After four of our top prospects were selected in the first round, here are some Day 2 options at cornerback. The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the second round (Nos. 33 and 61) and one pick in the third round (No. 93).
Note: Tackles, interceptions and passes broken up/defensed are from STATS and/or the schools. Other pass-coverage numbers are from ProFootballFocus.com’s Draft Pass. The rankings used in this story were based on 25 prospects — our Top 22 (minus one-small school player without data) plus four who might be eliminated based on testing.
Kevin King, Washington (6-3, 200; 4.43 40; 3.89 shuttle; 6.56 3-cone; 39.5 vertical): King started at safety as a sophomore before spending his final two seasons as a press-man cornerback. During those two years, he tallied five interceptions and a total of 29 passes defensed. He had two picks and 15 passes defensed as a senior. According to PFF, King ranked 14th in yards per pass route (0.87), 12th in passer rating (55.6) and 14th in completion percentage (50.0). “Not too many guys are used to having that constant pest on them, nasty and long. And I'm going to get the ball. When the ball's in the air, that 50/50 ball isn't really 50/50. There are bigger guys in this league, and you've got to go up and get the ball.” One of those interceptions came against Arizona State — a remarkable, one-handed grab that sparked a blowout victory. King missed way too many tackles (nine). Not only does King have elite height but check out those testing numbers, which blew away the cornerback field. He was almost one-tenth of a second faster than anyone else in the shuttle and three-cone. He didn’t always play with that type of change-of-direction agility but at least he can be coached into it. Due to his height and length and injuries to other players at corner, King probably will be gone before Green Bay is up at No. 29. He certainly knows the game: King’s head coach at Bishop O’Down High School in Oakland was former NFL linebacker Hardy Nickerson and his defensive backs coach was former NFL safety Donovin Darius.
Quincy Wilson, Florida (6-1 1/2, 211; 4.54 40; 4.02 shuttle; 6.86 3-cone; 32 vertical): Junior. Wilson was second-team all-SEC in 2016 with three interceptions and six additional pass breakups. Wilson and Teez Tabor formed one of the best cornerback tandems in the nation. “It’s kind of like little brother, big brother type of thing, where growing up, you don’t want your brother to be better than you,” Tabor said. “You want to be better than your brother. And just that competition every day for three years since we’ve been here.” Ultimately, Wilson has passed Tabor in the eyes of the scouts we have spoken to. He is a physical press-man cornerback with excellent length and hand size. You wish he were a touch faster but his shuttle was the third-fastest in our group. According to PFF, he ranked third in yards per pass route (0.63), third in passer rating (29.9) and fourth in completion percentage (32.7). However, he missed 10 tackles. Wilson’s father, Chad, played cornerback for Miami (Fla.) in the early 1990s. Younger brother Marco signed to play for Florida in January.
Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado (5-11 7/8, 202; 4.43 40; 4.14 shuttle; 6.81 3-cone; 34.5 vertical): Awuzie was a jack-of-all-trades defender during his four seasons, playing cornerback, nickel, safety and even some outside linebacker. He has the unusual combination of ranking fifth in school history with pass deflections (35) and first among defensive backs with nine sacks and 26 tackles for losses. As a senior, he had one interception, 13 pass breakups, four sacks and two forced fumbles. According to PFF, he ranked 21st in yards per pass route (1.10), 23rd in passer rating (84.3) and 19th in completion percentage (55.4). Awuzie missed eight tackles, though that at least was better than his 13 in 2015. Some of that unsightly number, however, is being stationed so close to the action. He’s one of the few corners in this class with extensive slot experience. “Instincts,” he said when asked about nine career sacks. “I'm just a ballplayer. I always have the mentality of 'See ball, get ball.' No matter where I'm lined up, I'm going to tackle him. If the ball's in the air, I'm going to tackle him on a play. And that's the way my mentality is.” Awuzie has a Micah Hyde skill-set by with much better athleticism. The third-shortest arms and the second-smallest hands in our group of corners might forever limit his big-play production. He had only three picks for his career. As a kid growing up in San Jose, Calif., Awuzie wasn’t allowed to play backyard football games. “I didn’t get to really play with kids because I was too rough. We’d play games, and they’d say I couldn’t play with them because I was just going to hurt somebody.” That toughness was put to the test when he suffered a lacerated kidney as a sophomore.
