1) Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida Gators
Career Stats: 121 Total Tackles, 27 PD, 10 INT
Height: 5’10 Weight: 204
Vertical Jump: 39.0
Size size size. This seems to be such a theme with draft prospects now. If you aren’t of the prototypical positional mold, your stock takes a hit. Sometimes being on the smaller side does hinder you but when you’re just a little shorter and weigh a little less, it can straight up plummet how everybody sees you. Hargreaves is 5’10 and 204 pounds. The weight is fine. The height won’t be an issue. Just because Richard Sherman is 6’3 doesn’t mean that all corners need to be tall to be good. Hargreaves plays with great position, most of the time, and uses his intellect and awareness to beat the best receiver that he faced off against each week. He more than held his own against Raiders star wideout Amari Cooper and kept Calvin Ridley and Laquon Treadwell at bay, for the most part. The height doesn’t bother me with Hargreaves, but what puts a little bit of doubt in my mind is the needed physicality that is played at the position now against these 6’5 receivers. I have faith that this kid can hold his own with his great hands and marvelous ball skills when in the air. A 39-inch vertical doesn’t hurt either. He did occasionally get burned by speedsters deep down the field but I feel like that was more of a lapse in his mind and a slight underestimation that he could catch up to the receiver. He was coached very well, especially being a part of that fantastic secondary that the Gators put out every week and he is a willing tackler. Hargreaves may not be that superstar that everybody thought he would be at the end of 2014, but he is still definitely a fantastic player and well worth a top ten pick.
2) William Jackson III, Houston Cougars
Career Stats: 108 Total Tackles, 38 PD, 8 INT
Height: 6’0 Weight: 189
Vertical Jump: DNP
William Jackson III is a fast rising, high flying cornerback. He has that ideal size you want to see from a corner, especially with the league moving towards bigger corners to guard these bigger receivers. Jackson has a fantastic ability to high point a ball and fight for it in the air. Once in the air, he has good enough hands to come down with the ball and shows off his athleticism to get a big return. The former Cougar does have some issues with underestimating shifty and fast receivers. They can run by him and once a receiver has a step on you, there is only so much ground you can make up. I think this issue is because he turns his head too quick to look for the ball when he should be looking at the receiver’s body motion and hands. Then once he sees their body start to contort and the hands rise then he can turn his body around to make a play. Jackson was very fortunate that some of the quarterbacks he was facing this past year couldn’t throw the deep ball that well or else he would have been burned for quite a few touchdowns. Another issue that I have with Jackson’s play is he has this tendency to dip his head when he makes a big tackle. That is obviously a big no. Serious injury can happen when you do this but I think he is a smart enough kid to stop that. Overall, I do like Jackson. I don’t think he can be a number one corner if his team does not have a good pass rush. He needs some help but I think he can be an impact player in this league for years to come.
3) Mackensie Alexander, Clemson Tigers
Career Stats: 44 Total Tackles, 11 PD, 0 INT
Height: 5’10 Weight: 190
Vertical Jump: 37.5
It wasn’t that long ago that Alexander was rated a higher cornerback than Vernon Hargreaves but oh how the mighty have fallen. The lack of interceptions has been the main knock on the kid from Clemson. He was constantly next to his receiver, which could be the reason for him never having an interception. Alexander did play well in man to man situations as his man was almost always covered. Alexander’s main Achilles heel is speed. There were times on tape that he would allow receivers to get by him and he just isn’t fast enough to catch him. Alexander does recover from double moves well enough because his quick feet allow this to happen. It may not show in the stat column but Alexander is a willing tackler. He is not afraid to stick his nose in somewhere and make the dirty plays. I am pretty adamant in saying that Hargreaves is the only true number one corner (two if you count Ramsey) in this year’s draft. That is not a knock on Alexander and the others, I am just not confident enough after watching film of these guys to say that they can lock down one side of the field or the other team’s number one corner.
4) Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech Hokies
Career Stats: 119 Total Tackles, 25 PD, 8 INT
Height: 5’11 Weight: 187
Vertical Jump: DNP
The Fuller name is a thing of beauty in the NFL. Having that family lineage is a plus as his older brothers have fared very well in the league. Kendall reminds me so much of his one brother Kyle, who currently plays for the Bears. He has great recovery time and would probably be my second ranked corner if he was healthy. Kyle is a very good shut down corner and I believe that Kendall could be the same way, if not better. His fantastic vision and awareness have helped him become one of the better corners in college football and when the ball is in the air, he can contort his body and do whatever he has to do to bring the ball down. But the injury bug has bitten Kendall during his time in college. In 2014 he suffered a fractured wrist, which he did continue to play through so at least he showed his toughness to do that. But then in the preseason during 2015 he tore his meniscus in his knee and once again he attempted to play through the injury. Both of those injuries could be considered freak injuries but he did do his best to play through them. I love that. You have to be a tough sum bitch to play in this league and with the help of his brothers, I believe he could be the best of all the Fullers.
5) Eli Apple, Ohio State Buckeyes
Career Stats: 86 Total Tackles, 17 PD, 4 INT
Height: 6’1 Weight: 199
Vertical Jump: DNP
Watch the 2014 tape on Eli Apple because if you watch last year’s you will most likely be turned off. Playing to not get hurt is not something I am a fan of (ahem Jadeveon Clowney) because I want these prospects to get better every year. When you play not to get hurt, you are not getting better and you create a stigma about yourself that you are too good to be playing where you are. He would not stick his nose in for tackles like his counterpart Vonn Bell but luckily enough for them, that defense was stacked so you could hide certain players. He would sidestep bigger receivers and tight ends and did whatever he could to stay upright. That won’t fly in the NFL. Coaches will be all over you the first time that is done. If he does start to get burned by receivers, he will grab them to make sure that he doesn’t go all the way. This can be the smarter move but he needs to find ways to not get burned or penalized (4 holding and 7 pass interference penalties in his final two years). Besides that, Apple is another one of those big corners that stands at 6’1 and runs extremely well. I don’t think he would pan out against number one receivers because he would need to be a more physical corner and that is not his strong suit according to the 2015 tape. Apple has had to play through adversity and had a very interesting tenure at Ohio State. He was having difficulty in the classroom as well as on the field and a few tests discovered that he was lacking in iron. Once that was figured out, Apple turned into a whole other player and is standing where he is standing today.