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2018 Pre-NFL Combine Overview/Mock Draft: Cornerback/CB (FINAL)

Air Date:
February 23, 2018

**21 of 42 CBs previewed on THU 2/22, the remaining FRI 2/23**

 

Ground Rules on this NFL Combine preview scouting:

 -- Looking at the initial performance data from their college years in our system.

 -- Watching 10-15+ minutes of tape

 -- Giving an initial knee-jerk reaction to what I am seeing/feeling.

 -- Will rank them as if I am drafting them for the dynasty rookie draft, and I will also break them into tiers

 -- We don’t have the full host of measurables, so my reactions could change when I see the physical times and attributes. Sometimes your scouting eyes deceive you on how fast a player is moving, etc. We will be doing all the full-fledged scouting of these players after the Combine data is in.

 -- This ‘draft’ and analysis will drop in a player at a time at various times throughout the day. Check the clock on the title to see when the latest post was made.

 -- Height/weight is latest estimates we have from their listed info or all-star games, etc. Not official.

 -- Going prospect by prospect in alphabetical order.

 

 

The NFL Combine Cornerbacks…

 

Current consensus top 5 CB prospects in the mainstream…

1) Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

2) Denzel Ward, Ohio State

3) Carlton Davis, Auburn

4) Josh Jackson, Iowa

5) Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

 

 

*Five Tiers: A, B, C, D, F…like school grades. Players listed in ‘my favorite’ order.

 

 

**Tier A**

 

Carlton Davis, Auburn (6’1”/203)

Really nice cover corner. Gets up on WRs and goes toe-to-toe with them. Has nice feet and good length. Looks a little thin, wiry but he is an aggressive, willing tackler. Liked everything I saw. He could be the best CB prospect in the draft, easily. A

 

Brandon Facyson, Va Tech (6’2”/197)

Great size, reach, movement. I was surprised when I saw how little attention he was getting for the draft at this stage. He looks like a top 50 type pick to me, depending upon how his Combine turns out. He has NFL size and speed. Displayed nice mirroring/cover skills and is a willing hitter with size to put pop behind his hits. I was very impressed. I saw a raw shutdown corner in progress on my quick preview. Could the CB/DB steal of the draft. Looking forward to his Combine. A

 

Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State (6’2”/198)

Wildly impressive defensive prospect. Looks comfortable and talented in coverage, but also plays with a bit of an OLB mindset…in fact, sometimes slipped back into an OLB/SAF position on certain plays. Would press cover top receivers one moment and then be a lone linebacker in another scheme the next. Is a quality tackler. Has nice size, length, reach. He’s a terrific prospect…his Combine times will determine A+ or B+ here…A+ is possible.  A

Parry Nickerson, Tulane (6’0”/180)

I loved what I saw on tape. Maybe the best ‘recovery’ CB in the draft…a guy who can get beat on a move by a WR but then turn on the jets and catch right back up. One of the most fluid runners/athletes I’ve seen (with a short study) among the hundreds of players at any position I’ve seen this 2018 Combine study. Looking forward to scouting more here. A-, possibly an A or A+ at first glance.

 

Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee (6’1”/193)

Plays corner like a strong safety…he may be a better safety prospect than CB, but he’s a legit NFL CB prospect for sure. Very tough, plays with a chip. Gets too emotional at times (has been penalized and ejected for on-field antics).  Has the size, speed, reach of a star CB…but too many times I saw him get lost in coverage not paying attention/instinctual to stay with the receiver. He could be the best raw skills DB in this draft…but his attitude may bump him back to a lower grade. The skills and size are there, and some coaches are going to love his ‘bad attitude’. A-

Darius Phillips, W. Michigan (5’10”/190)

Wow. I missed this in a few minute preview of Phillips heading into the Senior Bowl. After spending a little more time with him – he may be the best football player in the 2018 NFL Draft. Not the best prospect. Not the best athlete. The best on-field football player in college football. 12 career INTs…returned 5 of them for TDs. Watched him strip a WR and pick it up and race for a fumble return TD. Returned 5 kicks and 1 punt for a TD in his career. Caught 2 TDs passes as a WR as a freshman. 6 defensive TDs, 6 return TDs, 2 offensive TDs in his career…are you kidding me? Solid speed but even better cutting/stop-start ability with terrific instincts. Nice in coverage and obviously in the return game. It’s not that he’s like Tyreek Hill fast…he’s just good at football. Like a faster, Kevin Byard. A-, possible A. Size is his only mild downgrade worry.

