2011 NFL Draft: The Top Cornerbacks in the NFL Draft


If you are sitting anywhere between 1-15in the draft and are desperate for a corner, you must be salivating. There are numerous elite and borderline elite (aka very good) prospects in this upcoming draft that will help several teams finally obtain a shutdown defender.

After the jump are the top five cornerback prospects in the draft:

1. Patrick Peterson, Cornerback LSU

Peterson is pretty good. He's just won a few awards... Namely being voted Stampedeblue.com's number one rated return specialist (awarded by me). His other lesser achievements include:

2010 Bednarik Award for the nations' top defender

2010 Thorpe Award for the nation's top defensive back

2010 First-Team All-American (By practically every voting body)

2010 SEC defensive player of the year - coaches (although that was obvious given he won the Bednarik)

2010 SEC special teams player of the year -coaches (ditto)

2010 First-Team All-Southeastern Conference Defense and Special Teams...

and a whole bunch of other awards his sophomore and junior years as well.

The guy is an outrageous talent.

Strengths:

Pretty much everything. Just look at the list above. It speaks for itself. If anyone had any doubts, he pretty much erased them with a very good combine effort.

Weaknesses:

Not to nitpick but according to many SEC blogs out there, Peterson's lone sole weakness may be that he is susceptible to biting on the double moves. If that is the case, Peterson will have to work hard to improve on that area as NFL qb's and offensive coordinators will immediately target him with a variety of stutters and fakes.

Rumors have also surfaced that Peterson was involved with a pay-to-play recruiting service that was selling his services to schools for as much as 80,000 dollars. So far it doesn't seem to be anything more than rumors.  

Combine Stats:

Peterson showed up at the NFL combine weighing in at a big 219 pounds, looking more like a running back than a cornerback but was still able to post a blazing official time of 4.34 in the 40. So much for critics who said he didn't have elite recovery speed.

Fun fact: Peterson is maternal cousins of NFL players Byrant McaFadden, Walter McFadden, Sinorice Moss and Santana Moss. I think its fair to say that little cousin is going to outshine everyone pretty soon...

 Prince Amukamara, Cornerback University of Nebraska

Big, physical, fast, smart, hardworking and a mature. What's not to like. Some say he is overrated and might slide but those people are picking in the 16 - 24 range and are probably just jealous and are hoping he does. Most people have  Amukamara comfortably in the 5-15 range.

Strengths:

Amukamara was the cornerstone of an excellent Cornhuskers secondary winning the 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award. Unlike the much more highly touted Peterson though, Amukamara failed to draw as much attention. Nevertheless, critics shouldn't see his lack of awards as a dearth of talent.

Amukamara is a physical cornerback who has experience playing man coverage and zone so he should be able to step in right away.

Weaknesses:

While he had an otherwise impress combine, some scouts said he was too stiff and not fluid enough in his rotations in the cone drill. Another worrying fact, is that he didn't pick off a single pass this past season and only managed 5 interceptions on 27 pass deflections the year before, leading many to question his ball-hawking skills.

Combine Stats:

Courtesy of nfldraftscout.com

Combine Invite: Yes
Height: 6000 10 Yrd Dash: 1.50 40 Yrd Dash: 4.38           Vertical Jump: 38    20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.08
Weight: 206  20 Yrd Dash: 2.50 225 Lb. Bench Reps: 15 Broad Jump: 10'08" 3-Cone Drill: 6.97

His blistering 4.38 time in the 40 was a pleasant surprise to many scouts

 

Jimmy Smith, Cornerback University of Colorado

Smith is flying a bit under the radar (if that is possible for a first round pick) because literally no one threw at him. One of the nation's top defensive backs, Smith was awarded first-team All-Big 12 honors from the league coaches and received honorable mention from the Associated Press. Still he might end up being the best corner in the class (quite high praise I am aware). No one is truly sure of his talent because he was only thrown to roughly 20 times in man coverage!!!!

