2012 NFL Draft Preview: Top 5 Cornerbacks: A Fan's Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

The NFL Draft kicks off on April 26 and preparations for the 2012 NFL season will start to really get underway. With the draft right around the corner, here is a look at the Top 5 cornerbacks on the board for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Teams Needing Cornerbacks: Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans.

1. Morris Claiborne

Morris Claiborne is a great cover corner with nice size (6-0, 195) and long arms, aiding him against taller receivers. He has great hands, intercepting 11 passes in his last two collegiate years. Once he gets his hands on the ball, he is extremely dangerous. However, he is not the best tackler and lacks some strength in bringing opponents down. He also needs to improve on jamming receivers at the line.

2. Dre' Kirkpatrick

Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Dre' Kirkpatrick is the polar opposite of Morris Claiborne. While Claiborne has great hands and struggles at tackling, Kirkpatrick is arguably the best tackling corner in the entire 2012 NFL Draft class. Claiborne, however is not great with his hands and will probably never be great at interceptions. He played mostly man in college so he might have problems with zone coverage but he hits like a safety, so that is a plus.

3. Janoris Jenkins

Janoris Jenkins did not have the exposure playing in college as the top two choices here since he played for North Alabama. However, he is very fast and can keep up with fast receivers, able to turn and never lose speed. He also has great instincts and usually has a nose for the ball. He isn't great in press coverage due to a lack of strength but makes up for it with his speed. He does have some problems in his past, including Florida dismissing him for a drug offense and suffering a torn labrum in 2010.

4. Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore is a quick and athletic corner who is also very smart on the field. At South Carolina, he helped call the plays on the field in the secondary. He is also very capable of a variety of roles, including special teams returner and wildcat quarterback. Gilmore specializes at zone coverage so he still has some to learn about man-to-man.

5. Jamell Fleming

When the Oklahoma Sooners lost Jamell Fleming for a game to allow him to undergo surgery, they lost at home for the first time in half a decade. It was his replacement that gave up all the big plays and proved how important Fleming was to the defense. He can run with almost any receiver and is great at zone coverage as well. The problem is he does not have great speed and needs to work on his tackling.

Other Cornerbacks: Chase Minnifield, Alfonzo Dennard, Josh Norman, Leonard Johnson, Brandon Boykin

Author Shawn S. Lealos has been an NFL fan since he was a child, starting out his obsession by watching the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers play football with his grandfather in the 1970's.

Source: Yahoo! Sports

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