Category: Cornerback

CB Jordan Brown, South Dakota St.

6’0” – 201 lbs. – 4.51
Was a wide receiver in high school. Redshirted, practicing at both receiver and cornerback, then appeared in eleven games the following year before taking over a starting job in 2016, retaining that role for three seasons and totaling eight interceptions over that span to conclude his collegiate career. Well-built cornerback who took snaps on both the left and right sides of the defense and both the field and boundary sides. Often backpedals out of off-man coverage, but will also press regularly as well. Backpedal itself looks very nice; demonstrates good balance and quick feet, giving him an advantage over many corners in this class who tend to turn and run out of press on the majority of their snaps. Looks good flipping his hips to turn and run with opposing receivers. Not the fastest or most explosive player, but overall speed and athleticism are pro-caliber. Has good reaction times to receivers breaking off their routes, which allows him to provide tight coverage through the stem. Puts himself in position to break up throws even if his plant-and-drive burst is nothing special. Has a little bit more trouble navigating the congestion in the middle of the field. Has good footwork to match opposing releases from press-man, but would like to see him be more physical with his arms to disrupt timing; temperament is a little bit finesse, especially for a bigger cornerback. Also doesn’t have much stopping power as a run defender; willing to stick his nose in, but doesn’t play with the sort of power or physicality you’d expect given his size. Misses some arm tackles and even some attempts to hit and wrap opposing runners. Needs to keep the play in front of him, as he lacks the recovery speed to chase down opponents when caught flat-footed. Silver lining is that he gets good extension and understands positioning when taking on blocks, allowing him to funnel opposing runners back inside to help. Comes from an FCS program, so he’ll be making a big leap up in terms of the level of competition he’ll be playing. Nonetheless, his combination of size, technique, quickness, and pattern recognition is intriguing enough that it’s hard to believe he’ll slip much past the mid-rounds. Surest route to working his way up the depth chart will be by improving the overall level of physicality in his game.

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CB Hamp Cheevers, Boston College*

5’9” – 169 lbs. – 4.52
Appeared in six games on special teams as a freshman, then started the final three of twelve games played on defense the following year, posting 17 tackles and two interceptions. Took over a starting role this past year and intercepted seven passes before declaring for the draft. Undersized defensive back who lines up on both sides of the field, playing a combination of man and zone coverages from both press and off looks. Wasn’t really asked to backpedal much during the games reviewed but had controlled footwork on the snaps in which he was. Also demonstrates good footwork to match releases at the line of scrimmage, using his hands well to provide tight man coverage. Not a particularly fast or explosive mover, but has quick reaction times to routes breaking which allows him to put himself in-phase to go for the breakup or interception. Obviously doesn’t have the best wingspan but proved this past season that he can compensate for it by diagnosing and undercutting routes for the interception. Also somewhat makes up for his lack of size with impressive leaping ability, having recorded a 39” vertical and 10’2” broad jump at the Combine. In zone coverage, does a good job of staying over the top of route combinations in order to keep the play in front of him. Looks like he may be susceptible to double-moves, with some technique issues; see Kelvin Harmon’s double move on him early in the fourth quarter of the North Carolina St. game this past season. Really struggles to shed blockers in the run game, as might be expected given his physical profile. Willing to attack blockers but is most effective when he uses his quickness to try and slip past them, as he tends to either get glued to blocks or driven out of the play. Wraps up opponents but doesn’t have a wide radius or much stopping power. Size limitations may force him to slide down into the slot as a pro, where he could use his pattern recognition skills to break up or intercept throws over the middle; however, may never be the type of run defender teams look for in their nickel corner. On-ball production and solid workouts at the Combine should have put him on the radar in this year’s class, but probably more likely as a late-round candidate.

CB Sean Bunting, Central Michigan*

6’0” – 195 lbs. – 4.42
Started one of thirteen games played as a freshman, totaling 18 tackles and two interceptions. Took over a full-time starting role the following year, with 46 tackles, ten breakups, and five interceptions. Posted 37 tackles and two interceptions as a junior before declaring for the draft. Has good size and relatively long arms for a defensive back, which measured 31.75” in Indianapolis. Lined up on the left side of the Chippewas’ defense. Plays a lot of shuffle technique, with some press-man as well. Pretty light on his feet, although he wasn’t asked to backpedal during the games reviewed. Does a good job of using his length to stick with opponents in press-man, pinning them to the sidelines; can also crowd inside releases to create tough throws over the middle of the field. Has good quickness and uses his hands to provide pretty tight coverage through the route stem. Working in zone, demonstrates a pretty good feel for route combinations and play development; can break off of his original man to help on another defender or get upfield to attack screens, although his burst when planting and driving is good but not elite. Combines soft hands and the physical/athletic tools to contest passes, with good length and flexibility and explosive leaping ability, having recorded a 41.5” vertical and 10’6” broad jump at the Combine. However, needs to be quicker about getting his head around in order to locate the ball when targeted down the field. Not one of the more physical run defenders in run support; attacks blocks, but tends to struggle to disengage and put himself in position to make tackles. Too often walls himself off by trying to go around the outside shoulder of a receiver. Will wrap up opponents, but really lacks stopping power and functional strength and can often be taken for a ride by a running back with some leg drive. Generally considered a candidate to come off the board in the draft’s mid-rounds, he offers two years of starting experience as well as an impressive combination of length, flexibility, speed, and explosive leaping ability. However, in order to be a successful player at the pro level, he will have to improve his ability to defend the run, most importantly by getting stronger and improving his overall hand usage and positioning. Thus some time in a pro strength program may be necessary before he sees the field.

CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson*

6’2” – 199 lbs. – 4.46

Appeared in thirteen games as a true freshman, including in a special-teams capacity, then took over a starting role in 2017 and intercepted three passes on the year, breaking up another seven throws. Decided to declare after a junior campaign in which he broke up four passes and intercepted one ball. Tall, long-limbed cornerback who plays in a scheme which calls for him to line up on the short side of the field. Most common techniques are press-man when there’s a receiver opposite him, and zone coverage when no one is split out wide to his side of the field; also plays zone at times against receivers aligned tight to the formation. Frequently lines up close to the line and blitzes when there’s no one to his side of the field. Looks best when he’s using his length and physicality to disrupt releases at the line of scrimmage; good temperament. Able to use his length to blanket receivers near the sidelines. Has enough straight-line speed to carry opponents down the sidelines, and can use his length to challenge throws even if his coverage isn’t the tightest. Doesn’t provide the most seamless coverage through the route stem; not the twitchiest or most fluid defensive back, creating windows for timing throws and relies heavily on his physicality to take those types of passes away. Some balance issues crop up when receivers run double-moves against him. Technique needs polishing; turns all the way around instead of in, wasting motion. Susceptible to shorter throws when playing off-coverage, with adequate but not great plant-and-drive ability. Tends to get too grabby during the route and too physical when the ball is in the air and might be a penalty-prone cornerback at the next level. Likes to come up and make tackles in the run game; is able to get low and uses pretty sound technique to bring down ballcarriers, with a wide tackling radius and good speed to plant and drive. One of the more impressive physical specimens in this year’s draft, but still in need of polish with regard to his pattern recognition and technique; was able to get by with his size, speed, length, and physicality at the college level but will probably have to sit on the bench to begin his pro career. Still might end up coming off the board on the second day as a prospect with a high ceiling, but may have benefited from a return to school.

CB Saivion Smith, Alabama*

6’1” – 199 lbs.

Five-star recruit who originally attended Louisiana St., playing sparingly before transferring to Alabama, which required him to sit out the 2017 season. Stepped into a full-time starting role with the Tide, picking up 60 tackles, intercepting three passes, and breaking up another five before declaring for the draft. Tall, very long-limbed cornerback (33.25” arms) who played on both sides of the defense, playing out of a lot of press alignments but sometimes bailing into a shuffle technique; goes into zone when opponents don’t line up a receiver to his side of the formation. Able to play on the short or long side of the field. Defensive scheme does not call for its players to backpedal much, so that will be a necessary adjustment at the pro level in all likelihood. Pretty fluid mover who uses his length to get his arms on opponents at the line, has the footwork to mirror releases at the line of scrimmage. Provides tight, flat coverage on routes over the middle. Quick feet to shuffle or use the sideline to pin opponents. More flexible than explosive, lacking an elite closing burst to recover when out of phase; could be a problem given his aggressiveness in sitting on the first break. Top-end speed looks good but not great. However, compensates for it somewhat with his impressive length and solid ball skills; appears to have good timing to go for the breakup and soft hands to come down with interceptions when he’s in-phase. Can sometimes get opened up by double-moves; see Missouri game. Not the most physical player in run support, but is willing to come up and wrap up ballcarriers low. Can be put on skates at times, but does a good job of getting extension when taking on blocks and staying to the outside of the play; plays a little bit lighter than anticipated and can struggle to handle the initial contact. A player who has a lot of the physical and athletic tools teams look for, but who could stand to take a slightly more conservative approach to coverage and develop his functional strength in order to hold up better in the run game. Nonetheless, comes from a program with an excellent reputation for preparing its players for the pro game, and his encouraging 2018 campaign as a first-year starter could earn him some second-day consideration.

CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple

6’0” – 192 lbs. – 4.52

Originally attended Presbyterian College, where he contributed in his first year before putting together two starting seasons before he transferred to Temple this past season, recording 47 tackles, two interceptions, and twelve passes defensed. Has solid height and good length (32” arms) but came in just below 6’0”, two inches shorter than he was listed. Coaches kept things simple for the first-year Owl by letting him line up almost exclusively on the left side of the defense, playing press-man coverage. Does a good job of using his arms to disrupt receivers near the line, and to pin them to the sidelines as he sticks with them down the field; physical corner who knows what his strengths are and plays to them. Top-end speed looks adequate to carry opponents deep. However, overall movements can look a little bit clumsy at times and can be too grabby at the stem to maintain tight coverage, something which may cause him to be flagged at the next level. Struggled to a poor 7.31 in the cone. A little bit stilted in his footwork when he’s playing off-coverage techniques. Looks more comfortable using the sideline to provide coverage on downfield routes than defending receivers who make inside releases and cross over the middle of the formation. Gets opened up and put on his heels instead of cutting off the inside; could play a little flatter, with loose coverage providing opportunities for receivers to get the ball with space to work with. There’s some wasted movement when he’s breaking on the ball, creating windows for quarterbacks to target him on timing-based throws. Also tends to turn around instead of into receivers. When he’s in position, is able to use his length to make plays on the ball, breaking up twelve passes this past year, although he squandered an opportunity to make an interception during one of the games reviewed (Maryland). Very good leaper. Ability to defend the run is inhibited by his struggles to locate the football and play off of blocks/position himself. Not one of the most fluid or polished cornerback prospects in this year’s class, but has an impressive combination of size, length, and physicality which should interest teams looking for a developmental press-man cornerback to groom. Those traits should earn him consideration around the middle of the draft, especially when considering his development trajectory, having been able to make a leap up in the level of competition he was facing and immediately take over top cornerback duties there.

CB Montre Hartage, Northwestern

5’11” – 190 lbs. – 4.68

Appeared in thirteen games in a reserve/special teams capacity as a freshman, then intercepted five passes and broke up another nine as a full-time starter the following year. Started the past two seasons as well, totaling four interceptions and seventeen passes defended over that span. Has solid height and bulk and a strong build. Lined up on the short side of the field and was asked to play a lot of shuffle and press-man. Would also rotate over into a high zone when there wasn’t a receiver on his side of the field. Plays with the type of polish and smarts you’d expect in a three-year starter. Uses his size and length to his advantage in press-man, getting his arms on his opponent both at the line of scrimmage and in order to and stick with them through the route stem. Good footwork to match releases. Relies on that length to help him compensate for borderline speed; may have to roll a safety over the top in order to provide help against deep threats. Can also be a little bit slow to get his head around to locate, with a tendency to make a little too much contact on deep targets. That said, clearly had the trust of his coaching staff, which often left him alone on islands and brought their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage. Does a good job of reading the quarterback’s eyes when shuffling, with good reaction times to undercut routes and make plays on the ball; clean footwork and long strides to get depth. Looks pretty good planting and driving on spots. Made a lot of plays on the ball over the past three years, a testament to his pattern recognition, consequent tendency to be in-phase, and length. Willing to get physical in the run game but has an appropriately conservative approach to positioning, locking out blockers and staying to the outside of his receiver in order to push runners back toward his teammates. Patient when left unblocked on the end of the defense. When he does stick his nose in, has the closing burst, length, and physicality to bring down ballcarriers. May not be the fastest or most fluid cornerback in the draft, but plays with the type of sound instincts and technique to contribute at the next level. Pro-ready frame and polished game should smooth his learning curve, but stock is probably no higher than the mid-to-late rounds after barely clearing 4.7 in the forty.

CB Michael Jackson Sr., Miami (FL)

6’1” – 210 lbs. – 4.45

Appeared in twenty-five games over the first two seasons of his career, then started nine of twelve games played as a junior, intercepting four passes. Reprised his starting role the following season to conclude his career. Tall, long, and well-built cornerback who checks all the boxes from a physical standpoint. Takes snaps on both sides of the defense and plays different techniques; predominantly a press-man corner, but does some shuffle/zone coverage as well. Able to use his size and length to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage, keeping his hands on opponents and sticking with them through the route; pretty good footwork to match the release at the line of scrimmage. Long-strider when shuffling; can cover a lot of ground. Appears to have solid top-end speed to carry receivers down the field; uses his size and length to pin them to the sidelines. Provides tight coverage on crossing routes over the middle of the field. Ball skills are a little bit difficult to evaluate because teams didn’t target him very often when he was in-phase during the games reviewed; recorded four interceptions and ten passes defensed over the past two seasons. Wasn’t targeted very often during the games reviewed but it looks important for him to be successful at disrupting releases at the line of scrimmage because there is some wasted motion/sloppiness to his movements at the route stem, something which could allow quarterbacks to pick on him with timing routes. Tendency to be a little bit handsy might put him at a somewhat higher risk of pass-interference calls at the next level. Played in a defense which often rotated all of their defensive backs over when there wasn’t a receiver on one side of the field, so took some occasional snaps as more of a safety. Likes to get physical in the run game. Attacks blockers and uses his size and length to work himself into position. Closes pretty quickly when working downhill and uses wrap tackling technique to bring down ballcarriers. Was also asked to do a lot of blitzing off the edge; does a good job of disguising his intentions and picked up 2.5 sacks this past season. Looks to be in the second-day conversation because of his physical gifts and his ability to get physical with opposing receivers and disrupt their timing out of press-man coverage.

