NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top Cornerbacks

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 23, 2018

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top Cornerbacks

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    Scouts and general managers have called the 2018 NFL draft class average, but we still have questions. Who is the best overall player? How about the best at each position?

    The NFL Draft 400's goal is to figure that out. 

    We tracked, scouted, graded and ranked the top 400 prospects with help from scouting assistants Marshal Miller, Dan Bazal and Jerod Brown. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player—the same standard NFL teams use. Oftentimes, we saw every play from a prospect over the last two years. 

    Strengths and weaknesses figured into the grades, with a pro-player comparison added to match the prospect's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 prospects will be broken down by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the April 26-28 draft.

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

50. Chris Jones, Nebraska

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    POSITIVES

    —Four-year player with special-teams experience. 

    —Well-built frame at 6'0" and 200 pounds with 32 ¾-inch arms.

    —Plays the ball well in the air and can challenge jump balls with strength and hands.

    —Instinctual player who breaks with good timing and anticipation.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Torn left meniscus in summer 2017 that kept him out half the season.

    —Backpedal is rough and unbalanced.

    —Hip tightness leads to inability to open and run with speed down the field.

    —Press technique is almost nonexistent and needs NFL coaching to become effective.

    —Limited lateral agility that looked worse post-injury.

         

    OVERALL

    Jones' production in 2016 would've made him an early Day 3 selection and potential sleeper candidate for a cornerback-needy team. Unfortunately, a summer injury prevented him from putting out another good year of tape and instead only enhanced the apparent limitations to his game. He's got a great frame with raw technique to build on and should find work in an NFL training camp.

         

    GRADE: 4.90 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: T.J. Carrie, Cleveland Browns

49. Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma

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    POSITIVES

    —Zone awareness is good and shows processing to match concepts.

    —Instincts to break help mask many of his athletic limitations.

    —Identifies the ball in-flight and can play through a receiver's hands at the catch point.

    —Has multiyear experience in a big program with a breakout season in 2015.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Ankle and knee injuries that limited playing time in 2017.

    —Serious regression since outstanding sophomore season in 2015.

    —Multiple arrests and suspensions while at Oklahoma.

    —Downfield speed is below average, and he doesn't have the trail technique skill set to compensate.

    —Excessive steps to open and run out of backpedal due to tightly wound hips.

         

    OVERALL

    Thomas simply doesn't meet many of the thresholds when discussing NFL size and athleticism. Add in that he has some off-field concerns, and it's hard to envision a scenario where he's drafted. Thomas' best bet is to land in camp with a team and hope for some patience that puts him on a practice squad for a year or two.

         

    GRADE: 4.90 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Carlos Rogers, retired

48. Henre' Toliver, Arkansas

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    POSITIVES

    —Four-year experience and faced top-tier talent.

    —Has played boundary and slot positions with versatility to do both.

    —Good ball skills with hands to create turnovers down the field.

    —Good vision as a zone defender to sit on routes and recognize concepts in motion.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Play speed is a concern and will be abused in man coverage.

    —Squatty frame that doesn't have the weight or length needed.

    —Ankle, knee and hip flexibility are all poor and cause stance issues at the line of scrimmage and a high backpedal.

    —Inconsistent tackler at best and will be exploited on a few highlights in the NFL.

         

    OVERALL

    Toliver simply doesn't have the body type or athleticism needed to routinely compete in the NFL. He'll earn a camp shot because of his collegiate experience, but there are concerns in nearly every athletic category that make it hard to see how he competes against the best every Sunday.

         

    GRADE: 4.90 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Sherrick McManis, Chicago Bears   

47. Arrion Springs, Oregon

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    POSITIVES

    —Stocky build at 6'0" and 205 pounds with ability to rush the edge and show some tenacity in run support.

    —Three-year producer and special teams contributor.

    —Good short-area movement skills with ability to explode off of back foot throughout route breaks.

    —Able to stay in-phase with most receivers at all levels of the field when he transitions smoothly.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Length is limited and he won't challenge above-the-rim throws consistently.

    —Bowlegged since birth and it affects fluidity on the field.

    —Inefficient angles to the football in run support and creates difficult tackles for himself.

    —Backpedal is awkward with a top-heavy stance and poor balance.

    —Doesn't have solid ball skills and won't create plays in the NFL.

         

    OVERALL

    Springs' natural physique makes his transition to the NFL incredibly difficult. A bowlegged stance slows his backpedal and limits the efficiency in his movements, making NFL releases at the line of scrimmage a recipe for disaster. Springs is a camp body with the thickness to handle contact and make an impact on special teams, but he's likely a practice squad player at best early in his career.

         

    GRADE: 4.99 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: De'Vante Bausby, Philadelphia Eagles

46. Dee Delaney, Miami (FL)

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    POSITIVES

    —Transferred from The Citadel and took time to acclimate to big-time players.

    —Ball skills are excellent and show good body control downfield.

    —Ultimate competitor who remains active with hand fighting throughout the rep.

    —Not afraid to jump in the box and make plays in run defense.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Can't play from a press alignment in any regard, as he struggles to punch with timing or open and run.

    —Clunky backpedal that doesn't look comfortable or smooth.

    —Average-at-best athlete on the field who has to be perfect to beat limitations.

    —Footwork will be abused by average-or-better NFL talent in short-area redirection.

         

    OVERALL

    Delaney transferred to Miami to compete against top-tier collegiate talent, and the film shows a player who simply has too many athletic limitations to be a draft selection. Delaney is experienced enough to earn a camp invite, but he'll struggle to stand out on his ball skills alone and will have to fix some of the fundamental technical flaws to his game.

         

    GRADE: 4.99 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Kenneth Acker, Indianapolis Colts

45. Malik Reaves, Villanova

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    POSITIVES

    —Played through a meniscus tear in 2016.

    —Four-year contributor who earned All-Conference recognition.

    —Thick-bodied corner who uses strength and power as primary tool in his bag.

    —Can stack out blocks to disengage and make plays in run support.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Doesn't meet NFL needs from a speed perspective at boundary corner.

    —Transitions out of his pedal are clunky and show a tightly wound lower body.

    —Processing to fire feet and change direction is slow and easily exploited.

    —Receivers won't be worried about his press when he can't mirror to get his hands on them.

         

    OVERALL

    Reaves has experience and toughness, but he lacks athletic ability in almost every area needed to be an effective NFL corner. He's worth a camp look and will play plenty of special teams, but making an NFL roster is an uphill climb.

         

    GRADE: 4.99 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Darryl Roberts, New York Jets

44. Kamrin Moore, Boston College

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    POSITIVES

    —Short and thick frame that he uses to be aggressive at the line of scrimmage.

    —Big-time contributor on special teams.

    —Handsy player who can annoy receivers throughout the rep.

    —Frame can handle tackling responsibilities on boundary, and he's fearless in contact.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Missed time in 2015 and 2017 with leg injuries.

    —Lateral agility is poor and won't cut it against receivers who can work clean releases versus press coverage.

