Several NFL teams are in dire need of help in their secondaries, whether for immediate talent upgrades, or simply added youth/depth.
There looks to be roughly three bonafide “elite” corner prospects in this draft, with another 4-5 guys who could arguably go in the first 2-4 rounds.
Read on for the top corner prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft:
1. Joe Haden (Florida)
Haden is by far the best cornerback in this year’s class, possessing the best blend of speed, ball skills, and versatility of all the prospects.
Haden has the knowledge and ability to excel in any pass defense, and has the athleticism to hang with the best receivers at the next level. WhileHaden doesn’t have elite size, he has fantastic man-coverage abilities, the kind of “island” skills that have made corners such as Darrelle Revis so popular.
2. Patrick Robinson (Florida State)
Robinson doesn’t have the elite coverage skills that Joe Haden has, but he’s as close as any other prospect. Robinson made such a hefty impact as a play-maker in 2007 and 2008, that SEC quarterbacks steered clear of him, leaving him with zero interceptions in 2009.
With great recovery speed and excellent overall speed, Robinson has the athleticism and overall fundamentals to match with any receiver at the next level, despite not having ideal height and size.
3. Earl Thomas (Texas)
Thomas is almost certainly better suited (and expected to be drafted) as a safety, but if the right team deems him as a fit as a corner, he definitely has the tools to fill that role.
With 16 broken up passes and eight interceptions in 2009, Thomas holds the potential to be a dynamite cover man, although his versatility as a tackler and ball-hawk could potentially make him an even better safety than acornerback.
4. Donovan Warren (Michigan)
Warren has solid size and natural athleticism, allowing him to go to battle against the most elite of receivers. Warren is vastly under-rated, despite solid competition n the Big-10.
He still has a lot of work to do in his coverage skills in terms of refinement, but he’s a solid tackler with sound awareness and fundamentals. It may take him a year or two to develop into a starter, but he has a future in the NFL.
5. Brandon Ghee (Wake Forest)
Ghee is a sound over man with good size and speed, although his lack of elite quickness for the position seems to hold him back a bit.
He’s generally a solid tackler, but can at times fall in love with making the big hit, which can both make him appear unaware of the situation, and can also keep him from making a good play on the ball.
6. Perrish Cox (Oklahoma State)
Cox doesn’t have ideal size and is fairly inconsistent, but his overall potential is mouth-watering, while his ability to return the ball adds to his versatility.
His talent alone could have him higher on draft day, and his combine could give him a boost, but in the end, it will be his fundamentals that will hold him back from being drafted in the first two rounds.
7. Kyle Wilson (Boise State)
Wilson has good speed and is a tremendously fearless and physical corner, although his small stature may nullify those strengths.
He’s simply not the ideal package for a starting NFL corner. If he were bigger and taller, he’d be a first-round prospect. His lack of elite competition and experience also hurt his stock.
8. Devin McCourty (Rutgers)
McCourty isn’t the fastest or most explosive corner, but when it comes to a straight understanding of the game, routes, and wide receiver tendencies, few are as on top of their game asMcCourty is.
He has solid athleticism and a great work ethic, so even though he’ll slip a bit in this draft, he still likely has a future as a starter.
9. Kareem Jackson (Alabama)
Jackson’s stock could easily rise with good combine, but he comes in at eight due to entering the draft a bit early.
He has good speed and cover skills, and has roughly the same size and build as most of the other corners in this class, however, he can tend to be overly-physical and doesn’t always take the best angles or approach to the receiver.
His raw ability still needs time to develop, and he could slip on draft day.
10. Dominique Franks (Oklahoma)
Franks’ value could be considered low because he played the full four years in college, and because his natural instincts and play-making ability just aren’t at the same level that several corners in this year’s class are at.
Physically, he has a terrific combination of height, size, and speed. He simply needs to somehow prove that he has the natural awareness and decision-making of an NFL corner.
Honorable Mentions: Jerome Murphy, Syd’Quan Thompson, Amari Spievey, Javier Arenas, Chris Cook