2014 NFL Draft Position Preview: Cornerback

2014 NFL Draft Justin Gilbert
Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Not every team is going to find their Richard Sherman in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft. Some must go after the highest-ranked cornerback in the first round.

This year, that cornerback is Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. The first-team All-American led the Big 12 Conference with six interceptions and has a knack for making the big play. Gilbert not only thrives as a defensive back but as a return specialist as well. And those ball skills, combined with his ball-hawking skills, make Gilbert arguably the most intriguing big-playmaking defensive back in this year’s class.

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If Gilbert is the No. 1-rated corner, consider Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State No. 1A. Dennard is being touted as this year’s shutdown corner. The Jim Thorpe Award winner lined up all over the field for the Spartans, tallying four interceptions his senior season in East Lansing, and is expected to be a contributor as a rookie. Dennard has drawn comparisons to former first-round pick Darrelle Revis.

The debate of which prospect should be rated No. 3 begins with TCU’s Jason Verrett. This past season, Verrett successfully locked up the Big 12’s best wide receivers. Smaller in size but physical, Verrett limited Baylor’s Antwan Goodley to one reception for 12 yards and held Texas Tech’s Eric Ward without a catch, so it’s not a surprise he was named the conference’s co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Beyond Verrett, there’s a host of potential-laden prospects that could fall in the second and third rounds. Ohio State’s Bradley Roby was an All-American in 2012 and had three picks this season, but like Verrett there are concerns about his size. Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner is even smaller than Roby, but his quickness and instinctive play is reminding scouts of Tyrann Mathieu. He could be a fit at nickel back for interested teams.

XN Sports CB Rankings:

1. Justin Gilbert

2. Darqueze Dennard

3. Jason Verrett

4. Bradley Roby

5. Lamarcus Joyner

6. Marcus Robertson

7. Loucheiz Purifoy

8. Aaron Colvin

9. Keith McGill

10. Kyle Fuller

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