Draft's top cornerbacks

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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NFL.com's 10-part series looks at each position in the draft.

Thursday, April 10: QBs | Rankings
Friday, April 11: RBs | Rankings
Saturday, April 12: TEs | Rankings
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Monday, April 14: WRs | Rankings
Tuesday, April 15: DEs | Rankings
Wednesday, April 16: DTs | Rankings
Thursday, April 17: LBs | Rankings
Friday, April 18: CBs | Rankings
Saturday, April 19: Safeties | Rankings

Top cornerbacks in 2008 NFL Draft:

1. Leodis McKelvin, Troy

Height: 5-10   Weight: 190
College stats: 36 starts, 173 tackles, 25 passes defended, 4 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.38 40-yard dash, 4.11 short shuttle, 38 ½-inch vertical

McKelvin helped himself by participating in the Senior Bowl practices even though he missed the game. I sat down with him and he has a lot of confidence in his ability and isn't afraid to state his opinion as the top corner in the draft. He put his skills on the line against major college wide receivers and moved to the top of the class. He can flip his hips to mirror routes, and go up for a ball with a tall receiver. As a pure corner some like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as much, but McKelvin's return skills (8 touchdowns on punt/kick returns) breaks the tie. Draft projection: Round 1.

 McKelvin: Combine highlights | Interview | Combine analysis | Senior Bowl interview


2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State

Height: 6-1   Weight: 184
College stats: 44 starts, 158 tackles, 36 passes defended, 10 interceptions
Vital numbers: 4.33 40-yard dash, 4.14 short shuttle, 37 ½-inch vertical

The cousin of Antonio Cromartie of the Chargers, Rodgers-Cromartie also helped himself at the Senior Bowl, especially after playing inferior competition in college and has a bunch of game tapes that are tough to evaluate. He has man cover skills and great size for the position. In a league full of wide receivers that look like NBA athletes, Rodgers-Cromartie is just what NFL teams are looking for these days. He will fit better in a Packer man to man scheme than a Cover 2 defense that asks him to be a run support player. Draft projection: Round 1.

 Rodgers-Cromartie: Combine highlights | First Draft | Interview


3. Antoine Cason, Arizona

Height: 6-0   Weight: 190
College stats: 46 starts, 253 tackles, 37 passes defended, 15 interceptions
Vital numbers: 4.52 40-yard dash, 4.08 short shuttle, 36-inch vertical

This may be a bit high of a ranking for Cason, but I know two teams that would take him before one of the above corners. He plays faster than his 40 time. He has been a playmaker and a good ball hawk. He may not be the best run support corner and he may struggle against pure speed outside, but he has good ball skills and will jump routes. Draft projection: Round 1.

 Cason: Combine highlights


4. Mike Jenkins, South Florida

Height: 6-0   Weight: 190
College stats: 40 starts, 133 tackles, 41 passes defended, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.38 40-yard dash, 4.40 short shuttle, 34-inch vertical

Jenkins came into the winter as the top corner prospect but the game tapes exposed his poor tackling. If a team is playing man coverage or wants to incorporate more man into their scheme, Jenkins is an excellent candidate. He may struggle early against great route runners and three-man patterns that cause him to key and diagnose. His concentration can be challenged according to a few college coaches I spoke with that played against him. He will get picked on as a rookie and he needs to improve his game while getting challenged. Draft projection: Round 1.

 Jenkins: Combine highlights


5. Aqib Talib, Kansas

Height: 6-0   Weight: 202
College stats: 32 starts, 162 tackles, 48 passes defended, 13 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.42 40-yard dash, 4.25 short shuttle, 38-inch vertical

Talib has failed a few drug tests but according to a few personnel directors he's still got a first round grade. Talib has solid football intelligence, can read route progressions, jump a route and is dangerous with the ball after he interceptions. Not a great press corner, but reminds me of Ty Law when he squats in the flat and teases quarterbacks into throwing to the wrong receiver. Draft projection: Round 1.

 Talib: Combine highlights | Playbook | Ready for NFL


6. Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech

Height: 5-8   Weight: 189
College stats: 28 starts, 158 tackles, 40 passes defended, 10 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Vital numbers: 4.54 40-yard dash, 4.08 short shuttle, 30-inch vertical

Flowers plays better than he times or measures. He is a solid tackler and has a ton of confidence in his coverage skills. When I sat down to talk to him, I liked him but I had to wonder if he will not get exposed in man coverage. It's tough to be on the short side, and he's not a great leaper who left school a year early. I could see him as a slot nickel corner with good blitz skills. A month ago, I thought he was an early third-round corner, but he is back in the late first- to second-round area. Draft projection: Rounds 1-2.

