Scouting the Draft: Cornerbacks

If the Packers don't get their guy in first round, there will be plenty of taller options in Round 2 and beyond.

In Part 16 of our Green Bay Packers draft preview, we examine the cornerbacks who will be drafted beyond Round 1.

ROUNDS 2-3

Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio) (5-11, 195; 4.57): There are big questions about Rollins, too, though of a different variety. Rollins was named the MAC’s Defensive Player of the Year with his MAC-leading seven interceptions. And that’s it for his college football resume. Before that? He was a standout basketball player for the RedHawks. He’s 12th on the MAC’s all-time list with 214 steals and is fourth in school history with 391 assists.

“I'm a Quinten Rollins guy,” Mayock said. “I called (Miami coach and former Notre Dame assistant) Chuck Martin and had a long conversation with him. For the kid to not play any college football to step on the gridiron and pick off seven passes and become the MAC Defensive Player of the Year is pretty mind-boggling to me. It's a great story. He's quick, he's explosive, he has great jumping skills. I think the one question I have with all the scouts is what is the long speed. I don't think he's that fast. There were questions at The Senior Bowl. It didn't look like he had make-up speed.”

It didn’t show up at the Combine, either. His arms are 30 1/4 inches long, at least three-quarters of an inch shorter than the top prospects’ arms — a key asset for press coverage. He’s probably best suited to playing in the slot or at safety.

“Considering that Rollins has played just one season of college football and was a high school running back, he showed that he could be a physical tackler who shows aggression taking on contact,” reads his scouting report. “Even though he played in the second/third level, he showed urgency moving down the line and tackle. He's also physical in coverage, doing a nice job of reading the receiver's eyes. That ability allowed him to gain the success he had going up and knocking the ball away with his back to the play.”

P.J. Williams, Florida State (6-0, 194; 4.57): Williams was first-team all-ACC as a junior in 2014 with one interception, 11 passes defensed and 6.5 tackles for losses. He had three interceptions in 2013, including a huge one to help rally Florida State in the national championship game. Quarterbacks were 11-of-78 against him in 2014 and he tacked on 6.5 tackles for losses, which hints at his physical style. His 40 time leads to questions about his position and his recent arrest for DUI didn’t do him any favors after avoiding hit-and-run charges following an October accident.

“With 22 passes defended during 24 starting assignments, Williams is the type that will make quarterbacks pay for poor throws. One reason I have him still listed as a safety option is his centerfielder-like instincts and hands, as he utilizes his athleticism to full advantage when battling on jump balls. He also knows how to contort his body to make difficult catches with his hands extended away from his frame.”

Alex Carter, Stanford (6-0, 196; 4.51): In his three seasons, Carter was an honorable mention on the all-Pac-12 team all three years. He had one interception and 10 passes defensed in 2014. His father, Tom, played at Notre Dame and was the Redskins’ first-round pick in 1993. Tom played safety and that might have been where Alex was headed until a strong Combine: 4.51 in the 40, a 40-inch vertical and 4.07 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle. With that, he shows that he has the size-to-speed ratio needed to cover the field with great range and acceleration.

“Carter does a good job of anticipating the quarterback when playing in the zone and generally makes good reads and adjustments to flow to the ball. He will try to reroute receivers with a press, showing confidence in his strength to be effective there. He has the ability to distinguish between pass and run plays, so there is no concern that he will be fooled by play action.”

Josh Shaw, USC (6-1, 201; 4.44): Shaw is the Brian Williams of this year’s draft. Shaw sprained both ankles when jumping off a balcony in late August. Shaw made it sound like the act of a hero as he allegedly saved a drowning nephew. Instead, he jumped off the balcony to evade the police, who were called to the scene after a verbal altercation with his longtime girlfriend. Between injuries and suspension, Shaw’s senior season was a flop. After intercepting four passes while starting at safety and cornerback and earning some all-conference honors in 2013, he played in only three games in 2014.

“If you throw off-the-field out and evaluate him as a football player, he helped himself in a couple of the all-star games,” Mayock said. “I think he's a long press corner. I think he's not as good in off-coverage. He's got tight hips. He's not as good off. But when you line him up and play press, he competes. But he might be a third- or fourth-round press corner, but then you've got to kind of filter in some of the off-field stuff, and I'm not sure what's going to happen there.”

