Eagles Draft: Top-25 Cornerback Rankings

The NFL Draft is less than three days away and the Eagles are slated to have four picks over the first two nights (12, 37, 70, 83 overall), and eleven selections overall.

While plenty of lip will be paid to drafting the “best player available,” we know the Eagles have a real need at cornerback, and we can safely expect them to spend multiple picks at the position. With that, here’s our ranking of the top-25 CB prospects in this draft class.

1. Patrick Surtain, Alabama

Since mid-March Surtain has generally been considered the consensus CB1 in this class, and while I don’t think it’s crazy to rank one of a few other prospects higher than him, the combination of an exceptionally high-floor and still decently high-ceiling makes him an iron-clad CB1 in most classes (not just this one).

Surtain comes from an NFL bloodline and looks every bit of it. His size (6’2” 208 lbs), length, athleticism, and overall physicality are elite for a corner, and strong technique—particularly in press-man coverage—puts his stock over the top. The one knock compared to other top CB prospects is a lack of top-end speed, but a 4.42-40 at his pro day should satisfy NFL scouts. This is a blue-chip prospect who should start in a man-heavy scheme and excel from day one.

Click here for our full prospect profile on Surtain.

2. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

I had Farley pegged as my CB1 for a while but couldn’t continue to endorse that after a mid-March back procedure erased most of his pre-draft process, and puts him behind the eight-ball in regard to offseason workouts and training camp.

With that said, I’ll continue to describe Farley the same way I did when I originally profiled him:

“Despite being new to his position, Farley is as natural as they come and has every tool a corner could need. He pairs plus size, length, speed, and athleticism with quiet feet, fluid hips, and instinctive mirroring skills to stick in man coverage; more reps will allow him to get a better feel for zone, but his ball skills are apparent on tape. Tackling fundamentals will need to be refined, but he’s physical and willing in this regard. A playmaker through and through, Farley has it all.”

Click here for our full prospect profile on Farley.

3. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

The son of former Pro Bowl wideout Joe Horn, Jaycee measures a shade over 6’0” with a 6’5” wingspan and 205 lbs of muscle that allows him to play as big and physical as anyone in this class. A 133 inch broad jump and 41.5 inch vert speak to his explosiveness, and a 4.39-40 cemented his projection as a potential lockdown corner at the next level.

The tools are elite, but my gripe with Horn is that he’s not a universal prospect—he‘ll need to be deployed in specific ways to maximize his value. Press-heavy teams should be drooling at this sort of skillset, but average click-and-close traits (foot speed, reaction time) and some tightness in his movement limit his ability in off-coverage. He’s obviously disruptive at the point of catch, but I don’t see the plus zone traits that others do—though he could sharpen with reps. Additionally, despite impressive strength/size Horn is a real red-flag defending the run, having missed over a quarter of his tackles in college (something he’ll definitely need to clean up as a pro).

Click here for out full prospect profile on Horn.

4. Greg Newsome, Northwestern

Newsome is quietly a consensus top-5 CB in this class. The first-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-American corner is a plus athlete who pairs good length (6’1” w/ 6’2” wing) with impressive speed (4.38-40), quick feet, and sound technique. Through six games in 2020 he allowed just 93 total receiving yards, and forced the lowest completion percentage against single coverage of anyone in the class (10.5%).

Newsome has all the making of a lockdown corner in the NFL—the length, recovery speed, mirroring-ability, and required physicality at the LOS is all there—but health (never played a full season) and hand discipline (he needs to be less grabby) are definite concerns that could cap his ceiling. With that said, scheme versatility and plus run defense make Newsome the sort of complete package that rarely slips out of the first round.

5. Paulson Adebo, Stanford

Adebo’s decision to sit out the 2020 season hurt his stock more than most prospects, but that shouldn’t dim the shine of one of the more complete prospects in the class. He isn’t getting a ton of press in the pre-draft process, but he was one of the top defensive backs in college football in 2018 & 2019 and his combination of size and skill is pro ready.

