Category: Cornerback

CB Mike Hughes, Central Florida

5’11” – 189 lbs. – 4.53

Spent one season at the University of North Carolina, in which he appeared in ten games as a true freshman. Spent the following season at Garden City Community College, then started at cornerback and was the primary kick and punt returner at Central Florida this past season before declaring for the draft. Plays left cornerback, typically well off the line of scrimmage and using a shuffle technique, but occasionally coming down into press man or playing zone coverage. Height and bulk are solid for a boundary cornerback, with what look like long arms. Plays with a lot of energy. Very good athlete with extremely quick feet when shuffling. Has no trouble sticking with opponents down the sidelines. However, technique is a little bit sloppy, especially in terms of his balance when backpedaling and at the route stem, when he has some wasted motion and tends to turn around instead of into his man. Consequently, may be susceptible to timing-based throws at the next level, at least initially. Didn’t do a lot of bump-and-run coverage in college, but flashes the ability to use his length to pin opponents to the sidelines. Excellent plant-and-drive burst to close on a spot, whether when defending passes or coming up to support the run. Aggressive player who can play throws like a wide receiver when targeted down the field; has good timing, leaping ability, and body control. Intercepted four passes this year and broke up eleven more. Dangerous with the ball in his hands; scored one touchdown on a pick-six, two on kickoffs, and one on a punt return, averaging over thirty-one yards per kick return and over sixteen per punt. Tackling leaves a lot to be desired; is very willing to come up and hit, but relies on turning himself into a projectile instead of breaking down and wrapping up ballcarriers, leading to missed tackles. Started just one season at the FBS level and is clearly a work in progress from a technical standpoint, but has a very intriguing combination of speed, quickness, explosiveness, and ball skills which could make him into an effective starter at the pro level with further development. In the meantime, offers value as a return specialist. Would probably have benefited from polishing his game with another year in school, but even in a deep cornerback class, looks likely to come off the board in the first or second round.

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CB Tarvarus McFadden, Florida St.

6’2″ – 204 lbs. – 4.67

Five-star recruit who played sparingly over seven games as a true freshman, then enjoyed two productive seasons at cornerback before declaring for the draft. Tall boundary cornerback with very long limbs. Typically lines up on the boundary side of the field, but will also take some snaps on the field side; plays a lot of press-man coverage, and the team trusted him in single coverage against opposing number-one receivers. Able to get low and match and opponent’s release at the line of scrimmage with pretty good footwork; wasn’t asked to backpedal much, but has good balance in his stance. Has the length to blanket an opponent in man coverage when they run patterns down the sidelines; deep speed is adequate but not outstanding. Exhibits some wasted motion but hips are pretty fluid overall. Also does a pretty good job of recognizing patterns over the middle of the field and staying in position to make plays on the ball when targeted on screens and drags. Length and timing allow him to bat down passes when he keeps the play in front of him. Has plus ball skills, having intercepted eight passes as a sophomore. Attacks blockers when defending against screens on the outside. Not a particularly physical player aside from that. Wasn’t asked to disrupt opposing receivers with his length at the line of scrimmage during the games reviewed. Can be overwhelmed at the point of attack by stronger blockers, and isn’t much of a factor as a tackler; overall positioning, angles, and tackling ability leave a lot to be desired. Didn’t do much except play press-man at the college level, and may need some time to adjust to the requirements of the pro game in terms of backpedaling, playing zone coverage, etc. When he was in zone (generally when teams didn’t line up a receiver to his side of the field), appeared to be responsible for a blown coverage by losing track of an opposing receiver behind him. May be a little bit too slow to be trusted with single coverage down the sidelines at the pro level. Size, length, press-man, and ball skills are major assets which could attract interest in the mid-rounds, although it remains to be seen whether he has the deep speed to stick with pro receivers down the sidelines and doesn’t have a lot of experience with other techniques.

CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado*

6’0″ – 201 lbs. – 4.50

Started three of thirteen games played as a freshman, with the same number of starts over fourteen games played as a sophomore. Became a full-time starter over ten games played as a junior, then declared for the draft. Tall, long-limbed cornerback who lines up on the outside of the formation, taking most of his snaps in press-man or off-man coverage and typically playing on the shorter side of the field. Well-coached defensive back who backpedals with good leverage, footwork, and quickness, especially for a bigger cornerback; plays for one of the only remaining college programs which actually asks their cornerbacks to backpedal on a consistent basis. Uses his length to his advantage at the line of scrimmage, with above-average footwork to match opposing releases; also does a good job of placing his hands and pinning opposing receivers to the sidelines. Has good speed to carry opponents downfield and defend passes over the top. However, when turning and running with opponents, can be a little bit late to get his head around and locate the ball in time to make a play on it. Creates little bit too much contact down the field, which could lead to penalties at the next level. Burst to close when targeted is just average, and doesn’t fully compensate for it with his reflexes; relies more on above-average recognition. When he does locate, exhibits the body control to get his hands on passes and force incompletions; broke up thirteen throws this year, and intercepted two more passes. Has potential as a run-defender because of his overall size, but isn’t very involved in coming up in run support, and can be jolted at the line by power. That said, flashes the ability to use his hands to shed blocks when run at, and has the length and wrap technique to bring down ballcarriers when he’s in the area; also does a good job of playing off of blocks in the screen game. Also served as a punt returner, running back one for a touchdown as a sophomore. Could stand to improve his functional strength and get more involved in the run game, but has the combination of size, length, technique, and ball skills to develop into a starting cornerback at the next level. Those traits make him a candidate to come off the board in one of the first two rounds of this year’s draft.

CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville*

5’10” – 196 lbs. – 4.38

Started one of twelve games played as a freshman, then stepped into a starting role the following season and enjoyed a highly productive campaign. Played in just six games as a junior, sustaining a knee injury and a broken hand, then declared for the draft. Listed height and weight are commensurate with pro requirements for a boundary cornerback, but looks a little bit smaller on tape, so Combine measurements will be important. Feisty, aggressive cornerback who takes snaps on both sides of the formation, as well as from the slot on occasion. Typically plays press-man or shuffle technique (either man or zone), sometimes bailing from press looks. Consequently, it’s difficult to evaluate his ability to backpedal, although his overall quickness is very good. When lining up in press, does a good job of using his hands to disrupt opposing receivers’ routes at the line of scrimmage. Fast, quick-twitch cornerback with the speed to carry opposing receivers down the sidelines and the reaction times to stick with them out of the route stem. Has a good feel for route developments and exhibits the ability to break off of one defender and come up to contest underneath passes. Able to get his head around to locate the ball, with soft hands to make the interception when in position; picked off five passes as a sophomore and seven overall. Can be dangerous with the ball in his hands; also served as his team’s punt returner. Looks a little bit small but was trusted to cover big receivers in man coverage. Appears somewhat susceptible to double-moves; will break hard on the initial move in order to undercut throws and find himself caught out of position. Can be a little bit too physical down the field, which may lead to penalties at the next level. Likes to come up and support the run. Does a good job of attacking blockers and positioning himself to make tackles. Willing to get physical, but can forget his tackling technique at times, leading to missed tackles. Overall durability may be a concern given his somewhat thin frame and junior-year injury history. Very likable prospect who plays with the confidence and swagger of a successful cornerback, and whose quickness, instincts, and ball skills are impressive. Consequently, looks like a potential first-round pick and potential starter, assuming team doctors sign off on his health.

CB J.C. Jackson, Maryland*

5’10” – 201 lbs. – 4.46

Originally attended Florida. Redshirted after sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury in the first game of his freshman season. After being charged with robbery and suspended from the team (the charges were dropped), attended Riverside Community College the following season before spending his sophomore and junior campaigns in Maryland’s starting lineup. Has a good combination of height and length for a pro defensive back. Lined up on both sides of the defense this past season; most commonly played press-man or bump-and-run, with some shuffle technique as well. A pretty good man cover corner who has the footwork to match releases at the line of scrimmage and uses his hands well to stick with wide receivers through routes, including over the middle of the field. Able to disrupt opponents at the line with a good bump. Rarely in a backpedal but was able to get low when needed. Very quick feet when shuffling in off coverage. Has the speed to carry opposing receivers down the sidelines, with loose hips and some burst when planting and driving on a spot. Consequently, is often in-phase when targeted, although he gives up too many completions on passes which he’s in position to make a play on, and can be targeted by quarterbacks with the confidence to throw into coverage. Nonetheless, managed to intercept four passes over the past two seasons and break up another thirteen. Instincts in zone coverage are lacking. Indecisive when presented with route combinations, and may have been responsible for a couple of ugly blown coverages during the games reviewed. Seems to be a little bit slow to recognize route developments and break on a spot. Effort and technique as a tackler are intermittent at best. Doesn’t use his arms on a consistent basis, and misses a lot of the tackles he attempts when trying to turn himself into a torpedo and take out opponents’ legs. Flashes the ability to make big hits on unsuspecting receivers. Character will require further investigation due to the circumstances which led to his transfer from Florida, but has the type of size and athleticism to interest teams as a developmental man-coverage cornerback in the middle-to-late rounds. Will need to improve his tackling technique, ball skills, and awareness in zone coverage in order to avoid being exploited by pro quarterbacks at the next level.

CB Joshua Jackson, Iowa*

6’0″ – 196 lbs. – 4.56

Redshirted as a true freshman, then spent two seasons as a reserve before stepping into the starting lineup and enjoying a very productive junior campaign, foregoing his senior season to declare. Tall, long-limbed cornerback who looks the part of a pro boundary corner; some teams may want him to add a little bit of bulk. Lined up almost exclusively on the left side at the college level, but also took snaps as a slot cornerback or on the right side on occasion. Well-prepared defensive back who played a variety of different techniques, including press-man, bump-and-run, bail, shuffle, and off-zone. Surprisingly quick and athletic for a bigger cornerback. Looks very comfortable matching opposing receivers’ releases at the line of scrimmage with his footwork, and sticking with them through their breaks. Does a good job of using his length to stick with opponents, although he wasn’t asked to jam opponents at the line on a regular basis. Fast enough to carry boundary receivers down the sidelines, with the quick-twitch reflexes to avoid leaving receivers open at the route stem on shorter patterns such as stop routes, curls, and comebacks. Has a very good feel for route developments, with excellent ball skills to disrupt opposing throws; length and timing allow him to bat down quite a few passes when targeted. Showcases the ability to plant and drive on spots when working in zone coverage against underneath routes or in order to undercut longer throws. Does a good job of baiting quarterbacks into throws in zone and then stepping in to make the interception; length, timing, and soft hands allow him to capitalize on opportunities to create turnovers. Intercepted eight passes (two touchdowns) and broke up another eighteen. Pad level and balance in his backpedal is a little bit inconsistent and varies with distance. Not the most physical cornerback when it comes to making tackles in the run game; will also turn himself into a projectile at times instead of trying to wrap up opposing ballcarriers. Extends his arms when playing off blocks but doesn’t always put himself in the best position to make stops. A converted wide receiver, Jackson has a highly desirable combination of length, quickness, feel, and ball skills; his polish is even more incredible given that he’s relatively new to the position and has just one season of starting experience under his belt. A candidate to be the first cornerback selected.

CB Levi Wallace, Alabama

6’0″ – 179 lbs. – 4.63

Walk-on who spent two seasons on the scout them before earning a scholarship as a junior, a season in which he played on special teams and appeared in a reserve role on defense. Ended up winning a starting job as a senior, replacing Marlon Humphrey. Nickname is “the technician”. Plays a lot of different techniques, predominantly press, bail, shuffle, and bump-and-run; played the vast majority of his snaps on the left side during the games reviewed. Not the fastest, quickest, or most fluid player; ran a 4.59-second forty-yard dash in the spring and is more successful because of his discipline, route anticipation, technique, and length; those traits made him into a rarely-targeted cornerback who provided tight man coverage this past season. Infrequently commits mental errors. Does a good job of matching opposing releases off the line; uses his arms well. Able to place his hands on opponents and stick with them through their route, maintaining himself in-phase in order to make plays on the ball when targeted. Was not thrown at often; many of the passes opposing quarterbacks attempted against him were on shorter, timing-based throws (stops, curls, back-shoulder throws) or on patterns over the middle of the field at the short to intermediate level. Good timing and hand placement to break up attempts his way; defensed fifteen passes this past season and intercepted three more. Does a good job of disguising his intentions pre-snap, forcing mistakes. Effective run defender who exhibits a willingness to come up and make tackles. Does a good job of using his length and power to keep opposing blockers out of his pads and position himself in order to funnel runners back inside. Wrap-tackler who doesn’t shy away from contact. Also has some experience blitzing off the edge on a limited basis. A likable player because of his even temperament, his physicality, and his pro-ready mental tools and technique, he managed to outplay nearly every other cornerback in college football as a senior, but will face some questions about whether his athletic limitations will allow him to develop into a starter at the pro level. The relative weights that teams assign to polish and collegiate production relative to athletic tools will determine how high he goes as a prospect, as his game tape is straightforward.

CB Nick Nelson, Wisconsin

5’11” – 200 lbs. – 4.52

Began his collegiate career at Hawaii, where he started eight of ten games played as a true freshman and all thirteen games the following season before transferring to Wisconsin. Sat out the 2016 season per NCAA transfer requirements, then started all thirteen games this past season before declaring for the draft. Official height and weight are commensurate with pro requirements for the boundary, but with what appears to be marginal length; consequently Combine measurements will be important. This past season, played on the outside for the Badgers, often shadowing opposing number-one receivers. Most frequently in off-coverage, either man or zone, but also play some press-man, some bump-and-run, some shuffle, and even backpedals at times. Has good footwork, balance, and body control to match opposing releases at the line of scrimmage; looks good backpedaling, with quick feet, and did so more often than most college cornerbacks. Able to place his hands and use them to stick with opposing receivers in bump-and-run, although as mentioned previously he lacks length. Has good instincts for the position and does a good job of anticipating patterns to provide tight coverage on opposing receivers. More of an anticipatory cornerback than an explosive athlete, however, with just adequate burst when planting and driving on a spot. Seems to have a pretty good grasp of route combinations and keeps the play in front of him when playing off-zone. Diagnostic ability allows him to get his hands on lots of passes; broke up twenty-one passes this season and fifteen as a sophomore. However, made it through his college career without intercepting a pass. Can sometimes make a little bit too much contact and may be penalty-prone. Willing to get pretty physical with opposing wide receivers but doesn’t have a lot of functional strength. That becomes apparent when defending screens or playing the run; can be jolted off of his spot by opposing receivers and although he is willing to attack blocks and attempt tackles, reliability and stopping power leave a lot to be desired. Also has some special-teams value; ran back a punt for a touchdown this year and also blocked a kick. Comes with three years of starting experience at the college level and has the ability to play with technique, anticipate routes, and break up passes, but functional strength is somewhat lacking. Might end up going in the mid-rounds after undergoing knee surgery during the pre-draft process.