 Flowers: Combine highlights | First Draft | Discussion | Combine performance | Strengths and weaknesses


7. Justin King, Penn State

Height: 5-11   Weight: 192
College stats: 29 starts, 90 tackles, 26 passes defended, 3 interceptions
Vital numbers: 4.31 40-yard dash, 4.31 short shuttle, 37 ½-inch vertical

King is an underclassman who thinks he had nothing else to learn in college and was ready for the NFL. He is fast with a burst to close but he puts himself in positions that he has to close from too far away. I like him in the slot but don't feel he's ready to be outside against the top "X" receivers. He's also going to find out that closing on an NFL receiver with a pro arm delivering the ball is a lot different. There is some concern about his coach ability. Draft projection: Round 2.

 King: Combine highlights


8. Reggie Smith, Oklahoma

Height: 6-0   Weight: 199
College stats: 36 starts, 166 tackles, 25 passes defended, 8 interceptions
Vital numbers: 4.57 40-yard dash

Smith is a very good fit for a cover two scheme. He has the size to take on a lead blocker and turn the running game back to the linebackers. Some teams believe he's headed to safety in the pros, but I think his lack of long speed doesn't set up well for half-field coverage. A team such as Tampa Bay would leave him on the corner. Draft projection: Rounds 2-3.


9. Terrell Thomas, USC

Height: 6-0   Weight: 202
College stats: 26 starts, 119 tackles, 22 passes defended, 8 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.46 40-yard dash, 4.24 short shuttle, 36-inch vertical

Thomas ran faster at the combine than anticipated. He is well-trained in pro corner techniques and has gone up against many top receivers. He can press cover, has the long arms to knock a ball out, and is more than a willing tackler. Thomas has the size to be considered at safety. Draft projection: Round 3.

 Thomas: Combine highlights


10. Antwaun Molden, Eastern Kentucky

Height: 6-0   Weight: 198
Vital numbers: 4.39 40-yard dash, 4.11 short shuttle, 37 ½-inch vertical

Molden ran well at the combine and has size. He caught the interest of a number of teams and is moving up draft boards. It wasn't too long ago that he was a late-round pick, but his name comes up too often in my conversations to believe he's still down in Rounds 6 or 7. He is raw and needs time to refine his skills, but there's a lot to work with when a team takes him. Draft projection: Round 4.

 Molden: Combine highlights


11. Charles Godfrey, Iowa

Height: 5-11   Weight: 206
College stats: 28 starts, 173 tackles, 14 passes defended, 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.38 40-yard dash, 4.40 short shuttle, 37 ½-inch vertical

You don't usually see corners with slower short shuttle times than their 40 times. It can be an indication of a player with straight line speed, but struggles to change direction. Godfrey will be tempting to teams looking for height/weight/speed ratio, but his game tapes show a player who is raw in corner techniques from back peddling to flipping his hips to turn and run. He has limited corner experience and may be better a year from now. Draft projection: Round 4.

 Godfrey: Combine highlights


12. Tracy Porter, Indiana

Height: 5-10   Weight: 188
College stats: 43 starts, 212 tackles, 30 passes defended, 16 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.37 40-yard dash, 4.07 short shuttle, 34-inch vertical

I got a chance to watch Porter practice at the Senior Bowl and talk with him after the practices. He knows NFL teams are concerned about his tackling skills. He tried to show teams he's a willing tackler and did come up and throw his body around against the run. In the end, he's a cover corner that should not be in too much cover two. I could see him playing the outside receiver in the nickel package. Draft projection: Round 4.

 Porter: Combine highlights


13. Chevis Jackson, LSU

Height: 6-0   Weight: 192
College stats: 39 starts, 142 tackles, 38 passes defended, 8 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.52 40-yard dash, 4.15 short shuttle, 40-inch vertical

Jackson is a steady zone corner with lots of experience, and a guy who gets more out of his speed because of good fundamentals. He will not get beat from a lack of concentration or sloppy footwork. He may be as good as he's going to be but that may be good enough to stick in the league for years. Draft projection: Round 4.

 Jackson: Combine highlights


14. Patrick Lee, Auburn

Height: 6-0   Weight: 200
College stats: 21 starts, 103 tackles, 21 passes defended, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles
Vital numbers: 4.41 40-yard dash, 4.31 short shuttle, 35-inch vertical

Lee is another big corner who ran well. He really is a one year starter and needs time to develop. Good route runners and savy release type receivers could get him in trouble early in his career. Teams will pick on him when he's on the field and his opportunity to shine may be on special teams. Draft projection: Round 4.

 Lee: Combine highlights


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