2021 NFL draft CB rankings: Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley among top cornerback prospects

USA TODAY Sports Network
·5 min read

The 2021 NFL draft will occur across downtown Cleveland locations that include FirstEnergy Stadium (home of the Browns), the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and a select number of prospects will take the stage.

The first round will be held on Thursday, April 29. Rounds 2-3 will take place on Friday, April 30. Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday, May 1. The draft will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.

USA Today Network NFL reporters break down the draft position-by-position. Here are the top cornerback prospects:

1. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Pros: Will overpower receivers in contested situations. Trusts his footwork. Attacks the ball in the air and can really get up after it. Physical and aggressive against the run.

Cons: Will occasionally give up leverage to a physical receiver. Has some trouble locating the ball when in chase on deep vertical route. There have been times he has perfect position but he still gives up a catch.

Patrick Surtain II is the son of Patrick Surtain, who was a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback in 11 NFL seasons.
Patrick Surtain II is the son of Patrick Surtain, who was a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback in 11 NFL seasons.

2. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Pros: Overwhelming size and range for the position. Can get moving down the field with a combination of pure speed and quick, long strides. Can run the route for a receiver and shows the ability to place himself in a better spot to attack the ball.

Cons: Needs to maintain more control out of his breaks against short and intermediate routes. Has gotten caught looking in the backfield too often.

3. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Pros: Can stand strong and balanced when going after 50-50 balls. Runs with speed on all levels of the route tree. Sticks his foot in the ground and will come downhill with elite explosion. Shows excellent precision when attacking the ball in the air.

Cons: Plays too high out of his backpedal, which will cause an extra step or two when he turns. Gives too big of a cushion in off-coverage.

4. Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State

Pros: Excellent at forecasting throwing lanes and the passer’s intentions. Reactions to the ball are explosive. Has minimal wasted steps. Attacks the pass as if he were the receiver and the ball was intended for him. A coordinated and balanced athlete who will play with a nice blend of confidence and toughness.

Cons: Lack of size shows up when covering big receivers. Long speed does not match quickness.

5. Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

Pros: Easily plays low to the ground with excellent knee bend and ankle flexibility. Rarely caught too high in and out of his backpedal. Disciplined with his technique and footwork. Shows excellent and controlled reactions to the ball, even when he sees it late.

Cons: Slender frame that plays small on contact. Gets minimal to no push at the point of attack in press coverage.

6. Aaron Robinson, Central Florida

Pros: Excellent foot speed and quickness in coverage. Can play sticky on all levels of the route tree. Easy turn-and-run speed.

Cons: Lack of staying power shows up against bigger, more physical receivers. Will get caught looking in the backfield.

7. Eric Stokes, Georgia

Pros: Has blazing speed connected to a tall, long frame. Simply an easy-and-fast mover who can maintain good control and balance throughout. Has receiver-caliber hands. Willing tackler who will fill the running lanes.

Cons: Will get high in his backpedal, which forces him to take extra recovery steps.

8. Elijah Molden, Washington

Pros: A do-it-all member of the secondary who has all the athletic traits to play all over the back end, especially in the slot. Has top-tier short-area quickness. Mind and body are completely in sync.

Cons: Undersized for an outside corner. Fringe size for a safety.

9. Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

Pros: Shows good body control and balance when tracking and attacking the ball. Plays with a nasty and confident demeanor on the field. Physical tackler who can play safety roles when needed. Has controlled but useful swagger.

Cons: Doesn’t always properly use his hands and reach effectively in press coverage. Needs to stay in phase longer and trust his makeup speed.

10. Tyson Campbell, Georgia

Pros: Can stick his foot in the ground and hit a top speed in a hurry. Has easy and natural change of direction. Can reach around a receiver without contact. Recognizes routes and has a fast reaction. Not afraid or hesitant to play physical.

Cons: Inconsistent ball production. Loses his center of gravity when turning to look back for the pass.

11. Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky

Pros: A speedy and twitchy glider who moves like he is on ice skates. Can play sticky to his man on all levels of the route tree. Excellent ball skills; can play a pass like a receiver. Plays the game with his feet; doesn’t get grabby.

Cons: Weak impact and presence on contact. Will get too caught up into looking at the quarterback.

NEXT BEST

12. Shakur Brown, Michigan State

13. Ambry Thomas, Michigan

14. Shaun Wade, Ohio State

15. Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota

16. Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon

17. Tay Gowan, Central Florida

18. Keith Taylor, Washington

19. DJ Daniel, Georgia

20. Camryn Bynum, California

21. Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina

22. Kary Vincent Jr., LSU

23. Rachad Wildgoose, Wisconsin

24. Brandin Echols, Kentucky

25. Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2021 NFL draft CB rankings: Top cornerback prospects