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The 2015 NFL Draft is less than two months away. Already, the XN Sports NFL Mock Draft 1.0 has been released.
Over the next two weeks, we will be releasing the top five draft prospects at each position leading up to the second edition of the mock draft.
As we saw in free agency, there’s a premium on top-caliber cornerbacks. This year, there are some outstanding prospects at the position and upwards of three that could land in the first round.
Here are the top five cornerbacks in the 2015 draft:
1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State
The top-rated corner in this year’s draft class, Waynes solidified his spot atop the rankings with an outstanding NFL combine outing.
With outstanding size and speed, Waynes excels in press coverage. The corner flaunted his top-end speed in Indianapolis with a 4.31 second 40 time. He has above-average height for the position, which is now a coveted trait by NFL teams looking to follow the Richard Sherman mold in their own secondaries.
Waynes is physical at the point of attack and is not afraid to tackle either. He’s fluid in coverage and can close the gap with any wide receiver. He’ll be off the board some time in the first 15 picks.
2. Marcus Peters, Washington
The more athletic corner when compared to Waynes, Peters excels in both press and off-man coverage. But as intriguing as he is as an athlete, Peters also carries some off-the-field baggage.
The nearly 6-foot cornerback posted a 4.53 40 time at the NFL combine, which raised some eyebrows. It led scouts to believe Peters is still a bit raw at the position. Still, he has the size and agility to play corner at the next level. He’s strong and contests 50-50 balls well, and is adept at closing in on throws with solid contact.
Given all of his upside, Peters has some character concerns reminding NFL personnel of Aqib Talib. He was suspended for a game in 2014 by Huskies coach Chris Petersen for a temper tantrum following a personal foul penalty. Peters failed a drug test back in 2011 and was suspended for a quarter during the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl stemming from an academic issue. Peters’ maturity is very much in question.
3. Jalen Collins, LSU
LSU is called DBU after all, isn’t it? And the latest highly touted prospect to hail from Les Miles’ secondary is Collins.
Collins doesn’t boast much college experience, but possesses the cover skills for any highly touted press corner. Collins has great balance and is fluid in coverage, but needs to work on his hand usage and closing speed. He displays strong field awareness and reacts quickly to the play, and is also a physical run-stopper.
Collins has only started 10 games in his career at LSU, and like a lot of former Tigers defensive backs succeeded largely due to talent over technique. However, it turned out OK for most of them (e.g. Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, etc.). His talent should be enough for an NFL coordinator to work with and turn into a highly successful NFL corner.
4. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
One of the better cover corners in this year’s class, Johnson is a seasoned player with three years of starting experience already under his belt and has improved each season at Wake Forest.
Johnson is a natural man-to-man defender with strong feet discipline and great body control. He’s 6-feet tall and plays even bigger, and does not shy away from contact as a run-stopper either.
There are mild concerns about Johnson’s overall frame and his arm length. He’s also drawn nine flags over the past two seasons.
5. P.J. Williams, Florida State
The junior out of Florida State missed all of the 2013 season but rebounded nicely last season, even garnering praise from fellow draft prospect, wide receiver Devante Parker of Louisville, who called the corner “the toughest guy” he has faced.
Williams is both physical and fluid in coverage, and plays with a high level of confidence. The cornerback can slide in as early as Week 1 either on the outside or in the slot, and based on his natural abilities could wind up being the best corner in this year’s crop.
Williams’ physicality could also bite him on the backside a bit, as he may be susceptible to NFL pass-interference calls. Still, he possesses the talent to be a steal for a team in the second round.
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