Jump to content

Rating the Corners


Recommended Posts

I made reference in another thread to the deep talent pool available at cornerback in this draft. However every prospect seems to come with risk attached too. There are no slam dunks.


There's been a lot of talk about corners on this board as several mocks have had us taking a CB. Several posters have also expressed a desire to nab one on the first day. Here's my observations of the top prospects in the draft based on scouting reports:


In no particular order:


Jimmy Williams - Senior CB who got extensive playing time at Virginia Tech. Even spent some playing time in his sophomore year at Free Safety. Some Scouts feel he's better suited at that position but with his fine size and speed (6'2", 210 lbs.) the team drafting him is almost obligated to at least first try him on the island. Williams has proven himself adept at man and zone coverage. He's solid in run support, showing a knack to shed blockers and fill holes. He plays as physical as his size and delivers strong hits in both the run and pass game. He's got fine closing speed which helps him recover. He flashed his all around game last season when he held future blue chip WR Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech to just one catch. He gets a solid jam at the LOS and uses his hands exceedingly well in that capacity. He shows all the skills necessary to excel in bump and run.


He needs better discipline. He got kicked out of the ACC Championship game. He's also shown signs of immaturity to the dismay of his Coaches. Coaches have criticized him for freelancing at times. He's shown a tendency to play up and down to the level of competition. He needs to improve his read and react skill in zone coverage. He's sometimes late to make his break. He's slightly stiff in the hips, which reduces his speed coming out of breaks.



Ashton Youboty - Junior CB who started his final 2 seasons for the Buckeyes. Excellent size/speed ratio (6', 190 lbs. 4.45 forty). Has improved his football intelligence as he's gained experience. Teams threw away from his frequently during his final season. Plays a solid bump and run which goes along with his fine physical game. Very good in run support as well as open field tackling. Matches up better with big receivers where his size and strength grade out well. Excellent jump ball skills. Has displayed good soft hands. Had an interception, 4 PBU's and 3 tackles as a sophomore against Braylon Edwards in a big win over Michigan.


Michigan game elevated his stock but may have inflated his ego. Showed poor technique in the games following it and overreacted frequently to pump fakes. Also struggled a bit with smaller receivers. He was a bit erratic at times in '05 and bounced back and forth between fine execution and giving up big plays.



Antonio Cromartie - Rare movement skills for a 6'2" corner. Performs agility drills better than 180 lb speedsters (Cromartie is 205 lbs.). Can match up with any receiver in the game. Hip flexibility is incredible for a player of his size. Terrific technique throughout his backpedal, turn, and pursuit. Anticipates well. Amazing ball skills. Frank Coyle has him rated, not just as the best corner in the draft, but the best Defensive Back overall, ahead of Texas's Michael Huff. Coyle also called him the best cover corner to come out of FSU since Deion Sanders and the best prospect at the position in the last 2 decades! Coyle admittedly has him ranked higher than most draftniks but says he's got tremendous upside and the potential to be the best cornerback in the game. Easily a top 10 prospect!


Everybody is aware that Cromartie is coming off a knee injury that derailed his Junior season. Guess how many starts he's had for the Seminoles vaunted defense? 1 ... that's right ... 1 total start in his college career. Talk about your risk/reward pick! Cromartie could still stand some improvement in many aspects of zone coverage. He's awfully raw which is to be expected due to the diminished playing time. He's not as alert and instinctive in recognizing routes and his decision making could be better. He's not a physical player and similar to Deion, he's a drag down tackler, not a hitter.



Tye Hill - Blazing speed is the hallmark of his game. He was a two sport All-American in both football and track. His sprinter's speed allows him to stick with receivers in the deep game and close quickly on balls in the air. His instincts are adequate. He's got good flex in his hips allowing him to turn and stick with wideouts. Despite his size (5'10", 185 lbs.) he's durable and isn't afraid to help in run support.


His backpedal needs work. He tends to bail way too frequently. He needs to demonstrate more consistency in run support, especially at the LOS. He tends to arm tackle and is shed far too easily. Despite excellent PBU number's he's got alarmingly bad hands. He only totaled 5 interceptions in his college career. He's much better in man coverage and needs refinement in zone. He tends to rely too much on his speed and seems delayed in his reads.




Kelly Jennings - Average size with excellent speed (5'11", 175 lbs., 4.45 forty). Has the ability to contribute early in his career. Well rounded skill set with few glaring weaknesses. Very flexible hips and excellent agility. Top line change of direction skills make him a terror in man coverage. Has the best footwork of any corner in the class. Breaks quickly on the ball in the air. Graded out high versus top competition. Quick low backpedal that allows him to plant and drive with no loss of speed and solid drive. Reads routes well and rarely gets caught gambling. Quick study and a high character player, something not always attributed to Hurricanes players. Reliable hands.


Not as physical as you'd like in his jam, press and run support. Is not a big hitter and doesn't seek contact. Needs to improve his physical play. Far too many tackle attempts are the leg cut variety. Failed to finish Senior Bowl week with tight hamstring. Hammy problem flared up again at the combine. Although Jennings posted solid numbers at Miami's Pro Day.




