It has been a real treat to study and break down this 2014 group of cornerbacks. It's become evident that the cornerback position has evolved. The best athletes on these teams are finding their place to the defensive secondary.
Going over this list, you see lots of very similar body types. These long, lean athletes are the physical ideal for the NFL, as everyone seems to just be getting bigger, faster and stronger every year. And those who don't quite match that ideal make up for it with great technique and work ethic.
If your favorite team is looking for a cornerback in this draft, it is going to have its pick; whether it's in the first round or the sixth round, there is going to be talent to be had. Not every one of these players is prepared to step on the field and contribute as a rookie.
However, most of them have those characteristics that even great coaches can't help them with. Whether it's the size or just how fluid they are athletically, this group makes defensive coordinators swoon.
While there is no consensus top cornerback in this class, the top for these rankings is Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Gilbert's got a combination of size and speed that no other cornerback in this class can quite match.
His ability to play off man is elite among this group, and he is exceptional at using his body without getting himself in trouble. He's got long arms and excellent hands, and does a nice job of tracking the football in the air.
Gilbert exudes confidence, and the Oklahoma State program understood it. It was rare to see Gilbert with deep safety help, and although he isn't the most physical corner in this draft, he never backed down from a challenge.
Moving to that middle-round player who is a notch below Gilbert but still with a high ceiling, we have Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner is significant because physically he is the antithesis of what Gilbert is. At only 5'8", Joyner doesn't have the physical advantage of some other corners.
Where Joyner more than makes up for it is with correct technique, exceptional athleticism and a natural knack for the position. Whether it is cornerback or safety, there's little doubt that Joyner is just too good of a football player to keep off the field.
Moving to the third day of the draft, there are some really nice developmental prospects to be had. One in particular who stands out is Phillip Gaines of Rice.
Gaines has terrific size for the position, and while he is long, he plays a very compact game, especially on short and intermediate routes. He's got a nice back pedal, and this allows him to cover a lot of field quickly on inside routes. This would be particularly useful as a nickel cornerback on the slot.
Gaines is fast but doesn't always show it as a boundary corner. At the next level, he is going to have to learn to flip those hips open better so as not to lose ground on outside wide receivers.
All in all, this is a deep and talented group. While this is a list of 24 draftable players, don't be shocked if it is updated to close to 30 as the offseason progresses.
|1||Justin GIlbert||Oklahoma State||6'0"||200lbs||1st|
|3||Bradley Roby||Ohio State||5'11"||192lbs||2nd|
|4||Darqueze Dennard||Michigan State||5'11||197lbs||2nd|
|5||Kyle Fuller||Virginia Tech||6'0"||194lbs||2nd|
|10||Lamarcus Joyner||Florida State||5'8"||190lbs||3rd|
|14||Antone Exum||Virginia Tech||6'0"||220lbs||4th|
|16||Victor Hampton||South Carolina||5'10"||202lbs||5th|
|NCAA.com for heights and weights|
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