    —Lacks ball skills and doesn't have strong spatial awareness skills to play receiver and the ball at the catch point.

    —Doesn't have the click-and-close burst needed to routinely close windows.

         

    OVERALL

    Moore uses his stout frame to disrupt receivers any opportunity he gets. The rest of his game is underwhelming and shows a limited athlete that will struggle to compete consistently with NFL-caliber receivers with good footwork. He's a training-camp body and special teams player who should hope to land on a practice squad.

         

    GRADE: 4.99 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Jeremy Clark, New York Jets

43. Emmanuel Moseley, Tennessee

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    POSITIVES

    —Awareness in off coverage is good and shows ability to recognize concepts in motion.

    —Great overall athlete with pure speed and explosion.

    —Plays through receivers at the catch point and will create incompletions by competing through the hands of receivers downfield.

    —NFL-caliber speed that can run with vertical threats.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Below-average ball skills and won't create turnovers at the next level.

    —Severe lapse in time when he takes transition steps, and it almost immediately creates separation for receivers.

    —Small frame that may already be maxed out.

    —Is going to struggle tremendously when asked to press or use routine physicality at the line of scrimmage.

         

    OVERALL

    Moseley is a good athlete, but there are lapses in his play that undo any solid technique until that point. He appears to sit too deep in his hips and struggles to fire out of his pedal and transition downhill, creating easy separation. He should land in camp but will have to overcome size concerns as well to earn a practice squad spot.

         

    GRADE: 5.00 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Howard Wilson, Cleveland Browns

42. Linden Stephens, Cincinnati

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    POSITIVES

    —Strong outside foot to plant and burst on inward-breaking routes with speed and recovery ability.

    —Active hands at the catch point and will disrupt completions down the field.

    —Solid athlete with good height and size who can handle more bulk.

    —Good enough tackler to hold up boundary runs until help comes.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Will have to put on at least 10 pounds if he's interested in playing on the boundary at the next level.

    —Impatient in his backpedal and runs at frantic pace.

    —Gives up leverage too easily and can be out-positioned at all levels for completions.

    —Opens early and allows easy completions on comebacks.

         

    OVERALL

    Stephens has the requisite athletic ability to land in an NFL training camp. If he can put on additional mass, he could earn an opportunity to compete for a boundary role with good ability to burst and close on the ball. He's likely a career depth piece but could find work as a fifth corner and core special teams player.

         

    GRADE: 5.00 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Jaylen Hill, Baltimore Ravens

41. Jamarcus King, South Carolina

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    POSITIVES

    —Plays the ball aggressively and is routinely looking to create turnovers.

    —Feisty competitor who tries to smother receivers early.

    —Good vision to find the ball in-flight and play through a receiver's hands.

    —Solid tackler with consistent technique that is effective.

    —Good arm length to compensate for a lack of bulk.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Gangly limbs that lack the frame and bulk to handle big receivers.

    —Acceleration out of breaks is slow and will give up separation in the NFL.

    —Long speed is underwhelming and will be exposed early and often.

    —Hip fluidity is limited and adds difficulty when asked to open and run against plus athletes.

    —Drops his head into tackles and will get bulldozed by bulk if he isn't careful.

         

    OVERALL

    King's limited athleticism will make success in the NFL a difficult transition. He has the competitive nature to challenge targets at short-to-intermediate levels, but his downfield speed is a major concern. He'll have to prove he can make plays consistently in the NFL to convince a team to give him a shot at starting. The reality is he's likely a late-round selection and depth player for his career.

         

    GRADE: 5.00 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Taveze Calhoun, Miami Dolphins

40. Deatrick Nichols, South Florida

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    POSITIVES

    —Experienced playing both slot and outside corner.

    —Ball-skill production with 11 interceptions at USF.

    —Really versatile and has been looked at as a nickel cornerback and safety thanks to his range and athleticism.

    —Has the speed to run with inside or outside receivers and shows good burst to attack the ball in the air.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Awareness and instincts are just OK. He made the most of opportunities more than he made plays happen.

    —Small frame looks maxed out at 5'9", 186 pounds and will keep him in the slot for most teams.

    —Can be a step late to read, react and get into his backpedal.

    —Average college player without the size or speed to translate at a high level.

         

    OVERALL

    Nichols was a playmaker at USF, but the tape shows some of those moments weren't generated by his athleticism or his instincts. His transition to the NFL will be dependent upon his versatility and how well he can acclimate to a new scheme. He's likely a depth safety or slot cornerback in the pros.

         

    GRADE: 5.25 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Kalan Reed, Tennessee Titans    

39. Christian Campbell, Penn State

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    POSITIVES

    —NFL-ready size at 6'1", 195 pounds with room to put more weight on.

    —Arms down to his knees that measured in at 33 ½ inches.

    —Uses length to punch and initiate contact in press coverage.

    —Very good in short area, using length to stay in-phase with receivers and play through hands when minimal separation is created.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Frame is begging for another 10 pounds and needs it to be the physical corner he'll be expected to play as.

    —Struggles to flip hips with fluidity and can be embarrassed by decent route-runners.

    —Man coverage skills are poor and show someone with slow processing skills who can't fire feet fast enough.

    —Top-heavy technique once he opens to run and will struggle to throttle down on deep comebacks.

         

    OVERALL

    Campbell has excellent length that he uses well to minimize on-field concerns with his playing style. He has a frame that can hold another 10 pounds with ease, and he'll have to add the weight because he isn't a fluid enough athlete to routinely play off-man coverage. Campbell's ideal fit is a press scheme that allows him to handle short routes before passing off to safety help. A depth role looks likely for Year 1.

         

    GRADE: 5.25 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Justin Bethel, Atlanta Falcons

38. Mike Ford, Southeast Missouri State

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    POSITIVES

    —A former wide receiver and special teams stud who moved to cornerback and showed plus athleticism.

    —Active tackler who comes downhill with balance and an attitude.

    —Natural athlete with the agility and burst to develop into a well-rounded cornerback.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Developmental prospect who dominated a low level of competition.

    —Needs work on timing and technique when flipping his hips to run. Can't get by with athleticism against NFL talent.

    —Didn't look exceptionally fast against low level of competition and might struggle to carry receivers with speed down the field.

    —Awareness never stood out on film.

    —Not a combine invitee.

         

    OVERALL

    Ford is a good prospect with late-round talent, but in a deep cornerback class he's probably an undrafted free agent. Teams will love his ability on special teams, but he must learn technique to compensate for his lack of speed and size.

         

    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Walt Aikens, Miami Dolphins  

37. Rashard Fant, Indiana

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    POSITIVES

    —A smaller corner who has made a living around the ball whether it's INTs or pass breakups.

    —Trusted to handle man coverage and excelled against Big 10 receivers.

    —Can handle underneath and breaking routes thanks to his short, choppy, fast steps.

    —Has the play speed to stay in-phase with speedy receivers.

