the Senior Bowl. The brother of longtime NFL ace cornerback Marcus Trufant and Jets defensive back Isaiah Trufant, Desmond Trufant was first-team all-Pac-12 as a senior. Trufant, who started 45 consecutive games, finished his career with six interceptions, 33 passes defensed and three forced fumbles. According to the Wall Street Journal, "In the history of professional football, there have been five sibling trios playing the same position. To cite a couple of examples, Marty, Carl and Dick Zoll all played guard in the 1920s and '30s; the wide-receiving Richardson brothers — Gloster, Tom and Willie — played in the 1960s and '70s and had three Super Bowl appearances among them; and most recently Derrick, Kevin and Ronnie Harmon played halfback in the 1980s and '90s. If Desmond is drafted, he and his cornerback brothers will bring that number to six." Thomas called Trufant a bigger version of Antoine Winfield. Another scout, however, wasn't sold: "I like the way (Robert) Alford moves better than Trufant. I know Trufant ran a 4.4 but he's just not a real fluid guy, and corners that aren't fluid get exposed in the NFL. I would be surprised if Ted (Thompson) takes him, to be honest."

4. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (6-2, 210): Early entrant started all three seasons, tallying three interceptions in 2012 and eight for his career. A top wide receiver at Miami Norland High School, Rhodes figured he'd play that position at receiver. The Seminoles needed a corner and Rhodes made the move, even though he played one game at corner in his prep career. Then-position coach Terrell Buckley changed Rhodes' mind-set as he struggled with the change. Allowed 13 completions for 88 yards while targeted 47 times. An exceptional athlete, he had a 4.43 in the 40 and a 40.5-inch vertical, plus his 33.75-inch arms are long enough to make many offensive linemen envious. "If he's there at 26, he's got to be in the conversation," a scout said. "I don't think he'll be there, to be honest."

5. Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut (5-11, 201): Our Sleeper.

6. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State (6-0, 191): Oregon State's first consensus All-American since center John Didion in 1968 after intercepting seven passes and allowing 21-of-77 passing. For his career, he intercepted 13 passes without allowing a touchdown, and averaged 25.9 yards on kickoff returns and 10.2 yards on punt returns. As a high school senior at Astoria (Ore.), he was a dual-threat quarterback who piled up 62 touchdowns. "Jordan is a physical hitter," Thomas said. "Jordan will come in and really knock you on your (butt). You go back and look at Ike Taylor down at Pittsburgh, Jordan Poyer's his clone, and he's also a good return man. You're bringing in a guy that not only is a good return man but also is a good coverage man on special teams, so I'm going to get some good value out of this guy early." He's also been compared to Champ Bailey and has an exceptional football IQ. A disappointing 4.54 and 30.5-inch vertical keep him from being considered among the top prospects.

7. Jamar Taylor, Boise State (5-11, 192): Three-year starter and first-team all-conference pick as a senior. He picked off four passes as a senior (and no touchdowns) and had seven for his career to go with six forced fumbles. "I like the guy but I like him more as a free safety," Thomas said. "He reminds me so much of Brian Dawkins. I just don't know about his coverage skills. He bites a lot on play action and misdirection. I'd much rather have him playing the deep secondary than covering a man." Another scout, however, pointed to his bump-and-run skills and 4.39 speed in the 40, 35-inch vertical and 22 reps on the bench in calling him a first-round prospect.

8. Logan Ryan, Rutgers (5-11, 191): Had four interceptions and 17 pass breakups to give him a fourth-ranked 21 passes defensed as a junior in 2012, when he was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back. Ryan might challenge Gratz for best run defender. "That is a student of the game," Thomas said. "That kid, if he makes a mistake, he will not make the same mistake twice. Reminds me a lot of Devin McCourty. Good, good physical player. Could he play safety? Definitely. Could he play corner? Definitely. Could he come in and be the slot corner? Definitely." Ran 4.56 with a 32.5-inch vertical.

9. David Amerson, N.C. State (6-1, 205): Set N.C. State and ACC single-season records with a stunning 13 interceptions and won the Jack Tatum Award as the nation's top defensive back in 2011. He added five interceptions in 2012 and was second-team all-conference. Amerson said he was guilty of gambling too much to start this past season – especially in getting torn to shreds in the opener against Tennessee -- in hopes of replicating his interception total. His 18 career interceptions rank third in ACC history. "The same thing (as Taylor) holds true with David Amerson," Thomas said. "Move him to free safety and you're going to have yourself one hell of a ballhawk." Ran 4.44 at Combine. Said another scout: "I like his accountability (in explaining his early coverage problems). Shoot, five interceptions is a down season? I'd take that. I think he'd be a heck of a safety. Excellent tackler and jumped 38 or 39 on campus, so he's what you want if you're lining up against Calvin Johnson twice a year.

10. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State (6-2, 185): Won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back, with his four thefts giving him a school-record 16 for his career. Against Tennessee, he helped hold Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to just 148 passing yards. Then came a horrible Scouting Combine with his 4.61 in the 40, which sent his draft stock tumbling, and he failed to recover with a 4.57 at his pro day. "I don't think you can play corner at an elite level and run like that," a scout said. "All of our receivers run 4.4. But you like his bump-and-run skills and his run support. But what did (Seattle's) Richard Sherman run? (Answer: 4.54.) If nothing else, I'd use him at safety and dime." Added Thomas: "I'd leave him on the board and hope to dear God that one of the other 31 teams takes him so I don't waste a pick."

11. Sanders Commings, Georgia (6-0, 216): Intercepted three passes, giving him eight for his career. He allowed 11-of-57 passing but yielded four touchdowns as a senior. He missed the first two games of his senior season after a domestic violence arrest on Jan. 21, 2012. Commings, who was drafted by baseball's Diamondbacks in 2008, ran 4.41 with a 34.5-inch vertical at the Combine but his hitting ability might make him a better fit at safety. "The problem with Sanders is that Sanders is too big to play cornerback," Thomas said. "I need to move him into safety. I think he could be a very good strong safety. The problem with Sanders, if I have him at cornerback, he's thinking too much." Said another scout who liked him at corner: "I like him in a press-man scheme. I think he'd fit what you guys do."

12. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut (6-1, 195): Recovered from a knee injury that cost him most of the 2011 season by being named team MVP as a senior. He intercepted one pass to give him eight for his career, and allowed 21-of-46 passing with no completions longer than 18 yards. He played soccer rather than football until his senior year of high school. His parents were born in Liberia; his first name means "trouble." It's his tackling that gives him trouble in the eyes of scouts and is a reason the Packers probably don't think as highly of him as other teams. "I guarantee that he'll go before Wilson of Connecticut," Thomas said in comparing Gratz to Wreh-Wilson. "I don't care what Kiper is saying about first round on Wilson. Kiper has been using too much hair spray." Ran 4.53 with a 36-inch vertical at the Combine but in the mid-4.3s on campus. Said another scout: "I'm running the ball at him all day. He's a good cover guy but he has no interest in the down-and-dirty stuff. I know Deion (Sanders) got away with that but he's not Deion."

13. Darius Slay, Mississippi State (6-0, 192): Spent two years at a junior college and was a reserve for the Bulldogs in 2011 before earning second-team all-SEC honors as a senior with five interceptions. While Banks' stock tumbled at the Combine, Slay's shot up with a 4.36 and 35.5-inch vertical. He's a good tackler when he puts his mind to it — which isn't often enough. "Look, I understand the Combine numbers but that doesn't mean he's a great player," a scout said. "I thought he was OK but nothing special. Is there something to work with? Oh, yeah."

14. Marc Anthony, California (5-11, 196): In 41 games (32 starts), Anthony intercepted five passes, including one pick-six. He ranked third on the team with 7.5 tackles for losses as a senior. His cousin is Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan, and his college position coach was 13-year NFL vet Ashley Ambrose. Ran just 4.63 with 35-inch vertical at Combine. "If he keeps his head in the game, he could be a starter," a scout said. "With how you run your defense, I might want him in the slot."

15. Kayvon Webster, South Florida (5-11, 195): Started 32 games for his career and finished with three interceptions and 15 passes defensed. He led the team with 82 tackles as a senior, with no interceptions but two sacks and three forced fumbles. "In the right scheme, a press scheme, you might have something if you coach him up," a scout said. Ran 4.41 with a 35-inch vertical at Combine.

16. Khalid Wooten, Nevada (5-11, 210): Intercepted two passes to run his career total to 10 and broke up 15 others. He averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns to earn second-team all-conference honors. He's a press-man corner who is strong in run support (three forced fumbles as a junior). Ran 4.53 at the Combine with 33.5-inch vertical and excellent 17 reps on the bench. Compared to Davon House.

