NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Cornerbacks for 2016

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 21, 2016

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Cornerbacks for 2016

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    The 2016 NFL draft class doesn't feature two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks at the top like last season's did with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited about this year's class. With this draft set to be dominated by defensive linemen and small-school studs, not many people know as many names as they did last offseason. 

    The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to change that.

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by me and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal, along with intern Cole Thompson. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use). Often, we saw every play by a prospect over the last two years. That led to the cornerback grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on positives and negatives, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the NFL. The top 400 players will be broken down position by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade in our top 400.

Matt Miller NFL Draft Grading Scale

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    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I tweaked it this year to be more transparent. As a result, each player received a number grade as well as a ranking.

    This applies to all positions across the board.

    Matt Miller's 2016 Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite—No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99All-Pro—Rare Talent
    7.50-7.99Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential
    7.00-7.49Round 1—Top-15-Player Potential
    6.50-6.99Round 2—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    6.00-6.49Round 3—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.80-5.99Round 3-4—Future Starter
    5.70-5.79Round 4—Backup Caliber
    5.60-5.69Round 5—Backup Caliber
    5.50-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.40-5.49Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00-5.39Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

50. Frankie Williams, Purdue

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ¼"186 lbs4.51s6.91s4.27s 

    POSITIVES

    A fifth-year cornerback, Frankie Williams earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2015 after pulling down three interceptions and breaking up seven passes, per Purdue coaches. Williams is a fast, fluid cornerback with easy movements in transitions with the tools to contribute as a kick returner and slot cornerback.

    With a smooth backpedal and enough agility to plant and drive to play the ball in front of him, Williams can be successful in both man and zone coverage. He's an aggressive hitter in space and plays the run well on the edge as a contain defender.

    Williams will have to make a roster as a special teams contributor initially, but his talent as a slot cover man and return skills in the punt and kick game will help him stick on a roster.

    NEGATIVES

    Williams lacks the size to play on the outside and will be relegated to an inside-only role. Average vertical jumping skills (33 ½") limit his ability to play the ball in the air. With poor play strength, Williams isn't a threat to stick receivers at the line of scrimmage with a physical jam.

    Williams was largely ignored on the all-star circuit, only receiving an invite to the NFLPA game and not the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. Williams may be viewed as a slot corner for some teams or a smaller safety by others, and he could be bounced around early in his career until he finds a sticking point.

    Williams will get a call late in the draft or soon after and has a shot to make a roster. But he must improve his reaction time and route recognition when asked to play in man coverage. His lack of length limits his ability in man coverage, and when you're on the back end of the roster, most pro teams will go with the taller, longer athlete even if the smaller player has better technique. He's fighting an uphill battle but does have Sunday skills.

    PRO COMPARISON: Charles James, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

49. Lafayette Pitts, Pittsburgh

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"190 lbs4.46s6.81s4.27s 

    POSITIVES

    With NFL size and speed, Lafayette Pitts has been a four-year starter at Pitt after redshirting his first season. A 51-game starter and senior captain, Pitts is physical at the line of scrimmage and has the length to make an impact in press coverage.

    Pitts is a talented return man as well, averaging 23 yards per return on kickoffs. He has the build and speed to contribute as a gunner on punts and the open-field tackling to be effective on kickoffs. In the open field, Pitts is a sure tackler with a big wrap-up radius. He can be trusted to protect the edge when playing on the boundary.

    An experienced, durable player, Pitts has the length and height to get physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage and the quick flip to turn and run down the field in man coverage.

    NEGATIVES

    With just four interceptions in college, Pitts hasn't shown the ball skills to be considered a threat. He's limited with his back to the ball and lacks the instincts to read routes and attack the pass. Pitts offers special teams skills, which will be key as he tries to make a roster.

    Limited instincts and field awareness meant Pitts gave up big plays down the field in games against Iowa and North Carolina. He can be run past with a speed receiver and rarely faced NFL competition on Pitt's schedule. When facing Notre Dame, he was opposite Will Fuller, and he stayed as the left cornerback throughout the season.

    An average athlete with good length and the production to show he can limit targets, Pitts has to prove he has the ball skills and awareness to become a factor when the football is in the air.

    PRO COMPARISON: Tye Smith, Seattle Seahawks

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

48. David Mims II, Texas State

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    Gareth Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"198 lbs4.5s7.23s4.16s 

    POSITIVES

    David Mims II has a pro-ready body and the speed to match with a big vertical jump (35 ½") to attack the ball in the air.

    In 2014, Mims impressed as a poised, confident corner with the size to press at the line and the foot speed to travel through transitions. He picked off five passes on the year as a junior and looked like a future NFL draft pick. With an easy, smooth backpedal, Mims can line up in both man and zone schemes.

    Athletically, Mims has quick feet and loose hips. He can flip and run with NFL-caliber wide receivers. A productive tackler, Mims shows no hesitation when coming up to take on the run and will stick runners in the backfield.

    NEGATIVES

    Missed tackles were an issue for Mims on film, and coaches at Texas State credited him with six misses on the year when we called on him. Breaking down and being a wrap-up tackler was lost on Mims when taking on the run off his edge in 2015.

    In coverage, Mims looked lost when asked to cover the No. 1 wide receiver after Craig Mager moved on to the NFL. With no interceptions on the year after posting five picks in 2014, Mims instead started giving up touchdowns.

    Watching him against NFL-caliber talent in a game against Houston, Mims was burned twice for scores on three catches allowed and got caught looking back at the quarterback instead of tracking his man. The missed tackles seen on tape hurt Mims in the same game, as he allowed a 65-yard score.

    Mims doesn't have the skills to step into an NFL defense and play in man coverage. He's better following the ball with his eyes instead of following a receiver and being asked to make a play on it.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon McGee, Dallas Cowboys

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

47. Duke Thomas, Texas

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    George Frey/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ⅛"184 lbs4.41s6.73s4.21s 

    POSITIVES

    A two-time All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, Duke Thomas has the speed to wow scouts when he hits the track. After an up-and-down career at Texas, he needs to convince scouts to bet on his upside.

    With one interception in 2015, and four in the last two seasons combined, Thomas has some ball skills shown on tape. He allowed just one touchdown all year—against TCU—while playing right cornerback. Thomas can be strong in the run game and at least pops as a willing tackler.

    A versatile player in the Texas secondary, Thomas has the size and speed to see a move inside to cornerback, where his toughness and high motor will be assets. He's also seen time at free safety and has experience in zone coverage.

    NEGATIVES

    Missed tackles have been a major issue for Thomas as a run defender. He had two missed tackles (our charting) against Texas Tech and another against Baylor the next week. A small frame and poor tackling skills won't endear Thomas to coaches.

    A lack of length and height hold Thomas back in man coverage. He doesn't have the initial reach to press and jam at the line of scrimmage and can get caught with his eyes in the backfield. Despite great recovery speed, Thomas is often playing from behind due to poor timing and technique in his turns.

    On paper, Thomas looks like an NFL contributor, but his tape over the last four seasons is loaded with mistimed plays and poor performances in man coverage. Scouts may bite on his speed and upside in the slot, but Thomas' tape doesn't match his paper.

    PRO COMPARISON: K'Waun Williams, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

46. Nick VanHoose, Northwestern

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"190 lbsN/AN/AN/A 

    POSITIVES

    A four-year starter with the tools to be an outside-zone cornerback in the NFL, Nick VanHoose enjoyed a fantastic 2015 season, notching three interceptions and 11 passes defensed.

    Coaches at Northwestern raved about VanHoose and noted that he's gone two seasons without being penalized. VanHoose has above-average size for an outside cornerback and shows quick transition skills from a backpedal to a plant-and-drive on the ball in zone coverage.

    With eight career interceptions, VanHoose has shown NFL-caliber hands. He has quick hips and clean, easy angles to the ball when he's able to play like a center fielder and see what's in front of him. His burst on the ball shows an attacking mentality that is lacking in his run defense.

    NEGATIVES

    To date, there are no testing times for VanHoose, who missed the Northwestern pro day for personal reasons.

    VanHoose is not a run defender and will shy away from contact on the edge. He doesn't like coming up to play outside tosses or bubble screens and offers nothing against screen packages. VanHoose surrenders himself to blockers and is easily and often driven out of the play. He missed eight tackles in 2015 alone and waits for contact from the ball-carrier instead of initiating it.

    An average mover in transitions, VanHoose lacks the speed on film to play outside in an NFL scheme and definitely doesn't have the twitch or speed to run with receivers in man coverage. His long speed is below the line for NFL cornerbacks.

    VanHoose has good technique, but a lack of measurables and awful run defense are likely to keep him on the back end of the draft.

    PRO COMPARISON: Chykie Brown, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

45. Donte Deayon, Boise State

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'8 ⅞"158 lbs4.57s6.78s4.20s 

    POSITIVES

    A sneaky, agile, feisty cornerback prospect with big return skills, Donte Deayon dominated the competition at the NFLPA game and put himself on the map with his ball skills (17 career interceptions).

    A smart player with above-average play recognition and reaction time, Deayon can get in place to make an attempt on the ball. He's quick to change speed and can throttle down to wrap up ball-carriers on the edge or turn on the jets to fly down the sideline in coverage. That ability to transition and change direction at high speeds may save Deayon's stock.

    A player who originally flashed while watching safety Darian Thompson, Deayon is a blast to watch, but with his thin frame and average speed, he's a long shot to make a roster long-term. If he does, it will be because of his added value as a return man and the turnover ability he shows in the slot.

    NEGATIVES

    Short and very thin, Deayon barely has the size to last as a slot cornerback. He'll need to pack on weight to hold up against NFL wide receivers, which begs the question of whether his already average speed will take a hit if he's in the 170- to 175-pound range.

    Deayon won't project as more than a slot cornerback, which will immediately limit his value. Being so far below the line for weight, Deayon needed to run much better than a mid-4.5 time at his pro day. Without the size to drive on the ball and force breakups, Deayon is best projected to zone schemes.

    In the run game, Deayon is a fighter but doesn't look to be productive at the next level once he's asked to fight off blockers to get to the ball. A quicker than fast player, Deayon is limited to making plays in his box and doesn't show NFL range.