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson (6-1 1/4, 199; 4.40 40; 4.32 shuttle; 7.00 3-cone; 29.5 vertical): As a senior, Tankersley started all 15 games for the national champions. He had four interceptions, 11 additional breakups (15 passes defensed) and six tackles for losses. Two of the picks came in the ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech. According to PFF, he ranked fifth in yards per pass route (0.64), fifth in passer rating (40.6) and 10th in completion percentage (47.6). As a junior, with opponents targeting star Mackensie Alexander (now with the Vikings), Tankersley intercepted five passes. The Packers no doubt will find that production appealing. He has the odd combination of being a physical cornerback — almost too physical — but a poor tackler with six misses in each of the past two seasons. His vertical leap was horrible and somewhat mitigates his outstanding size and length. “I’m a man-press corner. I played a lot of man. At Clemson that’s all we do is play a lot of man.”
Sidney Jones, Washington (6-0, 186; 4.47 40; 4.28 shuttle; 7.02 3-cone; 33.5 vertical): Junior. Jones was in contention to be the No. 1 corner off the board until he tore his Achilles at Washington’s pro day. He intends to be back on the field in October, though “hoping” and “playing” are two entirely different things. He was a three-year starter who earned All-American honors in 2016 and Academic All-American honors in 2015. In 2016, Jones intercepted three passes, broke up six others and forced two fumbles. According to PFF, he ranked seventh in yards per pass route (0.70), seventh in passer rating (42.1) and 11th in completion percentage (47.9). In 2015, Jones was first in the Pac-12 with 14 pass breakups, fourth with four interceptions and tied for second with three forced fumbles. His three-year totals were eight interceptions, 21 additional breakups and six forced fumbles. He is at his best in press-man coverage, though there’s really no scheme Jones couldn’t play. “I’m a lockdown corner. I bring everything to the table. I’m an all-around football player. I bring great ball skills to the table, instincts and high football IQ.” Teammates called Jones “Sidney Lake” because Jones’ highlights showed up on defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake’s teaching tape all the time. “What do you know about that?” Jones said with a laugh when that was brought up. “They say I’m Sidney Lake because I do everything basically the right way and I’m kind of the example when he puts an example on the screen of how to do things.” Jones missed four tackles last year and 16 in three seasons. His arm length and hand size is slightly below average.
Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado (6-2 3/4, 198; 4.45 40; 4.13 shuttle; 6.93 3-cone; 40.5 vertical): Witherspoon tied teammate Tedric Thompson for No. 1 in the nation with 23 passes defensed, coming on one interception and a school-record 22 breakups. According to PFF, he ranked 12th in yards per pass route (0.86), 10th in passer rating (50.9) and second in completion percentage (31.8). It was an incredible season, considering Witherspoon had four pass breakups while starting eight games as a junior. He missed eight tackles in 2016 and 10 in 2015 and was a liability vs. the run. With 33-inch arms (tied for second-longest) and 9 7/8-inch hands (third-largest), he is a press-man corner. Adding to the tools is the best vertical in our group. Witherspoon played only one year of high school football, focusing instead on basketball, baseball and soccer as a kid. Witherspoon is a late riser, so to speak. He was only 5-foot-8 as a high school senior. He took his 4.4 grade-point average to Sacramento City College in 2013. Then he grew 7 inches in 16 months and was on his way to Colorado, where he has perfect grades as a pre-med student. “Being a small guy most of my life, you have to learn to be technical because you don’t have a physical presence. Combining that with the physical presence that I have now, that technical savvy is something that I understood and it’s something that I have focused on in my training.”
Cam Sutton, Tennessee (5-11 1/4, 188; 4.52 40; 4.23 shuttle; 6.81 3-cone; 34 vertical): As a four-year starter, Sutton intercepted seven passes and broke up 30 others for a school-record 37 passes defensed. Plus, he had 13 tackles for losses, forced three fumbles and averaged a sizzling 14.6 yards per punt return with three touchdowns. He returned for his senior season in hopes of becoming a first-round pick. Instead, he missed half of the season with a broken ankle sustained in a September game against Ohio. In seven games, he had one interception, four passes broken up and two tackles for losses. According to PFF, he ranked 23rd in yards per pass route (1.15), 18th in passer rating (68.4) and 24th in completion percentage (60.0). He missed 25 tackles the past three seasons, including five last year. “I just don’t see myself fitting at one position. I am a guy that is willing to work at any position they need me to. I didn’t do it much at school because they needed me on the outside but, starting with the Senior Bowl, they were able to move me around from strong safety to free safety, I played nickel, I played corner. So I was able to show that versatility that I was able to move. Whatever teams need from me, I am able to do those things.” Sutton is tied for the shortest arms and has the smallest hands in our group. He lacks the length and strength for press coverage but has the toughness necessary for the nickel role.
