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2020 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

CORNERBACK RANKINGS by James Watkins, Jr. presented by NFL Draft Diamonds


The following is a roadmap and formula how to build a Super Bowl caliber NFL team by identifying the most talented College Football players at each position in the NFL Draft.  You need to effectively utilize the Draft to evaluate and determine the best and most talented Draft choices available for your NFL Team.  You need to become astute at identifying talented College Football players, and ensuring that your College Football Scouting personnel actually view College Football prospects during live games.  Your College Scouts also need to compile and analyze the NFL Combine player Measurables and Position Drill Workout evaluations in order to formulate and finalize your Draft Board to make the best, most talented Draft selections for your NFL team. 

Draft Measurable & Skills Set Requirements:  To be drafted, Optimal Cornerback Measurables are40 Speed range: 4.38-4.46, Height/Weight”: 5′ 11″ to 6’/190.  Bench: 16 Reps, BJ: 9′ 6″.  Skill SetPlay Press/Man coverage, possess smooth/fast Backpedal–Turn & Run.  Have very good ball skills & closing speed.  Understanding of Receiver routes.  Pass Coverage skills at all three levels.  Ability to stick w/quicker, agile and smaller Slot Receivers.  Ability to be physical w/Receivers to apply tight Press/Man Coverage.  Good ball tracking skills against deeper, vertical throws.  Provide quality run support w/good tackling skills.  Ability to read and diagnose WR patterns when in Zone Coverage.

C. J. Henderson, 6′ 1″/204, Florida.  Combine4.39/40, Bench/20 Reps, BJ/10′ 7″, VJ/37.5″.  Season Stats11 Passes defended, 33 Tackles, tackles for loss.  I have Henderson ranked as best Corner in this Draft class slightly ahead of Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah because of Henderson’s speed, superior shutdown cover skills and physical style of play.  He has superior Cover skills at all three levels.  Henderson should be taken early and off the board in first round as a top 15 pick.  He’s a fluid athlete with excellent speed, power, strength and agility.  Displayed superior Defensive Back skills during his Combine workout drills, including a fast and fluid backpedal & turn and run.  His Combine Cornerback drills were as impressive as you will ever see, including a very good display of his sure and soft hands necessary for interceptions.  He returned two of four interceptions for touchdowns in 2018 which shows how dangerous of a play maker he is during interceptions with the ball in his hands.  Henderson has the long speed to defend NFL vertical passes downfield.  Henderson closes fast to jump and defend a throw.  He has the play strength to divert Receiver routes from press coverage.  Willing to provide run support with ability to make tackles for loss.  Needs to be more consistent tracking ball with his back to the Quarterback.  He needs to become more focused in zone coverage.  Henderson must also improve his recognition skills diagnosing Receiver route combinations at NFL level.  Upside to become a future Pro Bowl player.           

Jeffrey Okudah, 6′ 1″/205 Ohio StateCombine4.48/40, Bench/11 Reps., BJ/11′ 3″, VJ/41″.  Season Stats9 Passes defended, Int’s, and 35 Tackles.  First Team AP CB All American 2019, and Jim Thorpe finalist.  High character, excellent work ethic, well respected by Coaches.  Very good size, foot quickness and closing speed.  Demonstrated excellent athletic ability at Combine with powerful 11′ Broad Jump and best Vertical Jump showing.  Plays very tight coverage against outside throws.  Size-strength-speed to cover taller, physical NFL receivers.  Rarely gets beat over the top.  Excels in Pass Coverage at all three levels.  Very good recovery speed to close and make up space on downfield routes.  Has shown difficulty responding in zone coverage.  Some hip tightness slows him down when making lateral moves during turn and transition.  Relies on quick feet instead of agility hip movement.  He has demonstrated inconsistency diagnosing Receiver route combinations.  Upside to become future NFL Pro Bowler.

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A. J. Terrell, 6′ 1″/195, Clemson, (Combine:  4.42/40Pro Day: 4.37/40),Note: Clemson was only handful of Colleges to have a Pro Day). Terrell ran a faster 40 at Clemson Pro Day, than at NFL Combine. Bench/15 Reps., BJ/10′ 9″,VJ/34.5″.  Season Stats6 (PBU)Passes Broken Up, 2 Int., 37 Tackles.  Terrell is a Press/Man Corner who has shown success with the Press, where he can be aggressive at the top of the route.  He apples Press techniques effectively to disrupt WR’s release and timing.  He closes fast using quick burst to shut down space.  Terrell plays receivers tight at top of route to disrupt and slow down receivers.  Has fluid, low pedal, and quick feet to transition.  Utilizes good footwork to mirror Receiver routes.  Has physicality to his play and coverage style.  Reads and reacts with very good anticipation.  Very good ball skills.  Has length to add muscle, especially in lower body thin legs.  Can cover inside routes and vertical balls with equal skills.  Places body in good position to make plays on ball.  Good anticipation, timing and drive to make picks and break up passes.  Should become good vertical threat defender in NFL.  Doesn’t use all his play speed, will coast if opportunity is favorable for him.  Tackles too high, but will smack Receiver and Running Backs with aggressive play.    Terrell displayed good Defensive Back drills at Combine, displaying a smooth pedal and transition moves.  Has ability to become NFL starting Corner.  Should be third Corner taken off the Draft board.            
Kristian Fulton, 6’/197, LSU,  Combine:4.46
/40, BJ/10′ 3″, VJ/35.5″.  Season Stats: 14 PBU, 1 Int., 38 Tackles.  Fulton had success playing Press/Man coverage at LSU, and he improved his cover skills each year in college.  He only allowed a 40% pass completion rate against him in two years.  He demonstrates good closing speed.  Keeps body in good position with eyes on Receiver, tracks ball and turns around to defend the ball at right time during downfield coverage.  Reads WR’s hands/eyes in downfield coverage with his back to the ball.  Drives to ball in Off-Man coverage.  Has shown difficulty defending double move routes, and slant-In routes against refined route-runners.  Recovery burst and speed should be better to defend against speedy NFL vertical threat Receivers.  Tackling skills need improvement.  At Combine, Fulton’s Backpedal was not smooth and foot movement on his lateral transition move was jerky and slow.  Fulton has the ability to cover all three levels, however, his long speed and ability to recovery will be challenged in NFL.  His Pro success will depend upon his long/recovery speed, and his success rate at matching up against the faster, more physical NFL vertical threat Receivers.