CB Quenton Meeks, Stanford*

6’1″ – 209 lbs. – 4.60e

Made an immediate impact at Stanford, leading the team in interceptions as a freshman and spending three years at the school before foregoing his senior season to declare for the draft. Father Ron Meeks spent over twenty seasons as a pro coach (defensive coordinator, defensive backs). Takes snaps on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but seems to play right cornerback more frequently than left. Plays a lot of shuffle coverage on the outside, and sometimes off-man, press-man, bump-and-run, or zone. Demonstrates controlled footwork and good balance when backpedaling in off-man coverage. Just an adequate athlete; doesn’t have great top-end speed or quickness. Consequently, although he does a good job of matching an opposing receiver’s release at the line of scrimmage, he may be susceptible to being beat down the sidelines by the faster receivers at the pro level. However, does a pretty good job of maximizing the utility his length affords him, using that to compensate for his lack of speed. Length also makes him a good candidate to bump-and-run at the line, although he was asked to do so on a relatively low rate of snaps. Although his closing burst is just average when planting and driving, does a pretty good job of limiting yards after the catch in off-man, where he may appeal to teams with a “bend, don’t break” philosophy on defense. Also looks smooth when shuffling, albeit with some minor technical issues such turning around instead of into receivers on the sidelines. Can be picked on by opposing quarterbacks, even at the college level; man coverage ultimately isn’t very tight, although when in position to make a play on the ball, intercepted seven passes and broke up a total of eighteen over three years. Very physical cornerback who does a good job of playing off of blocks and tackling ballcarriers. Flows well to the ball and uses his length to his advantage, keeping opposing blockers out of his frame, exhibiting good aggression and heavy hands to attack and shed blockers. Length gives him a good tackling radius, and is a reliable, physical hit-and-wrap tackler. Also has some experience rushing off the edge, usually on anticipated rushing attempts. Size, length, physicality, and tackling are skills which could appeal to teams running a “bend, don’t break” defense, but coverage may not be tight enough to warrant an early selection.

CB Duke Dawson, Florida

5’11” – 197 lbs. – 4.46

Started one game at safety out of eleven games played as a true freshman, then appeared in all fourteen games the following year. As a junior, started seven of twelve games played as the team’s nickel cornerback, then all eleven games at corner the following season. Somewhat squatty, thickly-built cornerback who lines up all over the field, usually in press-man looks; plays both inside and outside, typically on the boundary. Didn’t show any tendency toward field-side or boundary. Does a good job of getting low, matching his opponent’s release with quick feet at the line of scrimmage, and using his hands to disrupt opponents. Looks good when using his frame to pin opponents to the boundary and run with them down the sidelines. Able to match up against bigger receivers because of his overall strength and physicality. A little bit less impressive in man coverage over the middle of the field; gives up some separation out of breaks and has some trouble navigating through congested areas. Not the twitchiest player and offers windows on timing throws which are somewhat longer than normal. Susceptible to pick plays and double moves. Can get grabby when beat and may be prone to penalties. Also plays a fair amount of zone; defensive role typically involved making shallow drops from press looks and lurking near the line of scrimmage. Seems to have adequate ball skills to capitalize on opportunities for interceptions; picked off four passes this season and one as a sophomore. Has good instincts to play the run, as well as a desirable temperament for those responsibilities; diagnoses quickly and looks willing to come up and make plays in support. Has the strength and hand use to play off of blocks, funneling runners inside and shedding in time to make tackles. However, tackling technique leaves something to be desired; more physical than fundamentally sound, and can lapse into hitting instead of wrapping up. Nonetheless, can help to set the tone defensively. Not the biggest, quickest, or most explosive cornerback, but offers a thick frame, a physical, competitive style of play, and good instincts to play the run. His experience playing in the slot as a junior and on occasion as a senior may offer him an earlier route onto the field than some of the outside-only cornerbacks in the class, although he may have a somewhat lower ceiling than some of the more athletic man-cover prospects.