Top 10 Cornerback Prospects for 2021 NFL Draft (So Far)
Updated: Feb 17
1. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama, 6-1, 203
National champion born to a 3-time Pro Bowl CB, Surtain was the consensus top CB out of high school before being named a Freshman All-American (2018) and later unanimous First team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2020). Starting Outside CB you can win because of in a base Cover 2 scheme that frequently gives him Press responsibilities with safety help for fast receivers. All-around technician and instinctive marvel who can just as easily pin a WR to the sideline as stack and shed an outside blocker to make a tackle. Smart enough to play highly-disguised schemes. Day 1 starter with NFL bloodlines with no injury history…Limited most by his lack of top-end speed and adequate explosiveness, he’ll struggle on Go and Crossing routes if he’s isolated. Under DC Pete Golding (second year) and CBs Coach Karl Scott (third year) in a pre-snap Cover 2 that commonly shifted post-snap, player was an outside LCB who traveled across to play Zone against some three WR sets. Most frequently in Press, he was asked to Jam, Wall, and Man cover on WRs and TEs as well as flat, deep half, third, and quarter Zones.
2. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech, 6-2, 197
Played QB in high school and WR as a freshman before a training camp non-contact tear in his right ACL cost him his entire freshman season. He returned as a new starter at RCB his sophomore season before opting out of the 2020 season. Starting Outside CB you can win because of within a scheme that lets him play Off and use his burst to drive on intermediate to underneath routes. Very patient cover corner who excels downfield and driving on the catch point, using his length, balance, and ball skills to take away receivers and some TEs… Struggles in Press, with some hip stiffness and isn’t physical throughout routes. Has the desire against Run, but needs to get smarter as well as improve his tackling. In 2019, under DC Bud Foster (25th season) and CBs coach Brian Mitchell (4th season), player was strictly an outside LCB who was frequently isolated defensively and responsible for Man, Boundary, deep third or quarter, and flat Zone, with some TE assignments.
3. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina, 6-1, 205
Son of a 4x Pro Bowl wide receiver who was a 4-star recruit and made the SEC All-Freshman team in his first season in Columbia. Starting Outside CB you can win because of when mentally engaged in a Cover 1 or 2 scheme that gives him intermediate to underneath responsibilities. Highly instinctive, aggressive corner with the fluidity and physicality to be sticky in Man, then the length and ball skills to disrupt the pass. Can matchup against TEs and taller WRs in the passing game…Competitiveness and mental toughness are major question marks due to tendency to take plays off. Under DC and DBs Coach Travaris Robinson (5th season), player was an outside CB who traveled across the formation, including some slot and Cover 2 safety reps. He was frequently isolated defensively and responsible for Man, deep third or quarter, and curl/flat Zone, with some deep half or TE assignments.
4. Tyson Campbell, Georgia, 6-2, 185
Former 5-star recruit (#2 DB) and HS state track champion in 100M (10.39) and 200M (20.8)). Starting Outside CB you can win with in a Cover 2 scheme that lets him Jam and play underneath without frequent concern of deep routes. Long corner with the play strength and ability to use his length to stay in phase, then get across to disrupt the ball. Has the all-around game to succeed in Year 1… Relies on physicality in route, getting stacked on deep routes by faster receivers due to adequate foot speed and giving up separation underneath to shiftier receivers who can keep clear of his hands. Under DC Dan Lanning (second season), player was an outside CB who most frequently lined up in Press, though also with significant Off experience. He was responsible for Man, Boundary, deep third or quarter, or flat Zone, with occasional TE assignments.
5. Eric Stokes, Georgia, 6-1, 185
Earned 2020 First Team All-America and First Team All-SEC to follow on his 2019 Second Team All-SEC. Rotational Outside CB you can win with from Off in either Man or Zone. High-potential corner who has the size, burst, and COD to become a Pro Bowl-caliber shutdown CB in Man. Will be dependent on coaching to correct his footwork and speed up his mental processes. Poor competitiveness that will turn off some teams and could require stronger run defenders around him. Under DC Dan Lanning (second season), player was an outside CB who most frequently lined up in Press on either side against taller WRs, though also with significant experience in Off. He was responsible for Man, Wall, or a deep third or quarter, with infrequent blitzes or flat zones.
