Class Overview: This is a solid class of cornerbacks. Five of the past six drafts have had at least four cornerbacks selected in the first round. That may be the only weakness of this class, since it only looks like three sure-fire first round candidates. But it would not be a total surprise if another corner managed to sneak into the late first. The strength in this class lies in the middle rounds. This class lacks a number of elite prospects, but there should be still a lot of quality cornerbacks selected in the middle rounds. Quality still should be able to be found into the fifth round.
Pros: Has great athleticism and great speed...Has good ball skills and functional in run support...Excellent kick and punt returner.
Cons: Not very physical...Has gotten by more from speed and still could use some polish in man coverage.
NFL Forecast: Newman is some's eyes is the most NFL ready cornerback in the league. I would disagree, but he is up there. Newman has great numbers and backs it up with his play on the field. He is an excellent cornerback, but he is not all that polished, but he should be quickly. Newman has good man skills, but he mostly gets by because of his great speed, not because he has great hips and instincts. He won't be beat often, but his learning curve is pretty low, since it is a matter of him working on his technique.
NFL Comparison: Duane Starks, Cardinals.
Value: Newman is definitely a Top 10 prospect, and some teams could justify taking him in the Top 5 picks.
Pros: Good speed and man cover skills...Good ball skills and solid in run support...Can contribute on punt returns.
Cons: Could be more physical...Does not excel in one particular area.
NFL Forecast: Trufant I believe is the most NFL ready cornerback in this class. He's the best overall prospect, and he offers consistent cover skills. Trufant is a little more physical than Newman, but not by much. I believe Trufant is the better cover man than Newman in terms of skill and technique right now, but Trufant lacks the huge upside that Newman has because he is not as fast or athletic.
NFL Comparison: Champ Bailey, Redskins.
Value: Trufant is worth a Top 10 selection also.
Pros: Good size and athleticism...Good strength and has the range to play safety.
Cons: Lacks top cover skills...lacks experience.
NFL Forecast: Woolfork is a converted wide receiver. 2002 was his first season as a full-time starting corner, and he played well. He had a few lapses, but that is to come with the territory. Unlike other corners, Woolfork is probably two or three seasons away from starting, but he has great upside. He shows a basic ability in man coverage and should be solid nickel back for the first few years of on-the-job training.
NFL Comparison: Willie Middlebrooks, Broncos.
Value: Woolfork merits a mid-to-late first round pick. Probably somewhere between picks No. 20 and 25.
Pros: Shows good potential as shutdown corner...Good ball skills.
Cons: Is not very physical and can be a liability in run support...Lacks consistency.
NFL Forecast: Basically Davis is an excellent college corner, but has a bit of a learning curve going into the pros. Davis has excellent upside, but needs to work on his consistency. He shies a bit too much away from contact which drops him some. Davis should be a starter by Year 3 of his NFL career. He has slipped some this off-season for some less than desirable workouts.
NFL Comparison: Dexter McCleon, Chiefs.
Value: Davis at one time was looking at the early 2nd round, but with his lacking workouts, he has slipped to make him a late 2nd/early 3rd round prospect.
Pros: Great size and athleticism...Works best in press coverage.
Cons: Lacks quickness and looks stiff at times...Not very physical for size.
NFL Forecast: Weathersby has potential to be good in man coverage, since he has a good combo of size and speed. But the team that drafts Weathersby should be planning on using a lot of press coverage, so his NFL transition can be as smooth as possible. He has great size, but lacks strength so he does not overpower wide receivers. He is not great in run support, although functional, so he has little future at safety. Despite his recorded 40 time, he lacks great catch-up speed on the field. He is basically a project, especially for a team that is attempting to make him a shutdown guy in man coverage.
NFL Comparison: Denard Walker, Vikings.
Value: For a team that uses a lot of press coverage, Weathersby would be worth an early 2nd round pick, but otherwise is a late 2nd/early 3rd round prospect.
Pros: Solid man cover skills...Solid in run support...Excellent on special teams both in coverage and on kick returns.
Cons: Lacks size and speed...Gets beat deep.
NFL Forecast: Cox would be the perfect corner for a team like Tampa Bay that uses a lot of Cover-2, because Cox gets beat frequently by quicker deep threat wideouts. But he has solid man cover skills and one of the premier guys in the class in that category. Is a true shutdown guy, but needs safety help deep. Lacks size, but solid in run support although he hits more than tackles. He is very NFL ready since immediately he can slide in and be an excellent nickel back, but depending on the personnel around him will determine how and if he becomes a starter.