 

Jaire Alexander, Louisville (5’11”/192)

Great straight-line speed. Nice skills mirroring WRs. Has no problem getting physical at the line. A good tackler. Shows nice agility/cutting ability. Had a punt return TD in 2016 -- and was really an explosive returner. Had 5 INTs in 2016…picked off Deshaun Watson twice in a game. Missed several weeks in 2017 with a bone bruise or might have been an All-American. The first CB I’ve studied today (going alphabetical) and I’m interested to see if there is a better CB than Alexander here. A-

 

 

 

**Tier B**

Isaac Yiadom, Boston College (6’1”/190)

I really like Yiadom – has the size, speed, toughness of a physical cover corner for the NFL and he tackles like a quality safety. He may be moved to safety if needed or wanted. Provides flexibility for the NFL. I liked pre-Senior Bowl study and I like him here again. B++

 

Duke Dawson, Florida (5’10”/208)

Very nice cover corner. Quick and tough enough to play up on a WR. Willing to play the run…looks for and chases opportunity. An NFL-ready cover corner or tough/quick slot CB. B++

 

Anthony Averett, Alabama (6’0”/185)

A really quality cornerback here. Very good in coverage but I saw him play a little loose-lazy-arrogant, but when he wanted to he was all over his receiver. Moves nicely. I didn’t see much of a flaw besides a little lax in coverage sometimes but that probably changes outside of Alabama (you can be lax with such an all-star team). B+ (but very well could be an A)

 

Taron Johnson, Weber State (5’11”/180)

Of course, watching some tape, he dominated the FCS…but this was a little different for me -- I thought this was as good an FCS tape as I’ve seen this year. Watched him against a legit NFL prospect QB vs. Chris Streveler/South Dakota…and they tested Johnson -- and Johnson played great. Good cover skills, smart, and will absolutely play the run/hit ballcarriers…a good tackler. He’s a quality kid, a team captain, a Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year – he’s just really sound. B

Levi Wallace, Alabama (6’0”/183)

Nice size, nice feet, nice technique…he’s a very solid CB prospect at first glance. Didn’t jump off the screen in any area but was noticeably sound on almost every snap I watched. B

Josh Jackson, Iowa (6’1”/192)

Wasn’t in love with what I saw on tape. But when I saw he had 48 tackles, 18 PDs, 8 INTs, and 2 INT return TDs in 2017…I was thinking this guy must be awesome. He was good in spurts in the tape I watched. Jackson has the size and movement of an NFL starting CB. Games I watched him in, I saw him playing way off receivers and being a little lazy/crafty trying to bait the QBs in. When running plays came his way, Jackson almost seemed to like getting locked up by the WR and not getting into a scrum. He has NFL skills all the way…I just thought I saw some red flag stuff in his tape, so I’m a little leery. B

Donte Jackson, LSU (5’11”/175)

Very nice cover skills. Has NFL cover moves but he has a size/frame that many NFL teams will not love. A/B cover skills in a C/D body. He adds some bulk in the NFL and he’ll be a pretty nice cover option. B--

Michael Joseph, Dubuque (6’1”/181)

Good feet, good body for the NFL for a D3 player/prospect. A late bloomer in college but looks like a legit NFL corner at a glance…but needs to add 10 more pounds of bulk to his frame. Was a Senior Bowl invite but I really don’t remember much about him from that week in Mobile; he blended in. 8 interceptions in 2017…what you’d expect from an NFL prospect lurking at the D3 level. Returned one kick all of last season…for a 96-yard TD. Not sure why he wasn’t returning more in 2017 given how dominant he was as an athlete for Dubuque. Good athlete, good character…good developmental prospect. B-

Jamarcus King, South Carolina (6’1”/186)

Solid cover corner. High energy, effort. Mirrors pretty well. Likes to play off receivers and then close on throws…not sure he loves the rough stuff/hand-to-hand combat as much. He looks pretty good in zone coverage…has a knack for reading the QB and breaking to the right area. He’s a solid prospect for the NFL. B—