CB Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky

6’2” – 213 lbs. – 4.52

Originally attended junior college for two seasons, then sat out the following season before transferring to Kentucky, where he started five of thirteen games as a junior (41 tackles, five passes defensed) before becoming a full-time starter and posting 23 tackles, one interception, and four breakups. Very big, tall cornerback with a long wingspan; pretty ideal combination of size and length. Although many teams may be evaluating him as a press-man/bump-and-run corner, tended to line up in off-man or shuffle coverage at the college level, offering some generous cushions. From press-man, can use his footwork to match releases at the line, but didn’t use his arms much. Was asked to backpedal at times and demonstrates quick feet, but looks more natural when shuffling, covering a lot of ground and keeping the play in front of him. Not the most explosive mover in terms of planting and driving on a spot, but has quick reaction times which serves to mitigate that lack of top-end explosiveness; could be targeted with anticipatory/timing-based throws but plays with a conservative temperament to avoid getting beat over the top. Digests route-combinations well when playing zone coverage over bunches of receivers. Looks fluid flipping his hips to turn and run with opposing receivers out of either the backpedal or the shuffle technique. Does tend to rely on his length to provide coverage down the field, as his speed may be slightly below-average for the position. A further concern may be his struggles to locate the ball when targeted down the sidelines; not quick enough to get his head around at this point in order to make plays on the ball. Consequently, it’s not so surprising that he didn’t get his hands on many passes. Leapt 38” in the vertical and 10’9” in the broad jump, both very good figures. Aside from not being asked to mix it up at the line, plays the game with some physicality. Uses his size and length to position himself well when taking on blocks, funneling runners back inside. Comes up a bit too early sometimes and creates openings for runners on the outside. Likes to come up and deliver hits on opposing receivers, although he is more physical than fundamentally sound. A very interesting prospect because of his size, fluidity, and reaction times, but who will need to do a better job of locating when targeted downfield; would like to see someone with his size and physicality playing more bump-and-run, so he could theoretically be even better as a pro than he was at the college level.

CB Kris Boyd, Texas

6’0” – 201 lbs. – 4.45

Texas native who appeared in twelve games as a freshman, also contributing on special-teams units and returning kicks. Started the final eight of twelve games played as a sophomore and ended up starting throughout his junior and senior seasons as well. Tall, well-built cornerback who looks the part of a boundary defender, although arms measured in shorter than anticipated (30.75”). Typically lined up in off-man coverage on the right side of the defense as a junior, with some zone sprinkled in, then played more press-man when the coaching staff changed for his senior year. As a three-year starter, plays with the type of awareness and polish you’d hope for. Prior to his senior year, played on one of the rare collegiate defenses which asked their cornerbacks to backpedal on a regular basis, and exhibits the ability to get low and use clean, fast footwork to get depth. Has loose hips and is able to flip and carry opponents down the sidelines to defend routes over the top. Does a good job of getting his head around and can use his length to make plays on the ball. More of a smooth cornerback than an explosive one. Has a conservative temperament, offering pretty generous cushions which open up routes for receivers on underneath throws, especially because, although his reaction times are quick, he lacks the explosive plant-and-drive skills to put himself in position to break up those types of passes. However, length, timing, and leaping ability can compensate for his lack of elite speed by allowing him to knock away targets downfield; that combination of skills allowed him to break up a staggering thirty-one passes over the past two years, to go along with his four career interceptions. Looked good using his length to play press/bump-and-run as a senior, matching releases at the line and disrupting timing. In contrast, some of his play in zone coverage is a little bit soft, allowing receivers to pass over to the safety with minimal interference. Likes to get physical in the run game and is capable of extending his arms, taking on blockers, and getting to the ballcarrier. Strong tackler with a wide radius. Comes with the size, length, awareness, and technique to compete for a starting role early in his career, with the type of conservative approach that should help him avoid being beaten over the top; having played in different schemes and using different techniques, has a lot of different tape to increase confidence in him as a potential second-day pick.