    —Smart player with a good football IQ.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Very undersized at 5'9 ½", 179 pounds with 30-inch arms and 8 ⅞-inch hands.

    —Doesn't have the play power to be effective in press situations.

    —Lacks the length or height to challenge on 50/50 passes or compete with bigger receivers.

    —Aggressive but small frame leads to him bouncing off receivers as a tackler.

         

    OVERALL

    If Fant were a little bigger, we'd be talking about him as an early Day 3 selection, but his lack of size is hard to overlook. Teams that want a high-character depth cornerback with some development potential will like him as a priority free agent.

         

    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Senquez Golson, Oakland Raiders    

36. Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama

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    POSITIVES

    —Good awareness, instincts and football IQ.

    —Versatile defensive back who can play inside or outside cornerback and played safety in 2017.

    —Ideal skill set for sub-packages.

    —Aggressive striker who loves to hit. Makes a big impact coming downhill in the run or closing on receivers across the middle.

    —Scouts raved about his football character at the Senior Bowl.

         

    NEGATIVES

    —Lack of speed might mean a move to safety is needed.

    —Was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.

    —Tape showed a smart player who lacked burst and twitch in his movements.

    —Doesn't have long speed to carry receivers down the field.

    —Smaller cornerbacks must be fast and Reaves lacks overall speed.

         

    OVERALL

    Reaves is a favorite of scouts who came through South Alabama, and he's the type of try-hard player who can overcome his lack of athleticism to make a roster. A major positive is how willing he is to embrace new roles and find a fit throughout the secondary.

         

    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Don Carey, Jacksonville Jaguars   

35. D'Montre Wade, Murray State

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    POSITIVES

    —NFL-caliber size (6'0", 200 lbs) and speed (4.57 40-yard dash) that can compete with physicality.

    —Six interceptions in 2017 and a four-year starter.

    —Independent hands and feet at the line of scrimmage that show his ability to grow into quality press corner.

    —Excellent work as a zone defender with awareness to move off with a quarterback's vision.

                         

    NEGATIVES

    —Obvious concerns about the level of competition he faced.

    —Hesitant to break downhill and gives up easy completions.

    —Doesn't take good angles to the ball in run support and will create a soft edge.

    —Post-catch tackling is a concern, and he doesn't end plays when he should.

                   

    OVERALL

    Wade has an NFL frame and the skills to grow into a quality boundary cornerback. He has enough height, length and speed but will have to refine his technique if he expects to challenge starters. He is too passive on the field, often electing to let the action happen in front of him.

           

    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent) 

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Dwight Lowery, free agent

34. Danny Johnson, Southern

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    POSITIVES

    —Small-school stud who dominated his level of competition.

    —17 career interceptions and lived around the ball.

    —Timing and instincts are plus-level.

    —All-around athlete with good burst, balance and body control. Even played some offense in 2017.

    —Four-year starter.

    —Brings value as a return man on kicks and punts.

                       

    NEGATIVES

    —Low level of competition at Southern. Hasn't faced NFL prospects across the line from him.

    —On the small side (5'10", 180 lbs) and might be a slot-only option.

    —Doesn't have the strength to hold up at the line of scrimmage against any type of physical receivers.

    —Will have to speed up his process in his backpedal and timing when closing on the ball.

                                             

    OVERALL

    Danny Johnson was a stud at Southern and got the invite to the Senior Bowl off it. He's an impressive athlete and has some short-area skills and special teams value. He's likely a priority pickup after the draft as a guy who can make the roster first on special teams and then get on the field defensively.

                         

    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Jerraud Powers, retired

33. Heath Harding, Miami (Ohio)

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    POSITIVES

    —Coaches raved about his leadership, work ethic and character.

    —Physical dude at the point of attack who will come downhill and strike.

    —Instincts and awareness are on point and lead him to the football.

    —Aggressive closing on routes and looks to separate the receiver from the ball.

    —Smart, patient, poised cover man who is rarely fooled.

                                           

    NEGATIVES

    —Overall small at 5'10", 188 pounds with 31½-inch arms and 8 ¼-inch hands.

    —Doesn't look to have the speed to carry receivers down the field or the agility to hang underneath through transitions.

    —Not twitchy or explosive out of his backpedal.

    —Lack of size makes him limited to a slot-only role.

    —Reckless abandon as a tackler could lead to injuries on a smaller frame.

                      

    OVERALL

    Heath Harding is a blast to watch, but he's the type of player more likely to be a good college corner and not as much of an NFL prospect. His lack of size and speed (4.56 40-yard dash) could lead to an undrafted free-agent role, but we liked his character and aggressiveness enough to consider him draftable.

                        

    GRADE: 5.40 (Round 7) 

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Troy Hill, Los Angeles Rams

32. Chandon Sullivan, Georgia State

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    POSITIVES

    —Finalist for William V. Campbell trophy, which awards academic and athletic excellence.

    —Four-year contributor with tremendous work ethic and dedication.

    —Mental processing is automatic and highlights a bright, intellectual skill set.

    —Press technique is unrefined and needs polishing, but he shows all of the fundamental needs to compete in the slot.

                           

    NEGATIVES

    —Competition concerns he'll have to answer in training camp.

    —Limited long speed and won't be able to run downfield with legitimate speedsters.

    —Will struggle to make consistent tackles against power runners.

    —Flexibility is limited and shows up as a negative when he's asked to open vertically.

                               

    OVERALL

    Sullivan is an intelligent player who wins with processing, competitive toughness and instincts. He'll have to show that he can routinely handle NFL athletes, particularly down the field, but he has the foundation to be a quality contributor with some special teams value. A practice squad is the floor for Sullivan's first season, and he could see a backup role with depth responsibilities.

                                                                   

    GRADE: 5.50 (Round 6-7) 

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: P.J. Williams, New Orleans Saints

31. Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech

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    POSITIVES

    —Smooth backpedal that can match the release from receivers.

    —Above-average athlete with the ability to mirror in space.

    —Downfield speed is good and gives him more leeway to play tight at the line of scrimmage.

    —Transition steps waste no motion, and he gets into redirection in a hurry.

    —Short-area explosiveness is good and closes windows quickly.

              

    NEGATIVES

    —Thin everywhere and no butt (6'0", 180 lbs).

    —Play strength is a problem in every phase.

    —Will be routinely bodied by possession receivers at all levels of the field.

    —Comes with tackling technique concerns that are only heightened by a lack of weight behind him.

    —Receivers will match his speed with leverage and naturally bend him out of throwing windows.

                                     

    OVERALL

    Stroman is an excellent athlete, but his size is well below NFL thresholds in almost every regard. He's a slot corner and nothing else, and he will struggle to handle size given his own frame is already maxed out. Teams will be able to routinely send mismatches his way for easy completions at all levels of the field. While he has the transitional skills and attitude to compete, he may be too small to carve out any true role. He's worth a look and could become a value depth player at a backup slot spot.

