Draft Prospect Profiles: Cornerback

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NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang offers his evaluation of the top cornerback prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft class.

Andraez “Greedy” Williams, LSU, 6-2, 185, 4.37

Strengths: Exceptional combination of height, arm length and straight-line speed for the position. Natural cover corner who displays excellent balance and initial acceleration out of his stance. Buttery smooth transitioning out of his crouch in press, typically remaining hip to hip with most receivers down the sideline or on crossing routes. Possesses the make-up speed, length and hand-eye coordination to recover when trailing receivers. Excellent ball skills with eight interceptions among 19 passes defensed over two starting seasons.

Weaknesses: Needs to show greater commitment to his craft, relying far too much on his natural traits and showing limited development in technique. Cover corner mentality against the run, failing to show ideal competitiveness to fight through blocks and resorting to duck and swipe tackle attempts at times.

Byron Murphy, Washington, 5-11, 190, 4.55

Strengths: Excellent stop-start initial quickness with flexible ankles, greasy knees and loose hips to change directions. Terrific route awareness, often running cleaner routes than his opponents and playing faster than timed speed suggests. Physical, routinely lowering his shoulder into opponents to deliver bone-jarring hits. Good hands, eyes and body control for the interception, tracking the ball well over either shoulder, timing his leaps and extending to pluck outside of his frame.

Weaknesses: Just average straight-line speed for the position. Has a playmaker mentality and is not above baiting quarterbacks, occasionally allowing himself to get flat-footed. Almost too aggressive as a tackler, showing a willingness to throw his body into the pile that could result in injury. Missed seven games in 2017 with a broken foot (fifth metatarsal).

Deandre Baker, Georgia, 5-11, 193, 4.52

Strengths: Three-year starter against elite competition, Baker has seen it all and his experience shows with his ability to undercut routes, demonstrating excellent click and close quickness. Impressive body control and hand-eye coordination to slip his hand between those of intended receivers to knock the ball away, recording nine passes broken up (in the run-heavy SEC) each of the past two seasons. Highly competitive. Seems to enjoy the showdown offered by man-to-man coverage and is a scrapper in the running game.

Weaknesses: Too reliant on his initial jam at the line of scrimmage to re-route speedsters, lacking ideal top-end speed to recover if beaten initially. Possesses good but not great hands for the interception, turning seven of his 23 career passes defensed into turnovers. Raised some eyebrows with his decision to sit out the Sugar Bowl (which Georgia lost 28-21 to Texas) to get an early start on his preparation for workouts.

Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky, 6-2, 213, 4.52

Strengths: Prototypically-built press corner with rare height, broad shoulders, long arms and most importantly, swivel hips, which allow him to change directions and accelerate smoothly in pass coverage. Good body control to mirror receivers and showed improved route recognition in 2018, under-cutting short and intermediate routes to leave quarterbacks little room to operate. Exhibits the downhill burst of a much shorter player when playing off or in zone, breaking quickly toward the line of scrimmage. Plays up to his size in coverage, bodying up big wideouts and competing on jump balls. Good hand-eye coordination to rip the ball away as it arrives.

Weaknesses: Too satisfied with knocking the ball free rather than going for the interception (only INT in two seasons at UK came in his final game). Prefers timing his swipe as the receiver reaches for the ball rather than getting his head around. Considered quitting football prior to signing with Kentucky as a JUCO.

Amani Oruwariye, Penn State, 6-2, 205, 4.47

Strengths: Prototypical blend of size and athleticism for the position with broad shoulders, a tapered middle and long arms. Possesses the light feet and fluid hip turn of a much smaller athlete, demonstrating exciting natural change of direction and acceleration. Poised with the ball in the air, showing impressive concentration to make difficult interceptions with opponents draped over him. Doesn’t give up on the play if the receiver grasps the ball first, showing strength, hand-eye coordination and resiliency to rip it away.

Weaknesses: Not as physical as his size would indicate, wrestling down ball carriers and at times being dragged for a few yards. Isn’t a coward - showing a willingness to take out the knees of pulling guards and occasionally jumping into the pile - but is not the intimidating striker size indicates. Played a lot at Penn State (35 game appearances entering 2018 season) but did not earn a starting role until his senior season.

Best of the Rest:

Sleepers:

  • Sean Bunting, Central Michigan, 6-0, 195, 4.42
  • Corey Ballentine, Washburn, 5-11, 196, 4.47
  • Derrek Thomas, Baylor, 6-3, 189, 4.44

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