    PRO COMPARISON: Nickell Robey, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

44. Ronald Zamort, Western Michigan

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    Michael Shroyer/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ½"177 lbs4.45s7.03s4.20s 

    POSITIVES

    A playmaker when the ball is in the air, Ronald Zamort has the production to draw long looks from NFL evaluators.

    With five interceptions and 35 passes defensed credited his way in the last two seasons, Zamort is able to effectively separate the ball from receivers with his instincts and timing.

    Zamort is quick and twitchy and opens his hips quickly to turn and run in man coverage. His play recognition is solid, and he makes money by reading the feet of receivers and breaking back on the ball. When asked to close on the ball, Zamort does so in a hurry and with success.

    A pest in press coverage, Zamort will dog receivers through transitions and can be deadly when squatting on underneath routes. He's a balanced cover man with the numbers to get scouts making house calls.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of size really stands out when evaluating Zamort. He lacks the bulk and length of an NFL cornerback, and it's highlighted by poor production as a tackler. Zamort missed five tackles during the 2015 season, per College Football Focus, and doesn't have the wrap-up skills to bring down pro-sized ball-carriers.

    Weak recovery speed—coupled with a poor frame—will likely limit Zamort to the slot. He struggles to fight through breaking routes and can be out-positioned by bigger receivers. With an average vertical jump on film, Zamort isn't a threat to contest jump balls against size. He also mistimed many jumps we noted.

    Numbers like 18 pass breakups in 2015 are good enough that you have to see the player, and Zamort has some NFL traits, but the overall lack of size and long speed will be enough to draw major concerns about his pro potential. NFL decision-makers are likely to bet on less productive players with more traditional size instead.

    PRO COMPARISON: Marcus Sherels, Minnesota Vikings

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

43. Brian Poole, Florida

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ⅝"209 lbs4.50s7.14s4.43s 

    POSITIVES

    A former 4-star recruit as a high school player, Brian Poole entered the starting lineup for six games as a sophomore and held down a full-time starting job in 2014. A new coaching staff meant a move between corner and safety while starting six games in his final season.

    Versatility is always coveted in the NFL, and the fact that Poole has experience at corner and safety will be spun as a positive in many draft rooms. He has a high football IQ and is a quick study on and off the field. Poole does a great job recognizing the play and making adjustments on the fly. He can be a captain in the secondary and charged with getting the troops lined up.

    When asked to play at the line, Poole has the length to thud and can be tough to break free from when he sinks his hands into a wide receiver. An active player near the line, Poole is successful in underneath coverage and has some upside as a slot defender.

    NEGATIVES

    Poole couldn't stay on the field at Florida as a senior starter, which will immediately be red-flagged and discussed when teams make school visits. Without ideal size to play on the outside and average long speed, Poole looks like a tweener stuck between nickel corner and safety.

    A poor tackler in space, Poole doesn't bring power behind his pads and will shy away from contact. This limits his projection as a safety, given he would be asked to come downhill and make plays on the ball-carrier.

    Poole gave up too many big plays over the last two years to be trusted as a man-coverage cornerback. Playing safety—where he's not asked to make so many quick transitions—would be best for his pro career, but in that role Poole has to play with much better instincts and urgency when making jumps to track the ball in flight.

    PRO COMPARISON: Marcus Williams, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

42. Lloyd Carrington, Arizona State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ⅞"194 lbs4.60s6.88s4.34s 

    POSITIVES

    A transfer from Pitt, Lloyd Carrington became one of the best cornerbacks in the Pac-12 over the last three seasons. A promising prospect who didn't even play football until his senior year of high school after focusing on basketball, Carrington will get serious pro looks.

    A feisty tackler on the edge of the defense, Carrington can be used as a safety net in run support. He'll come downhill and pop ball-carriers and plays bigger than his frame. With experience as a gunner on punts and kickoffs, Carrington brings some immediate value to the league.

    A quick, fluid mover in space, Carrington impresses when forced to slide laterally. He has the quick hips to change direction on the go and can be a factor in zone coverage breaking on the ball. With excellent recovery skills, Carrington can survive deep in man coverage but is best playing the ball in front of him.

    NEGATIVES

    Carrington's game needs rounding out. His footwork is flashy, but he's still gambling on routes and hasn't yet learned to read or time breaks from wide receivers. This leads to using his hands far too often to impede the progress of the receiver—calls he got away with in college will be flagged in the NFL where receivers are allowed to run free.

    Carrington was praised for his willingness to tackle, but he must become a better finisher at the point of attack and not rely on a dropped shoulder to get the ball-carrier down. He'll whiff on too many breakdown-tackle attempts.

    Short with solid bulk, Carrington doesn't have the height/speed you want in an outside cornerback at the next level. He'll transition to a slot role and be asked to make plays on special teams while he adapts to the speed and technique of the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Charles Gaines, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

41. Cre'von LeBlanc, FAU

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    Mike Carlson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ⅞"185 lbs4.67s6.95s4.21s 

    POSITIVES

    With four picks in 2015, Cre'von LeBlanc added to an already impressive resume. The FAU defensive MVP and No. 1 cornerback, LeBlanc has the look of an NFL slot corner.

    A stocky, tough player at the line of scrimmage, LeBlanc can be a pest in press coverage. He's hard to throw off once he gets his hands into you. LeBlanc has experience and success in man coverage and shows the footwork and hips to turn and run up the field. He's not afraid to go after the ball when locked in-phase, as he allowed a 34.5 percent completion rate, according to College Football Focus.

    LeBlanc has explosive hips and can get high to battle contested catches. He's tough enough to undercut big receivers and does a good job playing above his size.

    NEGATIVES

    A short cornerback with less-than-ideal length, LeBlanc will make the move to inside cornerback in the NFL. Whether or not he has the foot speed to hang with the Julian Edelmans of the world remains to be seen. His 4.67 40 time points to LeBlanc's being too slow to cover up NFL slot receivers.

    When playing the run—a key attribute for slot cornerbacks—LeBlanc can be muscled out of the play. He lacks power in his lower body to fight off stalk blocks and is easily taken to the sideline. Without great arm extension, LeBlanc is all over the place when asked to press longer receivers.

    Grabby and aggressive in coverage, LeBlanc must learn to cover with his feet and not his hands. If he can make that adjustment, his technique and short-area quickness will impress teams.

    PRO COMPARISON: Javier Arenas, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

40. De'Vante Harris, Texas A&M

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"176 lbs4.46s6.82s4.06s 

    POSITIVES

    The son of former NFL wide receiver Rod Harris, De'Vante was a three-year starter at Texas A&M and has shown the natural footwork and instincts to stick on a pro roster.

    Playing on the edge, Harris has a swagger that he backs up with quick feet and a smooth backpedal. He looks the part of an NFL cornerback with top-tier closing speed and the vision to see the ball and attack it both near and far from his frame. Harris has the quicks to mirror wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and has easy hips in transitions through the route. He's quick enough to jump breaking routes and will swat the ball away.

    A heady player who became a leader in the secondary, Harris is one of the most confident players at the position. He has a shot at being drafted thanks to his footwork and instincts.

    NEGATIVES

    Thin with short arms (30 ⅝"), Harris could stand to add weight to last as an inside or outside cornerback. He currently lacks the tools to be a press-man player and will be knocked by teams wanting length and physicality at the line of scrimmage.

    A poor tackler in space, Harris doesn't bring any heat with his pads when coming downhill. There are too many instances on tape where he has no interest in making a tackle and doesn't put forth the effort needed to make even ankle tackles. He wants no part of being physical.

    Poor recovery speed will give teams pause when considering him as both an outside and slot cornerback. Harris mirrors well enough at the line of scrimmage, but fast receivers will take him for a ride down the field, and he doesn't have the long speed to keep pace.

    PRO COMPARISON: Carrington Byndom, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

39. Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ½"193 lbs4.47s7.16s4.42s

    POSITIVES

    A transfer from Coffeyville Community College, Briean Boddy-Calhoun made an immediate impact at Minnesota and received All-Big Ten honors in each of his two seasons with the Gophers.

    A smooth mover off the line, Boddy-Calhoun has the hip motion to turn and run with receivers and can transition through breaking routes without hesitation. He has quick feet and can explode out of press coverage to a run situation down the field.

    Boddy-Calhoun is effective when attacking the ball and secured nine interceptions in two seasons. His reaction time is NFL-caliber, and he has the ability to plant and drive on the ball. Boddy-Calhoun doesn't have great length, but he has the bulk to bang and hang with receivers across the middle.

    NEGATIVES

    A knee injury suffered in September 2015 limited Boddy-Calhoun in his final season, but a full recovery makes the prognosis for his rookie season much better than his recent film.

    Short, but not small, Boddy-Calhoun doesn't have the ideal length (31-inch arms) to fight with receivers at the line of scrimmage. He can too easily get pressed off the line by wide receivers and doesn't slide through blocks to attack the ball on slip screens or when the run comes his way.

    Most alarming is that Boddy-Calhoun gave up six touchdowns in 2015. He's taken over the top on jump balls and doesn't have the vertical jump or arm length to undercut the receiver and go get 50-50 balls. The lack of size may immediately put Boddy-Calhoun in the slot for NFL teams.

    PRO COMPARISON: Troy Hill, Los Angeles Rams

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

38. Taveze Calhoun, Mississippi State

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0 ⅜"192 lbs4.58s6.99s4.50s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year impact player at Mississippi State on a loaded secondary, Taveze Calhoun will intrigue teams with his height and production (six career interceptions) in the SEC. According to College Football Focus charting, Calhoun allowed just one touchdown in the last two seasons and added nine pass breakups to his resume during that same time.

    An aggressive cornerback coming downhill, Calhoun was notable in his ability to limit yards after the catch and for how well he controlled receivers at the line of scrimmage. A dependable cover man, he was flagged just once in three seasons.

    Calhoun is smart in coverage and knows how to time his breaks to jump the ball and is rarely beaten over the top despite average speed. He plays physical football and will go above the field to attack 50-50 balls in the air. His ability to limit targets was impressive even when facing top-tier talent at receiver.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of long speed is a concern when looking at Calhoun's tape. He has decent short-area burst but gets left behind when asked to turn and blaze down the field. Calhoun's inability to recover in space will limit his projection as an outside corner.

