1) Cincinnati CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner
Key Measurables: 6030 , 190lbs, 33 ½ arm, 4.41s 40, 9 ⅝ hand
Notable Stats: 82.5% 2021 cov snaps in press, 0 TDs allowed, 24.4 passer rating
Best Trait: Length
Player Comparison: Antonio Cromartie
Ahmad Gardner played 37 games for Cincinnati, primarily as their boundary corner. Throughout his decorated career, Gardner was selected as consensus First Team All-American, AAC All-Academic Team, Unanimous AAC Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-American Athletic Conference, and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. Alongside his teammate Coby Bryant he led Cincinnati to the No. 1 ranked defense in passing efficiency in 2021.
Gardner is a long, physical, and skilled press man cover corner with tools to play in multiple schemes. With quick hands and feet, fluid hips, and patience at the LOS, he is seldom beat and often on top of receivers with hands on. In Cover 2, he eliminates receivers with his two-handed jam. His long speed, arm length, and ball skills make him effective in Cover 3. He can improve with route recognition in zone coverage and add weight to make him more of a force at the point of attack. Ahmad Gardner’s elite length and outstanding press coverage skills are valuable in today’s league; he should be an early first-round pick for a team in need of a lock-down cornerback.
2) LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.
Key Measurables: 6000, 190lbs, 30 ⅝ arm, 9 ⅝ hand
Notable Stats: Only 76 coverage snaps 2021, never had a season over 50% completion percentage against, 18 forced incompletions as a freshman
Best Trait: Technique (When full effort is given)
Pro Comparison: Darius Slay
Derek Stingley Jr. was a consensus five-star recruit entering LSU. He was selected a First Team All-SEC and All-American player in his true freshman and sophomore years. In his last season for LSU, he played just three games before undergoing season-ending foot surgery.
His technique is polished in man coverage, and he processes routes adequately in zone. He is a natural athlete with above the line burst and speed. His outstanding ball skills led to elite production. However, he has glaring plays that put his effort and competitiveness into question. Stingley Jr. possesses all of the technique and talent deserving of a high first-round pick for a press man-heavy schemed defense, but teams will need more insight on his mentality to make that selection.
3) Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr.
Key Measurables: 6000, 194lbs, 31 ½ arm, 9 ⅜ hand
Notable Stats: 3 INTs (2 dropped INTs) 2021, 2 TDs allowed on 50 targets
Best Trait: Explosiveness
Pro Comparison: Bradley Roby
Andrew Booth Jr. was a five-star CB and top 50 ranked player entering college football. He was awarded First and Second Team All-ACC honors and selected for an All-ACC Academic Team in his three-year career at Clemson.
Booth Jr. is not a finished product but is an instinctive athlete with a high motor. His aggression, burst, and want-to as a tackler give him the flexibility to play as both an outside corner and disruptive force in the slot for a zone or man team with cornerback needs in the mid-to-late first round.
4) Washington CB Kyler Gordon
Key Measurables: 5114, 194lbs, 31 arm, 4.52s 40, 9 ¼ hand
Notable Stats: 0 TDs allowed in coverage (entire career), 14 forced incompletions, 46.2 passer rating allowed (2021), 354 coverage snaps in 2021
Best Trait: Instincts
Pro Comparison: Byron Jones
Kyler Gordon has played 29 career games at Washington contributing to the special teams and most notably as a starting outside cornerback. He lines up across from Trent McDuffie to form a premiere tandem in CFB. Kyler Gordon was named to the First-Team All-Pac 12 this past season as well as making an appearance on Feldman’s Freak’s list due to his athletic testing numbers.
Gordon is a scheme and position versatility cornerback that can contribute early at the next level as an outside corner back due to his intelligence, hip fluidity, technique and COD. He will be best in a Cover 2/Zone concept to begin in which he can use his outstanding read and reaction skills to properly break on the ball and his initiate timing to make a play. In Press or Man, he is able to properly mirror his receiver without opening up too early with active yet patient feet and outstanding flip of his hips. Kyler Gordon’s ability to play now, upside and scheme/positional versatility should be enticing for a team to team early on in the draft and potentially in the first round.
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5) Florida CB Kaiir Elam
Key Measurables: 6014, 191lbs, 30 ⅞ arm, 4.39s 40, 8 ⅞ hand
Notable Stats: 959 career coverage snaps, 41.6% career completion%, 0.8% of plays with 15+ yards allowed
Best Trait: Long Speed
Pro Comparison: Quinton Dunbar
Kaiir Elam entered Florida as a consensus four-star prospect. He earned All-SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll, All-SEC Freshman, All-SEC First Team, and Jim Thorpe Semifinalist selections throughout his career. Elam’s combination of size, length, and speed make him one of the best athletes in this cornerback class.