6. Elijah Molden, Washington, 5-10, 191
Started every game for the past two seasons. 2020 Second Team All-American and Pac-12 Player of the Year to follow on 2019 First Team Pac-12, 2019 Second Team All-America, and 2018 Second Team Pac-12 nods. Father was 8-year NFL CB, named 2008 member of Oregon HOF, and brother was D1 defensive lineman. 4-star recruit from high school. Starting Slot CB you can win with in underneath to intermediate areas. Highly-competitive corner who excels reading from Zone and using instincts and burst to make plays. Fearless against Run or on Special Teams, always moving to make plays… Smaller corner without top-end speed that is consistently beaten downfield and will get displaced from head-on contact. Lacks length or explosiveness to make plays on ball in the air. Under HC Jimmy Lake (first season in role, seventh with program) and DBs Coach Will Harris (first season in role, fourth with program) in a base Cover 2, player is a chess piece that most frequently lines up in the slot from Off, but also plays significant snaps at Safety or in Press. Responsibilities include Man coverage of TEs and WRs, Hook/Curl and Curl/Flat Zones, and deep half or single high.
7. Paulson Adebo, Stanford, 6-1, 190
Four-star high school recruit who also competes in short-distance track at the collegiate level. Named to All-Pac-12 First Team in both seasons and led nation in 2018 for passes defended. Suffered a late-season injury in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season. Rotational Outside CB you can win with in a base Zone scheme that allows him to face the ball, then drive down to make plays. Promising corner who flashes the burst, instincts, and effort to make highlight interceptions and backfield tackles at the position… Struggles to stay mentally in-sync with receiver in Man, a step slow to turn and run and liable to bite on jabs. Out-of-control through tackles, easily beaten by agile ballcarriers. Under DC Lance Anderson (13th season in 2019) and DBs Coach Duane Akina (6th season in 2019), player is used as an outside CB with some slot assignments. From both Press and Off, player is asked to Man cover taller WRs and cover Curl/Flat and deep-third zones.
8. Greg Newsome II, Northwestern, 6-1, 190
Junior who has started 18 of only 21 career games. Has only participated in 7 wins due to repeated injuries, including 5 in 2020, despite team posting 19-16 record over his tenure. Starting Outside CB you can win because of in a Cover 3 or Cover 2 Zone scheme that protects him over the top with Off responsibilities against faster receivers. Highly-intelligent corner who would excel when paired with a strong pass rush, using COD and mental processing to win on quick-hitting underneath routes… Has had significant injuries each collegiate season. Dependent on scheme to avoid longer-developing Man matchups where his adequate foot speed allows separation. Under DC Mike Hankwitz (13th season) and DBs Coach Matt MacPherson (3rd season) in a base Cover 3, player was an outside CB who played both Press and Off in Man, deep third or quarter, and flat Zone.
9. Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina, 6-3, 205
Started five games in 2020 before opting out of the season when the HC was fired. 4-star HS recruit who was named to 2019 Second Team All-SEC. Rotational versatile CB you can win with in frequent Press or outside Cover 3. Lengthy corner with the pre-snap intelligence and play strength to compete at the LOS and on jump balls… Lacks consistent technique with hands and lets body get out-of-sync, especially at top of route from Off. Lacks physical toughness and hustle against Run. Under DC and DBs Coach Travaris Robinson (5th season), player was a chess piece, spending the most time at outside CB but also playing significant snaps at FS, slot CB, and box S. From both Press and Off, player filled many responsibilities, including Jam, Bail, and Off Man against WRs and some TEs. Zone responsibilities include Hitch/Curl, Curl/Flat, Cover 1, and deep half and third with occasional Robber.
10. Asante Samuel Jr, Florida State, 5-10, 184
Four-star recruit in high school. Father was 4-time Pro Bowler at CB, 2-time Super Bowl champ at similar size. Since 2010, only 7 CBs at similar or smaller size have had 10+ AV, with only one not playing significant Slot snaps. 2019 Third-team All-ACC, improving to First-team All-ACC in 2020. Rotational Slot CB you can win despite in a Zone-heavy scheme that puts him in a position to jump routes and surrounds him with stronger run defenders. Small, twitchy corner who is at his best jumping outside routes at short-to-intermediate depths. Mirrors well at the LOS, indicating ability to play in the slot…Size is a major concern, getting targeted against bigger receivers and lacking foot speed to recover on longer-developing routes. Doesn’t display hustle or ability against Run. Under DC Adam Fuller (1st season) and DBs Coach Marcus Woodson (1st season), player was an Outside CB who traveled across the formation and lined up in both Press and Off before taking FS responsibilities at the goal line. Frequently isolated in Man, otherwise given Boundary, Curl/Flat Zone, and occasionally deep third.