                                                      

    GRADE: 5.50 (Round 6-7)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Tarell Brown, retired

30. Levi Wallace, Alabama

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    POSITIVES

    —Patient from press and off coverage with the willingness to let a wide receiver make the first move.

    —Above-average awareness in zone coverage to recognize pattern concepts in motion.

    —Alabama's defensive backs come NFL-ready with high-level coaching and experience.

    —Can make plays on the ball to break up receptions or create turnovers.

    —Big-time mental makeup and competitive toughness.

                                                     

    NEGATIVES

    —Undersized at 6'0" and 183 pounds and will have to bulk up somehow.

    —Doesn't have the speed to play down the field against NFL speed routinely.

    —Play strength is a concern, and big-bodied receivers will exploit that at the next level.

    —Inefficient tackler who doesn't come with much, if any, pop.

    —His explosiveness and burst at route breaks in man coverage are underwhelming, and that will only be more obvious in the NFL.

                                                                     

    OVERALL

    Wallace is one of the brightest cornerbacks in this class from a processing perspective. He is able to use his instincts and route recognition to mask many of his athletic deficiencies. As a walk-on, Wallace had to compete against top-tier talent to become a starter for an impressive Alabama defense. There is no questioning his work ethic or dedication, but his size concerns will be even more difficult to hide in the NFL.

                                    

    GRADE: 5.50 (Round 6-7) 

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Troy Hill, Los Angeles Rams

29. Avonte Maddox, Pittsburgh

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    POSITIVES

    —Four-year contributor and multiple All-ACC selection.

    —Above-average athlete with explosive hips to redirect at breaking points.

    —Willing tackler despite his size and uses fundamental techniques to be effective.

    —His coverage awareness and instincts lead to plenty of pass breakups.

                                 

    NEGATIVES

    —His 5'9" and 180-pound frame is a major concern and won't be able to compete on the boundary.

    —Trails and plays off the receiver longer than needed given his burst and gives up easy completions.

    —Utilizes a feisty playing style to compensate for size but is erratic. It causes balance issues when he's reaching.

    —Inconsistent technique that relies too much on reactive athleticism.

                              

    OVERALL

    Maddox is undersized, but he is an aggressive hitter and willing to play physically with any receiver. He'll struggle to make an impact as a boundary player and is essentially a slot guy. Fortunately, he has tremendous athleticism and can find success with continued coaching. Maddox is a Day 3 player who can earn an active roster spot if he puts on some weight.

                                          

    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Coty Sensabaugh, Pittsburgh Steelers

28. Grant Haley, Penn State

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    POSITIVES

    —Four-year contributor on defense and special teams.

    —His foot quickness is ideal for slot cornerbacks in the NFL.

    —Has smooth transitions out of his pedal to open and run.

    —Can throttle down to drive on throws in front of him with ease.

    —Has solid awareness to anticipate windows in zone coverage and can make adjustments on the fly.

                                                                       

    NEGATIVES

    —His size is a major concern at just 5'9" and 190 pounds.

    —An inconsistent tackler who will be steamrolled in run support by bigger backs.

    —His recovery speed isn't there. Doesn't look like a player with an extra gear to shift into.

    —Doesn't turn to find the football well and gives up more catches as a result.

                                                         

    OVERALL

    Grant Haley is a slot corner in the NFL with the quickness and agility to mirror at the line of scrimmage and at the shorter levels of the field. He'll struggle to recover down the field against pure speed, and physical slot receivers can exploit him. His tackling technique has to improve, but he'll earn a training camp opportunity to become the primary backup slot defender and a core special teamer.

                                          

    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Sojourn Shelton, Cincinnati Bengals

27. Taron Johnson, Weber State

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Has fluid hips that can open and run with ease.

    —Has a physical demeanor that is disruptive and frustrating for receivers.

    —Can play press or off coverage and has experience with the expected man and zone principles.

    —Four-year contributor with 42 pass breakups.

    —Understands target angles on receivers' hips downfield and can quickly recover in phase.

                                            

    NEGATIVES

    —Will not be able to play a boundary role routinely in the NFL.

    —His timed speed (4.5 40-yard dash, 4.28 20-yard shuttle) and playing speed look underwhelming, and vertical threats will exploit them.

    —His frame is bulked up at 5'11" and 192 pounds, and he won't be able to add any more mass.

    —Overcompensates for his size by getting handsy and will draw flags against elusive receivers.

    —Doesn't disengage from stalk blocks with intent and is too often willing to dance.

                                          

    OVERALL

    Taron Johnson looks penciled in to be a career slot nickel player who could carve out a solid contributing role with a team that utilizes zone coverages at intermediate levels. He has above-average awareness and instincts with the quickness to mirror early. Speed and size are concerns, but a team can mitigate those with good game-planning and in-game personnel management.

                          

    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: E.J. Gaines, Cleveland Browns

26. Michael Joseph, Dubuque

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —His ball skills are impressive. Had 15 interceptions over the last three years.

    —His above-average arm length leads to contests at the catch point.

    —Has fluid hips to transition out of his pedal and into a full sprint.

    —His eye discipline is strong and helps him break on routes with timing and anticipation.

    —His work ethic and commitment are through the roof.

                                      

    NEGATIVES

    —Questions about the competition he faced at Dubuque.

    —A lack of thickness is a concern, particularly throughout his lower body.

    —Inconsistent effort in run support and will be bodied up when he doesn't bring everything.

    —Makes plays vertically but doesn't have the power (6'1", 181 lbs) to handle physicality from possession receivers at the intermediate level.

    —His punch at the line of scrimmage is underwhelming and fails to disrupt receivers' releases or route timing consistently.

                  

    OVERALL

    Michael Joseph's transition from Division III Dubuque to the NFL will be worth watching. He has impressive ball skills and showed he has the foundational traits to compete with top-tier talent while at the Senior Bowl. He's a project, but his frame looks to be able to add more weight. And he has the movement skills in place to become a contributor over time.

                                                                                                       

    GRADE: 5.65 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Terrance Mitchell, Cleveland Browns

25. Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech

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    POSITIVES

    —Is 6'2" and 197 pounds with excellent arm length and overall size.

    —Able to highpoint throws and play through receivers' hands for pass breakups down the field.

    —Played in a variety of coverage concepts at Virginia Tech and showed good mental processing.

    —Uses his thickness to stack out stalk blocks and be a force player as a run defender.

    —Physical throughout the route and will disrupt and annoy receivers who don't have some wiggle to separate.

                      

    NEGATIVES

    —Leg injuries took most of his 2014 season. Will need long-term medical clearance.

    —Will lose to pure speed almost every rep and will need safety help over the top of vertical threats routinely.

    —His ball skills have declined since his five-interception campaign as a freshman.

    —Doesn't have the click-and-close transitional skills to succeed in man coverage routinely.

    —His footwork gets sloppy and lazy, causing him to reach and grab unnecessarily.

