B/R NFL 1,000: A Scout's Guide to Grading Cornerbacks

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 29, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates an interception against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Raiders 46-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Winning the one-on-one battle between a cornerback and a wide receiver can be the difference in a win or loss. Ask the New England Patriots, who lost two Super Bowls because of their failure to cover David Tyree and Mario Manningham, respectively.

The cornerback position is one of the most important in the NFL, and finding sure-fire talents at the position isn't easy.

What are we looking for in a cornerback? Here's a breakdown of each trait. Check out the B/R NFL 1,000 to see our rankings of today's cornerbacks. 


A cornerback must have the quickness and balance to change direction as a runner, tackler and coverage man. We're looking at foot speed (not 40 times) and hip flexibility.

Run Defense

Put simply, how well the player attacks the run, taking on blockers and bringing down the ball carrier.


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A ranking that gauges how well the cornerback adjusts to the play before and after the snap, as well as his ability to recognize play-action and route changes.


A judge of how well the player moves in space. Closing on the ball in the air and taking the right angle to the ball when it's on the ground.


A combination of man and zone coverage, we are looking at how well the cornerback does at preventing quarterbacks from throwing to the man he's covering.


This one is simple—not how many tackles does the player produce, but how well does he tackle when asked to do it.

Ball Skills

A grade of the player's ability to create turnovers (interceptions, fumbles) and defend the ball in the air.


Burst, acceleration and speed all rolled into one handy category.

Burn Rate

Similar to coverage, but this looks at how well the cornerback defends the ball when it's thrown to the man he's covering (while coverage is how well the corner does at preventing attempts). 


A player's 2011 injury status. Not only looking at actual injuries, but time missed due to injury.


The cumulative score of the 10 traits above, all wrapped up in one score. This sets the player's place in the position ranking and, ultimately, in the B/R NFL 1,000 ranking across all positions.

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