Jonathan Joseph - Athletic Junior coming off a short stay in the SEC. Graded out well against fine talent in the conference. Explosive speed (4.4) as well as fine size - 5'11", 195 lbs. Very smooth backpedal. Fluid in his turns. Good speed coming out of transition. Has demonstrated the ability to stick with the receiver throughout the route. Covers the deep route well and is adept at reacting to the ball in flight. Excellent recovery time combined with outstanding range. Soft hands and a proven interceptor. Ranked as one of the top JUCO players in the nation before transferring to South Carolina. Has as much upside as any prospect at the position with the triangle numbers to match.


Played in just 14 games at the D-1 level. Has a tendency to get overaggressive and try to make the big play. One scout termed him "reckless". He is aware and closes quickly in zone coverage but has limited experience in the scheme and will likely face a steep learning curve in the pros.


Here's how I see them in the following categories:

Coverage Abilities: Best - Cromartie, Worst - Hill

Run Support: Best - Jimmy Williams, Worst - Cromartie

Playmaking Skills: Best - Cromartie, Worst - Hill

Speed: Best - Hill, Worst - Williams

Intangibles - Jennings

Ability to Perform Immediately: Best - Williams, Worst - Joseph.


How Do I rank em?


1. Cromartie - I'm not nearly as sold on him as Coyle but even if he's 75% of the player he predicts, the team drafting him will have struck gold. I don't think you can say things like Best CB prospect of the past 2 decades when the guy has just one start but you can't ignore the tremendous athletic ability in the larger physical package.


2. Ashton Youboty - He didn't get a BEST ranking in any category for me but he's consistently solid across the board. His biggest weakness at this point might be the lack of a senior season. He's shown that there really isn't anything he can't do, it's just now a case of doing everything more consistently. Playing time realistically should cure all his warts.


3. Jimmy Williams - I'm banking on him maturing and fulfilling his potential. Unlike Cromartie and his injury and Youboty's youth, Williams biggest risk seems to be his brain. If he can concentrate on his game and he gets the backing of an astute coaching staff he'll make a team very happy.


4. Jonathan Joseph - Patience is the key. You can't expect Joseph to come in and instantly perform as a shutdown corner. Be prepared for a season's worth of mistakes before he realizes his potential. However, once he's cut his teeth he may end up as the best of the group.


5. Kelly Jennings - I love the intangibles. He's an easy guy to root for. However his small frame (175 lbs. ) makes him a major injury threat. He hasn't been asked to put on weight which he'll need to do at the next level to remain healthy. Can he retain his speed and agility with added muscle? It remains to be seen. I just think he's an awfully big risk in the first 75 picks.


6. Tye Hill - One of these cornerbacks has to be a bust right? My money's on Hill. Everything I've seen and read leads me to the conclusion that he's a track star playing football. Speed does kill and it also shows up every Sunday. But without proper technique even the most athletic prospect will flounder. Hill has already shown he'll never be a physical tackler. He's also displayed shockingly bad hands. If he can't tackle and he can't intercept, all that's left is coverage ability and there's more to that than simple speed. Hill is my player to avoid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are only 2 things I would have to disagree with you on, the first being I think that Jimmy Williams is overrated in run support. I've seen him play in quite a few games, and for a man his size, he seems to be taking more punishment than giving. I would not call him a big hitter at all. And I don't think Tye Hill will be a bust by any means. If anything, I think he can be someone who can be the more consistent CB's with his game. I don't think he'll be spectaular, but I think his overall technique is better than advertised.


Otherwise, I think your spot on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The games I saw Williams in were primarily in the early part of the season. In those contests he looked every bit as good as his reputation. I will agree that in today's NFL I would be nervous taking a high round pick on player who might lack intelligence. Williams doesn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed. I really think today's game has become so complex, especially at certain positions that it takes more than just athletic ability. Although in Williams defense his football IQ was strong enbough to play two positions in college so maybe I'm being a bit harsh on him. I still beleive, due to his extensive playing time, that he's in the best position to contribute immediately.


As for Hill, well, there's no way all of these guys fulfill their potential. From what I've seen of Hill, he just seems more athlete than football player.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice post Hound.


I think you might be to high on Youboty, actually you ranked him #2, IMO thats way too high for Youboty. Although Youboty seems like a pretty safe pick, he's a 'jack of all trades master of none' type of guy but he does get lazy at times. He doesnt deserve the #2 ranking because I dont think he is much more then a number 2 corner. I like Joseph, Marshall, and Jennings better then Youboty. I do have Hill ranked better then Youboty, I even have Griffen ranked better. I think Williams would make a better pro safety but if I had to rank him, I would have him better then Youboty. Its not because I dont like Youboty but he is being a bit overrated because of the players who performed well recently as CB for Ohio St. Also some people think he is still a bit raw, honestly I think he has almost reached the max of his potential. Even if I would give him that "raw" grade Joseph and Marshall are both better "raw" corners.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went back and forth on who I liked better Youboty or Williams but Williams off and on focus scared me off a bit. I agree that there likely isn't any one area where Youboty ranks tops in this class but I don't think that's necessarily a damnation of his skills. He really seems pretty solid acorss the board. I'll also agree that Youboty maybe more than any other corner has the widest range of reviews from the critics. That alone should likely scare me more but I guess I'm on the side of the fence that endorses him. Tye Hill is the guy I steer clear of. You need more than just speed to play corner in the NFL and I'm not sure Hill has it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...