In a class of cornerbacks that lacks an elite, top 10 prospect, the order in which these defensive backs are taken off the board will depend on preference. Does a team want a cornerback with a polished skill set and the ability to play outside and in the slot? Maybe Jason Verrett is the choice. But if teams are looking for longer, more physical cornerbacks to play near the line of scrimmage, Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert make some sense.
With the demand for cornerbacks in the NFL, there should be plenty taken in the first two rounds of the draft. Here are our final cornerback rankings with quick scouting reports for the top 10.
1. Jason Verrett | 5'9 1/2, 189 pounds | Cornerback | TCU
Verrett grades out as our top-ranked cornerback for the 2014 NFL Draft. He may not have the physical tools, but Verrett is outstanding in all other areas of his game. Teams that don't look past his size will end up missing out on a really good player. Granted, Verrett won't be a fit for every scheme, but he's a player who can move around the formation as a nickel back or play boundary corner on an island in the right coverage scheme.
2. Darqueze Dennard | 5'10 7/8 199 pounds | Cornerback | Michigan State
The reigning Thorpe Award winner, Dennard was the best player on a talented Michigan State defense last season. He is a physical man coverage cornerback who rarely gives up big plays. Whatever misgivings there may be about Dennard's pure athletic ability he can make up for with his instincts.
3. Bradley Roby | 5'11 1/4, 194 pounds | Cornerback | Ohio State *
A wonderfully gifted athlete, Roby has the skills to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL. His lapses in discipline – on and off the field – are the only things stopping him. Roby's biggest strength is his ability to run and cover against any type of wide receiver. When he's playing disciplined, Roby possesses impressive agility to mirror wide receivers, particularly on underneath routes. He's certainly fast enough to keep up on vertical routes against speed receivers.
4. Justin Gilbert | 6'0 1/8, 202 pounds | Cornerback | Oklahoma State
Gilbert is being hyped as a first-round pick, and his skill set certainly warrants that. However, he has a long way to go in his development as a prospect. He will be over-drafted based on his size-speed combination. The talk of him being a top 10 player in this class isn't warranted based on what we've seen. Gilbert needs a lot of work and hasn't shown enough improvement over the course of his college career to inspire confidence in his development.
5. Kyle Fuller | 5'11 3/4, 190 pounds | Cornerback | Virginia Tech
Across the board, Fuller is a very good cornerback. At Virginia Tech, he showed the agility and fluidity to run with receivers vertically, and he has the speed to keep up. Should be capable of playing man or zone well. Flashes good awareness, instincts and rang. Can play outside or in the slot. Needs to get better jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. He keeps good leverage throughout a route and can handle himself against bigger receivers. Shows he can find the ball in the air in a hurry. Has solid closing speed. Good tackler.
6. Antone Exum | 5'11 5/8, 213 pounds | Cornerback | Virginia Tech
Exum is a combo defensive back who is capable of playing cornerback and safety. Some teams will like the physical playing style he has and move him to safety. Others will be too enamored with his ability to play bigger receivers and route recognition to move him off of corner. Exum is an aggressive, confident cornerback who can read a route and gets a good understanding for where it will develop. Sometimes Exum will read the quarterback a hair too long and will lose track of where the ball will be placed. Is quick to come up and support the run.
7. Victor Hampton | 5'9, 197 pounds | Cornerback | South Carolina *
Hampton is physical and aggressive in coverage despite his size. He makes up for his lack of elite size with his leaping ability and ball skills. Hampton has all of the talent and physical tools to be a dominant cornerback. He's instinctual in coverage and has great short-area quickness as well as fluid hips and plenty of straight-line speed.
You would like to see Hampton stay a bit lower in his backpedal. He gets upright at times, which hurts him on intermediate routes. He also needs to keep his aggressive nature in check to avoid penalties in the NFL.
8. Bashaud Breeland | 5'11 3/8, 197 pounds | Cornerback | Clemson *
Breeland is a much better zone cornerback than most in this year’s draft. He reads the quarterback properly and is athletic enough to get a nice jump on the ball. Is a smooth, fluid athlete. Shows a good backpedal and can easily change direction. Has long arms to play against taller receivers in jump ball situations. In man coverage, Breeland is susceptible to double moves and fakes. Could get stronger is press coverage. Is a very good run support corner. Doesn’t mind mixing it up and can lay a hit. Sound tackler. Is a classic, "If he would have stayed on more season, he may be a first-rounder" type of prospect.
9. Pierre Desir | 6'1, 191 pounds | Cornerback | Lindenwood
A bigger cornerback, Desir has the physical playing style to matchup against bigger wide receivers. Knows when to peek into the backfield to anticipate throws. Needs to become more aggressive jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Excellent hands and has the ability to intercept or break up a lot of passes. Desir was awarded with the Cliff Harris Award, given annually to the small school defensive player of the year. Did well for himself on the all-star circuit where he played in both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.
10. Marcus Roberson | 6'0 1/4, 191 pounds | Cornerback | Florida *
Marcus Roberson is built to play the cornerback position. He's tall and has long arms, both of which help him when playing press coverage. Roberson is a scheme versatile cornerback who has the ability to jam receivers at the line but also the quick closing ability and recognition skills to play off the line. Occasionally Roberson gets a bit too physical down field and need to be a bit more consistent with his technique.
11. Andre Hal | 5'10 3/8, 188 pounds | Cornerback | Vanderbilt
12. Aaron Colvin | 5'11, 177 pounds | Cornerback | Oklahoma
13. Keith McGill | 6'3 3/8, 211 pounds | Cornerback | Utah
14. Stanley Jean-Baptiste | 6'2 5/8, 218 pounds | Cornerback | Nebraska
15. Terrance Mitchell | 5'11 1/8, 192 pounds | Cornerback | Oregon *
16. E.J. Gaines | 5'10, 190 pounds | Cornerback | Missouri
17. Jaylen Watkins | 5'11 1/2, 194 pounds | Cornerback | Florida
18. Phillip Gaines | 6'0 3/8, 193 pounds | Cornerback | Rice
19. Ross Cockrell | 6'0, 191 pounds | Cornerback | Duke
20. Nevin Lawson | 5'9 1/2, 190 pounds | Cornerback | Utah State
21. Loucheiz Purifoy | 5'11 1/2, 190 pounds | Cornerback | Florida *
22. Jemea Thomas | 5'9 1/4, 192 pounds | Cornerback | Georgia Tech
23. Kenneth Acker | 6'0, 195 pounds | Cornerback | SMU
24. Walt Aikens | 6'0 5/8, 205 pounds | Cornerback | Liberty
25. Charles Sawyer | 5'11, 178 pounds | Cornerback | Ole Miss
26. Ricardo Allen | 5'9 1/8, 187 pounds | Cornerback | Purdue
27. Chris Davis | 5'10, 203 pounds | Cornerback | Auburn
28. Rashaad Reynolds | 5’10, 189 pounds | Cornerback | Oregon State
29. Dezmen Southward | 6'0, 211 pounds | Cornerback | Wisconsin
30. Bennett Jackson | 5'11 7/8, 195 pounds | Cornerback | Notre Dame
31. Carrington Byndom | 6'0, 180 pounds | Cornerback | Texas
32. Bene Benwikere | 5'10 3/4, 195 pounds | Cornerback | San Jose State
33. Ciante Evans | 5'11, 190 pounds | Cornerback | Nebraska
34. Deion Belue | 5'11, 182 pounds | Cornerback | Alabama