NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Top Cornerback Prospects

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Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kyle Fuller (17) celebrates with safety Kyshoen Jarrett (34). Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports


Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert (4). Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: 6-0, 202 (4.37)

Gilbert was a big-time playmaker at Oklahoma State last season, recording seven interceptions and returning two of those picks for touchdowns.

Gilbert is an excellent athlete who knows how to blanket receivers and make a play on the ball. He’s a shutdown corner with a complete game. He’s not only great in coverage, but he’s also a solid tackler and can get physical against the run.

Gilbert possesses all of the tools to be an elite defensive back in the NFL.

(Draft Projection: Top-15)

Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31). Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: 5-11, 199 (4.51)

Dennard is a physical shutdown corner who can shadow receivers all over the field. He excels in press matched up against the opponent’s top receiver, which is a unique skill valuable in the NFL.

Dennard does lack top-end speed, which could hurt him in sticking with speedy receivers downfield at the next level. However, his physical nature as a defensive back and his ability to stick stride-for-stride with receivers in and out of breaks makes him one of the better cover corners in the draft.

(Draft Projection: First Round)

Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kyle Fuller (17). Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Images

3. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: 6-0, 190 (4.49)

Fuller is a tough corner with great instincts who can contribute immediately in the NFL at the nickel spot. Fuller plays faster than he times and is an excellent read and react defensive back, making him an ideal fit in a zone-heavy scheme.

Fuller plays physical against the run, is a sound tackler, and can make plays up near the line of scrimmage. He also has experience at linebacker in nickel packages in Virginia Tech’s defense, which show’s his ability in the box.

Fuller could be an option at safety, but he does have the athleticism and cover skills to be a top-end corner in the NFL.

(Draft Projection: First Round)

TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Jason Verrett (2). Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jason Verrett, TCU: 5-9, 189 (4.38)

Verrett is an explosive athlete who plays with great instincts. He had a monster season in 2012, recording 63 tackles, 16 pass breakups, and six interceptions, demonstrating his ability to be an impact player.

After suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee, Verrett’s production dropped off in 2013 (39 tackles, 14 pass breakups, 2 interceptions). A significant injury history and a size concerns have hurt Verrett’s draft stock.

Having said this, his elite athleticism allows him to stick with receivers and his ability to make plays makes him a first round prospect.

(Draft Projection: First Round)

Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby (1). Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5. Bradley Roby, Ohio State: 5-11, 194 (4.39)

Roby is a speedy cover corner that appeared to be a potential early first round pick prior to the 2013 season.

However, Roby took a big step back in 2013 and struggled to show consistency in coverage. He blew assignments, got caught out of position, and gave up too many big plays.

Roby has prototypical size and speed for the position, but he remains a bit of a wildcard at this point. Will a team be getting the outstanding shutdown corner of 2012 or the inconsistent and unreliable defensive back of 2013?

(Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2)