The cornerback position is all about speed and instincts. Some corners acclimate quickly to the NFL and others learn quickly that the speed in the NFL is on another stratosphere in which they cannot compete. The position of cornerback is always a tricky position to draft.
The fastest corner in the NFL Draft may have the worst instincts and the corner prospect with great instincts may be at the bottom of the list when measuring speed. Great corners are born they are not made. It takes a special combination of aggression and maturity to make a great NFL cornerback. The following ten NFL Draft eligible cornerbacks will make up the next generation of NFL cornerbacks.
No.10. Rashad Carmichael: Virginia Tech Hokies
Rashad Carmichael has impressed his coaches with his prep and work ethic in practice at the Senior Bowl. Carmichael will have to impress and make strides this weekend but he has shown talent while covering some of the best college wide receivers in practice.
Carmichael is second fastest of the ten listed but he needs to improve on his back pedal. His work ethic will go a long way. Do not be surprised if Carmichael moves up the board after the NFL Combine. Middle third round NFL Draft pick.
No.9. Curtis Brown: Texas Longhorns
Curtis Brown is an aggressive corner that is the quickest in the 40 at 4.37. Speed is one thing, blanketing a receiver is another. Brown was a decent corner with average skills on the edge. His footwork in the open field was marginal.
Brown was easily turned around by average receivers in 2010 and he was picked on by the better quarterbacks in the Big 12. He does have speed and raw talent and some defensive coordinator will fall in love with his speed.
Early third round NFL Draft pick.
No.8. Brandon Burton: Utah Utes
Brandon Burton is one of the slower cornerbacks available in the NFL Draft but he is also one of the best available. Burton has the instincts needed for a second round NFL Draft pick and his smooth footwork is that of a veteran. Burton will be a steal late in the second round of the NFL Draft.
No.7. Ras I Dowling: Virginia Cavaliers
Injuries limited Ras I Dowling in his last season but in 2009 he had 11 passes defensed and three interceptions. Dowling is attended the Senior Bowl in Birmingham and he may have improved his stock heading into the NFL Combine. Dowling may also be a steal in the second round of the NFL Draft.
No.6. Jimmy Smith: Colorado Buffaloes
At 6-2 and 205 Jimmy Smith is a big corner that is one of the better pass defenders in the NFL Draft. Smith suffered a concussion in October and the injury stunted his development leading into the end of the season. Physically Smith will be a hot commodity. It will be a challenge to integrate him into the next level based on the speed of the NFL game. Smith will be drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft.
No.5. Johnny Patrick: Louisville Cardinals
Johnny Patrick has not been mentioned by many because of off the field issues but a team may be willing to overlook his discretions. Patrick has all the intangibles that could help him at the next level. He has speed and a nose for the ball with his good football instincts. Patrick is cocky and he will have to swallow his pride in the interview process if he wants to be drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft.
No.4. Brandon Harris: Miami Hurricanes
Brandon Harris is the real deal. He is a legitimate shut down corner that frustrates wide receivers attempting to gain separation. Harris is fast and he is the opposite of most cornerbacks when it comes to run support. Harris is unafraid to jump up and shut down the run from the corner position.
Harris runs the 40 yard dash in 4.41 seconds and he is never afraid o gamble. His confidence is what makes him great and it is also what may cause him to rub coaches the wrong way. NFL coaches will be enamored with his talent but after interviewing him they may be afraid to mesh him into their existing defense. Harris will be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft but he may fall out of the first round if he fails in the interview portion of the NFL Combine.
No.3. Aaron Williams: Texas Longhorns
Aaron Williams is projected by many to go in the first round of the NFL Draft to a good team. Williams is a smart corner that has decent speed at 4.44 in the 40. Williams played on a Texas Longhorns defense that struggled at times but Williams held up his end at the corner. First round of the NFL Draft is likely but Williams could drop after the NFL Combine.
No.2. Prince Amukamara: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Prince Amukamara is a converted running back and his physical abilities belie that fact. Prince has a perfect attitude for his position. His goal is to shut down his man and make plays. Amukamara had five picks in 2009 and teams avoided him in his final season.
Amukamara is quick off the ball and his footwork is flawless. He knows when to back pedal, when to turn and watch for the ball and makes plays that no other college corner would dream of making. His stats took a dive in 2010 but only because no quarterback would challenge him. Do not be surprised if Amukamara passes Patrick Patterson after a great NFL Combine. Amukamara will be drafted in first round of the NFL Draft and possibly top ten.
No.1. Patrick Peterson: LSU Tigers
The unquestioned number one cornerback in the NFL Draft is LSU’s Patrick Peterson. A cornerback that can be drafted and start in the 2011 NFL season. Patterson is a double threat for any team that takes him in the NFL Draft.
He is an excellent return man that has lightning fast feet and can turn on a dime. As a defender Peterson is a blanket on the opposing receiver. His instincts to the ball are better than any cornerback in this NFL Draft and his willingness to run up to the line and stuff the run make him a great fit for a good defensive minded team. Patrick Peterson may move up into the top two NFL Draft picks this year but he is the best corner before the NFL Combine.
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