17. Will Davis, Utah State (5-11, 186): Earned some All-American honors after tying for second in the nation with 1.69 passes defensed per game. He tallied five interceptions, 17 passes defensed and 4.5 tackles for losses. The five interceptions came in consecutive games — including one that stopped Colby Cameron's NCAA-record streak of 444 passes without an interception. He was a disappointment at the Senior Bowl, however. Ran 4.51 at Combine with 35.5 vertical. "Will had a decent year," Thomas said, "but it was like I'm singing the Peggy Lee song, ‘Is that all there is? Is that all there is?' I look at the guy and I wouldn't touch him until four to five. Some people are telling me two, and I just don't see that in the guy."

18. Marcus Cromartie, Wisconsin (6-0, 195): A two-year starter, Cromartie had one interception and 13 passes broken up during his senior season to be an honorable mention on the all-Big Ten team. Ran 4.41 with a 34-inch vertical at his pro day, working out with Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor and former first-round pick Favian Washington to prepare. "I love his speed and I love the way he hits," said Thomas, who also likes fellow Wisconsin corner Devin Smith as an undrafted nickel prospect. Another scout, however, pointed out Wisconsin's fast track and said Cromartie does not have that kind of elite athleticism on the field.

19. Tharold Simon, LSU (6-2, 202): Early entrant replaced Morris Claiborne in 2012 and netted four of his seven career interceptions. With Claiborne and Patrick Peterson being top-six picks in the last two drafts and Tyrann Matthieu getting kicked off the team, he was the only cornerback on the team who had taken even a single snap in college. As a backup in 2011, he led the team with 10 pass breakups. Upset he didn't turn more of those into interceptions, he spent parts of fall camp at receiver to work on his hands. Ran 4.51 with a 34-inch vertical at Combine. "Athletic-wise, great, great athlete," Thomas said. "Football-wise, I wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole. The reason behind that is he does not play the game smart. Go back and look at film."

19. Rashaan Melvin, Northern Illinois (6-2, 192): Melvin garnered attention as the Huskies kept winning en route to getting to the Orange Bowl. With outstanding length, he set a school record with 17 pass breakups as a senior. He had one interception to run his career total to six. Against Florida State in the bowl game, he had 10 tackles, including one-and-a-half for losses, and forced a fumble. Ran 4.48 with a 38-inch vertical at NIU's pro day.

20. Brandon McGee, Miami (5-11, 193): Intercepted three passes in his two seasons in the starting lineup. He lost his starting job at the start of fall camp, with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio trying to light a fire under his senior. It worked, and McGee was voted a team captain. His physicality in run support and his strength as a tackler could mean a move to safety. Ran 4.44 with a 33.5-inch vertical at the Combine. "I think these kids (at Miami) think that they're entitled to a lot of stuff. They were great athletes coming out of high school but he just never applied himself in college," Thomas said.

21. Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech (5-11, 189): Sweeting didn't have an interception during the regular season of his senior year but ended his career with a bang. Matched against USC's elite receivers, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, he helped limit the Trojans to 107 passing yards while intercepting one pass. Ran 4.42 with 37-inch vertical at Combine. "Yeah, but you'd like to see some production — something, anything," a scout said.

22. Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0 195): Started 26 games, finishing with six interceptions, two pick-sixes, 28 passes defensed and 12.5 tackles for losses. Picked off one pass during his senior season. Early in 2012, he allowed two touchdown passes to Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton. As a junior, he had a 39-yard touchdown off an interception against UCLA to be named defensive MVP of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Ran 4.44 with a 35.5-inch vertical at Combine. "He's someone that will impress you with a stopwatch but once you get him out on the football field, he' a hair's-on-fire type of guy. Just doesn't know what to do and will just run around in circles," Thomas said. Added another scout, "He's got second-round ability but he's just so soft mentally."

23. Travis Howard, Ohio State (6-0, 200): Started 23 times over his final two seasons. Was all-Big Ten as a senior with four interceptions and six more passes broken up. Finished his career with eight thefts. At his pro day, he ran in 4.59 with a 33-inch vertical. He's a physical press corner who needs a good cornerbacks coach to straighten out his footwork and teach him to play more under control.

24. Micah Hyde, Iowa (6-0, 197): Started his final three seasons, ranking 34th in school history with 240 tackles and tied for 18th with eight interceptions. As a senior, he won the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year award after recording one interception, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, three recoveries and four tackles for losses. Hyde was arrested for public intoxication in October — a scout, of all people, witnessed him urinating in public. Ran 4.56 with 33-inch vertical at Combine.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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