The Shutdown Corner rankings feature 10 true cornerbacks in our top 63 overall players, and had it not been for a few postseason developments the rankings might have showed even more strongly how deep and talented this class really is.
The 2017 NFL draft crop of corners could go down as one of the best talent collections we’ve seen at the position in years. Defensive backs are always popular with NFL teams this time of year, and corners especially. Not all of them will turn out the way teams expect, of course, but we could see a dozen or more selected in the first two rounds of the draft next week.
A pair of Ohio State corners, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, lead the way coming from one of the best DB factories in college football. A pair of Washington teammates, Sidney Jones and Kevin King also crack our top 10 here, although Jones ruptured Achilles suddenly has clouded his picture dramatically and could push him down into the early parts of Day 3. Likewise, a torn pectoral muscle suffered by UCLA’s Fabian Moreau — a fast-rising prospect before the injury — also could hurt his stock.
With how deep the offerings are, teams might opt to go elsewhere. CB prospects such as Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersly, West Virginia’s Rasul Douglas and others in this class might normally be good enough to land in a top-10 list, but not this year, which is absolutely loaded.
Expect some major contributors to leak into Day 3. The depth is that good. And it’s entirely possible that six cornerbacks easily could land in Round 1.
For clarification purposes, we listed a few defensive backs — including UConn’s Obi Melifonwu and Iowa’s Desmond King — as safeties, although they also could be considered CB candidates by certain NFL teams. The safety position will be previewed later in the week.
Positional grade: A
Last year’s draft featured three corners — Jalen Ramsey, Eli Apple and Vernon Hargreaves III — who landed in the top 11 selections, plus two more in Round 1. Distribution-wise, that’s pretty standard compared to recent years. So it says something that five to seven corners could go Round 1 this year and that there will still be quality offerings well into Round 4, and perhaps beyond. This appears to be a special class at the position, one of the best we can remember. The 2011 draft featured All Pros Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, and there might not be two corners in this class that good. But the talent level at the position that year fell off pretty precipitously, whereas this year’s might offer far more in terms of depth and pro potential.
Shutdown Corner’s Top 10 Cornerbacks for 2017
1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State — 6-foot, 193 pounds — Extremely fluid, quick ballhawk who has Day 1 starter potential if he can stay healthy and stand up to elite size and speed receivers
2. Gareon Conley, Ohio State — 6-0, 195 — Perhaps overshadowed by Lattimore, Conley has put out some very strong tape the past two seasons and tested well; press CB with nice size (Full scouting report)
3. Tre’Davious White, LSU — 5-11, 192 — Versatility, coverage ability and punt-return skill make him a very safe projection from a school known for cranking out DB talent (Full scouting report)
4. Quincy Wilson, Florida — 6-2, 211 — Long, strong, physical corner who carries a competitive edge onto the field and takes on all challenges (Full scouting report)
5. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama — 6-0, 197 — Big, athletic press corner who fell victim to the deep ball at times and needs development as third-year sophomore (Full scouting report)
6. Adoree’ Jackson, USC — 5-10, 186 — Track star background and special-teams juice add to his value, but Jackson must play more disciplined (Full scouting report)
7. Sidney Jones, Washington — 6-0, 186 — Injury clouds picture, as his rookie season is likely to be cut short while rehabbing, but high upside after Year 1 (Full scouting report)
8. Kevin King, Washington — 6-3, 200 — Just outside our top 50, King has been a steady postseason riser and could go in Round 1 if he convinces teams he can better play to his size
9. Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado — 6-0, 202 — Another first-round wildcard, Awuzie is versatile, experienced and a quality blitzer, too
10. Teez Tabor, Florida — 6-0, 199 — Excellent cover skills and tremendous confidence, but limited athleticism, giving him a Josh Norman-ish feel as prospect
Shaquill Griffin, Central Florida
With a good build, nice athleticism, excellent ball skills and a serious approach to the game, Griffin should be a highly sought prospect. But will he get lost in the talent mass here? Griffin stands a solid 6-0 and 197 pounds, and he turned in an excellent 40 time (4.37 seconds, fastest among all combine DBs) and vertical jump (38.5 inches). He also got his hands on a tremendous 28 passes the past two seasons (19 of them in 2016), with six interceptions (two returned for touchdowns).
Griffin has nice closing speed, as seen here in the AutoNation Cure Bowl (he allowed zero passes completed against him in the game), when he knocked the ball loose from Arkansas State WR Dijon Paschal:
Although Griffin has started predominantly at corner, he also has pinch hit at safety, which gives him some nice versatility. Throw in the fact that Griffin also has lined up as a gunner and jammer on special teams and blocked a field-goal attempt against Tulsa, and Griffin has the makings of an instant-impact performer in some regard for an NFL team right away. Coming from a school that has produced some decent NFL talent in the secondary (safeties Clayton Geathers and Kemal Ishmael and cornerback A.J. Bouye) doesn’t hurt.
Griffin has been an inspiration to his twin brother, Shaquem, who is a linebacker for the Knights despite losing his hand at age 13. Shaquill made a vow not to play college football anywhere where his brother was not also offered a scholarship and actually turned down Miami — his dream school — when they came calling.
Brendan Langley, Lamar (Texas)
The Georgia transfer barely got on the field his first few years with the Bulldogs, so the 6-foot, 201-pound corner moved onto Lamar and worked his way into the rotation there. He broke out with a six-INT final season and impressed at the combine with a hearty bench-press performance (22 reps), along with solid numbers in the 40 (4.43 seconds), 60-yard shuttle (11.19), vertical (35.5 inches) and broad jumps (119 inches).
On tape, he’s raw and in need of refinement, especially in press coverage. Langley had a rough go of it at the Senior Bowl, which showed he’s not instant coffee in the NFL and will need to adjust to the speed of the league. But he has a draftable frame and athleticism and can spend a year growing before possibly becoming a good zone corner in time.
Other 2017 NFL draft position rankings:
Interior offensive line (centers and guards)
Interior defensive line (nose tackles, 4-3 defensive tackles, 3-4 defensive ends)
Edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends, 3-4 outside linebackers)
Off-ball linebackers (inside linebackers, 4-3 outside linebackers)
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