    While he shows an ideal build for the NFL, Calhoun doesn't play up to his listed size. He's constantly at risk of being taken deep, and he'll panic and fly open his hips to bail before he needs to. Double-move routes will trip Calhoun up because of this, and he can be sold hard on comeback routes.

    Average balance and transition speed are the final issues teams must discuss with Calhoun. He looks the part—and had SEC production—but his position-specific traits are merely average compared to the rest of the class.

    PRO COMPARISON: Justin Bethel, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

37. DeAndre Elliott, Colorado State

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0 ⅞"188 lbs4.55s6.93s3.94s 

    POSITIVES

    An explosive athlete with great short-area burst and a massive 41-inch vertical jump, DeAndre Elliott was a standout performer with seven career interceptions for the Rams.

    With ideal height and good length, Elliott passes the eyeball test as an outside cornerback. He has the burst in his breaks to interrupt routes and is a threat to go up and get the ball on jump-ball situations. An emerging player, Elliott improved throughout our viewings of him in the 2015 season.

    Elliott flashes the ability to match up against bigger, physical receivers on the edge of the formation. He's quick to squeeze down on targets and will go after the ball with confidence when he gets a read on the timing of the route. Elliott is a smooth, smart, balanced zone-coverage corner with the skills to play in either a man or zone call.

    NEGATIVES

    Poor acceleration and long speed are deal-breakers for Elliott as more than a late-round prospect. While he has good technique closing on the ball to cover up a lack of burst, his speed coming out of breaks is limited. Elliott's overall range is disappointing given his size and the potential as a man-cover player.

    Elliott's ability to read and react will be questionable in his transition to the NFL. He flashes great breaking skills but at other times get stuck in the mud and lets the play happen in front of him. He will get caught too often peeking at quarterbacks and must learn to trust his route reads.

    Average breaking speed and a lack of an aggressive streak will likely have teams looking at Elliott as a big slot corner, but he lacks the speed to mirror and keep pace with smaller, faster players there.

    PRO COMPARISON: Alex Carter, Detroit Lions

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

36. Kalan Reed, Southern Miss

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11 ⅛"192 lbs4.49s7.05s4.17s 

    POSITIVES

    A 2015 first-team all-conference cornerback, Reed had four interceptions on the season and a school-record 19 pass breakups. Showing his athleticism in space, he took two of those interceptions back for points.

    Reed impresses on film with his instincts and closing speed. He has the athleticism to run with quick receivers and can mix it up with physical players on the edge. He knows how to time his jumps and locates the ball well when playing it over his shoulder. His awareness is on the rise, and he continued to improve as his career went on at Southern Miss.

    Not only does Reed play the ball well in the air, but he's a reliable and willing tackler in run support. He made 8.5 tackles for loss during his career and forced three fumbles by attacking the ball-carrier with good length and enough pop behind his pads.

    Reed is a prototypical outside cornerback based on traits, and his production will draw the attention of the pros.

    NEGATIVES

    Reed's ball awareness runs hot and cold. There are games where he looks the part, but other times he's missing easy reads on comeback routes and digs. Reed can be beaten at the catch point if a receiver is willing to get physical.

    On film, his top-end speed was average to slightly above average. He got toasted on some deep routes and was notably worked by Amari Cooper during the 2014 season. His worry about being run by on deep routes causes him to open up his hips too early when bailing from his backpedal. This makes him bite hard on double moves.

    The level of competition at Southern Miss doesn't compare to what the top corners in the class face, and there will be those who wonder if his skills translate to bigger, faster play.

    PRO COMPARISON: Marcus Cromartie, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

35. Cheatham Norrils, Toledo

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    Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ¾"191 lbs4.60s6.62s4.20s 

    POSITIVES

    A 2015 All-MAC first-teamer, Cheatham Norrils missed the 2014 season with a viral infection but bounced back with solid play in his final campaign.

    He has NFL size and length and fits the outside cornerback standard at almost 6'0" and over 190 pounds. Norrils is a physical, aggressive cornerback with the hands to mix it up at the line of scrimmage in press coverage. With quick feet to shadow at the line, he protects his lack of deep speed with excellent timing.

    A man-coverage expert, Norrils can be intimidating at the top of route stems with his punch. He has the footwork to flip his hips and run well on breaking routes to the inside of the field and shows the awareness to read and react to the route on the go.

    He added three interceptions and 13 pass breakups in 2015, showing teams he has a nose for the ball and the toughness to cut inside receivers and make a play.

    NEGATIVES

    Norrils lacks the deep speed to carry receivers down the field and has not shown the ability to make up for average speed with his technique and timing. He can be a stiff mover when asked to go vertically and is truly at his best keeping the ball in front of him. Norrils may be a liability against outside receivers who will use his lack of speed to bait him on double moves and comebacks.

    Norrils was caught mugging receivers in college—where the rules are relaxed—and was flagged five times for pass interference in 2015. He loves to be aggressive and play the body of the receiver but must learn to play a hands-off style of coverage in the NFL.

    A solid player in the MAC, Norrils has not faced top-tier competition and hasn't shown the instincts in coverage to project as a playmaker at the next level. His best fit would be in a man scheme as a fourth cornerback with an impact on special teams.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kenneth Acker, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

34. V'Angelo Bentley, Illinois

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'8 ¼"193 lbs4.57s7.22s4.51s 

    POSITIVES

    An All-Big Ten Honorable Mention return man in 2015, V'Angelo Bentley brings a versatile skill set to the NFL draft. He has the distinction of being the only player to ever score by way of a kick return, punt return, fumble return and interception return in Illinois history.

    Bentley's diverse talent set will help him make a roster, and his penchant for making big hits in the run game will endear him to coaches. He's a downhill player with pop in his pads and is a sure thing when wrapping up to make plays in space.

    He has awareness and instincts in coverage and was able to read and react to routes on the go. He's a nuanced cover man with the strength to knock receivers off their routes. Bentley plays much bigger than he's listed, and his skills in the return game and toughness in coverage make him an ideal dime cornerback and return man for the NFL.

    NEGATIVES

    Bentley is short with poor speed—a bad combination for NFL cornerbacks. Without the ideal speed to run with wide receivers down the field and poor length, Bentley is immediately seen as a slot cornerback only.

    Cleaning up Bentley's footwork will be a huge task, but an important one. When transitioning from his backpedal to a run, there is a hitch in his movement that stalls his momentum. Fixing his feet to chop and teaching his hips to fly open will be a key for his man-to-man coverage skills and should help eliminate the cushions Bentley gives on vertical routes.

    If Bentley can fix his feet and hips in the turn—and improve his reaction time when locating the ball—his other skills could land him on a roster after cutdowns. He's talented in the return game and a fun, feisty player against the run but doesn't measure up to pro standards in size and speed.

    PRO COMPARISON: Quandre Diggs, Detroit Lions

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

33. Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State

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    Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ⅜"181 lbs4.55s6.94s4.31s 

    POSITIVES

    A first-team All-Big 12 defensive back, Kevin Peterson has moments where he looks like a top-100 pick on tape. A heady, instinctive player, Peterson had 11 pass breakups and two interceptions in 2014 before adding six pass breakups and one interception in an injury-slowed 2015.

    Peterson showed improvement in the run game in his senior season, coming downhill to make more plays behind the line of scrimmage. His read-and-react time against the run was a major improvement, as was his ability to fight off receivers to get to the ball.

    Peterson had games against top-flight talent where he was near-shutdown quality (Oklahoma, TCU) in man coverage. He uses what size and length he has to impact wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and fights off the block well to impact the run. He's a confident leader and someone you bet on to best his draft position once he's in the NFL.

    NEGATIVES

    A short, short-armed, lean cornerback, Peterson was very inconsistent across the board as a cover man and run defender. The small size on Peterson's profile shows when he's asked to step up and impact the run game as an open-field tackler.

    Peterson's recovery speed is less than ideal. The 4.6 time he put on the track at the combine is closer to how he looks when chasing speedy receivers down the field. If he doesn't win with the timing of his hip turn, he'll be left behind.

    Without ideal length or speed, Peterson will likely project inside in the NFL—but in that role you worry about his lack of strength playing so close to the line and as a potential run defender. If he can adapt his footwork to hang with those quick routes on underneath plays, Peterson has a shot.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kyle Arrington, Baltimore Ravens

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

32. Tavon Young, Temple

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ⅛"183 lbs4.46s6.80s3.93s 

    POSITIVES

    A shutdown corner in the AAC, Tavon Young has the on-field production and instincts to overcome his lack of ideal measurables as an NFL cornerback.

    A physical player near the line of scrimmage, Young has the tools to excel in the slot. He'll fight his way through blocks to make a stick in the run game and, despite some length limitations, can be effective when jamming in press coverage. He's comfortable against bigger receivers and won't be intimidated.

    Young has flashed ball skills by notching seven career interceptions. With a nice pop to his pads when coming down in run support and plus ball skills, Young has the look of a potential starter at nickel or dime corner down the road if he can continue to improve his hip turns and pitter-patter footwork in shadow on underneath and quick-hitter routes.

    NEGATIVES

    Short, short-armed (30 ⅝-inch arms), thin and slow. Those are the first things many scouts will notice when evaluating Young. If scouts start with the measurables, they won't be impressed.

    Young fails to wow with quick-twitch movements. Given his lack of speed, he needs to be quick in short areas and when driving on the ball, but he is just average in terms of hip explosion. He's a gambler in coverage and will jump routes too early, only to survive by hanging on with his hands and being a grabby player.

    Going from four interceptions in 2014 to none in 2015 will be a concern for Young's resume. Opposing quarterbacks didn't avoid him either; Young saw 69 targets compared to 52 in his junior season, according to College Football Focus. It's possible a knee injury that required surgery before the year was holding him back, but his movements didn't look to be affected.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Boykin, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

31. Ken Crawley, Colorado

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0 ⅜"187 lbs4.43s6.81s4.30s 

    POSITIVES

    A senior cornerback with excellent height and speed, Ken Crawley first flashed on the scene as a true freshman. Now that he's ready for the NFL, teams will be intrigued by his upside as an outside corner.

    Crawley is a confident cornerback with the swagger to match. During Shrine Game practices, scouts raved about his performance compared to the field and loved his size. On the practice field, Crawley will wow you with easy movements and smooth transitions. He's patient and poised and will attempt to bait quarterbacks with a cushion before closing on the ball with speed.

