With the NFL Combine over with, the landscape of the top cornerbacks in the draft has changed. Some of the top prospects solidified their status, while others fell flat on a big stage. The cornerback position is an area of need for the 49ers. For two of the 49ers biggest names at corner (also impending free agents), there has been no indication that Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox will be retained. The free agency period should shape whether the Niners draft a corner in the early rounds.
Whether the 49ers draft a corner early on or in the later rounds, it's time to talk about cream of the crop.
Top Ten Cornerbacks
|1||Trae Waynes||Michigan State||6-0||186||4.31|
|2||Kevin Johnson||Wake Forest||6-0||188||4.52|
|5||Ronald Darby||Florida State||5-11||193||4.38|
|7||P.J. Williams||Florida State||6-0||194||4.57|
|8||Senquez Golson||Ole Miss||5-9||176||4.46|
|9||Steven Nelson||Oregon State||5-10||197||4.49|
The top ten features six players with a height of over six feet. Making this class one of the tallest in recent memory in terms of the top options. Combine the good speed most of these corners possess with the height, NFL teams are chomping at the bit to get one of these choices.
- Trae Waynes came into the combine as the number one corner, he left there solidifying his status as "the guy". His 4.31 forty was the fastest for his position, and in the drill portion he looked like a natural. Waynes is a very strong 186 lbs, putting up 19 bench reps at the combine. The top ranked prospect should fit nicely into a man or zone scheme.
- Kevin Johnson comes in at number two. He played on a 3-9 team, and put together a year that made scouts notice him. Guys like this are easy to root for because their love for the game is evident. Wake Forest's coach says Johnson has the quickest hips he's ever seen.
- At No. 3 Jalen Collins is a fascinating option, but also a player with limited playing experience (10 career starts). With the limited sample size, Collins was able to amass a lot of film that shows he can cover and is a plus tackler. The physical attributes are there with a lot of check marks when it comes to skill. With that said, there is still a level of rawness to Collins.
- Marcus Peters comes with baggage after being dismissed from Washington earlier this year. At the combine Peters showed up and his day provided nothing memorable. The film of Peters is impressive at times, but he will need to show teams that he can knock the rust off and his emotional antics are a thing of the past. I have him at four because I believe in his ability, but don't be surprised if he is leapfrogged by other prospects on this list.
- Ronald Darby killed it at the combine, with a 4.38 forty and 41.5 inch vertical. He performed well in the drill portion and looked great in the gauntlet drill especially. He needs to get a little tougher, as he posted just 12 bench press reps, which explains why he was out-muscled at times on film. If Darby can become a better tackler, he will become a good pro in the NFL.
- Byron Jones stock rose about the most out of any player at the combine. Setting a world record for the long jump at 12 feet and 3 inches, while also posting an amazing 44.5 inch vertical. The UConn product wasn't able to perform in drills at the combine, but will do drills and the forty at his pro day. A highly intelligent player with good speed and freakish athletic ability, Jones will be off the board in round one or early round two.
- P.J. Williams forty time of 4.57 was disappointing, but his film offsets the bad time. Williams is a man-corner who is best fitted to play in a press scheme where he can jam receivers at the line. He reminds me of a Richard Sherman mold in terms of swatting contested balls away and not allowing the receiver to gain much separation most of the time.
- Senquez Golson is one of my personal favorites in this entire draft class. He was impressive during all portions of the combine, and really stood out during the drill portion. Despite his 5'9" height, Golson hits as hard as any corner on this list. On the season, Golson tallied ten interceptions. I like his chances in any scheme thrown his way. A true football player. I will not hold his height against him.
- Steven Nelson had a lot of penalties for Oregon State due to his aggressive play. Although NFL teams don't like seeing a prospect that keeps getting flags thrown his way, I believe scouts also appreciate the tough approach Nelson brings to the position. A willing tackler at all times, Nelson is quick to stop a run or any intermediate passes.
- Josh Shaw put up the most bench reps for a cornerback with 26, then ran a 4.44 forty. His speed was questioned going into the combine and he proved some pundits wrong in this regard. Shaw must get better at sticking with his man initially after the snap, and I think he will improve here with the help of NFL coaching. Shaw has all the skills to be a fine pro. His deficiencies aren't physical, they are mental. I could see him having an up and down year one, and taking off after some growing pains at the next level.