At 6’1” 198 he has the desired size and length that teams are looking for, and he packs a strong, high-cut frame that’s ideal for his position. He’s quick, fluid, and while he doesn’t have elite speed (4.42-40), he’s a quick-processor, instinctive, and possesses top-notch ball skills. He does have the tools to win in press-man, but he’ll be best served in zone schemes that allow him to take advantage of a high IQ and ball-hawking traits.

6. Tyson Campbell, Georgia

Campbell has some some of the most tanltilizing tools in the class—plus-size, length, speed, twitch, & fluidity—though despite him being a three-year starter at Georgia his film leaves more to be desired. He’s a work-in-progress from a technical standpoint, and while his seemingly lab-made tools and athletic traits will likely make him a late-first round draft pick, he got beat in coverage in the SEC too many times for me to be truly sold on him as a high-end prospect.

Nonetheless, at 6’3” with sub-4.4 speed and quick feet it’s suffice to say they just don’t make them like Campbell very often. An athletic profile like this almost always overwhelms it’s way to the first-round, and I don’t think Campbell will be the exception.

7. Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

Melifonwu is the younger brother of 2017 second round pick Obi (whom hasn’t played an NFL snap since 2018). Despite his brother‘s status as a “bust,” Ifeatu is considered a high-ceiling, “toolsy” prospect who pairs elite size (6’2” 210 lbs w/ a 6’6.5” wingspan) with plus athleticism and fluid change-of-direction skills to enamor scouts.

In terms of checking boxes from a physical/athletic standpoint, Melifonwu is easily the most impressive prospect in the class next to Farley and Campbell. He profiles well for a number of schemes/play-styles, and while he’s developmental in terms of unlocking his high-end potential, the fundamentals are strong enough to start from day one.

8. Aaron Robinson, UCF

After starting his career at Alabama, Robinson transferred to UCF where he logged two productive seasons as a starter. Though his stock certainly varies depending on the evaluator, a standout performance in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl likely convinced enough scouts of his mettle at the position.

Robinson is a touch under six-foot at 5’11.5” 195 lbs., but he’s every bit the physical prospect of the previous seven names listed. He’s at his best in press coverage where he can use strength/long arms to disrupt routes at the LOS, though he’s equally adept in off-coverage as well. Overall, he’s a high-end, fluid athlete with quick-feet and a natural mirroring ability that should allow him to excel (mainly) in man coverage from day one. Some scouts will knock him for his height (suggesting a move to nickel) but that’s a lazy assessment—Robinson can stick and thrive on the outside in the NFL. To boot, he’s as strong a tackler as any corner prospect in this class.

9. Eric Stokes, Georgia

Stokes played opposite Campbell in his time at UGA and offered a little more speed to his size. With blazing 4.3 speed and excellent short-area quickness it’s easy to see the man-coverage traits in Stokes—and he has the height to hang on the outside at 6’1”—but the knock on him comes with lacking play strength. Evaluators fear that Stokes will get bullied at the LOS and at the point of catch in the NFL, and he’s a guarantee to get washed away in run defense. Unless he can develop better chops in zone coverage he may be better suited for sub-package roles at the next level.

10. Tay Gowan, UCF

Gowan checks all the boxes from a physical standpoint: size, speed, loose athleticism; but he’ll need to play more football to iron out technical deficiencies and fully develop as a processor in zone coverage—where he shows impressive ability. There are a number of corners in this class who profile similar to Gowan from a schematic standpoint—possessing the length/strength to threaten in press coverage at the LOS, and the size/ball-skills to sit back in zone and attack the catch-point. Of the prospects who fit that profile and haven’t been mentioned already, Gowan happens to be the most impressive athlete remaining.

Rankings 11-25:

11. Asante Samuel Jr., FSU

12. Trill Williams, Syracuse

13. Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota

14. Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky

15. Marco Wilson, Florida

16. Ambry Thomas, Michigan

17. Isreal Mukuamu, South Carolina

18. Elijah Molden, Washington

19. Olaijah Griffin, USC

20. Keith Taylor, Washington

21. Rodarius Williams, Ok. State

22. Camryn Bynum, Cal

23. Tre Norwood, Oklahoma

24. Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas

25. Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon

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