Top Ten 2014 Draft Prospects: Cornerback Edition
Which Cornerbacks Should You Be Watching at the Combine?
2014 NFL Off-Season
Yesterday, we took a look at the top receivers heading into this year’s draft. From Sammy Watkins to Jarvis Landry, talent abounds. It wouldn’t be any fun if wideouts had their way on the field all the time, though. Today, we’ll rank the top cornerbacks who want to stop them. This is a fairly CB heavy class and I think a lot of these guys will do well for themselves around the league.
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1. Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) - At 6’0, 195 pounds, Gilbert is larger than some of the other talented CBs in the 2014 draft. He’s got skills to be sure; Gilbert has already returned six kick-offs for TDs in his career. He is a little bit immature from a decision-making standpoint, but as long as he can get it together on that front, I think he could be a successful starter even during his rookie year.
2. Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State) - For a young player, Dennard is smart. He reacts quickly and has excellent eyes. In college, Dennard was a leader in the locker room, which is something NFL front offices will latch onto. Provided he can stay healthy, Dennard has the potential to do extremely well as a pro.
3. Bradley Roby (Ohio State) - Roby is fast, hyper-aware, and plays like a larger man than he is. Quick feet, the ability to change directions on a dime, and blitzing prowess make Roby an almost surefire first rounder. His fairly small 5’10, 190 pound frame (and behavioral issues at OSU) might concern some NFL administrators, but overall he’s a solid pick.
4. Jason Verrett (TCU) - With eight interceptions over the past two years, Verrett is a force to be reckoned with on the field. He may actually be THE best CB in this year’s draft class. The reason he’s sitting at No. 4? His size. His pre-combine measurements are 5’10, 176 pounds. It’s tough to be sure how he’ll fare against big wideouts like Dez Bryant and Alshon Jeffrey.
5. Rashaad Reyonds (Oregon State) - Reynolds is a disciplined, well-respected football player who has a natural head for the game. Reynolds is also an excellent tackler, which sets him apart from some of the other CBs in this draft class. Reynolds is coming off of the capstone of his career as a college player, winning the MVP award at the Hawaii Bowl. Reynolds’s performance during that game alone should have piqued the interest of NFL scouts.
6. Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State) - Even though Joyner has been somewhat hyped due to FSU’s success in 2013, he’s an average player with below-average size. That said, Joyner plays like a bigger man and is extremely durable; Joyner never missed a game in college, even though he clocks-in at just 5’8 and 187 pounds. Joyner was a positive team leader for FSU, which makes him appealing to the powers-that-be in the NFL.
7. Marcus Roberson (Florida) - Roberson enjoys excellent on-field instincts that make him effective, even though he lacks strength. If he can put-on some muscle, Roberson could become a factor on a pro team, especially as a punt returner. Roberson has struggled with injuries, though, which may give some front offices pause.
8. Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech) - Fuller, a team captain at VT, has decent size and a confident demeanor. If he spends some time in the weight room, Fuller has the potential to contribute to an NFL team immediately, particularly on special teams. Fuller’s talented enough that he could go in round 2.
9. Bashaud Breeland (Clemson) - While Breeland sometimes plays sloppy, unrefined ball, he possesses natural athleticism, so his skills should be able to be honed by the right coaching staff. Overall, Breeland’s quick, has decent size, and is aggressive on the field, which is something NFL coaches are looking for.
10. Loucheiz Purifoy (Florida) - Purifoy has received far more hype than his teammate, Roberson, but he lacks some of the natural instincts that Roberson possesses. Purifoy is, though, an exceptional overall athlete. I don’t see Purifoy going before round 3, even with his name recognition, but if he can improve his tackling and route reading skills, Purifoy could prove to be a decent pro player.