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From the Hart: Breaking down the CBs

The 2012 NFL Draft is a little more than a week away. The Combine and Pro Day workouts are complete. Players and teams are doing last-minute individual workouts.


And the PFW boys have concluded breaking down the video tape on hundreds of prospects at the various positions.

Before the teams actually begin making their selections on April 26, I get the chance to voice my views on the players at the various positions. Today that means a look at the cornerback position.

The cornerback spot in this year's draft is an interesting one. There is a bunch of top-end talent as well as the potential for good value picks in the middle rounds. Our friends at list 39 players with grades worthy of being drafted over the seven rounds of selections, with the potential of four going in the first round.

Overall I think there are a couple real elite prospects and then a solid number of guys who will have nice, productive NFL careers. Is there is a Darrelle Revis or Champ Bailey in the group? I'm not so sure of that. But there are clearly Pro Bowl type talents.

That said, here are one man's thoughts on how the cornerback prospects break down for next week's 2012 NFL Draft:

1 – Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama: Jenkins off-field issues (four kids w/ three different women. Reports of drug issues and getting kicked off the Florida team) are well documented. But when you watch his tape, you see a pure cover talent. I'd be scared to draft him. I'd also be scared not to.

2 – Morris Claiborne, LSU: I don't think Claiborne should be a top-five pick, but the former Tigers star is certainly a potential No. 1 corner in the NFL. He has good ball skills and closes. Very good, but not elite.

3 – Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina: Gilmore is pretty much the total package. Good size, speed and football IQ. He's pretty physical and has good ball skills. He can also return. Lot to like here.

4 – Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama: All offseason I've been wondering about who the elite talent on Alabama was and who were the complementary guys. I think Kirkpatrick might be closer to the latter, but he also has good physical tools. He likes to hit and play a physical style.

5 – Trumaine Johnson, Montana: Johnson has great size (6-2, 204) and a lot of playing experience. But it's hard to judge him, to some degree, at a lower level of competition. As smaller-school projections go, Johnson is a good one.

6 – Brandon Boykin, Georgia: Boykin is a great athlete with a lot of versatility for a team. He's a smaller corner (5-9, 182) but he likes to tackle and play pretty physical. His return ability only increases his value.

7 – Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Fleming is better in man coverage. He plays a pretty physical style and gets he hands on a lot of footballs.

8 – Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska: Dennard has good football speed and isn't afraid to mix it up either against receivers or in the running game. Solid but not flashy.

9 – Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson has great 4.3 speed. He has good reactions and ball skills, but also likes to bring the wood when he hits.

10 – Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt: Hayward started 37 games in college and had 15 interceptions. He may end up a good zone corner or even a free safety. He's a captain who makes plays and can play physical.

11 – Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina: Norman has very good ball skills and proved himself a little bit at the Shrine Bowl. He's very competitive and goes and gets the ball.

What do you think of my list and breakdowns? Who did I overrate? Underrate? Which cornerback do you think I left off that deserved a spot? Let us know with a comment below!

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