    A solid tackler with good downhill speed, Crawley plays with strength that translates well to the NFL. He's balanced and plays with springy feet near the line of scrimmage and will fight through stalk blocks to make an impact on screen plays and outside runs.

    NEGATIVES

    A tall cornerback with short arms (30 ½"), Crawley was a grabby player at the top of routes and will be forced to completely change his coverage style once in the NFL. College Football Focus counted 12 pass interference penalties over the last two seasons, and that matches what you see on tape.

    Not only did he struggle to keep his hands to himself, he also struggled keeping wide receivers out of the end zone. Over the course of two seasons, Crawley allowed 10 touchdowns to just one interception. That's a number you can't overlook when it goes up on the board.

    A height/speed prospect with raw coverage tools, Crawley is a project in the late rounds of the draft. If he can be coached up to turn with his hips and feet and not rely on his hands to slow down receivers, he'll quickly get on the field. As it stands now, Crawley is too inconsistent and undisciplined in coverage to be unleashed on NFL receivers.

    PRO COMPARISON: Phillip Gaines, Kansas City Chiefs

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

30. Jimmy Pruitt, San Jose State

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"198 lbs4.65s7.0s4.59s 

    POSITIVES

    A true freshman starter right out of the gate, Jimmy Pruitt has played at both cornerback and safety. A physical, tough cornerback, he may be the ideal hybrid defensive back, as he's able to play near the line of scrimmage or in deep coverage.

    Pruitt has excellent experience as a four-year starter, and his versatility adds another layer of value to his report. He's smart, aware and poised in coverage, with flashes of being a key player in zone coverage with his ability to read the ball and make a jump on routes in front of him.

    Pruitt flashed ball skills at San Jose State, grabbing seven interceptions in college and adding 15 passes defensed during his four seasons of play for the Spartans. He has a knack for finding himself around the ball and forced four fumbles in the last two seasons.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of speed on the field could push Pruitt to safety over cornerback. He timed poorly at the combine (4.73 seconds) and his pro day (4.65) in the 40-yard dash. That matches his tape, as Pruitt is often put into chase situations that he can't win.

    A short-armed cornerback (30 ⅜"), Pruitt lacks the punch and mirror skills to see the field early as a press corner. Working on the ball, Pruitt gives up a sizable cushion to wide receivers as he tries to protect himself against deep speed. Slant routes are open for days against his current technique. Without an aggressive streak in his tackling, Pruitt's lack of length keeps him to a limited tackle radius.

    Pruitt's lack of quick-twitch skills makes you want to put him at safety, but his poor tackling skills make him a liability there. He may be caught as a tweener in a backup nickel role until he can develop either the footwork to better handle speed routes or the physicality to better stack up against the run.

    PRO COMPARISON: Mario Butler, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

29. Kevon Seymour, USC

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11 ½"186 lbs4.39s6.81s4.18s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at USC, Kevon Seymour impresses with play speed and quick, easy footwork near the line of scrimmage.

    You have to go back to 2014 to see Seymour in action full-time as a cornerback, and on that tape he looked the part. With above-the-line fluidity and speed in the open field, Seymour looked ready to become a top-100 player. He was smart, poised and had NFL instincts in coverage on both breaking and vertical routes.

    Seymour is a special teams demon and added 19 special teams tackles in his career, according to the school. He'll have an immediate impact on kickoff and punt coverage.

    NEGATIVES

    Limited ball skills will be an early negative from teams viewing Seymour's tape. He had just three interceptions in three seasons (one each year) and didn't have a single pass defensed in 2015 after notching 11 in 2014.

    Seymour lacks the length (30 ¾-inch arms) teams need on the boundary. Because of this he doesn't have an effective press at the line of scrimmage and can be taken off the line by physical receivers. When aligned with a balanced stance at the snap, Seymour struggled to go either way in his hip turn, and he doesn't flash the closing speed to make plays on the ball.

    An injury cost him four games in 2015 and further complicated a season in which Seymour was benched early in the year. As the USC program fell apart under former coach Steve Sarkisian, Seymour's role decreased. Scouts must dig deep to see if his potential is more of what we saw in a good 2014 season or what he put on tape this past year.

    PRO COMPARISON: Dexter McDougle, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

28. Ryan Smith, North Carolina Central

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"189 lbs4.47s6.88s4.09s 

    POSITIVES

    Ryan Smith somehow made it all the way to tiny North Carolina Central, but NFL scouts have made the trek to find him. He has the tools to be a rookie impact player in the slot and a potential starter on the outside for some schemes.

    An aggressive, physical tackler, Smith comes downhill with intent to do harm. He dominated smaller competition with his size and toughness in the run game or when taking on receivers in the screen game. Watching his tape, it's easy to see why coaches rave about him.

    Smith is a versatile athlete with coverage and return skills. He has enough quickness and agility to be a difference-maker with the ball in his hands and averaged 28.1 yards per kick return in 2015. Smith's reputation grew in the small-school ranks, and he was avoided by opposing quarterbacks, which limited his ability to show off the ball skills that flash on his tape from time to time.

    A tremendous value pick with big upside, Smith has the goods to be starting in the NFL when his rookie contract expires.

    NEGATIVES

    Playing against non-NFL opponents, Smith was able to freelance and get away with bad habits in coverage. He's an athlete playing on the edge and hasn't been forced to learn timing or how to read the body lean of a receiver to make a play on the ball. He'll be a work in progress in zone coverage, especially.

    Smith doesn't have great length (30 ½-inch arms) or hand size (8 ⅞") and may fail the standards set for some teams at the position. Without twitchy, explosive movements, Smith may struggle to track outside receivers down the field. Combine these issues and it projects Smith as a slot-only cornerback—a role he's never played.

    Everyone wants to be the scout to find the small-school star turned starter, and Smith might be that player. He has instincts and great production against low levels of competition, but a lack of size and speed will be the first test in acclimating to the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Buster Skrine, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

27. Brandon Williams, Texas A&M

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"197 lbs4.37s6.85s4.19s 

    POSITIVES

    Originally recruited as a running back, Brandon Williams signed with the Oklahoma Sooners and saw the field as a true freshman before suffering a neck injury that cost him his season. Williams transferred to A&M, sat out a season and then re-emerged as a running back for two seasons before switching to cornerback for his final year.

    A top-tier athlete, Williams may be viewed as a cornerback or free safety prospect by NFL teams. He has first-class speed and exceptional play strength for a defender, and teams may bite on his positional upside as a new player to the position.

    Williams has exceptional cornerback traits even though he's not yet fully figured out the fundamentals. He's straight-line fast, strong enough to make tackles in space, a natural athlete with flexible hips and understands angles and timing. As he learns how to break down routes and read the offense, Williams could be special.

    NEGATIVES

    Just a one-year player at cornerback, Williams is little more than an athlete lining up across from receivers at this point. Playing in the big-boy SEC, Williams struggled to connect the dots while learning the job on the fly.

    As you would expect, Williams is slow to read and react at corner. Playing in zone coverage, he has the athleticism to drive on the ball, but he's not processing the play quickly enough to get there in time to limit a reception. In man coverage, he's fine running vertically in-phase with a receiver, but breaking routes were very successful because Williams isn't comfortable reading the body and feet of the route-runner.

    Williams has the tools, but the transition will be a risk. Late in the draft he's a solid enough athlete to take a flier on and plan on plugging in on special teams while he learns the ropes.

    PRO COMPARISON: Craig Mager, San Diego Chargers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

26. Morgan Burns, Kansas State

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"201 lbs4.38s6.6s4.2s 

    POSITIVES

    Kansas State's Morgan Burns is a cornerback prospect but also a top-tier return man in the 2016 draft class. Burns, who had four kickoff-return touchdowns in his senior season alone, has value from day one with the new kickoff rules.

    With electric speed and open-field moves, Burns can make defenders miss when he has the ball in his hands as a kick and punt returner. He also made plays in coverage, grabbing four career interceptions. He has the closing speed to be a factor on defense and the body type to run through ball-carriers and make a play as a tackler. He's big and physical enough to press and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and has the speed to recover on vertical routes.

    Burns is more of a project at cornerback, but he has immediate value as a return man and could be a top-tier player there. He's a creative, agile, shifty runner with the ball. New kickoff rules in the NFL could also increase the number of returns on short kicks, which makes a player like Burns all the more valuable.

    NEGATIVES

    Don't plan on using Burns at cornerback early on. He's basically a returner first, athlete second and cornerback third.

    Burns has a stocky, squatty build and lacks the open hips to turn and move through transitions. He'll get tied up on underneath routes without fluidity in his feet and shows poor instincts to read and attack to the route.

    He's undisciplined in coverage and tried to win with his athleticism and length against average Big 12 quarterbacks. Adding to the below-average coverage, Burns was a poor tackler when asked to break down and secure runners in space. He's aggressive and physical but does not produce when forced to wrap up.

    Burns was burned far too often for points. According to College Football Focus, he led all 2016 cornerbacks with eight touchdowns allowed in 2015.

    Burns' desire to play cornerback and not just be a return man will get questions from teams, and a move to receiver may even be attempted. Even so, his impact on special teams is enough for NFL franchises to be patient as he figures out a role as a position player.

    PRO COMPARISON: Taiwan Jones, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

25. Michael Jordan, Missouri Western

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1 ⅛"200 lbs4.63s6.87s4.26s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-time All-MIAA first-team performer, Michael Jordan has the body of an NFL cornerback. After a strong career at Missouri Western, Jordan has the look of a pro.

    With 17 pass breakups and five interceptions in 2015, Jordan turned heads with his performance. He's a big, physical cornerback and dominated the MIAA with his toughness and ability to drive through the receiver to the ball. A sure-handed player when the ball is in the air, Jordan attacks it like a wide receiver.

    Jordan should be viewed as a versatile prospect given his size, strength and playmaking skills. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up at free safety with his instincts and ability as a tackler. Jordan plays fast and decisive football and shows the break-on-ball skills to compete at any level of play.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of long speed and lack of competition will be issues for Jordan in draft rooms. Small-school cornerbacks have a track record of contributing early in the NFL, so that won't be a huge issue, but Jordan's lack of burst is tough to ignore.

