Green Bay Packers 2015 NFL Draft: Breaking down the cornerback prospects
By Dan Dahlke
Connecticut Huskies cornerback Byron Jones (16) reacts after intercepting a pass. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
6. Byron Jones, UConn (6-1, 199)
7. Eric Rowe, Utah (6-1, 205)
8. Alex Carter, Stanford (6-0, 196)
9. P.J. Williams, Florida State (6-0, 194)
10. Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio) (5-11, 195)
11. Steven Nelson, Oregon State (5-10, 197)
12. D’Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic (5-10, 187)
The Skinny: There is a lot of value in this second group of corners. The Packers could find a really good player at the position in the second or third round.
Jones might end up being the best pro of the bunch. He has great size and his athleticism and speed is off the charts.
Jones has all of the physical tools, and on tape, his game is also very solid. He’s a tough, physical competitor downfield, who moves well in space and can shadow receivers in and out of their routes.
He’s a first-round talent, but he may fall to the second round because he’s coming off a shoulder injury, and after starting his career as a safety, he’s only played a season and a half at corner.
North squad defensive corner Eric Rowe of Utah (18). Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Rowe has similar size and athletic traits, and like Jones, also made the move from safety to corner in college.
Rowe may be a little feistier than Jones in coverage and a more willing hitter, but his game has more areas that need polished and he’s not quite as smooth as Jones in space.
Carter seems to be the forgotten man at the position, but he’s an excellent cover corner with good size and willingness to battle receivers downfield. If you watched him at Stanford, his ability in run support will immediately stand out, but he’s also a very smooth athlete who plays with excellent technique in coverage.
He can press, but he’s best when dropping in zone and then closing in on the ball. He reminds me a lot of former Viking Antoine Winfield.
Carter does lack top-end speed, which could cause him to drop to the end of the second round. He’d be a great value pick for the Packers there.
Williams is a tough player, who like many other defensive backs in this group, could also play safety in the NFL or find a home as a slot corner.
He isn’t the elite athlete you look for at the position, and recent off-field concerns could cause him to drop. However, he does make a lot of plays on the field and demonstrates good ball skills in coverage.
Rollins is in a similar boat. He forty time is too slow to trust him as a boundary player, and he’s still relatively young at the position after converting from a receiver just a season ago.
Oregon State Beavers defensive back Steven Nelson runs the 40 yard dash. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
However, he has excellent ball skills, recording six interceptions as a senior, and offers a lot of upside as either a slot corner or safety at the next level.
Nelson and Smith both seem like ideal slot corners and could even contribute immediately as rookies on teams that like to run a lot of nickel defense.
Nelson has playmaker written all over him and could really shine on a defense that likes to feature their slot corner.
However, Nelson is physical and athletic enough to excel on the boundary and matchup against bigger receivers.
Next: Tier Three