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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Top Ten Cornerbacks

For several reasons, this is one of the weaker cornerback classes that I can remember. While the top two are really good, I'm not sure if any of the others would go in the first 50 picks in another draft. However, I think that five or six will go in that range and I think it's only because of need.
In my opinion, Morris Claiborne is the best corner coming out this year. The 2011 Thorpe Award winner has all of the tools: smooth feet, very good hip and ankle flexion, and tremendous ball skills. His transitions are seamless and his long arms (33.25 inches) help if he's in the trail position. My only concern is that he might not be able to play as aggressively as he did at LSU. In that regard, I see a lot of Asante Samuel in him, and as we all know, it's usually feast or famine with Samuel.
Next, Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina is a pretty close second. He's an aggressive corner that can play any coverage: man, off-man, zone, etc. He's got great size at just over six feet and 190 pounds. I know there are some people who feel he's better than Claiborne, but I just don't see it. The difference between the two is that Gilmore's footwork isn't quite as smooth, he's slightly tighter in the hips, and his ball skills are nowhere near Claiborne's.
They'll both go in the first 12 to 15 picks, and the teams that get them will be extremely lucky to lock one down.
Here are the rest of the rankings:
Rank Name School Height Weight
1 Morris Claiborne LSU 5110 188
2 Stephen Gilmore South Carolina 6004 190
3 D'Andre "Dre" Kirkpatrick  Alabama 6015 186
4 Janoris Jenkins Northern Alabama 5110 193
5 Josh Robinson Central Florida 5101 199
6 Alfonzo Dennard Nebraska 5111 188
7 Casey Hayward Vanderbilt 5113 192
8 Brandon Boykin Georgia 5090 182
9 Jayron Hosley Virginia Tech 5100 178
10 Rond'trique "Ron" Brooks LSU 5100 190

The real elephant in the room in this group is Janoris Jenkins. His off-the-field issues have been as publicized as his on-the-field inconsistent performances. When he's good, like he was at Florida and Northern Alabama, Jenkins was the best cover corner in college football. However, his play at the Senior Bowl practices were sub par and allowed the "other stuff" to start overshadowing his talent. You name the character issue, Jenkins has it on his resume: failed drug tests (one was at the Combine), arrests, four kids with multiple women. When you add it all up, you get a talented player in a free-fall out of the first round.

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