    Without top-end recovery speed, NFL coaches will be tasked with cleaning up Jordan's footwork when he's planting and driving on breaking routes. His hips can be stiff when asked to open up and run from a backpedal, and without great long speed that can be an issue.

    A small-school star, Jordan must develop NFL instincts and technique in how he reads and plays the route. He's been productive every year in college, though, and is a good bet to keep improving in the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Pierre Desir, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

24. Jonathan Jones, Auburn

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ⅛"186 lbs4.33s7.25s4.25s 

    POSITIVES

    One of the best athletes in the 2016 draft class, Jonathan Jones will turn heads with his speed and explosive ability in the open field. As a slot cornerback Jones has the speed to run with the fastest players in the league. Playing inside, Jones' lack of size and length may be overlooked by teams that are searching for bigger, faster, stronger players at corner.

    Jones is a playmaker. In 2014 he picked off six passes, so quarterbacks were watching him closely in his senior season. He turned around and notched 13 passes defensed and added another pick to his resume.

    Jones has the quickness and agility you want from an inside or outside corner. He's able to mirror and slide at the line of scrimmage and can be physical with his press jam. He has closing speed to make a play on the ball on breaking routes and was excellent tracking the ball deep.

    For some reason, Auburn never used Jones as a return man, but he showcased his skills there at Senior Bowl practices and looked like a natural. With 4.3 speed, he'll be asked to field some punts in NFL training camp to see if he can be an asset there.

    NEGATIVES

    The smallest cornerback on the field at the Senior Bowl, Jones came in just over 5'9". That's not good considering teams are starting to focus on height and length at corner more than ever before.

    Exclusively an outside cornerback at Auburn, Jones must make the transition to playing inside against slot receivers and learning to read their routes, steps and pre-snap alignments. Durability will be another issue when projecting a smaller player to the pros, as Jones missed time in 2013 season with a broken ankle.

    Great long speed will get Jones a look, but it's concerning that his three-cone time (7.25 seconds) and short-shuttle time (4.25) were well below average for NFL cornerbacks. That points to long speed but poor agility.

    Jones must learn to play in off coverage and how to work in run support. Right now he's only a speed player with the ball skills to play over the top. Jones' best shot at making the field is in the slot, but to play there he has to be tougher and more willing in the run game.

    PRO COMPARISON: D'Joun Smith, Indianapolis Colts

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

23. Cleveland Wallace, San Jose State

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ¾"188 lbs4.60s6.87s4.25s 

    POSITIVES

    Originally at the University of Washington, junior entry Cleveland Wallace spent two years and one season of eligibility as a backup. After a family issue, Wallace transferred to San Jose State and played immediately thanks to an NCAA waiver. He started that first year and made a big impact right away.

    Wallace proved himself to be a threat around the ball with four interceptions and 21 pass breakups the last two seasons. He also held opposing quarterbacks to a 46.2 completion percentage over that time, per College Football Focus.

    Wallace has the instincts and awareness to play right away in zone coverage and has enough of a feel for the ball to make plays in man coverage. He's a smart, heady cornerback with the varied speed to track through underneath routes and work against inside or outside receivers. When asked to mirror and shake with receivers at the line, Wallace is quick and balanced with exceptional feet.

    Wallace is an ace special teams performer and should see the field immediately as a gunner on kickoff and punt teams.

    NEGATIVES

    College Football Focus charted Wallace with 10 missed tackles in 2015, which may be a very kind number. He's one of the worst tacklers in the draft class with poor effort and poor power behind his pads. Teams expecting Wallace to play inside cornerback will be turned off by the poor tackling skills.

    Body control in his movements can be an issue. He gets chest-over-toes in his backpedal and overcorrects by getting high in his pads. He's a long strider and doesn't always show click-and-close speed when asked to change direction and fly to the ball.

    The lack of size and physicality shows when he's asked to jump and play the ball in the air. He can get outplayed for 50-50 balls and beat up in the end zone.

    PRO COMPARISON: Perrish Cox, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

22. LeShaun Sims, Southern Utah

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0 ½"203 lbs4.53s6.82s4.19s 

    POSITIVES

    One of many talented Southern Utah players in this class, LeShaun Sims has a shot to hear his name called in the middle rounds of the 2016 NFL draft thanks to his size and speed as an outside corner.

    Sims burst onto the scene during Shrine Game practices, and scouts in attendance raved about his performance against the competition there. It didn't lead to a Senior Bowl invite, but Sims did earn his way to the scouting combine.

    Sims is much faster than the 40 time he put on the track at the combine. Based on his film and what he was doing in spring combine times, Sims looked like a low-4.4 player. He uses that speed well to track the ball down the field on vertical routes and to close on the ball underneath.

    Sims can slide, mirror and chase with top-tier movement. His fluidity and agility are eye-catching. Sims is also physical enough to jam and press at the line of scrimmage against bigger, physical receivers.

    NEGATIVES

    Sims looks like an athlete, but his testing at the combine was average to below-average in explosive drills. Add that to tiny hands (8 ⅛") and short arms (31 ⅝"), and Sims starts to look questionable on paper.

    Southern Utah didn't exactly see a schedule full of NFL talent, and Sims was rarely tested by Sunday players. Even at the Shrine Game he was facing mid- to late-rounders at the position. He was able to stand out in those situations, but his ability to match up against pros remains to be seen. At least a short acclimation period should be expected.

    Improving balance and body control in his backpedal and change-of-direction movements will be key to becoming a reliable cover man in the NFL. The other traits are in place, but the lack of explosive movements and twitchy hips will keep his stock solidly on Day 3.

    PRO COMPARISON: Davon House, Jacksonville Jaguars

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

21. Anthony Brown, Purdue

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"192 lbs4.35s7.03s4.19s 

    POSITIVES

    One of the top performers at the scouting combine in the 40-yard dash (4.35s) and bench press (19 reps) at the position, Anthony Brown has been building steam as the draft nears.

    Brown shows up on film as the best player on the Purdue roster, so he's easy to spot. He's a true man-coverage cornerback with closing speed, instincts and the hips to turn and run through transitions against NFL talent. Not only that, but Brown is a willing tackler in the run game.

    A patient, poised cornerback in man and zone coverage alike, Brown doesn't panic against speed and doesn't back down against power. He shows the awareness to find and attack the ball, scoring 16 pass breakups in the last two seasons.

    The support around Brown was awful, and he was often asked to cover for five to six seconds as the pass rush in front of him failed to get home.

    NEGATIVES

    At first glance, Brown's numbers will bother scouts. He was flagged six times in 2015 and was on the giving end of five touchdowns against four interceptions as a senior. But as mentioned above, Brown played on one of the worst defenses in college football and had little help from his teammates.

    In coverage, Brown can be stiff to recover at the line of scrimmage and relies on his hands to get back into the play. That will be a flag in the NFL. Brown has to learn to better time his hip turns and to use his 4.35 speed to make plays.

    Just an average tackler, Brown doesn't offer much in run support. He allows himself to be blocked out of the play and isn't a reliable protector on the sideline.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ross Cockrell, Pittsburgh Steelers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

20. Daryl Worley, West Virginia

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    John Weast/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"204 lbs4.59s7.0s4.59s 

    POSITIVES

    A big, physical cornerback with excellent production in 2015, Daryl Worley decided to enter the NFL draft a year early. A true junior, Worley's six interceptions and 12 pass breakups are certainly pro-caliber, but he'll have to answer questions about his athleticism and off-field incidents in team interviews.

    Worley fits the profile teams have for outside cornerbacks. He's tall with a thick, muscular build and has excellent length (33 ⅜-inch arms) and hand size (10 ¼"). He's also athletic enough to make plays above the turf and will go up to attack jump balls.

    Worley is instinctive when playing the ball and will aggressively attack and jump routes. He looks for opportunities to get the football, while other corners are simply trying to limit targets. Worley went toe-to-toe with top-tier wide receivers in the Big 12 and didn't back down against speed or power.

    With the skills of a starting cornerback, Worley will get a ton of looks, but his off-field issues may be too big to overlook.

    NEGATIVES

    Worley was suspended for the Cactus Bowl due to academic issues—a matter a coach told us was caused because Worley intended to enter the draft at the end of the semester and had given up on his classes.

    Worley had another, more serious issue in 2014 when he was arrested for assaulting a woman—an arrest that led to his pleading no contest and receiving a six-month suspended sentence. Now that the NFL is taking a hard line on men assaulting women, this could kick him off boards completely.

    Looking at him on the field, Worley can be very stiff and heavy-footed in his transitions. He doesn't fly to the ball and can be slow to react in man coverage. Wide receivers had success running Worley "off" and letting teammates make plays underneath him.

    PRO COMPARISON: Byron Maxwell, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

19. Maurice Canady, Virginia

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"193 lbs4.49s7.03s4.09s 

    POSITIVES

    A big cornerback with excellent speed, Maurice Canady passes the eyeball test. A versatile defensive back, he has experience playing cornerback and safety, and he was even valuable as a return man for the Cavaliers.

    A long, lean player, Canady moves well for his frame. He has a long stride but is able to slide and shuffle his feet to stick with underneath routes. He has the hips to open up and move across the field and can easily transition from his pedal to an open run.

    The best Day One trait for Canady is his ability in off coverage. He's aware and poised and has a great feel for the ball in front of him. Go back to the 2014 tape, and Canady is making plays breaking on the ball in this coverage.

    His football IQ and awareness look to be on the high side of this cornerback class. Timing and experience are big assets for Canady, and he comes to the NFL having seen various offenses and route combinations in 34 starts.

    NEGATIVES

    Scouts we spoke to weren't impressed by Canady's size or speed, claiming that he didn't effectively use either on the field. That matches the tape, as Canady allowed six touchdowns in 2014 and four in 2015 while failing to pull down an interception this past season.

    Canady is tall, but he has short arms (31 ⅝") for that frame. Too many people expect him to be long and able to lock out receivers with a jam at the line of scrimmage, but that's not his game. Outside of short arms, Canady isn't physical enough to be effective in press coverage.

    Asking Canady to travel with an outside receiver wouldn't play to his strengths. He needs to be off the ball and reacting to the route instead of up in the face of a player at the line. When asked to play in press man, he struggles to change direction and fly with deep routes.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jason McCourty, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

18. Juston Burris, North Carolina State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"212 lbs4.53s7.10s4.25s 

    POSITIVES

    A four-year contributor and three-year starter at North Carolina State, Juston Burris has the size to pass the eyeball test as scouts work through his tape.

    An active tackler, Burris has the size to bring heat when moving downhill. He's a sure thing with wrap-up ability in the run game and the range and power to pull down receivers in space. Burris is a twitchy, fluid player when asked to flip his hips and run. He doesn't have great long speed but shows up making plays on tape because of his short-area burst.

    With excellent size, Burris can be a threat in press coverage. He brings power in his hands and has the frame to match up against bigger NFL receivers on the edge.

    Burris is a project with a need to clean up his technique, but his fluid hips and length are things you can't teach. With his upside as a run defender, he could see early reps as a nickel cornerback or safety and then move into a full-time role in Year Two.

    NEGATIVES

    Burris gave up just two touchdowns in 2015, but secured only one interception. In four years of playing time, Burris has just six interceptions and saw his totals drop from three as a freshman to one in each of the next three years.

    Burris' size and athletic numbers would point to a potential move to safety. He's slow in his transitions and doesn't match speed with speed down the field. A high-padded player in his backpedal, Burris can't be moved inside to cover slot receivers because of his lack of speed and doesn't currently have the technique to time his turns and jumps on the outside.

    Like many college corners, Burris was able to win with speed and size and must learn to refine his technique and timing in the pros. Betting on his overall athleticism and production from the past four years in the middle rounds is a safe play.

    PRO COMPARISON: Eric Rowe, Philadelphia Eagles

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

17. Cyrus Jones, Alabama

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'9 ⅞"197 lbs4.49s6.71s4.21s 

    POSITIVES

    A former wide receiver, Cyrus Jones made a smooth transition to cornerback for the Alabama Crimson Tide. After receiving the expert coaching of Nick Saban, he became an All-SEC second-teamer and an ace punt returner.

    Jones will be talked about as both a defensive back and a return man in draft rooms, and the plays that wake scouts up come on special teams. He returned four punts for touchdowns in 2015—best in the country—and had an average of 12.6 yards per return.

    As a defensive back in the Alabama scheme, Jones was asked to press and play on the line of scrimmage. He's feisty and quick, showing the strength to throw receivers off their release and interrupt their routes. He's a physical player—especially for his size—and will impress with his toughness and mean streak.

    NEGATIVES

    The charges were dropped, but Jones was accused of domestic violence in April 2015. The seriousness of the allegations will cause NFL teams to take a long, hard look into his background.

    Other off-field issues for Jones include a labrum tear in his hip during the 2014 season. On the field, Jones is short and has less-than-ideal length (31 ⅜-inch arms). He's also quicker than fast and doesn't flash the long recovery speed to make plays on vertical routes.

    Jones struggled to make plays against big receivers and was beaten for points too often. In 2015 he allowed six touchdowns to just two interceptions. That highlights his inability to make plays underneath the receiver on jump balls. At 5'9 ⅞" with a 33-inch vertical, Jones won't be dominating anyone on 50-50 balls.

    PRO COMPARISON: Logan Ryan, New England Patriots

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

16. D.J. White, Georgia Tech

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    Mike Stewart/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ⅞"193 lbs4.49s7.18s4.33s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Georgia Tech, and a team captain in 2015, D.J. White has the body type and coverage instincts scouts covet.

    White is a smart, heady player with field awareness to put himself in position to make big plays, and his instincts are pro-ready. He's balanced and patient with the length (31 ½-inch arms) and toughness to jam up receivers at the line of scrimmage. White wins with effort in press coverage and should be considered an NFL-level prospect there.

    White's coverage instincts are on point. He feels the route and knows when to break off and attack the ball. He'll ride the hip pocket of a receiver down the field and has enough of a mix of size, speed and timing to take away vertical and underneath routes.

    A scheme-versatile, attacking cornerback, White has the goods to be starting in the NFL in two to three seasons.

    NEGATIVES

    Allowing four touchdowns to just two interceptions on the year is a concern when looking at White's tape. His six interceptions in two seasons looks better, but there will be concerns about his ball skills in the end zone.

    A clean cover man in college, White has to prove he has the long speed to recover against NFL receivers. Without above-the-line measurables or speed, White is selling himself on instincts and technique, which can be a hard offer to teams obsessed with numbers.

    In man coverage, White's biggest on-field weakness comes in his poor timing and agility turning to run. Against ACC talent he looked stiff and uncoordinated at times in his hip turn. If that's an unfixable issue, it will keep him off the field. Speeding up his turns requires not just better technique, but more flexibility in his hips, so it's not as simple as a coaching point for White in his rookie season.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jamar Taylor, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

15. James Bradberry, Samford

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0 ¾"211 lbs4.5s6.91s4.21s 

    POSITIVES

    A position-versatile defensive back, James Bradberry has big-school talent coming out of a small Samford program. He will get a look from teams as a cornerback, free safety and nickelback.

    Athletically, Bradberry is one of the more impressive cornerbacks in this class. He matches height with a big, muscular physique but also has elite speed, great length (33 ⅜" arms) and an above-average vertical jump (36").

    Bradberry totaled four interceptions and 15 pass breakups in the last two seasons and has shown the ball skills to track over the top or plant and drive to come up and make plays on underneath routes. His timing on breaking routes is very good, and Bradberry is strong enough to re-route receivers with his hands. He’s a poised cover man with confidence in his speed and size to get the job done.

    Projecting a player from Samford to the NFL can be tricky, but looking purely at the traits, Bradberry has what it takes.

    NEGATIVES

    The level of competition will be heavily scrutinized, as Bradberry covered little NFL talent in the Southern Conference. The biggest adjustment for him will be the need to win with technique and not just athleticism in the pros.

    Bradberry’s footwork throughout Senior Bowl practices looked heavy and mistimed. He wasn’t consistent with his hip turns and lacked an explosive movement after a transition. In one-on-one drills, Bradberry couldn’t hold leverage against route-runners and was easily run off on comebacks and slant routes. Being beaten on an inside route shouldn’t happen when you have his size and speed.

    If Bradberry rises to the challenge and dedicates himself to learning pro technique, he could be a starter early in his career.

    PRO COMPARISON: David Amerson, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

14. Eric Murray, Minnesota

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    Alex Menendez/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"199 lbs4.49s7.08s4.05s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Eric Murray answered the call in 2015 by not allowing a single touchdown in coverage. Playing in a talented Big Ten, that’s impressive. He’s also a rock star on special teams and blocked two kicks in the 2014 season.

    More of a technician than athlete in coverage, Murray uses quick steps to mirror wide receivers on underneath routes. He plays with enough size to take away inside routes off the snap and can get vertical to run down the field without surrendering his cushion.

    When asked to jam at the line of scrimmage, Murray is instinctive and tough, and he will roll back the shoulders of receivers with his punch. He’s feisty and relentless when working to redirect receivers and can pin them to the sideline with leverage.

    Murray’s traits are that of a future starter, but that will likely come in three-cornerback sets.

    NEGATIVES

    NFL teams will likely move Murray to slot cornerback given his lack of size and length. He simply does not have the size or speed makeup to hang on the outside of the defense.

    Murray doesn’t have the athletic traits of a top-line cornerback prospect and will get caught playing too aggressively for his build near the line of scrimmage. If he doesn’t land home with a punch in press coverage, his lack of recovery speed will be a big issue. Improving his balance in his backpedal to be smoother breaking off the ball will also aid Murray in playing faster receivers.

    A lack of vertical ability will show up in the red zone. When the field gets tight and quarterbacks attack over the top, Murray will be a liability. With a grabby, handsy coverage style, he’ll also be a target for pass interference calls on breaking routes.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Carr, Dallas Cowboys

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

13. Will Redmond, Mississippi State

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10 ¾"182 lbsINJINJINJ 

    POSITIVES

    A torn ACL in late October ended the college career of Will Redmond, but he’s eyeing an early return and could be a mid-season addition or 2016 redshirt in Round 3.

    Redmond wasn’t able to test for NFL teams because of the injury, but on film he looked like a mid-4.4 speed player—plenty good enough for his frame. He’s quick and shifty when asked to change directions and will match speed for speed going down the field. Redmond has starter traits in limited tape and looks the part attacking the ball and playing with a "ball-is-mine" mentality.

    Redmond will be identified as a candidate to play slot cornerback. He lacks the height and length to play on the edge, and by lining up inside he can use his quickness and man-coverage skills in tracking receivers across the field.

    NEGATIVES

    The injury is obviously a big question mark. With knee injuries a focus in this draft class, Redmond must clear medicals from each team.

    Redmond is an interesting case because he was rarely a starter in college despite being a 247Sports 4-star recruit. He had to sit out as a freshman because of an NCAA benefits investigation. He only saw the field for eight games as a sophomore and then served as a backup in his junior season.

    Finally a starter in 2015, Redmond played in just seven games. He played only 27 games in college. 

    A very poor tackler in terms of technique, Redmond is a willing player coming up to make a play. But he doesn’t bring his arms around the ball-carrier and looks to knock him down with a shoulder.

    PRO COMPARISON: Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

12. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"187 lbsINJINJINJ 

    POSITIVES

    The fourth Fuller brother on track to play in the NFL, Kendall will join Vincent, Corey and Kyle as having made the jump from Virginia Tech to the pros. It’s safe to say he has football bloodlines.

    The younger Fuller benefited from the experience of his older brothers and stepped on the field as a true freshman starter. A Freshman All-American, Fuller intercepted six passes in his first season and had NFL scouts excited for the future. He followed that up with a two-interception season while playing with a broken wrist. 2015 was to be Fuller’s year, but it ended early with a knee injury. He shut it down after three weeks.

    Fuller has the height/weight/speed teams want, and he backs them all up with great confidence and enough playmaking skills when the ball comes his way. He’s a coordinated, smooth mover in his backpedal and has the start-stop quickness to track receivers in man coverage. Fuller can make plays on the ball in the air and times his jumps well to match receivers.

    With exceptional football IQ, leadership skills and work ethic, Fuller is the type of player coaches will want on their team. The biggest question marks will be about his ability to adapt to the NFL while staying healthy.