                     

    OVERALL

    Brandon Facyson comes with NFL-ready size and experience from his time at Virginia Tech. He has all of the thickness and physicality of a corner who can succeed in a press scheme that utilizes primarily Cover 2 concepts. He has good awareness at the short to intermediate levels but will struggle mightily with true speed down the field. Facyson is a Day 3 selection and could challenge for playing time after a year of transition.

                                                                                   

    GRADE: 5.65 (Round 5-6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Rasul Douglas, Philadelphia Eagles

24. Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

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    POSITIVES

    —Eight interceptions in 2016.

    —Played through a torn labrum in 2016 and played well.

    —Well-built frame at 6'2" and 198 pounds with long limbs.

    —Strong hands at the line of scrimmage to press and overwhelm receivers throughout the first steps of route stems.

    —Aggressiveness at the catch point to either make a play on the ball or swipe cleanly through hands while in phase.

                        

    NEGATIVES

    —Zero interceptions in 2017 and will force coaches to determine whether his eight-interception season was a fluke or reality.

    —His 4.67-second 40-yard dash is a major concern and confirms limited speed that looked apparent on film.

    —Doesn't bring thump as a tackler or run defender and will loaf too often.

    —Lateral agility at the line of scrimmage is adequate at best. Will lose to shifty receivers who get him mirroring immediately.

    —Plays tall and unbalanced far too often.

                                                         

    OVERALL

    Tarvarus McFadden's 2016 tape was impressive, showing an NFL-ready playmaker who could identify the ball in flight while playing on the hips of receivers to create deflections or make plays. Unfortunately, 2017 brought him back to reality and showed a player lacking the long speed to handle receivers down the field in the NFL. McFadden is best-suited for a press-heavy scheme that allows him to trail early before dropping into a Cover 2 zone.

                                                                        

    GRADE: 5.65 (Round 5-6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Teez Tabor, Detroit Lions

23. Davontae Harris, Illinois State

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Stocky, aggressive, strong player who won't let big receivers out-position him on inside leverage.

    —Teams see him as versatile enough to play safety.

    —Not timid as a tackler. Will square up and come to balance well.

    —Can be effective in the slot thanks to his toughness against the run.

    —Able to play with balance and poise when he can keep the route in front of him.

                

    NEGATIVES

    —Short arms (31 ⅛") and small hands (8 ¾") affect his ability to press at the line.

    —His lateral agility was average on tape, which is key for a player projected to play in the slot more than outside.

    —Didn't see top-tier competition in the Missouri Valley Conference.

    —Tested well in the 40 (4.43 seconds) but doesn't play with the speed to chase receivers. He has to win at the snap, or he won't recover.

    —Gets too aggressive jumping routes.

    —Off coverage might always be his most comfortable style of play.

                                           

    OVERALL

    A small-school sleeper with big potential as a nickel cover man, Davontae Harris is a tough run defender with the height (6'0"), weight (200 lbs) and speed to see the field. He's a bit of a project coming out of Illinois State, but the tape and tools look good.

                                              

    GRADE: 5.70 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Tyvon Branch, free agent

22. Darius Phillips, Western Michigan

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    POSITIVES

    —Converted wide receiver and plays like it with excellent ball skills and transitions.

    —Able to track the ball in flight better than most corners in the class and plays through his hands well.

    —Has shifty and smooth footwork to compete and mirror at the line of scrimmage.

    —Opens his hips to run with fluidity and good flexibility.

    —Has special teams value, with five career touchdowns as a returner.

                          

    NEGATIVES

    —Undersized at 5'10" and 190 pounds and is primarily a slot corner in the NFL.

    —Big slot receivers will body him for 10-yard completions all day long.

    —Uninterested run support player who will expose the edge far too easily.

    —No pop behind his pads and is a wrap-and-pray tackler.

    Better wide receiver and quarterback duos will manipulate his undisciplined eyes.

                             

    OVERALL

    Phillips is a ball hawk with the smooth hands and body control that you'd expect from a former receiver. He is able to seamlessly track the ball in the air and play through the hands of offensive players. He's undersized and only suited to play in the slot, but he has plus footwork and should be a developmental Day 3 selection. 

                              

    GRADE: 5.70 (Round 5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Cyrus Jones, New England Patriots

21. Quenton Meeks, Stanford

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    POSITIVES

    —Instinctual and bright player with the ability to recognize concepts well.

    —Ideal height and length at 6'2" with long arms (nearly 32 inches).

    —Has a solid, thick frame (205 lbs) and is comfortable playing with power at the line of scrimmage.

    —Mirrors shallow routes well from a press alignment and can break on the ball with timing and anticipation.

    —Willing to play the run as a boundary defender.

                                  

    NEGATIVES

    —Downfield speed is underwhelming and will be challenged.

    —Reactionary athleticism is average at best once he's opened up down the field.

    —Offers little positional flexibility and is limited to press-heavy schemes that run primarily zone coverage.

    —Anxious to press at the line and will see some balance issues when better receivers manipulate that enthusiasm.

    —Will struggle if routinely asked to lock up in man coverage with plus athletes.

                            

    OVERALL

    Meeks has excellent size and length that match up well with some of the big receivers in the NFL. He plays with toughness at the line of scrimmage and is willing to engage as a run defender. Meeks will have to land in a scheme that doesn't ask him to take speedsters one-on-one down the field, or he'll be exposed early and often. He's a mid-round pick who should have a shot to start with a little coaching and continued technical development.

                                                                                               

    GRADE: 5.75 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: David Amerson, Kansas City Chiefs

20. Holton Hill, Texas

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    POSITIVES

    —Height-weight-speed prospect at 6'1 ⅝", 196 pounds with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.

    —Excellent ball skills and instincts; sees and feels routes well and has the athleticism to adjust on the fly and play the ball.

    —Physical at the line of scrimmage and uses his 32-inch arms well to jam and redirect.

    —Has the speed and agility to make the most of turnovers and ran back three interceptions for touchdowns.

    —Aggressive breaking on the ball but has the length and speed to recover when he misses.

    —Strong and active with his hands in press coverage.

    —Scheme-versatile and could play in zone or man coverage.

                               

    NEGATIVES

    —Suspended for the remainder of the 2017 season after making nine starts and opted to declare for the draft.

    —Failed multiple drug tests throughout his time at Texas.

    —Still developing his footwork and has to trust his technique more.

    —One-year wonder whose instincts and awareness are below average but could be developed.

    —The current and previous coaching staffs at Texas will not vouch for him off the field.

                            

    OVERALL

    Holton Hill is a tough projection because his athleticism and play are impressive but there are off-field questions. If a team can draft him late and build a system of checks and balances to keep him on the right path, he could repay it with a huge return on investment.

                    

    GRADE: 5.80 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Trumaine Johnson, New York Jets

19. D.J. Reed, Kansas State

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    POSITIVES

    —Slot cornerback profile with excellent return skills added into the mix.

    —Athletic, fluid player in coverage who has some dog in his physicality.

    —Aggressive, Tasmanian devil type who flies all over the field; comes up hard against the run.

    —Coaches and scouts loved his work ethic, football IQ and confidence.

    —Quick in short areas and has the right athleticism to play in a slot or nickel role.

                            

    NEGATIVES

    —Position-specific player who will only be drafted to handle the slot and return game. Limited positional upside.

    —Doesn't have the length to press and alter the release of wide receivers.

    —Can be beaten up in man coverage by bigger, taller receivers.

    —Lack of long speed might keep him off the field in three-DB sets.

                  

    OVERALL

    D.J. Reed is fun to watch on film, but there are concerns about his size (5'9", 188 lbs) and speed (4.51-second 40-yard dash) that could push him down to a Day 3 spot. A team drafting specifically for slot or nickel duty with some return skills thrown in will love his on- and off-field tools.

                               

    GRADE: 5.80 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Mackensie Alexander, Minnesota Vikings

18. Nick Nelson, Wisconsin

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    POSITIVES

    —Active, instinctive corner who led the nation in pass breakups in 2017.

    —Good returner who can make an impact on punt team.

    —Fast when closing on the ball against the run or pass. Aggressive and balanced when making a play.

    —Instincts allow him to live around the ball without great size or speed. Smart player.

    —Is tough enough to get dirty on underneath routes; he'll jam and fight at the line and put a body on a receiver throughout the route.

                          

    NEGATIVES

    —Short-armed (30¾") with below-average speed (4.52-second 40-yard dash) that could translate to issues in man coverage. Might be a zone-only candidate.

    —Scouts said his pro day and combine performances cost him a round on their boards.

    —Suffered a torn meniscus during a private workout with a team.

    —Isn't a hitter. Flies at ball-carriers but doesn't secure tackles.

                      

    OVERALL

    The knee injury might push Nelson down to a late-Day 3 selection, but before that, he looked like a good nickel prospect with special teams value. He's now more of a redshirt pick, but he has a bright NFL future.

                       

    GRADE: 5.80 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Ryan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

17. Kevin Toliver II, LSU

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Has NFL-caliber length to land punches at the line of scrimmage from press alignment.

    —Strength to press and ruin a receiver's release and plan.

    —Can handle zone responsibilities and has experience playing man down the field.

    —Transition steps out of his backpedal are rapid and have little wasted motion.

    —Positioning as a run defender is solid and will create a new edge when needed.

                        

    NEGATIVES

    —Never carved out an unquestioned role at LSU and had multiple injuries.

    —Will have to answer questions about maturity and work ethic that LSU sources shared with us.

    —Handsy player who relies too much on contact down the field.

    —Underwhelming ball skills and will struggle to make field-flipping plays.

    —Finishing burst isn't as powerful as you'd like.

                   

    OVERALL

    Kevin Toliver II has the length and strength to play well from a press alignment before dropping into a zone. The off-field concerns with Tolliver, including multiple shoulder injuries and multiple suspensions, are enough to push him down teams' boards. He has the raw tools to develop into an NFL starter, but he has to show maturity and consistency or risk being an afterthought.

                           

    GRADE: 5.95 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Rashard Robinson, New York Jets

16. Parry Nickerson, Tulane

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    POSITIVES

    —Four-year starter with excellent speed (4.32-second 40-yard dash) that shows up on film as he drives on the ball.

    —Ball skills pop on film; high-points well and tracks the ball like a wide receiver over his shoulder.

    —Speed, length and instincts combine to make him good playing the ball.

    —Has the feet and hips to go through transitions and handle breaking routes.

    —Plays with loose, fluid movement.

                                

    NEGATIVES

    —Slight frame (5'10", 182 lbs) causes him to struggle to press and jam receivers; best in off coverage so he can use his speed as an asset.

    —Bites hard on double moves and is too aggressive driving on the ball at times.

    —Will get run off by bigger receivers.

    —High effort as a tackler but will bounce off ball-carriers.

                               

    OVERALL

    A sleeper at cornerback with the skills to potentially go higher than we ranked him, Parry Nickerson has speed and instincts that are eye-catching. There will be teams concerned about his small frame, but he'll be a great matchup in the slot.

                     

    GRADE: 5.99 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: D'Joun Smith, free agent

15. Tony Brown, Alabama

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    POSITIVES

    —Excellent all-around athlete with a solid frame (6'0", 199 lbs) and plus agility.

    —Ideal makeup for a nickel cornerback or safety with a stout frame and top-tier speed to chase underneath routes.

    —Great against the run; fearless coming downhill to attack ball-carriers. Wrap-up, stick tackler.

    —Ace special teams player.

    —Easy to coach and willing to take on new roles, per sources at Alabama.

                          

    NEGATIVES

    —Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none kind of player who may end up as a safety.

    —Athleticism didn't result in playmaking at Alabama.

    —Off-field issues: sent home from 2015 bowl game, suspended four games to start 2016 season.

    —Never mastered the technique of footwork and timing at the line of scrimmage. Won on speed and toughness.

                         

    OVERALL

    Tony Brown is the best run-defending cornerback in the class and will have exceptional value as a special teams player. He projects well as a third or fourth cornerback but might move to safety and carve out a big role in nickel packages.

                      

    GRADE: 5.99 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Quinten Rollins, Green Bay Packers

14. Tremon Smith, Central Arkansas

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Well-built, versatile athlete who also made an impact as a punt returner.

    —Notched 12 INTs in three years as a starter, dominating the lower level of competition.

    —Played straight man coverage and erased one side of the field at Central Arkansas.

    —Has the speed to run downfield with vertical receivers and the size (6'0", 190 lbs) to challenge on 50-50 balls.

    —Attacks when the ball is in the air.

                         

    NEGATIVES

    —Hasn't been challenged by top-tier athletes or players.

    —Super aggressive, which worked with his athleticism at the FCS level but will be exposed by better route-runners.

    —Long strider will struggle with transitions on breaking routes or shallow crossers.

    —Needs to learn timing and technique on hip turns and how to chop his feet.

                       

    OVERALL

    Tremon Smith looks the part and is an active, aggressive cornerback prospect, but he's raw in terms of coverage and awareness. A team willing to be patient could get a steal in the late rounds if it can tap into his skill set and teach him patience and technique. With how well he tested, Smith could go earlier than we project.

                        

    GRADE: 5.99 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Brandon Williams, Arizona Cardinals

13. JC Jackson, Maryland

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    POSITIVES

    —Physical at the line of scrimmage with a solid frame to bang in traffic.

    —Short-area quickness is ideal; takes short, choppy steps to shadow underneath routes.

    —Won't get rubbed away from his man in coverage; stays in range on crossing routes.

    —Plays the run with an aggressive mentality; wrap-up tackler.

    —Quick to read plays and drive on the ball when the play is in front of him.

                             

    NEGATIVES

    —Dismissed from Florida after being charged with four felonies related to an armed robbery; was found not guilty.

    —Short (5'9¾") with average arm length (31½") on a stocky frame.

    —Good speed but isn't explosive out of his stance; can struggle with catch-up speed.