Jeff Gladney, 5′ 10″/191, TCU, Combine: 4.48/40, Bench/17 Reps., BJ/10′ 4″, VJ/37.5″.  Season Stats: 14 PBU, 1 Int., 31 Tackles.  I prefer taller and faster Corners, however, Gladney plays bigger and much faster than his Combine Measurables.  He is a Press-Man Corner who plays tight man with great route anticipation.  Gladney is a play maker who has very good ball skills, coupled with excellent Receiver route combo recognition.  He can cover in all three levels in Man, Zone and Off-Coverage.  After watching film and analyzing and comparing TCU CB Gladney’s Cover skills in comparison to the Cover skills of LSU’s CB Fulton, I believe I’d draft TCU CB Jeff Gladney ahead of Fulton.  Gladney is just too good in his coverage skills, including his closing speed, route recognition and his tight man coverage.  His ability to break up passes is special.  Gladney may experience some difficulty covering taller, faster and stronger NFL Vertical Receivers downfield in comparison to the Proto-type NFL Corner, because he’s undersized and not quite as fast as elite NFL Corners.  On occasion, he commits too early on Double moves and waits too long to turn around to locate the ball.  However, his closing speed, ball skills, route recognition and cover skills are excellent.  Those Cover skills in conjunction with his competitiveness, natural position instincts, and belief he can’t be intimidated are what make him special to become a very good NFL Cover Corner in this Draft class.

Trevon Diggs, 6′ 1″/205, AlabamaCombineNone/His Pro Day cancelled. Season Stats/2019: 8 PBU, 3 Int., 37Tackles.  Pro Days/2020 cancelled due to Corona Virus.  Diggs was clocked by Alabama Coaches at Spring Practice in 2017.  He was timed at 4.55/40 unofficial during an Alabama Spring practice in 2017.  It’s possible that Trevon Diggs may have run a faster 40 at the NFL Combine.  Diggs was Third Team AP Cornerback All American/2019.  He’s a former WR converted to Cornerback.  Diggs only allowed a 42.3% Pass Completion rateinto his coverage area in 2019 Season.  He’s a Press Corner with a good combination of size, strength and ball skills necessary to cover bigger, stronger NFL Receivers.  He applies heavy jam from his Press coverage position.  Has fluid hips to open up and stay in route with Receivers.  Has skills to cover difficult WR combo routes and double-moves.  Can jump routes with good recognition and closing speed.  On occasion, he reacts too soon to the play before making the proper diagnosis.  Sometimes in coverage, he will grab and hold when he’s in trouble giving up space, and losing ground.  He has shown difficulty tracking deep throws. Many NFL scouts think he’s better suited to play Safety in NFL, or as a Corner playing Off-Coverage, or a Corner with deep Safety help in Cover 2 Coverage schemes.  In the right Pass Coverage scheme, an NFL team could successfully utilize Diggs’ impressive Defensive Back skills set to their advantage, while transforming him into a a highly productive Defensive Back.

Noah Igbinochene, 5’10″/198, Auburn, Combine: 4.48/40, Bench/15 Reps, BJ/10′ 8″, VJ/37″.  Season Stats7 PBU, 42 Tackles.  Former Receiver turned Cornerback.  Igbinochene is a physical, Press-Man Corner who uses his aggressive style to alter the Receiver’s timing and release that he applies from his Press-Man coverage position.  He has an explosive burst to close fast.  He can accelerate quickly using very good agility to change directions, and run the route to prevent separation.  Scouts thought he would be taller than 5′ 10″, and run a faster 40 at the Combine, however he has very good speed, but not elite.  Can cover at all three levels.  He’s raw and will require development at the NFL level.  He grabs and puts his hands too much on Receivers when he panics.  He needs to take better angles playing the ball on deep vertical throws, while his eye recognition needs improvement.  Waits too long to read the WR’s eyes and body to turn around and play the ball.  Igbinochene will need good NFL Defensive Back coaching to improve and further develop him as a starting NFL Cover Cornerback.  His continued NFL Coverage skills development, coupled with his existing Press-Man, physical skills set, should transform Igbinochene into a respected and competitive NFL Cover Cornerback for an NFL team in need of a quality Corner.                        

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