Fabian Moreau, UCLA (6-0 1/2, 206; 4.35 40; 4.12 shuttle; 6.94 3-cone; 38 vertical): Moreau, who started 40 games over the past four seasons, is adept in any coverage scheme. As a senior, he intercepted two passes and finished sixth in the conference with 10 passes defensed. According to PFF, he ranked 13th in yards per pass route (0.86), 17th in passer rating (67.4) and 18th in completion percentage (51.7). In 2014, he had one interception and eight passes defensed. In between, he missed most of the 2015 season with a Lisfranc foot injury. He suffered a torn pectoral while working out at UCLA’s pro day. He might be ready for the start of training camp. He was a running back and wide receiver at Sunrise (Fla.) High School and played receiver and running back at UCLA before settling in at cornerback. Moreau only intercepted three passes in his career. Is it because he’s somewhat new to the position? Or because he just doesn’t have that playmaking skill? He has below-average arm and hand sizes and two major injuries.
Howard Wilson, Houston (6-0 5/8, 184; 4.57 40; 3.94 shuttle; 6.68 3-cone; 33.5 vertical): Redshirt sophomore. Wilson ranks as one of the top ballhawks and best athletes in the class. He intercepted three passes as a true freshman in 2014. In the third game of his sophomore year, he intercepted his first pass of the season but sustained a torn ACL on the return. Wilson returned in 2016 and intercepted five passes and breaking up 10 others for a total of 15 passes defensed. According to PFF, he ranked 15th in yards per pass route (0.88), eighth in passer rating (44.6) and 13th in completion percentage (48.1). He’s got short arms but big hands. Only King beat Wilson’s shuttle time. For his frame and lack of strength (10 reps on the bench), he’s not a run defender.
Shaquill Griffin, UCF (6-0 1/8, 194; 4.38 40; 4.14 shuttle; 6.87 3-cone; 38.5 vertical): Griffin turned in a big senior season with four interceptions and 15 additional passes defensed to go with 50 tackles. According to PFF, he ranked 17th in yards per pass route (0.92) and 15th in passer rating (63.4) but sixth in completion percentage (39.7). Griffin got his first crack at the starting lineup as a junior and tallied two interceptions, 13 breakups and 50 tackles. Griffin tightened up his tackling, going from eight misses to four. He has the odd combination of having among the longest arms but the shortest hands in our group. Twin brother Shaquem Griffin recorded 92 tackles, including 20 for losses, during a big junior season. Shaquill was born 1 minute before Shaquem. Remarkably, Shaquem has only one hand. Doctors removed it when he was 4 years old. Due to a birth defect, the fingers in his left hand were the consistency of jelly and in constant pain.
Rasul Douglas, West Virginia (6-1 5/8, 209; 4.59 40; 4.26 shuttle; 6.97 3-cone; 33.5 vertical): Douglas took the nation by storm as a senior with eight interceptions. He added eight more pass breakups to finish with 16 passes defensed. According to PFF, he ranked 24th in yards per pass route (1.22), ninth in passer rating (45.0) and ninth in completion percentage (44.1). The Packers, who have more interceptions from cornerbacks than any team in the league since 2009, no doubt will covet Douglas’ playmaking skill. “Just being in the right position. The rest is on me. It’s instincts, knowing routes and what’s going to happen, and playing with the proper form.” He missed five tackles. He did not play much press-man at West Virginia, but he’s got the arm length (tied for fifth-longest in our group) to play that scheme. With suspect speed, it will be a necessity. The big season was a big payoff for Nelson, an All-American at Nassau (N.J.) Community College. “It’s just a blessing. I never thought I would be here, especially in juco, when there were days that I wanted to quit and wasn’t right to play. It’s definitely a blessing. I definitely considered quitting. I went days without eating and still had to be at practice, still had to lift, still had to be at school there were times when I couldn’t focus because I was so hungry.”
Brian Allen, Utah (6-3 1/8, 215; 4.48 40; 4.34 shuttle; 6.64 3-cone; 34.5 vertical): Allen started his career at receiver but wound up playing 32 games at cornerback. Nine of his 12 career starts came as a senior, when he had four interceptions and broke up six other passes. According to PFF, he ranked a dead-last 25th in yards per pass route (1.36) and passer rating (86.0) and 21st in completion percentage (55.0). Of his 35 tackles, 4.5 came behind the line of scrimmage. He had no interceptions and four passes defensed in his previous seasons combined. He “hated” the move to defense, where he felt like a fish out of water because he didn’t even know how to tackle anyone. With 34-inch arms that would be the envy of some offensive linemen (and are the longest in our group) and 10-inch hands (tied for the largest), Allen is a natural press-man corner. He is all potential at this point with that speed and agility (second-fastest in the three-cone). Patience will be required. The move to receiver wasn’t the only change in Allen’s life. Last summer, Allen welcomed his first child, a daughter named A’mya, with his wife, Paula.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.