    NEGATIVES

    Fuller did not look himself in 2015, which may be attributed to the knee injury. You have to go back to 2013 to see healthy, dominant tape from him, and back then he was a true freshman benefiting from his big brother Kyle lined up across the field.

    When the ball is in the air, Fuller will go after it. Even when he shouldn’t. He’s a first-class gambler and will go for broke if he has a read on the ball. This makes him particularly weak against a good double move and receivers with the start-stop speed to take him over the top.

    Fuller must learn to play with his legs and not his hands. In that regard he’s a lot like his brother Kyle and reminds me of former Michigan State star Darqueze Dennard. That may mean Fuller will be stuck as a good college corner who struggles to adapt to the pros.

    Fuller may be living off the reputation of his brothers—and to be fair none have panned out as top-tier NFL talents. Two seasons marred by injuries and a play type that opens him up to penalties and big gains down the field will scare teams.

    PRO COMPARISON: Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 6.49/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

11. Rashard Robinson, LSU

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"171 lbs4.43s7.31s4.44s 

    POSITIVES

    A lockdown man-coverage cornerback with big upside as a true junior entry, Rashard Robinson hasn’t been developed at LSU due to off-field issues. The team willing to gamble on him could strike gold, though, given his natural abilities and what he brings to the table with height, weight and speed.

    Robinson started just eight games in college—playing in 20 games—and excelled following SEC receivers. He has ideal tools to press, flip his hips and run with big or fast players. Robinson’s two years of tape were impressive in his instincts for the position. He’s just an athlete playing cornerback without refined footwork but showed an ability to anticipate the route and stay in-phase through transitions.

    A long strider, Robinson doesn’t look like he’s moving, but his field speed was top-notch. That allowed him to stick with home run hitters down the field, but he also showed a knack for matching size with size and will go up and get the ball on 50-50 throws in the red zone or down the sideline.

    A tough, natural player, Robinson has huge steal potential if he can get in the right system.

    NEGATIVES

    The off-field concerns will be discussed first, and for a long time, when teams meet to talk about Robinson. Going back to his recruitment, he barely got his paperwork approved in time to be eligible for LSU. Then, as a sophomore, he was suspended for Week 1 and then suspended indefinitely before LSU's 10th game for undisclosed reasons. Robinson was never reinstated, so he sat out all of 2015 before declaring for the draft.

    Long and super lean, Robinson is a high-cut player with average agility in short areas and questionable instincts. With a lack of practice reps or time spent around a program, Robinson could easily add strength and weight to his frame. At the combine he looked as if he hadn’t trained for the drills and only managed five bench press reps at his pro day.

    Teams will look at Robinson as a project. His off-field issues are more immature than illegal, and since he never got off on the right foot at LSU, a change of scenery may be the best thing for him.

    PRO COMPARISON: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants

    FINAL GRADE: 6.49/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

10. Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"185 lbs4.48sN/AN/A 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Oklahoma with 15 career interceptions, Zack Sanchez has the production, traits and impact at a major program to get an early look from teams.

    A junior entry into the draft, Sanchez has speed and instincts when the ball is in the air. He closes on the ball in a hurry and has the timing down to bait quarterbacks into poor throws and then pounce to create a turnover. Sanchez held his own against Big 12 talents Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman.

    Sanchez does a great job of meeting the ball and winning at the moment of truth. He’s long enough to go up and get jump balls and has the quickness to slip underneath a route and make a play between the quarterback and the receiver. He has a natural feel for the position and the timing to jump routes.

    Matched up against speed, Sanchez has the ability to go deep down the field and has proved throughout the last three seasons that he's a top-tier producer among the corners in this class.

    NEGATIVES

    A thin frame doesn’t help the fact that Sanchez missed eight tackles in 2015 and 18 in the last two seasons. He’s just not a physical player when asked to bring down ball-carriers. The lack of size and strength may have teams viewing him as a slot cornerback more than an outside player.

    Sanchez made plays on the ball, but he also gave up plays. College Football Focus charted him allowing five touchdowns (to seven interceptions) this past season while allowing a completion percentage of 57.3.

    Because Sanchez likes to bait quarterbacks into errant throws, he opens himself up to being out of position when the pass connects. That happened in college and will happen more in the NFL if he can’t close the gap between himself and his man.

    An overaggressive player at times, Sanchez makes big plays and allows big plays. If a team can live with his gambles, he could be an instant producer in the slot and eventually a starter on the outside.

    PRO COMPARISON: Antonio Cromartie, Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 6.49/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

9. Harlan Miller, SE Louisiana

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"229 lbs4.59s7.0s4.59s 

    POSITIVES

    The top small-school cornerback in the 2016 draft class, Harlan Miller impressed on tape against Southland Conference competition but really made a name for himself during Senior Bowl week. A feisty, physical cornerback with great play strength and a mean streak in press coverage, Miller has the goods to carve out a long pro career.

    Miller’s aggressive style of play jumps off the screen. He’s in the face of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and dares the offense to take a shot his way. He’s able to slip underneath receivers to make a play on the ball and has excellent timing on breaking routes. A tall, long player, Miller uses that size to his advantage both in press situations and on jump balls.

    In run support, Miller brings a lot to the table. He attacks the ball-carrier and will get into the backfield to spill outside runs. If lined up in the slot, Miller has the closing speed and instincts to be a valuable blitzer.

    NEGATIVES

    Average speed on tape—and in testing—will bring scouts back to the film to see if Miller’s dominance in college was based on technique or a poor level of competition. Miller has not seen top-tier competition in the last four seasons and was able to get away with less-than-ideal long speed.

    An aggressive cornerback at his level, Miller must learn patience in coverage. His timing when given the chance to jump a route can be early, and while that might play on Saturdays, it’s a move that will cost him yards in the NFL. Miller got caught flat-footed during Senior Bowl practices against play action and must learn to stay fluid and stay balanced in his backpedal.

    A small player with a maxed-out frame, Miller’s career may be as a nickel cornerback. Due to average testing times and a body that needs more strength, Miller will likely at least start his career as a sub-package player before he’s able to acclimate to the NFL and earn reps on the edge.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kevin Johnson, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 6.60/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

8. Xavien Howard, Baylor

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"201 lbs4.41s6.94s4.15s 

    POSITIVES

    Big, physical and fast, Xavien Howard fits the profile of a starting outside cornerback in the NFL.

    With nine interceptions and 23 pass breakups over the last two seasons, Howard has established himself as a ball hawk at corner. He tracks the ball well over his shoulder when running in-phase and has the closing speed to seal the deal.

    When the ball goes up, Howard becomes a receiver and will leave his feet to make a play at the high point. Given his 38 ½-inch vertical jump, Howard can be effective above the field.

    Howard impresses with timing and burst when asked to plant and drive to play the ball in front of his face. He comes downhill to the ball in a hurry and has the size to force runners back to the middle of the field in the run game.

    There aren’t many cornerbacks in this class with size, speed and ball skills, which makes Howard one of the more sought-after players in the group.

    NEGATIVES

    Howard’s technique as a cornerback doesn’t yet match his physical abilities. On tape he was too often caught flat-footed and struggling to keep up with receivers despite having 4.4 speed. When Howard is caught in the mud, he goes to his hands and will grab and hold receivers at the top of their stem instead of flipping his hips to run.

    A willing tackler, Howard can be erratic when asked to break down smaller backs or receivers. He missed five tackles in 2015 and nine in 2014. NFL teams will live with the aggressive, productive tackles he brings to the table and hope to work on the whiffs.

    A gambler in coverage, Howard must learn patience and to not consistently go for the big play on a double move or breaking route. His timing is good, but NFL teams will scheme against his aggression. He trusts his eyes and his hands, which is a good thing, but Howard’s over-anxious style gets him in trouble.

    PRO COMPARISON: Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 6.60/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

7. KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"192 lbs4.44s6.89s4.09s 

    POSITIVES

    An early entry into the draft as a redshirt junior, KeiVarae Russell's last two seasons have been trying. In August 2014 he, along with four teammates, was suspended for academic improprieties. Because of the long investigation, Russell missed the entire 2014 season (and school year) before he was cleared to return to the team in 2015.

    On the field, Russell is special. He’s a thickly built, athletic corner who was actually a highly ranked running back in high school. A starter as a true freshman at Notre Dame, Russell shook off the rust from a missed season and showed improvement throughout the year.

    Russell has the speed and quickness teams want in a starting cornerback. He’s able to recover out of his pedal and match downfield speed and can also shuffle, slide and chop his way through transitions on underneath routes.

    Against speed and power—and Notre Dame saw it all in 2015—Russell can adapt and perform. He’s a smooth overall athlete with the instincts and football IQ to step right into an NFL scheme.

    Quick, smart, tough and fluid, Russell is a more complete resume away from being a top-50 pick.

    NEGATIVES

    The Notre Dame injury bug bit Russell this year, with a broken right leg suffered late in the season limiting his workout time before the combine or his pro day. He then suffered a hamstring pull at his pro day, and his times there may be skewed because of it.

    Teams will ask Russell about the suspension that cost him his 2014 season, but since it was related to academics it’s not expected to raise much of an issue. The bigger question will be if teams feel he’s shaken off the rust of that missed time and then the injury that ended his 2015 campaign.

    Russell hasn’t played much ball in the last two years—which may be a positive given the little wear-and-tear he suffered—but it’s a legitimate concern when talking about an early draft pick.

    Any on-field complaints can be ironed out. Russell can be overaggressive in man coverage and will miss chances to make a play on the ball—something he did early against USC in a live viewing before recovering to finish the game with a pick. Russell is on the low end for ideal size in an outside corner and may get beat up by scouts wanting Richard Sherman.

    A flat-footed backpedal caught Russell in the mud on transitions against speedier receivers and will be a coaching point for him moving ahead.

    PRO COMPARISON: Darius Slay, Detroit Lions

    FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

6. Artie Burns, Miami (Fla.)

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"193 lbs4.46s6.96s4.3s 

    POSITIVES

    A fast, fluid, long cornerback with the ideal traits of a Round 1 player, junior Artie Burns has been surrounded by buzz in the lead-up to the draft.