 

**Tier C**

D’Montre Wade, Murray State (6’0”/200)

Hard to get a full feel for playing in the FCS. Looks like a very smart, NFL-talented corner. Held up well at the Senior Bowl week. Made a few plays that caught praise. I have a positive vibe on him now from the tape but waiting to see the Combine to confirm or deny some of this. C++

Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma (6’0”/186)

Good size, nice reach/wingspan. Ready to get physical in press coverage as needed. Has NFL athleticism but looked mediocre in coverage on the tape I watched up…WR ’Sims’ for K-State may be a star or Thomas isn’t ready for prime time WRs. Plays flat-footed way too much, but that can be corrected. C+

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (6’1’/190)

I don’t get this Minkah Fitzpatrick hype at all. He’s a good player but he’s not one of the three best players in the country. Hell, he’s not one of the three best CBs at the 2018 NFL Combine. He’s not the best CB on Alabama. He’s not a cornerback anyway, he’s a safety…which is an auto downgrade in NFL value. He will probably be a nicely rated, but overrated safety because ‘Alabama’. How hard is it to play roving free safety/linebacker when you have two legit NFL CBs on your team? I thought his cover skills were weak (for a supposed top guy). We’ll rate him with the safeties officially but I wanted to fire an opening shot here because I was curious on what position he should be classified at and I watched his cover work when he did come and cover slot guys, etc. Not impressed. C+ (as a CB)

D.J. Reed, Kansas State (5’9”/188)

Good cover skills. May be a hair too slow, too thin-framed to be an impact cover guy in the NFL. He’s not bad, I just saw more not so good versus good in the game I watched him in. C+

Denzel Ward, Ohio State (5’10”/191)

A little like Eli Apple, minus attitude…has some NFL ability to cover but turns his back to everything so much and is so ‘handsy’ that he might fail some at the next level because he’s not a natural at his position. Has some NFL tools but also some on-field concerns. C+

Chris Jones, Nebraska (6’0”/195)

I wasn’t moved either way by his tape. NFL body. Solid skills. Had nice plays and others where he was out of position or got beat in coverage. I think he’s more positive than negative for the NFL, but not sure just yet. Quick view…C

 

Tony Brown, Alabama (5’11”/198)

Listed as a CB but looks and plays like a safety/small linebacker. He’s better than his weak college numbers but the lack of productivity is worth worrying about. Athletically ready for the NFL…football smarts, not really. I don’t see a CB here at all…more SAF. C

Andre Chachere, San Jose State (6’0”/195)

Solid in coverage. Plays off the WR typically…which made me start to feel he doesn’t have the speed to get up on a WR and stick with him. I question his NFL speed/agility to become an NFL starter. Willing, high effort player but not NFL-quick, potentially, and a thin frame/flimsy tackler that is easily blocked out of a running play. C--

Davontae Harris, Illinois State (5’9”/190)

Pretty talented, tough cover corner. Dominated FCS receivers pretty well, which makes it hard to translate him to the NFL. A little on the small side, but if his Combine speed is good then maybe a slot corner role for him at the next level. C-

Mike Hughes, C. Florida (5’11”/191)

NFL speed, but not sure his size is going to work for long in the NFL. Very thin, easy to push away from. He’s aggressive, willing to mix it up but didn’t look like he could hang well with big college receivers, so he might get bullied in the pros on size. He’s a scrapper but not ideal for the NFL at a glance. C-

Danny Johnson, Southern (5’10”/185)

A dominant FCS corner but just solid/good if he were major conference corner, I have a feeling. A little underwhelming in size. He might be better than I’m letting on but it’s hard getting an idea when he’s just squashing FCS WRs. C-

Isaiah Oliver, Colorado (6’1”/190)

Watched him against USC/2017…has the look/size of an NFL CB prospect but I doubt/am suspect of his mirroring speed/ability in coverage. USC receivers worked around him pretty easily. Plays off the receiver a lot and when he pressed up he got left behind too easily. He may be lacking in speed-agility a little too much for effective NFL starter hopes. May be better suited as a safety. C-

**Tier D**

Holton Hill, Texas (6’2”/200)