NFL Comparison: Ronde Barber, Bucs.
Value: Depending on the defensive scheme, he could merit a late 2nd round pick, but for the most part is an early 3rd round pick.
Pros: Good speed...abilities on returns...solid man cover skills.
Cons: Needs more seasoning...Lacks size.
NFL Forecast: Elpheage has solid upside as a cover man with good speed although he's not there yet. He should have stayed one more year at Tulane, in order to refine his abilities. He has a bright future as a punt returner in the pros. He shows solid potential in every aspect of being a tight man coverer, but he's not completely evolved yet. He's more a wait and see guy, but at the very least should be a solid nickel back in the pros.
NFL Comparison: Deltha O'Neal, Broncos.
Value: Elpheage's upside puts him as a solid fourth round prospect.
Pros: Solid man cover skills...consistent.
Cons: Lacks size, speed, and quickness.
NFL Forecast: Manning is at a disadvantage that the other prospects are not, since Manning is not as fast. This will hurt his stock since teams expect quick undersized cornerbacks. Manning is not as flashy as the other guys, as he does not get beat too much, and usually sticks tight to his man. But it is unknown if Manning can take the next step and become a shutdown corner. Manning probably won't be a top cornerback, but should be a decent complementary starter. Manning is mostly average, but has turned in some solid seasons during his college career.
NFL Comparison: Terry Cousin, Panthers.
Value: Manning is not flashy, but should instantly upgrade a secondary, so he gets a fourth round grade.
Pros: Great size and strength...solid cover skills...good in press coverage...contributor in run support.
Cons: Lacks quickness and looks a little stiff.
NFL Forecast: Lehan has good upside since he has good size and upside as a man coverer. Lehan plays best in press coverage, and it would benefit him a lot to play in a scheme that promotes that. He lacks great quickness, which could be a problem against speedier wide receivers. But Lehan gives you a good matchup. Right now, he's only a nickel back that looks like a solid match-up guy. But he does show the potential to be a solid No. 2 guy in the future.
NFL Comparison: Walt Harris, Colts.
Value: Lehan has good upside, but is a little too raw to be selected before the fifth round.
Pros: Good speed and ability in run support...Very good punt returner.
Cons: Only average cover man.
NFL Forecast: Groce like most Cornhusker corners shows great upside, but because most of his collegiate career has been devoted to stopping the run, then a red flag must be raised. Groce shows great upside, but like many past Cornhusker corners the signs are there he will only be a nickel guy at best. Shows the skills you want in a potential solid starting cornerback with good strength and speed, but is only average man coverer at this point. Lacks technique as a shutdown guy.
NFL Comparison: Daylon McCutcheon, Browns
Value: Groce looks like an excellent guy to upgrade the nickel position, but not a whole lot more. That's why he is only a fifth rounder.
Pros: Decent man skills and in run support.
Cons: Average size and speed.
NFL Forecast: Banks has his good days and bad ones. He was a competent college corner who could match up against the opposing team's top wideout, but it was up in the air if he would shut him down. Banks shows some ability as a shutdown corner, but for the most part is only an average man coverer. He has good potential as a nickel back, but otherwise there is not a whole lot to Banks. He does not excel anywhere. At this point last year, Banks looked like one of this upcoming year's better corners, but had an average senior campaign.
NFL Comparison: Dwayne Goodrich, Cowboys.
Value: Because Banks is looking mostly like a reserve at this point, he's a borderline fifth and possible early sixth round prospect.
Pros: Good size and strength combo...Good in run support.
Cons: Lacks speed and quickness and looks stiff.
NFL Forecast: Dixon has decent pro prospects, but I would be quite surprised if he ever became a competent starter. He looks exclusively like a nickel back. Might be able to make some strides in a scheme that features more press coverage than anything, although Dixon has not shown a great knack for that aspect of coverage. The team that drafts Dixon basically be expecting him only to upgrade the nickel spot, and nothing much more.
NFL Comparison: Ken Irvin, Vikings.
Value: Because Dixon has some upside, but not a whole lot of ability, he is only a sixth round prospect.