POSITION OVERVIEW: There has always been something of a stigma taking cornerbacks in the first round of the draft. Often times, corners have difficulty early in their careers adjusting to the pro game, where they have to be both physical to jam receivers at the line, and speedy to play one-on-one cover defense and cut distance when beaten by a double move.
However, that has changed in recent years, as players like Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey, who have been high-level talent, nix that perception in a hurry. So it is this season, as a pair of corners — Quentin Jammer of Texas and Phillip Buchanon of Miami — are both expected to be off the board in the first 10 or 11 picks in the draft. Some feel the Vikings won't have a shot at Jammer, who could easily go in the top three picks, but will give a long look to Buchanon in an effort to give the team a pair of cover corners.
While that may not happen, the CB crop is going to produce as many as a dozen players taken on the first day and the possibility of four or more going in the first round.
THE TOP OF THE HEAP
Quentin Jammer, Texas, 6-0, 204 — Fiftth-year senior played as a true freshman in 1997 but missed the 1999 season with a shoulder injury...A three-year starter who was a starting free safety as a sophomore before moving to cornerback for the last two years...In three years as a starter, he had 179 tackles, 54 passes broken up and seven interceptions...Two-time All-Big 12, unanimous All-American selection last year and a Thorpe Award finalist...Built like a safety but has top corner speed...Physical cover man who is a jammer at the line...Excellent tackling ability...Good in run support...In his last two years with the Longhorns, allowed just one TD pass...Doesn't play as well in a tentative zone situation...Did 18 reps with 225 pounds and had a 36-inch vertical jump at the Combine. PROJECTION: A player everyone needing a corner wants and shouldn't make it past the third pick, whether Detroit keeps it or not.
Phillip Buchanon, Miami, 5-10, 186 — Third-year junior who became a starter at midseason in 2000...In his last two seasons, he had 68 tackles, 16 passes broken up and seven interceptions...Is a guy who has benefited from playing for a national champion with several potential first-round picks...Has great skills in the cover game, making him one of the few true shutdown corners in the draft...Is adept in man-to-man and zone coverage...Has exceptional speed and can track down the ball...Stood out in a secondary that included Ed Reed and Mike Rumph, both of whom some see as first-rounders...Isn't ideal height for an NFL corner...Isn't as strong vs. the run as some scouts would like...Did not work out at the Combine. PROJECTION: A guy some people think the Vikes will take — they had him in for a visit — but a player who definitely won't make it past Indy at No. 11.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Lito Sheppard, Florida, 5-10, 194 — Third-year junior and two-year starter...Two-time All-SEC and two-time All-American...In two years as a starter, he had 82 tackles, 11 passes broken up and eight interceptions...Exceptional punt returner...Excellent bump-and-run corner...Known for making big plays that turned games around...Only FU player to see playing time as a true freshman in the secondary in 1999...Great recovery speed...A little too short for a prototype NFL CB...May not have great strength to jam receivers...Had only 11 reps with 225 pounds at the Combine, but may have made up for it with a 37-1/2 inch vertical jump. PROJECTION: Viewed as a click behind Jammer and Buchanon, he shouldn't make it out of the first round because of his ability and his experience in practice against a high-powered passing offense.
Derek Ross, Ohio State, 6-0, 195 — A third-year junior who sat out the 1999 season...Only became a starter last year after replacing Nate Clements, who was taken on the first round last year by the Bills...In his only full season as a starter, he had 39 solo tackles, six passes broken up and seven interceptions...Better size than Jammer or Buchanon...Excellent single-cover corner...Has strength and speed to play bump-and-run...Hasn't played enough to give some scouts a true read of his talent...Raised some red flags since he's coming off shoulder and toe surgery...Ran a disappointing 4.56 40-yard dash at the Combine and did 17 reps. PROJECTION: He's an OSU CB, which means that, for the same reason Florida wide receivers get dropped on some rankings, he'll get bumped up. He was the man at OSU, which has produced Clements, Ahmed Plummer, Antoine Winfield and Shawn Springs in recent years. That could be enough to make a pedigree-savvy team take him late in the first or early in the second round.
Keyuo Craver, Nebraska, 5-10, 200 — Fourth-year senior who was a three-year starter...In three years as a starter, he had 167 tackles, 28 passes broken up and six interceptions...Excellent special teamer known for returning punts as well as being a corner man who blocked punts early in his career...Has a tough-guy build and playing attitude...Didn't play against NFL-caliber wide receivers very often...A little too short...Gained weight later in his college career and lost a half-step in the process...Ran a 4.5 40 at the Combine, as well as doing 13 reps and having a 13-inch vertical jump. PROJECTION: Nebraska corners, like Nebraska running backs, have had trouble making the adjustment to the NFL. While some feel he's a first-rounder, experienced war room guys may well pass until the second round to grab him.
Mike Rumph, Miami, 6-2, 205 — Fourth-year senior who started the last three years...Two-time All-Big East selection...In three years as a starter, he had 136 tackles, 19 passes broken up and six interceptions...Tallest corner among the top-rated CBs, which could work to his advantage...Has the ability to shut down receivers at times, but isn't always that consistent in his play...Had a lot more passes thrown his way than many top corners because he played opposite Buchanon...Has the size and strength to move to safety if he's viewed as a deep threat risk at CB...Doesn't have great recovery speed...Didn't work out at the Combine. PROJECTION: He is the wild card of the corner crop. He doesn't have the pure skills of many of the corners, but his size is enticing and playing in a big-time program makes him marketable. While some see him going in the first round, odds are nobody will take the chance on him until the second round rolls along.
Roosevelt Williams, Tuskegee, 5-11, 202 — Fourth-year senior who played two years at Savannah State before transferring to Tuskegee...In two years as a starter, he had 43 tackles, 16 passes broken up and six interceptions...He was so good at his level, teams rarely even threw his way...Top kickoff returner...Excellent upper body strength...Playing D-II ball might hinder a lot of teams from even considering him on the first day...Impressed a lot of scouts at the Senior Bowl, showing he could hold his own with the big dogs...Ran a 4.55 40 at the Combine, did an eye-popping 23 reps and had a 38-inch vertical jump — the latter two among the best of any CB who worked out in Indy. PROJECTION: He's seen as a project, but also viewed as a high-reward guy who could be worth a gamble by a good team late in the second round.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Joseph Jefferson, Western Kentucky, 6-0, 202
Sheldon Brown, South Carolina, 5-10, 193
Tony Beckham, Wisconsin-Stout, 6-1, 195
Rashad Bauman, Oregon, 5-8, 183
Kris Richard, USC, 5-11, 185
Andre Goodman, South Carolina, 5-10, 183
Chris Cash, USC, 5-10, 180
Mike Echols, Wisconsin, 5-10, 190
Andre Lott, Tennessee, 5-10, 191
VU Draft Profiles: CB
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