All and all, he allowed just one touchdown against Texas Tech and managed to break up 5 of the passes (a 25 percent deflection rate is impressive). However, he had no interceptions, one reason he didn't gain any All-American honors.

Strengths:

He's huge, plays physical football and excels at man-to-man bump coverage. He also is apparently very intimidating making him quite a desirable prospect. Some questioned Smith's fitness but he showed at the combine that he is fast enough and fluid enough in his hips (whatever that means - that seems a rather silly measurement...) to run with the NFL's top receivers.

Weaknesses:

Smith's biggest weakness is a bad character rap. First, he has developed a reputation for not always bringing it and more than occasionally slacking off. His failed drug tests and two alcohol related arrests as a minor to go along with a generally poor and rather cocky attitude might cost him first round fame and money.

Combine Stats:

Courtesy of nfldraftscout.com

Whatever his reputation, one thing is for sure: The guy can play.

ombine Invite: Yes
Height: 6022
Weight: 211
40 Yrd Dash: 4.42
20 Yrd Dash: 2.55
10 Yrd Dash: 1.53
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 24
Vertical Jump: 36
Broad Jump: 10'03"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.06
3-Cone Drill: 6.93
4.40/4.49/4.59 40 range before Combine


Brandon Harris, Cornerback The University of Miami

Brandon Harris is awesome if he can keep the ball out of the receiver's hands, which for the most part is something he excels at. On the off play his receiver catches it, Harris is screwed because he can't tackle. It's debatable if he should have come out because an extra year could have really improved his draft stock. That being said, Harris should land no later than the mid second round. He also accumulated numerous awards including:

2009/2010 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalist

2010 All-ACC Second Team

2009 All-ACC First Team

2009 Second Team SI.COM All-American

Strengths:

According to scouts, Harris looks to be the most natural prospect in the draft. Fluid, fast and light on his feet, Harris fit the cornerback draft profile better than Amukamara or Peterson.

He also excels in man-to-man coverage and is capable of smothering and blanketing receivers causing them to disappear for during the game.

Weaknesses:

Harris was surprisingly torched by Notre Dame's Michael Floyd in Miami's bowl game and has tendencies not to turn and look for the ball. He also is a definite below average tackler for someone with his size and athletic ability.

Combine Stats:

(I couldn't find his combine stats if anyone has them)

At his Miami pro day, the 5'9, 194 lb. Harris posted a 34 1/2 vertical and stood out in other drills as well. He was especially dominant in positional workouts and showed exceptional athletic ability according to Gil Brandt from NFL.com

Aaron Williams, Cornerback University of Texas

The stigma is that some players coming out of Texas are pampered and soft. Vince Young, Limas Sweed, Ricky Williams, Tony Hills are always the first to come up in conversation when such an accusation is leveled.

Um, excuse me, what about Earl Thomas, Jamaal Charles, Michael Griffin, Jordan Shipley, Brian Orakpo, Colt McCoy, and Jermichael Finley to name a few.

Sorry if I don't buy the 'soft' theory. Is Williams equal to those players? Possibly, but even if he's not, he could still have a solid career. Williams was also named a semi-finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award this past season.

Strengths:

Williams strongest attribute is his willingness to come down and play the run. For a relatively light frame, he is a torpedo like hitter. His intimidating presence along the line has many scouts predicting he could move to safety as a pro. However, Williams is also capable in pass coverage showing good quickness and fluidity.

Weaknesses:

Williams has all the tools to be among the upper echelon of NFL qb's, he just needs to cut down on the mental mistakes. As a true junior he is still relatively young. That being said, the occasional mental lapses are enough to drive any NFL coach insane.

Combine Stats:

Weighing in at 201 pounds with a six foot frame for his pro day, Williams tore through the 40 with a time of 4.44. The time was a considerable improvement over his 4.53 combine showing. He has also dropped three pounds indicating that he might be focused on staying a cornerback at the next level.

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