    —Limited college experience and will need time to develop and learn.

    —Has to work on better locating the ball; not a threat for many interceptions (four in two years).

                                                

    OVERALL

    JC Jackson is an unfinished product but one teams will like as an option in the nickel. He's physical, tough and smart and could step into an early role with an NFL team. A lack of great speed and experience against top-tier competition are the biggest issues driving down his stock.

                                

    GRADE: 5.99 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Kayvon Webster, free agent

12. Isaac Yiadom, Boston College

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Uses 32 ¼-inch arms well to high-point passes down the field.

    —Physical player at the line of scrimmage with the ability to jam and identify the upfield hip of the receiver to remain in-phase after punch.

    —Physical at the catch point and will disrupt receivers.

    —Competed well at Senior Bowl, winning three straight one-on-one reps versus downfield fades.

    —Willing hitter who can be a solid run defender.

                             

    NEGATIVES

    —Smooth route-runners will leave him guessing and helpless.

    —Downfield speed is questionable on film.

    —Choppy backpedal that looks hurried and upright.

    —Slow to fire feet once he's recognized breaks at the top of routes.

    —Too often willing to get unnecessarily physical throughout routes instead of trusting his positioning and recovery speed.

                              

    OVERALL

    Isaac Yiadom had an impressive Senior Bowl week and answered some of the questions that surround his downfield speed. He has the length that teams are looking for in a boundary cornerback and plays receivers with toughness. He's a potential starter and first-year depth piece who would fit well in a press scheme that allows him to disrupt at the line and bail to a zone.

                      

    GRADE: 6.00 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Corey Webster, retired

11. Duke Dawson, Florida

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    POSITIVES

    —Above-average processing to diagnose route concepts in motion.

    —Willing to throw around compact frame in run support.

    —Can play boundary or slot in the NFL.

    —Solid footwork at the line of scrimmage to stay square and patient laterally and throughout his backpedal.

    —Good spatial awareness to run in-phase and play the ball at the catch point.

                         

    NEGATIVES

    —Deep speed is underwhelming; he'll struggle to match up man-on-man versus burners.

    —Tight-hipped player who doesn't show the smooth downfield strides to run with elite talent.

    —Handsy; will draw flags in the NFL against receivers who can sell it.

    —Instead of wrapping, dips his head into contact to be a bigger hitter than needed and will whiff.

    —Only 5'11", which causes concern when projecting how he'll challenge big-bodied receivers down the field.

                                                                  

    OVERALL

    Duke Dawson is an aggressive corner who likes to press and mirror at the line of scrimmage. He's best when disrupting releases early and slowing some of the downfield speed that can give him trouble. He has the awareness to play on the boundary or in the slot and should push for a backup and depth role early on.

                         

    GRADE: 6.00 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: D.J. Hayden, Jacksonville Jaguars

10. Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee

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    POSITIVES

    —A versatile defensive back who lined up in the box and as a nickel cornerback.

    —Good open-field tackler who is experienced blitzing.

    —Gets through traffic well against the run and when carrying receivers on underneath routes.

    —Has the length to affect routes with his hands and will get good position to fight the ball in the air.

    —Excellent timing and awareness on 50-50 balls.

                   

    NEGATIVES

    —Speed looked average on tape and only ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the combine; might move to safety.

    —Lacks explosive qualities. No twitch. No burst. Long speed only.

    —Doesn't have short, choppy strides to get through breaks and route changes.

    —Play strength was poor for his size. Doesn't jam with impact.

    —Already 23 years old.

                   

    OVERALL

    Poor testing at the combine may affect Rashaan Gaulden's draft stock, but he's solid if you view him through the lens of a slot cornerback who can also play safety. He has versatility and would make an immediate impact on special teams.

                            

    GRADE: 6.25 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

9. M.J. Stewart, North Carolina

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    POSITIVES

    —One of the best press cornerbacks in the class and bangs with his punch at the line.

    —Short but stocky and thick with the strength to redirect receivers.

    —Physical at the line of scrimmage and also excels as a tackler in the open field.

    —Plays with the awareness and instincts to be assignment versatile; can handle both zone and man duties.

    —Some scouts have suggested he'll move to safety in the NFL. Teams love his versatility.

                   

    NEGATIVES

    —Lacks ideal height (5'10⅞") to play outside cornerback and doesn't have the speed to run well in the slot (4.54-second 40-yard dash).

    —Short-area burst is average; not a twitchy guy and struggles some with hip tightness in transitions.

    —Will struggle to run with top receivers.

    —Doesn't have the height or vertical (35 inches) to compete with taller receivers.

                                

    OVERALL

    If you want a physical, tough cornerback and are OK with a lack of height and average speed, M.J. Stewart has the goods to come in and be an early starter in sub-packages. He might never project as an outside corner, but he has a ton of upside in the slot.

                        

    GRADE: 6.50 (Round 2-3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

8. Donte Jackson, LSU

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    POSITIVES

    —Was considered one of the fastest players in college football and ran a 2018-best 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

    —Excellent slot cornerback with the speed to stay in-phase against any receiver in the NFL.

    —Quickness is off the charts; easy and fluid in space and can flip his hips and run with no hesitation.

    —Has experience moving around the defensive backfield but projects best as a nickel.

    —Is feisty at the line of scrimmage and gets his hands on receivers well.

                     

    NEGATIVES

    —Seriously undersized at 5'10½", 178 pounds with a lack of play strength and only seven reps on the bench press.

    —Doesn't have the size to get off the turf and compete on 50-50 balls.

    —Size will make durability a concern; can he handle the physicality of the NFL?

                              

    OVERALL

    Don't be surprised if Donte Jackson is a top-40 pick. He's too fast, too fluid and has too much upside to fall far. Teams looking for a plug-and-play nickel cornerback who has some potential as a punt returner should be all over him.

                          

    GRADE: 6.75 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Adoree' Jackson, Tennessee Titans

7. Anthony Averett, Alabama

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Fast, fluid and game-tested in the SEC. Ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

    —Athletic player whose movements jump off the tape; super clean transitions and can run with anyone.

    —Has the twitch and burst to excel in short areas.

    —Smooth operator in transitions; can click and drive on the ball with nice closing speed.

    —Plus agility will allow him to hang with slot receivers in the pros.

               

    NEGATIVES

    —Undersized at 5'11 ⅛", 183 pounds with 30¼-inch arms and 8½-inch hands.

    —Play strength is lacking; he might need to play in off coverage as a slot cornerback.

    —Didn't show up on tape and doesn't have great ball skills. More likely to limit targets than pick off passes.

    —Can be a late reactor.

                        

    OVERALL

    Anthony Averett won't be for every team given his projection as a quick, athletic slot cornerback, but he will have exceptional value there. We see him as a Round 2 pick if drafted into the right system that will take advantage of his tools.

                           

    GRADE: 6.80 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Aaron Colvin, Houston Texans

6. Carlton Davis, Auburn

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    POSITIVES

    —Three-year starter who is physical at the line and when coming downhill as a tackler.