    With six interceptions and five pass breakups in 2015, Burns made a huge impact in the Miami secondary. He allowed just one touchdown all season—in the Virginia Tech game—and impressed as an eraser in man coverage. He has the length and closing speed to give wide receivers a cushion at the line, but can also counter that and get in their face to use his hands to press and jam.

    A typically cocky, loud player, Burns backs it up. He loves to chatter, but when you’re grabbing six interceptions and blanking receivers’ attempts at the end zone, you can run your mouth a little bit.

    Burns fits the mold of what the NFL wants in an outside cornerback: long, rangy and able to eliminate jump balls with length and/or a vertical jump. He has all that.

    NEGATIVES

    Burns is raw as the day is long and will need coaching up in rookie camp on timing and technique at the position. With his focus split between football and track, he’s never had time to commit to learning the intricacies of the position—and the former staff at Miami had a reputation for not developing talent. Burns must be taught to play hands-off coverage to eliminate the penalties that popped up on tape.

    Burns must also learn to get that 6’0” frame bent lower in his backpedal so he doesn’t waste his speed and fluid motions by playing tall and allowing wide receivers to eat him up on breaking routes. He has natural athleticism and instincts, but his play awareness can be improved with film study and reps in practice.

    Burns doesn’t bring much in the run game, and with five missed tackles on the year, he is weak at the point of attack when taking on ball-carriers.

    PRO COMPARISON: Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

5. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10"190 lbs4.47s7.18s4.21s 

    POSITIVES

    A redshirt sophomore entry into the 2016 NFL draft, Mackensie Alexander is one of the most confident players you’ll ever encounter. That’s a good thing for a man-coverage cornerback, as he not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk.

    In two seasons at Clemson, Alexander allowed just two touchdowns and had a streak of 24 straight games without a score allowed. You have to go all the way back to Week 5 of his redshirt freshman season to see Alexander giving up points—to North Carolina’s Mack Hollins.

    If you view a cornerback’s job as creating interceptions, you won’t like Alexander’s game. But if you view cornerbacks as tasked with preventing catches and touchdowns, he may be your favorite player in the class.

    Looking at his play, Alexander impresses with quick feet and excellent field vision. He knows where the ball is (when it’s thrown his way) and breaks back toward it with smooth movements. He has quick reaction time and generally wows with his ability to stay close to the receiver and contest the pass.

    A strong player at the line of scrimmage, he crowds receivers and will be physical in coverage. Right now he plays the man and tries to blanket him all over the field but will likely be asked to “play the ball” in some NFL schemes.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of ball skills—or the perception that he lacks ball skills—has been crushing Alexander’s stock. He didn’t record an interception in two years of play at Clemson, and that’s throwing off scouts who may otherwise like his technique and cover skills.

    Alexander has reportedly come off poorly in interviews, which could be legit or it could all be an elaborate smokescreen from NFL teams. He’s a trash-talker and loves to jabber but has no off-field concerns that have been reported in his past.

    Alexander lives on quickness and is only asked to follow the body in the Clemson defense. He also played with top-100 draft picks all around him—including two first-rounders rushing the passer. There are concerns that he’s a product of the system and talent at Clemson.

    PRO COMPARISON: Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons

    FINAL GRADE: 6.80/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

4. Eli Apple, Ohio State

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"199 lbs4.34sN/AN/A 

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter for the loaded Ohio State Buckeyes, Eli Apple joined a host of his teammates in declaring early for the 2016 draft.

    A clean technician, Apple has the smooth feet to mirror in coverage and explosive hips to drive on the ball. A competitive player who fights for position and attacks the ball, Apple has the size to contest jump balls and the quick transitions to plant and drive on underneath passes. A true matchup cornerback on the edge, Apple is an ideal press-man cornerback.

    Turn on the film and Apple is the guy always around the receiver. He fights through the route and has the agility to run and flip his hips to contest every route in the book. He’s the type of cornerback ready-made to travel with the offense’s No. 1 receiver. Even when he allows a catch, Apple works to make tackles in space and will punch the ball out of the receiver’s hands.

    Apple is a worker and a complete player on all three downs. He’ll play the run with the same mentality that he plays the ball. Given his positives in height, weight and speed, Apple projects as one of the few early starters on the outside of the formation.

    NEGATIVES

    A physical cornerback at the line of scrimmage, Apple doesn’t have the ideal length (31 ⅜" arms) to match his height.

    Apple struggles to locate and find the ball in the air when working over the top. When the ball goes up, Apple plays the man. This could be due to coaching and scheme, but he doesn’t whip around and look for the ball down the field. Penalties may be an issue for Apple early in his career.

    The biggest issue for Apple in his transition to the NFL will be his hands. Because he doesn’t want to let speedy receivers get by him, Apple relies on his hands to hold and stop receivers at the top of their stem. Apple often looks uncomfortable in zone coverage and is primarily a man-coverage cornerback.

    PRO COMPARISON: Trae Waynes, Minnesota Vikings

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

3. William Jackson III, Houston

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"189 lbs4.37s6.86s4.32s 

    POSITIVES

    A transfer to Houston from Trinity Valley Junior College, William Jackson III was a two-plus-season starter for the Cougars and has the height, speed and man-coverage skills NFL teams crave. A top-15 selection wouldn’t be a surprise.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson allowed just 47.4 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed. That stat is backed up by traits, as Jackson has all the tools to be a tremendous man-coverage cornerback. He’s fluid in and out of breaks and has the smooth technique to turn and run without losing steam. He’ll carry receivers down the field but is agile enough to click and close on the ball in front of him.

    Jackson excels at finding the ball and making a play on it. He recorded five interceptions in 2015 and added 23 pass breakups. Thanks to top-tier recovery speed and enough size, Jackson is never truly out of the play if he’s lost on a double move. He can turn and run to catch up down the sideline.

    A competitive, feisty player, Jackson has the tools teams want in a No. 1 cornerback.

    NEGATIVES

    Jackson doesn’t have ideal bulk or length (31 ¾" arms) and can be limited by his play strength both at the line of scrimmage and in the run game. Jackson excels in man coverage but hasn’t shown the press skills or strength to step right in as a pro.

    Jackson has a tendency to be grabby in his coverage. In the games we charted, he was flagged for using his hands to impede the route. When he gets off-balance in his pedal, Jackson reaches to hold onto the receiver.

    Jackson was inconsistent in his awareness and timing, but that points more to a scheme issue than a physical limitation. As long as he can mentally handle an NFL playbook and the various coverages used, he has the look of a longtime starting cornerback.

    PRO COMPARISON: Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots

    FINAL GRADE: 7.00/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)

2. Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10"204 lbs4.50sN/A3.98s 

    POSITIVES

    A starter as a true freshman at Florida in 2013, Vernon Hargreaves has been NFL-ready for a while now. As an early entry into the NFL draft, he’s expected to be one of the first cornerbacks off the board.

    With seven interceptions in the last two seasons, Hargreaves has shown his ability as a playmaker. His ball skills are excellent, and he’s constantly near the action. With a top-tier vertical jump (39"), Hargreaves is able to make up for his shorter frame and shorter arms on plays above the turf.

    An instinctive, smart cornerback, Hargreaves reads routes as well as anyone in the draft. Having played man and zone coverage at Florida, he’s prepared for Sundays and can adapt to multiple schemes. Even in press schemes—despite his smaller build—Hargreaves has the quickness and technique to punch and run.

    A solid three-down player, Hargreaves is a heads-up tackler with the toughness to be reliable on outside runs and screen packages. He’s quick to locate the ball and will shed stalk blocks.

    NEGATIVES

    Short with short arms (30 ⅝") and small hands (8 ¾"), Hargreaves is seen by some as a No. 2 cornerback and a player who will never be able to consistently shadow top wideouts.

    Scouts will worry that Hargreaves can be beaten at the catch point and over the top given his poor length and height. His quickness is an asset, but his long speed can be questionable when asked to track receivers down the field. He’ll have to learn to keep his eyes out of the backfield.

    If you get past the size and speed questions and just look at the film, Hargreaves is very impressive. Grading him in a bubble, he looks like a future starter.

    PRO COMPARISON: Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 7.20/9.00 (Round 1—Top-15-Player Potential)

1. Jalen Ramsey, FSU

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"209 lbs4.41s6.94s4.18s 

    POSITIVES

    The top overall player in the 2016 NFL draft class, Jalen Ramsey is a rare athlete and a top-tier competitor. An alpha dog in the FSU locker room, Ramsey has owned a leadership position since his first days in Tallahassee as a true freshman in a defensive back room with future NFL players Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams.

    A versatile defender at FSU, Ramsey has played safety, the STAR position (like a nickel cornerback) and outside corner. He has the athletic profile to slide in at any of those three positions and hold his own against NFL talent. Ramsey may be the perfect answer to the NFL’s matchup problem, as he can make plays anywhere on the field and could be an eraser against receivers or tight ends—like a 6’1” Tyrann Mathieu.

    Ramsey has elite speed and size and is able to run with anyone down the field. He’s also explosive enough to break on passes underneath and separate the receiver from the ball. With a 41.5-inch vertical jump, Ramsey is also excellent when going up to challenge the ball. His lateral movements are smooth and strong, and he brings a downhill punch like a safety with his 200-plus pounds.

    I asked a quarterback Ramsey played against in college what he thought of him. His reply: “Weapon of mass destruction. You have to know where he is at all times.”

    When asked how you scheme against him, the quarterback said they simply avoided him instead of finding ways to attack his side of the field.

    NFL teams won’t avoid Ramsey, but quarterbacks must know where he is on every down. With his size, speed, instincts and playmaking skill set, Ramsey is a surefire top-10 pick and a future Pro Bowler.

    NEGATIVES

    Ramsey isn’t without some question marks. He’s never played consistently at one position, and the lack of a true home may worry scouts and coaches.

    Ball skills will get questioned because Ramsey only recorded three interceptions in three seasons. It should be noted that his role at FSU in his first two seasons didn’t lend itself to many one-on-one situations for picks, and by 2015, teams were avoiding him.

    The biggest obstacle for Ramsey will be learning one position. If drafted by a team that won’t let him create on his own, he could be a square peg in a round hole.

    PRO COMPARISON: Charles Woodson, retired

    FINAL GRADE: 7.99/9.00 (Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential)