Potential First-Round Picks: Jimmy Smith Vs. Brandon Harris

Jason KarlAnalyst IIIFebruary 24, 2011

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 26: Cody Green #17 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers slips past Jimmy Smith #3 of the Colorado Buffaloes during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Colorado 45-17 (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Jimmy Smith and Brandon Harris will be fighting to be the third cornerback taken, behind Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara, up until the NFL draft.

Though they play different styles, both players possess solid skills and potential that could make them No. 1 cornerbacks in the league.

Here's a complete comparison between the two corners.



Smith is big for a corner, standing at 6'2'' and 205 pounds. He uses his size as an advantage over receivers.

At 5'11", 193 pounds, Harris has more typical size for the position.

Advantage: Jimmy Smith



Smith runs very well for his size. In fact, most expect him to run in the low 4.40 range.

Harris runs as fast as Smith, but he is a few inches shorter.

Advantage: Push


Coverage Skills

With his size, Smith excels in pressuring the receiver at the line of scrimmage, including press coverage. Because of his long arms, Smith can jam receivers and mess up their timing. His closing speed is elite and he can stay with any receiver in the league.

Harris is no slouch in coverage, as his athleticism allows him to stick with receivers. His fluid hips allow him to turn and they never leave him flat-footed in coverage.

Like Smith, Harris can close on a receiver if he is beaten.

Advantage: Jimmy Smith


Ball Skills

Smith struggles in this area. Though he was rarely targeted at Colorado, his instincts need major work. Because of his size, Smith can knock down balls, especially with his long arms, but he loses track of the football when it is thrown.

Harris, on the other hand, has elite ball skills.

He reads the quarterback well and he is a ball hawk. His instincts are second only to Patrick Peterson in the draft, and he also has great hands to intercept the ball. Harris is aware of where he is on the field and knows how to position himself to leave enough room to knock the ball away.

Advantage: Brandon Harris



Smith, for his size, is not a willing tackler. Though one expects him to be a hard hitter, Smith tries to tackle high and arm-tackle, a terrible recipe for the NFL.

Harris is a willing tackler, but like most cornerbacks he struggles against the run. Harris is sometimes lazy and does not wrap up the ball carrier all the way through, but that can be easily fixed through good coaching.

Advantage: Brandon Harris



Smith’s career stats: 160 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 0 sacks. 

Harris’ career stats: 129 tackles, 4 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 2 sacks.

College production sometimes does not mean much in the transition to the NFL.

Advantage: Push



Brandon Harris is even with Jimmy Smith (2-2) in this comparison.

Smith has the size and speed and he is one of the best cover corners in the draft. Though he is physical at the line, Smith needs to improve his tackling.

In fact, if he was a more willing tackler, Smith would challenge Prince Amukamara for the No. 2 corner spot in this year's class.

Harris is solid in coverage as well, but he sometimes relies on his great speed to defend the receiver. His ball skills are solid and he is a better tackler than Smith.

Though Harris struggles in zone defense, the Eagles like their corners to play man-to-man, which Harris excels in, so it does not matter.

It is very close between the two cornerback prospects, but I would take Jimmy Smith over Brandon Harris. Smith's immense potential and huge room for improvement should be enticing for any team wondering whether to draft him.

Winner: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado.