Raiders Draft Outlook: Cornerback

There are more pressing needs than corner, but with only three of them on the roster, the Raiders will likely add one in the middle or late rounds. There isn't much quality depth behind Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomugha, but this year's deep cornerback class is a chance to address that need.

With only three true corners on the roster, the Raiders will be looking to add another in next week's draft. It's a particularly deep draft for corners, and with both the offensive and defensive line being priorities, the Raiders could afford waiting until the third, fourth, or even fifth round for a relatively solid prospect.

Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomugha is the one proven commodity, but behind him, Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt have been inconsistent in their production. Johnson is easily the better of the two, but while he had his moments last season, his play was generally frustrating to watch.

Much to the bewilderment of Raider fans and despite his lack of production, the Raiders placed a first and third round tender on Routt this offseason. After Routt, Jonathan Holland is available, although he switches between the defensive backfield and wide receiver. In tight situations or during nickel packages, Michael Huff may sometimes be called upon as well.

At the highest, the Raiders might go with a corner with their third round pick. It would be a disappointment if they did so, considering the team's other needs, but it remains a possibility.

At that position, the biggest names like Joe Haden, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson and Patrick Robinson will be gone. Those prospects are projected to go either in the first round or to the early to mid second round. Kareem Jackson, Dominique Franks, Chris Cook, and Brandon Ghee are all projected as second round picks.

Those eight prospects are rated as the top corners according to Scout.com, but even though the Raiders are likely to miss out on them, there will be plenty of other prospects available starting in the third round and below.

Following a stellar career at Cal, Syd'Quan Thompson is a name that Bay Area fans should be familiar with. What Thompson lacks in size and speed he makes up for in smart and heady play and great awareness. His physical limitations will force him inside and he is better suited in zone packages, but given the Raiders' struggles against the run, Thompson's solid tackling and ability to play the run might be an asset.

Although coming out of a small school (Indiana of Pennsylvania), Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is a name that's hard to forget for more than the obvious reason. Owusu-Ansah has excellent size for a corner at 6-1, 195-lbs., and can even play some free safety in tight situations. He ran a 4.47/40 at the Combine, but did so with an injury and has been timed in the low 4.3's when healthy. There will always be the question of the quality of competition faced, but Owusu-Ansah is solid corner who is adept in man and zone schemes. He is projected to go somewhere in the second or third rounds.

Michigan's Donovan Warren could be a potential steal for the Raiders as teams have been turned off by his poor performances at the Combine and at Michigan's Pro Day. While the Raiders love combine freaks, Warren's situation might be similar to that of current Raider Zach Miller, who fell to the second round in the 2007 draft due to less than stellar workouts. Warren took some time to live up to the high expectations he came to Ann Arbor with, but by his junior year, he was one of the most feared defenders in the Big Ten. Warren is technically sound and excels in man-to-man, press coverage. As the Raiders often play an aggressive style with their corners, Warren might be a great pick if he should fall to the third or fourth round.

Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox is somewhat of a wild card among the mid round corners. Purely based on his defensive abilities, Cox is a third or fourth rounder. However, his skills as a punt returner might push him up further in the draft. The Raiders are well stocked in the special teams department, so Cox's value to the team might be in his shutdown ability, albeit unspectacular.

Javier Arenas out of Alabama is projected to go in the third or fourth round, but what hurts him from going higher is his lack of size. At 5-9, 195-lbs., there are legitimate questions of his durability and it's hard to see him keeping up with the size and speed of NFL wide receivers. Arenas is physical in coverage, does well in run support, and has some value as a returner.

Like Donovan Warren, UCLA's Alterraun Verner might be a high value pick for the Raiders. Verner capped off a stellar career at UCLA by being named First Team All Pac-10 in his senior year. Although his size and lack of straight-line speed have been somewhat of a concern, Verner is very productive playmaker, as evidenced by his 13 career interceptions and five career touchdowns. Verner played in a defensive scheme that relied on man-to-man coverage, and like Warren, he would fit in nicely with the Raiders' secondary.

Kentucky's Trevard Lindley has seen his stock drop after a poor Combine performance. Although his size and speed have come under question, Lindley's technical skills make him a worthy pick in the fourth round. He is physical at the line of scrimmage and does a great job at sticking with receivers.

Myron Lewis is an intriguing prospect at corner. At 6-3, 202-lbs., Lewis has amazing size for a corner. However, despite his stature, Lewis doesn't play as physically as you would expect, and there is talk that he would make the move to free safety once drafted. Lewis is projected to go in the fourth round, and for a team willing to take some time in developing him, he could reap the benefits as an equalizer against big wideouts.

The Best of the Rest (listed in order of Scout's rankings)

Jerome Murphy (South Florida)

Amari Spievey (Iowa)

Devin Ross (Arizona)

Stephan Virgil (Virginia Tech)

Jamar Wall (Texas Tech)

Brian Jackson (Oklahoma)

Walter Thurmond (Oregon)

A.J. Jefferson (Fresno State)

Josh Moore (Kansas State)

Chris Hawkins (LSU)

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