Has the size you’re looking for but I thought he moved a little too stiff and choppy, making him a bit slow in coverage for the NFL. Played off receivers to allow for his lack of speed, I think. Might be a better safety. He’s OK, but I didn’t see the upside. D++

Chris Campbell, Penn State (6’1”/194)

Listed as a CB but has the heart of SAF, but not in a good way. What I saw of him in coverage, Campbell is always looking into the backfield and wanting to go play the run. He leaves himself very susceptible in coverage, a lot. I didn’t see great coverage skills or desire. NFL-worthy, low-end. Thin frame. Not sure what he does well. D+

Dee Delaney, Miami, Fla (6’1”/194)

Played a couple of seasons at Citadel before a final season of play at the U. Was a star at Citadel but was just another guy for Miami. He appears to have NFL size and skills but he didn’t jump out on tape much in 2017 in the ACC. I think there’s something here to work with but late-round pick look. D+

Quenton Meeks, Stanford (6’2”/205)

Not a CB prospect to me. Too slow in movement/stop-start to be an NFL CB. Looks, moves, and works more like a safety or OLB, which he played in some schemes. I’d worry that he’s a 4.6+ runner and that’s not great for an NFL DB. He’s tough enough with size to play in the NFL, but speed/agility may be a concern. We’ll see what the Combine brings. D

Rashard Fant, Indiana (5’9”/175)

Pretty good cover skills but he’s so small. Listed at 5’10”, he may be 5’8”. Stays with WRs OK but gives up a lot of height and doesn’t have much body behind trying to make tackles. Maybe he’ll be a slot corner for the NFL, but a lower-end one unless his Combine says better than that. D

Avonte Maddox, Pitt (5’9”/180)

Scrappy, smaller corner. 100% effort. NFL speed it appears. Concerns on size. Likeable, but not sure he’s a great prospect profile for the NFL. I wouldn’t write him off, but you can’t take him too seriously until you see the official measurements. He may be smaller than even listed. D

Henre Toliver, Arkansas (6’1’/185)

Not a fan. Watched his tape against Ole Miss and he was repeatedly beaten by WR on their routes. Has NFL length but so-so speed and not great instincts/mirroring of receivers. Didn’t like what I saw today besides an NFL body. D

Nick Nelson, Wisconsin (5’11”/208)

Good speed when running long but didn’t like his stop-start or cut abilities as much…allowed good WRs to get open/away from him as needed. He’s OK, could make a roster type talent at first glance. Didn’t see a wow factor. Possibly more suited for safety. D

J.C. Jackson, Maryland (5’11”/193)

More college good than NFL good. Was watching him against Ohio State/2017 and they had no fear going after Jackson, and the WR beat Jackson over and over off the snap and in route. Jackson is not terrible but I don’t see him as an obvious NFL prospect at first glance. D-

Chandon Sullivan, Georgia State (5’11”/195)

Nothing jumped out at me here again with Sullivan, second-time around for me. Watched some of his work pre-Senior Bowl…didn’t love it for an NFL-level. I think he’ll struggle with NFL coverage. Good Sun Belt DB, not anything special for the NFL. D-

Greg Stroman, Va Tech (6’0”/180)

Average-looking corner. Didn’t see him display any special speed or cover skills. Has an NFL body and possible NFL speed, but I didn’t see him really squash receivers. He played way off a lot of the time and when he pressed he usually got beat. Not much of a tackler either. Not loving this first-look. D-

Kamrin Moore, Boston College (5’11”/205)

Wasn’t a great watch for me. I thought he reacted a little too slowly for an NFL prospect CB. Plays more like a safety prospect. I didn’t see anything that grabbed me…nothing special in coverage and an OK tackler. D-

Grant Haley, Penn State (5’9”/185)

So-so cover corner. Plays more like a safety. Was used like a safety/linebacker at times. Seems to prefer playing the run and trying to get to the backfield rather than locking down a WR play-after-play. Good college football player but could get lost trying to find a spot in the NFL. D-

M.J. Stewart, North Carolina (5’11”/200)

Didn’t like anything about the tape I watched. Runs a little stiff. Short and squatty like a linebacker or safety. Doesn’t ‘feel’ like a cover corner. Was playing way off receivers from what I saw, compensating for his speed issues potentially. D-

**Tier F**

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>