Cornerbacks are key to covering another teams best wide receivers as well as supporting the run by keeping things inside.
NFL teams nowadays are looking for taller corners (at least 6'1'') with that combination of size, speed, strength and explosiveness.
A good NFL cornerback will also have to have jumping ability, fluid hips, good footwork in a back pedal, be physical, quick change of direction, good hands and great awareness. They also need to be able to be good in man and zone coverages. The ability to blitz effectively coming of the edge is also useful.
Here are my Top 10 Cornerbacks for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Burton has good size and pretty good speed. He has great footwork back pedaling and moving around. He is a pretty solid tackler and is decent in coverage.
Burton doesn't have a great vertical leap and doesn't have good recognition skills. He looks out of place in zone coverage and gets beat deep sometimes by faster receivers.
House has great size and speed. He had 10 interceptions in his career at New Mexico State. He is a physical corner that knocks receivers off of their routes from time to time. He plays with a swagger and makes big plays. House is very good in run support and isn't afraid of contact. Has good potential to be a starter if he works at it.
House doesn't have great awareness which should improve with time. Doesn't have good leaping ability and allows too much separation from receivers allowing them to make catches. He did not play against top level competition.
Carmichael has pretty good size and speed. He intercepted 10 total passes in his last two years with the Hokies. He gives his best effort on plays and is a smart football player. He has good footwork and body control.
Carmichael isn't a very physical corner against wide receivers. He does do a decent job supporting the run but doesn't always make the tackle. He doesn't show a lot of explosiveness in his game and needs to do a better job of locating the ball better while it's in the air.
Brown has a good frame and solid speed. He is solid in both man and zone coverage. Brown is a good athlete with fluid hips and good footwork. He is a very good leaper.
Brown isn't very good in run support and misses too many tackles. He is not a physical player and didn't have very much production at Texas. He could add more weight to his frame.
Dowling has great size and speed to go along with really good production through his first three years as a Cavalier. He had 145 tackles and eight interceptions in those three years. He has a good vertical leap to challenge receivers for the ball at its highest point. He can hit hard and is a solid tackler. He does very well in zone coverage and is very physical in run support.
Dowling doesn't have great hips but he has the potential to be a solid shut down corner in the NFL. He also is high in his back pedal and doesn't display good footwork. Missed most of his senior season with injuries.
Williams has pretty good speed and good size. He has great hips and has good awareness locating the ball in the air. Helps support the run and is a good tackler. Plays solid in man coverage as well as zone coverage. He stays low in his back pedal and reacts to things quickly.
Williams does get beat sometimes on double moves. He plays a bit out of control and doesn't have much experience playing press coverage, jamming receivers.
Smith has an excellent combination of size, speed, jumping ability and strength. He is good in man coverage and doesn't give up many big plays. Smith has good awareness and body control.
The problem with Smith may be his attitude. He has tested positive for drugs and has been arrested twice. He is not the kind of guy a team would want in the locker room.
He plays a little stiff and his hips aren't very fluid. He doesn't explode into ball carriers when making a tackle. Smith doesn't like contact.
Harris has decent size and good speed for the cornerback position. He has good instincts and has fluid hips. Flies to the football in run support and is pretty physical against receivers at the line of scrimmage. Harris is a hard worker that wants to improve and has a nice confident swagger about him.
Harris needs to do a better job of breaking down and finishing tackles. He also needs to get more comfortable with playing zone coverage.
Amukamara has great size and speed. He plays very aggressively and is physical jamming receivers. Supports the run well and makes plays on the ball. Amukamara is very good in both man and zone coverages. Has great jumping ability.
He gets too high in his back pedal sometimes and sometimes gets beat when playing to aggressively in press coverage. Sometimes gets beat deep against elite wide receivers like Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State.
Peterson has excellent size and speed and should be able to shut down the top receivers in the NFL. He has great instincts to the ball and is really good in press coverage. Can get vertical knocking down passes. In addition, he was an excellent punt returner at LSU, taking a few to the house. Helps in run support and isn't afraid of contact. Has good hips and footwork back pedaling. Peterson may start out at corner and transition to safety along his career much like Hall of Famer Rod Woodson did. He has yet to reach his full potential.
Peterson isn't as good in zone coverage, but he'll be playing a lot more man to man in the NFL.