Top Ranked Cornerbacks
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Dennard wasn't the most dominant of DBs in the Big 10 in 2013, but he certainly seems to be the most NFL ready after having picked off four passes, and finishing with 14 total pass defenses on the season. He is a rarity in this draft in that he has entered after his fourth season, rather than being an early entry. Dennard has average build and speed for a corner, but really fits well into a standard cover 2 type defense and can jam receivers in man defense in bursts. He has excellent smarts and IQ, and knows how to shut down his side of the field brilliantly, and was a key cog in one of the best defenses in modern history at Michigan State. While his standard physical traits don't overwhelm anyone, he just has that certain something that makes him a solid starter, and he'll likely be a fixture for quite some time.
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Scouts are all over the board about Gilbert, but I am quite fond of his overall game and abilities. Gilbert has solid build at 6-0, and comes in at just over 200 lbs., which enables him to play a physical game uncommon to smaller corners. What really stands out about Gilbert is that he has blazing speed to run with elite receivers, and more than stay with receivers that boast average speed. Gilbert's 4.37 40 time stand out big time, and will have NFL draft rooms frothing on May 8th. Gilbert led the Big 12 in 2013 with 7 picks, and ended up with 14 total pass defenses. Gilbert is sure to be drafted in the first 15 picks, and has massive tools to succeed.
Jason Verrett, TCU
Verrett is a dark horse on draft day who could go earlier than projected because of overall ball skills displayed at TCU, where he actually outplayed Gilbert in 2013. Verrett ended his final season with the Frogs by breaking up 14 passes, however, he actually only picked off 2 passes, as most teams tried to avoid his side of the field in the passing game. Verrett is blazing fast (4.38 40 time), but where he lacks is in physical size, where he measures just 5-9, and weighs below the 190 lb. range. If you can foget about his lack of physical size, you may realize that he plays like a bigger corner, and has the speed to cover wide and in the slot.
Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Fuller is a guy who may be a bit under the radar come draft day, but those who know, know that Fuller is a first round talent with the ability to play big on Sundays, and could anchor a secondary. Fuller has the size spped combo that one looks for when looking for a potential long term starter, but he does not possess that same kind of speed that you get with Gilbert or Verrett. That being said, he has beyond standard speed, and plays more physically than maybe Verrett could stand up to. Fuller is a foundation corner who could fit in with just about any defense, so drafting him has very little, if any risk, in the first round.
Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Roby was a fixture with the Buckeyes, and finished tied for third in the Big 10 in 2013 in total passes defended (three spots ahead of Dennard). Roby finished 2013 by breaking up 13 passes, and he picked off three passes as well. He led the conference in total passes defended in 2012 with 19. You get a solid, sometimes dominating corner in Roby, but he can underwhelm you a bit against big receivers, as he measures in under six feet. Where he makes up for it is in speed, as he is another sub 4.4 40 guy. Roby has the speed and quickness to make plays on balls, and receivers after catches. He projects as an early second rounder, but he could be worth a grab in the late first.
Marcus Roberson, Florida
I call Roberson the most overrated corner in the draft simply because he lacks standard speed, having graded out at approximately 4.61 in the 40. When you lack speed at corner, you give a lot up to more elite receivers in that you are basically limited to zone defenses where you get help over the top from safeties because you can't get deep on the blazers in the league. If Roberson can't jam you short, he will get lost after the first move in the NFL. He's a virtual no show in run support, and because of his lacking speed, he gets caught holding and committing PI downfield much too often. Simply put, I'd pass on him, and have no idea why scouting services ranked him so highly to begin with.
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Joyner is a lot like Roberson in almost every way. He lacks solid corner speed for playing on Sundays (4.55), and lacks the physical tools to make up for it. Statistically, he was a no show on the radar when it came to covering passes in 2013 for the national champion Seminoles, and if you are not breaking up passes, or picking them off, then I really don't care much about what else you do. I can get a third down nickel corner anywhere in the free agent market or lower in the draft than where Joyner is projected, which is mid to late second round.
Jaylen Watkins, Florida
Watkins certainly has speed that I like in a corner (4.41), but has just average size to play in a physical NFL. Watkins, like the two guys ahead of him on this list, which was created by averaging out scores from three different scouting services, really falls flat in overall productivity. Maybe they fell in love with his speed, but he brings little else to the table, and I am not impressed overall. Buyer beware.
Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
Desir collected 25 career picks at tiny Lindenwood, located in Missouri. Desir has solid size, and speed is not an issue. He played off man in college, and may be asked to play more on the line due to his solid size. If he can adjust to the bright lights, Desir may have a much better career than the three corners ranked ahead of him on this list. He is a dark horse that may be worth betting on.
Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
Scouts are all over the place about Breeland, and I tend to side with those who rate him on the lower end. The consensus is that there is none, and he rates from third round to completely undrafted. Breeland did provide what many others on this list did not, statistical output. Breeland defended 14 total passes last fall, with four of those coming on picks. At the end of the day, the reality is that Breeland only really played big for one season, and lacks consistency from one season to another. If anyone could have used another season in college, it's Breeland. His speed is sub standard, and his size is strictly average.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
Jean-Baptiste is probably the most impressive prospect in term of ohysical size, as he measures out at 6-3 and 218 lbs., but where he provides size, he lacks in speed, grading out at just 4.61. He is strictly a cover 2 zone corner, and may actually be better served playing safety. He did manage to defend 16 passes in 2013, which included four picks. That was an increase from 11 defended passes in 2012. Jean-Baptiste has some solid qualities, but the lack of overall package concerns me, and I feel that his ceiling is limited to situational packages.
Keith McGill, Utah
McGill is a huge, physical corner, who has some serious build at 6-3, 211. While his speed isn't elite, it certainly isn't terrible (4.51). HIs shortfall is that he doesn't play great on the ball, and picked off just one pass in 2013. McGill could have used more seasoning, and because of that, we have to guess at potential alone. His size/speed ratio is very solid, and therefor, he may be a developmental pick worth going for in the fourth round or so.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Purifoy, like his teammates in this draft, is an undersized, slower corner, who lacks complete athleticism, and may be ceilinged out as far as development is concerned. Purifoy defended just nine passes in 2013, and really seems limited, and at times, a bit sloppy. He grades out at late third or early fourth round, but I'm not sure that I'd seek him out even then. Smaller and slower doesn't make me interested in grabbing him to develop him.
Top Ranked Free Safeties
Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Many scouts like Clinton-Dix, but I see a player who may be limited athletically, and lacks elite over the top speed for the free safety side of the field. He has solid size for his position, but his speed (4.61) is highly suspect. If you play him up in the box, he is fine, but his coverage ability isn't always what it should be, and he may be a product of hype over substance. Statistically speaking, Clinton-Dix really doesn't show anything special. I'm not as much a believer as others are, and I certainly don't see this limited athlete as a first round pick in any way.
Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Pryor is a good, but not elite prospect at Free Safety. He is a bit on the short side but has solid weight to hang in physically. He has better ball skills than Clinton-Dix, having picked off three passes last fall. He knocked down four more balls, and forced two fumbles. Pryor may be a more versatile prospect overall than Clinton-Dix, and may have a longer shelf life. Pryor ranks as a late first round pick, and may have the best value at Free Safety.
Terrence Brooks, Florida State
Brooks has what the two players ahead of him lack, and that is really elite speed (4.42). Brroks lacks size, however, and is built more like a smaller corner. Brooks defended five passes last season, picking off two of them. Brooks may not be a front line safety on the next level, and looks to me like a situational package guy and special teams player at best.
Top Ranked Strong Safeties
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Ward is a quality player who, despite having top rated skills as far as size or speed, seems to find a way to get to the football and make plays. He led the MAC in 2013 with seven picks, and is a real ball hawk. Ward finished with 17 total passes defended in 2013, and had 14 total passes defended the season before. Ward isprobably one of the best ball hawking DBs in this draft, and if he had a better size/speed combo, he'd be a first rounder. As is, he rates as a late second rounder, early third rounder at best. His overall skills speak better than that.
Deone Buchannon, Washington State
Buchannon is a tackle machine who also picked off six passes in 2013. He is a massively productive prospect, and also has a top flight size/speed ratio. He measures in at 6-1 and 211 lbs., and runs a 4.41 40. He may be the most complete safety in this draft, and I believe him to be one of the more underrated prospects in this draft. I see him long term as being an anchor in any defense, and he should have a pro bowl career.