    —Excels at the line of scrimmage where he can use his length (32 ¾") and size (6'1", 206 lbs) to jam.

    —Ideal fit in a scheme like that of Jacksonville, Seattle or San Francisco.

    —Plays the ball well in the air and gets good position on 50/50 passes to use his size and length to win.

    —Strong enough to press receivers off their route path.

    —Breaks on the ball fast and sees it well enough to flip the field with interceptions.

    —Battle-tested in the SEC.

    —NFL-ready.

       

    NEGATIVES

    —Might be too handsy and grabby in coverage; has to learn to cover hands-free.

    —Can be stiff in transitions; when asked to flip his hips and fly he's a little tight.

    —Ran just a 4.53-second 40 at the combine and only jumped 34 inches in the vertical.

    —Been banged up in college with injuries costing him time as a sophomore and junior.

        

    OVERALL

    Carlton Davis didn't run well enough to put himself into the conversation as a top-end first-rounder, but as a late first or early second-round pick he has the tools to become a very good starter in a scheme that'll let him play up on the line.

       

    GRADE: 6.85 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals

5. Mike Hughes, UCF

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    POSITIVES

    —Dominated at UCF in 2017 as a cornerback and return man with excellent speed and toughness.

    —Very strong player on the field and in drills. Repped out 20 times in the bench press.

    —Scary good return man who can impact the game as a punt and kickoff returner.

    —Handles short-area quickness well and is strong enough to get physical at the line to redirect routes.

    —Tough dude who won't back down from any challenge.

    —Easy athleticism shows him moving well in space both as a corner and return man.

       

    NEGATIVES

    —Originally signed at North Carolina but was dismissed after a sexual assault allegation that did not yield criminal charges; landed at Garden City Community College before playing one season at UCF.

    —Lacks experience and played just one season against American Athletic Conference talent.

    —Height is less than ideal and could put him in the slot (5'10").

    —Speed wasn't great at the combine (4.53-second 40) and didn't impress in drills with stiff hips.

       

    OVERALL

    If NFL teams are OK with Mike Hughes' background, he could be a first-rounder and one of the top three cornerbacks drafted. There's also the chance he sees a small slide on draft day because of those questions. On the field he's dynamic as a returner and cornerback with Day 1 potential.

       

    GRADE: 6.99 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Tre'Davious White, Buffalo Bills

4. Isaiah Oliver, Colorado

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    POSITIVES

    —Good-sized cornerback at 6'0", 201 pounds with smooth movement skills and clean transitions.

    —Versatile athlete who competed as a decathlete.

    —Fit and hips are impressive. Can turn and run with outside receivers. Breaks on the ball well.

    —Classic press cornerback who uses his length well at the line of scrimmage. Arm length is good (33 ½").

    —Ideal fit in a scheme that lets him play at the line of scrimmage where his length, toughness and hips allow him to match up in man coverage.

       

    NEGATIVES

    —Top-end speed is questioned by scouts; ran a 4.50 at the combine.

    —Struggles in off coverage to time his turns.

    —Could stand to play with better strength at the line of scrimmage.

       

    OVERALL

    In a draft class with a lot of smaller cornerbacks, Isaiah Oliver stands out as a big cornerback who can run well enough to handle a press-scheme assignment. Oliver has a legitimate shot to hear his name called at the end of Round 1.

       

    GRADE: 7.00 (Round 1)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Jaire Alexander, Louisville

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    POSITIVES

    —Feisty, aggressive cornerback who tested well at the combine after an injury-plagued 2017.

    —Picked off five passes in 2016 when healthy.

    —Experience and impact as a punt returner.

    —Has the quick feet to shadow underneath routes; he’s agile enough to handle slot receivers.

    —Very tough at the line of scrimmage; rocks back receivers with a strong jam.

    —Instinctive and plays the ball well when breaking on underneath routes.

    —Attacks the ball and is good at disrupting catches.

       

    NEGATIVES

    —Knee and hand injuries limited his availability as a junior in 2017; injuries with a small frame will raise durability questions.

    —Lack of height (5'10") and length make scouts think he’s more of a slot corner than an outside threat.

    —Ran faster at the combine than his tape showed; catch-up speed was average on tape.

       

    OVERALL

    Jaire Alexander’s 2016 tape looks like that of a first-rounder and immediate starter, but there are questions over his ability to stay healthy. If he can get on the field and stay there, Alexander has the toughness and quickness to handle playing the slot against NFL talent.

       

    GRADE: 7.00 (Round 1)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Vernon Hargreaves, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2. Josh Jackson, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    POSITIVES

    —Grabbed 8 INTs in 2017 (3 against Ohio State) and has the best ball skills of any cornerback in the class.

    —Total package of size, length, instincts, technique and awareness. Very competitive.

    —Excelled in zone coverage but has the body to match up in man situations at the line of scrimmage or in off coverage.

    —Feet are balanced and quick in red-zone situations. Can mirror receivers and use his body to shield them from the ball.

    —Poised and confident. Had his best games in the biggest moments.

    —Has the length and vertical jump to challenge on 50/50 balls.

    —Very aware. Plays the ball well in the air.

    —Day 1 starter who has developed and well-coached technique.

       

    NEGATIVES

    —Ran a poor 40 time (4.56) at the combine and saw his stock drop.

    —One-year starter.

    —Average tackler.

       

    OVERALL

    Josh Jackson might have been a top-12 pick before his average time at the combine. He still grades out as a top-20 player on film with his awareness, size and ball skills making him a likely starter as a rookie playing outside cornerback. He should still hear his name called somewhere in the second half of Round 1.

       

    GRADE: 7.05 (Round 1)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

1. Denzel Ward, Ohio State

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    POSITIVES

    —Fast, physical, aggressive cornerback with excellent instincts.

    —Excellent timing when playing the ball in the air. Puts himself into position to knock the ball out when he can't outjump receivers.

    —Explosive speed with a 4.32-second time in the 40-yard dash; great vertical (39") allows him to compete with bigger receivers.

    —Agility is impressive in short areas. Plays with great balance.

    —Timing and awareness allow him to break on the ball easily.

    —Forceful tackler who comes downhill and looks to make contact.

    —Footwork is special with balance and light, choppy moves to change direction and work underneath routes.

    —NFL receivers won't be able to beat him with athleticism.

       

    NEGATIVES

    —Undersized at 5'11", 183 pounds. Might be viewed as a slot-only cornerback.

    —Arm length is below-average at 31 ¼ inches. 

    —Size limitations are the only on-field issue and showed up against Indiana's Simmie Cobbs.

       

    OVERALL

    Denzel Ward won't wow you with Patrick Peterson-like size, but he's so fast, fluid and instinctive that NFL scouts can't stay away from his tape. Ward is a lock to be the first cornerback drafted and has a chance to be a top-10 selection.

       

    GRADE: 7.15 (Top 10 pick)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos