Pre-Combine Cornerback Boards: Plenty of Top-100 Talent

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Cornerbacks don’t take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium until the final day of the combine. Despite this, NFL teams continue to tinker with their cornerback boards. Here’s a look at how players at the position stack up around the league just as the combine begins.

Minkah Fitzpatrick stands head and shoulders above any corner in the nation, which is not a surprise. The big surprise is how few teams presently view Fitzpatrick as a safety; the Alabama junior is graded at cornerback by almost every team.

Denzel Ward of Ohio State slots in next on the cornerback board, though there’s a big “if” on the Buckeyes junior. Ward is a terrific corner with next-level speed and ball skills, but is he tall enough? The overwhelming opinion is that Ward must measure at least 5-foot-10 to be selected during the initial 15 picks of the draft. In our recent two-round mock draft, we had the San Francisco 49ers taking Ward with the ninth selection. If Ward measures under 5-foot-10, he could drop into the bottom half of Round 1.

After that there are a variety of opinions on the order.

Several teams rank Josh Jackson of Iowa as the third cornerback, while others believe Carlton Davis of Auburn comes next. Both have first round grades.

There have been some questions over Jackson’s speed, though I’m told he could time in the high-4.4s after measuring close to 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds.

Mike Hughes is graded by several teams as a potential late first-round or early second-round choice. He’s expected to run in the mid-4.4s on Monday.

There are 13 cornerbacks in total who project as first or second-day draft picks. 

Nick Nelson of Wisconsin will squeeze into the second day of the draft if he runs well. This is the second time we’ve heard this, as our initial report came during the Senior Bowl.

Two names not on the list of potential top-100 picks are Duke Dawson of Florida and Holton Hill from Texas.

Hill grades as a second-round talent on film, but teams will want a bit more information on what led to his game-day suspension back in November.