Teams don’t appear concerned about the incident, chalking it up to an act of immaturity. Of course, it helps that he’s big, fast, explosive and strong (a defensive backs-best 26 reps on the 225-pound bench press.) About the only thing he lacks are ball skills (six career picks).

“Shaw has drawn comparisons to the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman, as he has the broad shoulders and strength to be quite effective as a run stopper and he could easily add another ten pounds to his frame with no drop-off in quickness. He looks very natural and decisive anticipating and jumping the play, as he makes solid moves to close on the ball, especially vs. plays in front of him.”


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCOUTING REPORTS from the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.


ROUNDS 4-7

Craig Mager, Texas State (6-0, 201; 4.44): A four-year letterman who started each of his 48 games, Mager was second-team all-Sun Belt Conference as a senior with three interceptions and 13 total passes defensed. He also averaged 12.3 yards on punt returns. His 10 pass breakups in 2014 and 39 breakups in his career are school records. He is Thomas’ “Super Sleeper” at the position, with his Combine workout (38-inch vertical) answering questions about his deep speed. He’s a tough, fearless run defender, as well.

"Mager has not only developed into one of the elite cornerbacks in college football, but is also regarded as one of the hardest hitters at his position. A student of the game who spends so much time in the film room, the coaches have to ask him to leave. Whether playing in the zone or in man coverage, he has proven to be perfectly capable of giving his pass coverage a very long afternoon before the game is over."

Jacoby Glenn, UCF (6-0, 179; 4.64): Glenn left UCF following a redshirt sophomore season in which he was named a second-team All-American and the American Athletic Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He intercepted seven passes and broke up 11 others to rank among the national leaders in both categories. Glenn picked off two passes and broke up 15 in 2013 to earn Freshman All-America honors. “He plays almost all off coverage, but he's got really good feet, made a lot of plays on the ball, will tackle,” Mayock said. “I think he's quietly moved up some boards. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he's a third-round corner.”

His speed is an issue. Combine that with his lack of bulk, and teams have to wonder if his college production will translate.

“Even with his marginal speed, Glenn displays smooth movement skills, as he has the loose hips needed to quickly open, turn and change direction,” reads his scouting report. “There is no wasted motion or extra steps taken by this defensive back at the top of backpedal when transitioning forward and while he can be beaten on deep patterns, he has very good short-area closing quickness.”

Nick Marshall, Auburn (6-2, 207; 4.54): At quarterback, he led Auburn to the national title game as a junior (59.4 percent, 1,976 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions passing, and 1,068 rushing yards and 13 more scores) and was even better as a senior (60.8 percent, 2,532 yards, 20 touchdowns, seven interceptions; 798 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing). During Senior Bowl Week, Marshall announced he was going to corner.

“I'm intrigued by the kid,” Mayock said. “He had the guts to come out to the Senior Bowl and roll the dice a little bit with about five days of practice at corner. Now, I know he played as a freshman (at Georgia), but to have the guts to roll out there and say I'm going to go cover some of the best wideouts in football, coming off playing quarterback in the last few years, that shows me something, and I liked it. He's long, he competes.

Added Thomas’ scouting report: “While some teams (and even Marshall) think that he is better suited to play cornerback, his lack of coverage skills and just average overall quickness makes me see him as a better fit using his strength and quarterback’s experience as a centerfielder-type of free safety.”

Darryl Roberts, Marshall (5-11, 187): Roberts had a huge pro day with a 4.38 in the 40, 39-inch vertical, 23 reps on the bench and a 6.66 three-cone time. He worked out for the Packers. He intercepted five passes while making 42 career starts. As a senior, he picked off one pass but finished among the national leaders with 18 passes defensed.

Damian Swann, Georgia (6-0, 189; 4.50): Swann was around the ball a lot during a senior season in which he was named second-team all-SEC. He picked off four passes and broke up eight others, recovered four fumbles (including one for a 99-yard touchdown) and finished fourth in tackles. The three-year starter finished his career with eight interceptions and six forced fumbles. He looks like a good fit at the nickel because of his physicality and strength.

Randall Evans, Kansas State (6-0, 195; 4.44): Evans has great size, speed and athleticism (38-inch vertical). He started for two-and-a-half seasons, with four of his seven career thefts coming as a senior. Evans played mostly in the slot. The stopwatch notwithstanding, he doesn’t always play to that speed and can be overaggressive.

