Position Outlook

Position Rank among other positions:

  • Top-End Talent – 2nd (of 11)
  • Depth – 4th
  • 1st Round Caliber Players – 4 (6th)
  • Overall – 2nd

This position, unlike many others in this draft, might be among the best CB classes in recent memory. With a locked-and-loaded stud in Gardner, and a player with arguably the highest potential of all prospects in a while in Stingley, it is very rich at the top. Additionally, the poor depth at this position has been largely overstated. There are many intriguing prospects later in the draft who could be quality NFL starters.

Top 7 Position Ranking

  1. Ahmad Gardner CIN – Full Scouting Report
  2. Derek Stingley Jr. LSU – Full Scouting Report
  3. Trent McDuffie WAS – Full Scouting Report
  4. Kaiir Elam FLA – Full Scouting Report
  5. Roger McCreary AUB – Full Scouting Report
  6. Andrew Booth Jr. CLEM – Full Scouting Report
  7. Tariq Woolen UTSA – Full Scouting Report

While Gardner is the CB1, it’s not a large gap between him and Stingley. Gardner is easily the most “sure thing” in this class, but Stingley has a much higher ceiling. After the “Big 2”, McDuffie and Elam are elite, and possess the capabilities to be Day 1 starters. After them, I love the upside of the next 3, but they come with more significant and damning questions.

Ahmad Gardner is largely the consensus CB1, and his rep and collegiate domination speak for themself

Ranking Notes

Overrated

  • Andrew Booth Jr. CLEM – While he possesses all the tools you’d want, it doesn’t seem he is special or exciting in any way. Also, his character has been a major question. His in-game outbursts and cockiness look more like ego rather than confidence. While it’s hard to gauge a player’s character through a screen, the negative impacts players like that have on a team (see the Toney situation in New York) cause me to value Booth much lower than consensus.
  • Kyler Gordon WAS – Raw and unpolished, Gordon has a lot of room to improve in his actual play. His calling card was his athleticism and length, but he is only average at those, so what are we hanging our hat on?

Underrated

  • Tariq Woolen UTSA – Most scouts look at Woolen as a freaky physical toolbox that lacks football abilities. It’s true, he hardly played Corner, but that hints at a likely learning curve and expected improvement. I was impressed by his abilities, and I don’t think he has as many flaws in his game as is widely accepted.
  • Kaiir Elam FLA – Elam is nearly a late-1st shoo-in, but I view him as a Top 20 talent, and he should be locked into a Top 20 pick. His length and physicality matched with his agility and mirroring ability is something truly special.

Sleepers

  • Martin Emerson MSST – Emerson is a modern-day pterodactyl. His arm length is ridiculous, and his on-field capabilities are being slept on.
  • Zyon McCollum SHSU – A top 3 athlete in this entire draft, and (according to RAS) the most athletic Corner prospect ever, he presents enticing physical traits. If it weren’t for his sloppy and disappointing tape against FCS competition he would be highly touted.
  • Marcus Jones HOU – BALLER. Jones is a natural player, and one of the most natural football players in this class. The athleticism and size are concerning and should drop him to Day 3, but his on-field abilities are worth something.
  • Cam Taylor-Britt NEB – Freaky ball skills and athleticism, but he is a lot to improve on his actual play before he can be relied on as a starter.

Biggest Risers

  • Ahmad Gardner CIN – With Stingley having such an up-and-down offseason, Gardner’s safeness and assuredness are slowly bumping him up draft boards. There are few flaws to his game, and while players around him are being nitpicked, constantly struggling to find what to nitpick with him is a great sign.
  • Tariq Woolen UTSA – After a stellar Combine, Woolen made himself too intriguing a prospect to ignore.
  • Derek Stingley Jr. LSU – This is the only time I’ve ever seen a player as the biggest faller and also the biggest riser in a pre-draft period. To speak to his rise, his effortless Pro Day athletic masterclass had scouts drooling, and around the block, excuses are starting to be made to ignore his question marks.

Biggest Fallers

  • Roger McCreary AUB – The arm length is a big red flag, as he is one of the least lengthy Corners in recent memory. Additionally, his clear unfamiliarity with zone concepts at the Senior Bowl shows he might be more of a project than a safe pick.
  • Kyler Gordon WAS – A player whose entire draft stock was predicated on his athleticism and length, coming in at sub-6′ and running a 4.5 40 is sure to drop him down many pegs.
  • Derek Stingley Jr. LSU – This is the only time I’ve ever seen a player as the biggest faller and also the biggest riser in a pre-draft period. His lack of quality football tape in 2 years, past injuries, and effort questions are too many questions to ignore. On the bright side, his rise happened after his fall, putting him right back in Top-5 consideration.

Superlative Ranks

Best Relative Athlete

  1. Zyon McCollum SHSU
  2. Damarri Mathis PITT
  3. Tariq Woolen UTSA
  4. Derek Stingley Jr. LSU
  5. Martin Emerson MSST

Best Length

  1. Martin Emerson MSST
  2. Ahmad Gardner CIN
  3. Tariq Woolen UTSA
  4. Vincent Gray MICH
  5. Kaiir Elam FLA

Best Press Corner

  1. Ahmad Gardner CIN
  2. Kaiir Elam FLA
  3. Roger McCreary AUB
  4. Derek Stingley Jr. LSU
  5. Tariq Woolen UTSA

Best Man Coverage

  1. Ahmad Gardner CIN
  2. Derek Stingley Jr. LSU
  3. Roger McCreary AUB
  4. Kaiir Elam FLA
  5. Andrew Booth Jr. CLEM

Best Zone Coverage

  1. Trent McDuffie WAS
  2. Derek Stingley Jr. LSU
  3. Kaiir Elam FLA
  4. Andrew Booth Jr. CLEM
  5. Tariq Woolen UTSA

Best Ball Skills

  1. Derek Stingley Jr. LSU
  2. Cam Taylor-Britt NEB
  3. Martin Emerson MSST
  4. Kaiir Elam FLA
  5. Ahmad Gardner CIN
On a traits basis, and as is clear in these Superlative Ranks, Woolen has some great physical traits, and his football abilities are greatly underrated

Final Projection

As the passing game becomes an increasingly pivotal part of the game, players who can disrupt passes are at a premium. As such, Corners should be drafted highly in this draft, and a few might sneak into the 1st round that don’t deserve to be there.
Gardner and Stingley might fall a few spots in the draft from their actual value since teams picking in the Top 10 will be happy taking either of the two, and there aren’t many teams that will prioritize CB in the Top 10.
After that, McDuffie, Booth, and Elam are all likely to be 1st round picks. The rest of the group might not go before the late 2nd, but with the position being so impactful, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sneak their way up.

See the Cornerbacks’ overall ranking among other players on my Big Board.


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Uriel "Yuke" Klein

Die-hard Ravens + Lakers fan, wild sports fan to the core LeBron > MJ I will debate any topic with anyone, come at me

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