1. Joshua Jackson- Iowa 6’1” 192 lbs
Joshua Jackson was being already considered as an NFL corner in his Sophomore year. Criticism of ball skills and turnovers kept him in college though. Jackson responded by leading the NCAA in interceptions the next year with eight, with two of those taken to the house.
He has the perfect body for a number one corner and he has the highest ceiling in this draft. Jackson looks like a linebacker playing corner but has no issue with speed or playing the deep ball. He specializes in playing off-man coverage which is odd with his size and the lack of film of him pressing or jamming receivers. NFL teams will want Jackson to develop into a press corner at some point. Jackson is more than willing to help support in the run game but he does not utilize his size as much as you would like, also is not involved in as many tackles as you would like to see. Jackson also dives at the ball carriers feet too often instead of trying to form tackle.
Player comparison- Xavier Rhodes without the offhand jam
Draft position- Top 20 pick
2. Denzel Ward- Ohio State 5’10” 191 lbs
Denzel Ward stepped into Marshawn Lattimore’s spot this year and played very well. Ball skills will be a question mark for Ward due to only coming up with two interceptions in his career.
Ward wins in the first 3 seconds of the play by consistently cutting off the wide receiver with his body. Ward’s feet are amazing because he can mirror and match while keeping his feet underneath his frame. Size will always be an issue however even though he plays as if he is 6’2” and seems to love contact when tackling. Ward is very physical in the run game and is skilled at fighting off blocks to make a play, but again his size makes him bounce off blockers and ball carriers at times. He does not seem to try and jam the receiver and doesn’t make use of his hands. Ward will never be a prototypical #1 corner but will be a fit in almost all systems and at worst case will dominate at nickel.
Player comparison- Bradley Roby
Draft position- Top 20 pick
3. Holton Hill- Texas 6’3” 200 lbs
Holton Hill’s draft stock was soaring this year until he was suspended by the Longhorns for an unspecified violation of team rules. Rumors are that Hill failed close to ten drug tests this past year so his combine interviews will go a long way in where he is drafted.
Hill’s physical dimension, however, can not be doubted. Hill is in contention for one of the most physical corners in this draft and makes several plays in the run game. Hill is the definition of a “gamer”, he always seems to step up his play at crucial moments in the game and is exceptional at making impact type plays. He shut down James Washington of Oklahoma State. Hill is a better athlete than a technician but uses his hands as well as any corner in the draft. Being 6’3” with great hands makes him an ideal press corner and the fact that he loves to hit and tackle in the run game will be enough for NFL teams to take a chance on Hill and his character question marks.
Player comparison- Daryl Worley but with better cover skills
Draft position- 3rd round (Character Concerns)
4. Mike Hughes- Central Florida 5’11” 185 lbs
Mike Hughes transferred from North Carolina after his freshmen year. He sat out a year before putting up a dominant performance in 2017. Only one year as a starter makes Hughes a little risky but his ceiling makes him very intriguing. Hughes might have the best hips in this draft and loses zero speed when transitioning out of backpedaling or shuffle. He gives great effort in the run game and is very effective, even though he dives low on the ball carrier. Hughes dominates in off-man, bail technique, and mirror and match technique. Played very well against top wide receivers D.J. Moore of Maryland and Anthony Miller of Memphis. Hughes also has value as a returner and was able to run back both a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown last year.
Player comparison- Tre’Davious White
Draft position- Late 1st to early 2nd round
5. Carlton Davis- Auburn 6’1” 195 lbs
Carlton Davis is the definition of the big physical corner and is one of the most physical corners in this class. Davis tackles up high like a linebacker and tries to punish the ball carrier. Davis has experience playing several different man schemes (off-man, press-man, bail technique, and man-under). Deep speed seems to be a concern for Davis and his combine performance will carry a lot of weight for his draft stock. Cover 3 teams will drool over Carlton Davis and several teams will have him as their top corner.
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Player comparison- Marlon Humphrey with more thump
Draft position- late 1st to middle 2nd
6. Isaiah Oliver- Colorado 6’1” 190 lbs
Isaiah Oliver has the long-coveted body type of an outside corner and is at his best in press man. Oliver’s footwork is lacking however as he constantly steps outside of his frame and this is one reason he is terrible at off man coverage. Oliver will have to improve his footwork as you can not just play press man in the NFL and has the opposite problem as most corners in this draft that can play other coverages but not press man. He is a very fluid and patient corner that plays well out of phase and closes in as the ball nears the receiver. Oliver can tackle but does not like to, this was a problem with both Colorado corners drafted last year as well.
Player comparison- Kyle Fuller with worse feet
Draft position- 2nd round
7. Donte Jackson- LSU 5’11” 175 lbs
Donte Jackson has a great mix of high end speed and short quick speed. He does not like to tackle which makes his small size stand out even more than it should. He repeatedly dives at the ball carrier’s feet instead of trying to form tackle. Donte is at his best playing off man with his eyes on the quarterback. Jackson is a perfect fit in a Tampa 2 system where he can make plays on the ball. He has some of the best closing speed of any corner in the past few years and always gets his hands on the ball but seems to drop several easy interceptions. Jackson is a big time talker and energy player for the defense. Lack of ball skills and tackling will make him fall in drafts but several teams will have him as a top 2 corner on their board due to scheme fit.
Player comparison- Asante Samuel without the interceptions
Draft position- 2nd round
8. Jaire Alexander- Louisville 5’11” 188 lbs
Jaire Alexander has a lot of potential, however, nagging injuries will be a red flag in his evaluation. Alexander had a knee injury and broken hand which caused him to miss six games last year. He is an excellent shuffle boundary corner that will thrive in a cover 2 scheme. Alexander has played press man to a small extent and has great feet and arm extension at the line but Louisville didn’t use this scheme very much. He is a capable tackler but seems content to stand around the pile instead of getting involved. Alexander has extra value as a punt returner as well and will be active on most special teams.
Player comparison- Vernon Hargraves
Draft position- 3rd round
9. Duke Dawson- Florida 5’10” 208 lbs
Duke Dawson is going to be a slot corner in the NFL due to his size. Dawson has a great patient backpedal that is probably his strength but has tight hips and loses momentum when he turns and opens up. He consistently uses his hands to slow down the wide receiver in and out of breaks no matter how far downfield they are, he will need to adjust his game to the next level. He predicts a little too much in press coverage causing him to give up separation to the receiver instead of stepping individually. Dawson is a boom or bust corner that gives up big plays due to poor footwork and being out of position but also had four interceptions last year. When Dawson gets the ball in his hands watch out his athleticism makes him a possible punt and kick return candidate. Dawson is not active and the run game and doesn’t seem to like contact with the running backs.
Player comparison- Cyrus Jones with worse feet
Draft position- 4th-5th round
10. Quenton Meeks- Stanford 6’1” 195 lbs
Quenton Meeks is a three year starter at Stanford and has seven career interceptions. Meeks is more of a large athlete instead of a true corner, he gives up far too much separation and has bad footwork. He seems to prefer the bail technique due to the poor footwork and he tries to just make breaks on the ball instead of blanketing the receiver. Meeks has a lot of almost tackles where he gets as close to the pile as he can without making the play. The Stanford corner should of returned for his senior season. Meeks’ size is about the only thing that will boost his draft stock and will be a huge project at the next level.
Player comparison- Dontae Johnson
Draft position- 5th round or later
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