Donald Celiscar, Western Michigan (5-11, 194; 4.62): Celiscar was an all-MAC selection in each of his final two seasons. As a senior, he was a first-teamer with a team-high four interceptions and tied for the national lead with 21 passes defensed. He recorded 10 picks in his four seasons. He’s an aggressive, hands-y cornerback who probably would have more value if this were the 2013 draft — a year before the league cracked down on contact.

Ladarius Gunter, Miami (6-2, 202; 4.69): After one season in junior college, Gunter started 30 games during his three seasons with the Hurricanes. He picked off six passes and broke up 18, including two picks and six PBUs as a senior. His Combine was terrible (also a 33.5-inch vertical.)

“He has the body control, balance and adjustment skills to get to off-target throws. He needs to use his hands better in attempts to jam, but when he doesn’t fight the ball, he can look it in for a clean interception.”

Garry Peters, Clemson (6-0, 191; 4.61): Peters emerged during his first season as a full-time starter. The second-team all-ACC performer had only one interception but led the team with 15 passes defensed. He’s a bump-and-run corner with a run-stopping mind-set, which should be appealing, but he lacks a quick burst. His seven reps on the bench didn’t help.

JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas (5-11, 199; 4.65): On and off the field, Shepherd had an outstanding senior season. He was first-team all-Big 12 after intercepting three passes and ranking third nationally with 19 passes defensed. Off the field, he won the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award and was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. He played receiver as a freshman, which is why he’s got such good ball skills. He needs some patient coaching to hone his game.

Tye Smith, Towson (6-0, 195; 4.60): As a senior, Smith was first-team all-Colonial, a third-team All-American and was the lone cornerback to be a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the best defender in FCS. He intercepted one pass and broke up eight others while finishing second on the team in tackles. In his three seasons as a starter, he picked off four passes. His 40 wasn’t great but his 36.5-inch vertical, scorching 3.96 in the 20-yard shuttle and long arms make him an intriguing package. His inability to tackle was exploited by West Virginia.

Julian Wilson, Oklahoma (6-2, 205; 4.58): In 11 games as a senior (missed two with a broken thumb), Wilson had one interception – a 100-yard pick-six vs. Tennessee – and a career-high seven passes broken up. In 22 career starts, he intercepted four passes. Wilson was all-Big 12 in academics all four seasons. So what’s the problem? He’s just not very good — but he’s worthy of a look.

Robertson Daniel, BYU (6-1, 209; 4.46): In two seasons, he intercepted three passes and broke up 23 passes. He had a big pro day with a 35.5-inch vertical and 24 reps on the bench.

Tray Walker, Texas Southern (6-2, 191; 4.53): Walker had a predraft visit to Green Bay. The appeal is obvious as he’s the tallest cornerback in this draft. At pro day, he ran in 4.53 with a 34.5-inch vertical. He’s a bump-and-run corner who grabbed four interceptions as a senior. He’ll need some coaching, as he mostly won because of his talent.

Curtis Riley, Fresno State (6-0, 190; 4.50): The juco transfer had no interceptions and eight passes defensed as a senior. The whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts.

Dexter McDonald, Kansas (6-1, 203; 4.43): McDonald had two stints at Kansas. He started in 2013 and 2014. As a senior, he had two interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Along with the 40, he had a 40.5-inch vertical at pro day. His press-man skills should be appealing.

FIVE WILD CARDS

Cam Thomas, Western Kentucky (6-1, 200; 4.67): Thomas was a three-year starter who finished his career with 11 interceptions. He’s worth a look at safety because of his press-man skills and physicality in run support.

Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (5-11, 188; 4.56): Everett, a three-year starter who didn’t receive a Combine invite, finished second on the team with 79 tackles while intercepting one pass and breaking up seven others. He ran in 4.49 with a 38-inch vertical at pro day. A scout projects him to a safety or nickel defender. He just isn’t as good as he should be.

Bernard Blake, Colorado State (5-11, 178; 4.51): As a full-time starter his final two seasons, he had a combined two interceptions and 25 passes defensed. He’s just so light that he’s going to be a liability against physical receivers and the run game.

DeVante Bausby, Pittsburg State (6-1, 177; 4.58): In his three seasons as a starter, he intercepted nine passes — including four as a senior. He’s going to have to get tougher in run support if he’s going to make it.

Al-Hajj Shabazz, West Chester (6-1, 200; 4.63): The two-year starter had four interceptions and 12 passes defensed as a junior and four interceptions and 15 passes defensed as a senior. Because of his speed, he might have to go to safety.

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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