Elam has all the tools to be a number 1 corner. He is not a finished product but can be a starter in man or Cover 3 schemes with refined hand usage. He projects as a late Day 1 or early Day 2 prospect.
6) Washington CB Trent McDuffie
Key Measurables: 5110, 193lbs, 29 ¾ arm, 4.44s 40, 8 ¾ hand
Notable Stats: 2131 career snaps, 0 TDs allowed since 2019, 16.2% forced incompletion% (2021), 0.38 yards/coverage snap
Best Trait: Hip Fluidity
Pro Comparison: Joe Haden
Trent McDuffie is a 3-year starter at CB for the University of Washington. Over the past two seasons (over 300 coverage snaps), McDuffie has not allowed a single TD and only 3 connections of 15 yards or more. While only being used on less than 20% of the snaps in man coverage in 2021, he shows the ability to do so with his outstanding technique and hip movement.
While he doesn’t have the upside athletically of some of the other CBs in this class, he could be adequate to outstanding across all secondary positions. With added strength and run support, he would be able to play inside, outside, and at safety in a man heavy or zone heavy scheme. McDuffie should be a first-round draft pick who can contribute at a developmental position early as he is quite pro-ready but does not have the athletic upside of others in this class. McDuffie will make a mid-round one to late round one team quite happy initially against quicker receivers.
7) Auburn CB Roger McCreary
Key Measurables: 5110, 190lbs, 29 ⅞ arm, 4.50s 40, 9 hand
Notable Stats: 1265 coverage snaps, 50.24% completion% (career), 21 forced incompletions (2021)
Best Trait: Instincts and Patience
Pro Comparison: Tre’Davious White
McCreary started 2.5 seasons and played in 4 at Auburn. He competed against the top tier WRs of the SEC including bouts against Ja’Marr Chase. He was a 3-star prospect who originally committed to the South Alabama Jaguars in his hometown of Mobile Alabama.
At catch point, due to intelligence and reactionary athleticism, he is able to use physicality to compete with larger receivers. Would be a disservice to not test him on the outside as he has shown he can win despite size traits. McCreary is an exceptionally pro-ready prospect that will use his instincts, proper technique and outstanding foot speed to compete with the very best.
8) Alabama CB Jalyn Armour-Davis
Key Measurables: 6010, 197lbs, 30 ⅞ arm, 4.39s 40, 34.5 VJ
Notable Stats: 0 TDs allowed (2021), 51.0 passer rating allowed, .78 yards/coverage snap
Best Trait: Multiple techniques to win in man coverage / Growth potential with more reps
Pro Comparison: Ronald Darby
Jaylon Armour-Davis entered Alabama as a consensus four-star recruit. After sustaining a season-ending knee injury his freshman year, he served as a key special teams player and rotational CB until he earned a starting role in his redshirt junior season. He missed games due to injury in three of his four seasons. In his only starting season, Armour-Davis earned All-SEC Second Team honors.
He is a man cover corner competent in both press and off coverage. He leveraged above the line speed, plant/drive, and play strength to stay attached to receivers at the LOS and down the field. Despite the lack of reps, Armour-Davis has the athletic traits and technical capability to be a CB2 for a man-heavy scheme. He projects to be a mid-Day two selection.
9) Mississippi State CB Martin Emerson
Key Measurables: 6020, 201lbs, 33 ½ arm, 4.53s 40, 10 ⅛ hand
Notable Stats: 0.96 yards per coverage snap, 18 career forced incompletions, 118 career tackles
Best Trait: Play Strength
Pro Comparison: Byron Maxwell
Martin Emerson was a consensus three-star recruit entering Mississippi State. He was selected as a PFF Honorable Mention All-American, PFF Second-Team All-SEC, and two-time SEC All-Academic Honor Roll throughout his three-year career.
While he is effective in both zone and man coverage as an off corner, his lack of reps and consistency in press man means he is not a fit for all teams. His blend of length, burst, and average speed fits a CB2 for Cover 3 or two high quarters scheme as a field, off corner. Emerson projects as a Day 2 prospect.
10) Houston CB Marcus Jones
Key Measurables: 5080, 174lbs, 28 ⅞ arm, 8 ⅞ hand
Notable Stats: 46.3% completion% (2021), 11 career INTs (5 in 2021), 34 career forced incompletions (16 in 2021), 534 career Slot CB snaps
Best Trait: Ball Skills
Pro Comparison: Avery Williams
Marcus Jones projects to be an immediate starter at the next level strictly as a slot cornerback. He’s an impact starter at kick or punt returner. He’s a redshirt senior who was a 19 game starter for Houston.
His above the line ball skills and instincts will allow him to make plays on the ball in the slot because of his ability to jump passes and anticipate where the quarterback is throwing. His limited run support ability will make him a liability in the run but his coverage skill makes up for this deficiency. Jones profiles as a mid-to-late day 2 player.
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