Top Five: Corners in the 2013 NFL Draft

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

desmondtrufant

As we start to head more heavily into free agency and the draft season, we wanted to start a series of posts that introduces some of the top names at each position in the 2013 draft class.  Ed Valentine of BBV had a good idea with his series, so we’re stealing a page from his work.  So without further ado, we’re going to starting piecing together lists of the top five prospects at each spot based on the Perfectly Coiffed One’s lists and then adding some consensus data (CBS, Fox, etc.) on round rankings.

Next up, the top five cornerbacks.

Dee Milliner* - Alabama – 6’1″ 199 lbs (1st Round)
Xavier Rhodes* – Florida State – 6’2″ 215 lbs (1st Round)
Johnathan Banks - Mississippi State – 6’2″ 185 lbs (1st-2nd Round)
Desmond Trufant* – Washington – 6’0″ 186 lbs (1st Round)
Jordan Poyer – Oregon State – 6’0″ 190 lbs (2nd Round)

Jets Status: The roster could look very much the same as it does today on draft day, or it might be one elite and recuperating cornerback less, and that makes a big difference in terms of what the Jets will need to do going forward.  Even so, with so many other needs … it’s hard to imagine the Jets using an early round pick on a player in this spot when they’d be set to the 4th spot in 2013, with or without Revis.  Rex Ryan covets cornerbacks in his scheme, likely because he knows how to get more from less when it comes to his front seven.  Even if the Jets lose Revis, Cromartie has proven that he can be a capable top corner, but it should be expected that his freshness date would have a shorter expiration than Revis’s.  Which brings us to Kyle Wilson.  For a first round pick, Wilson has been something of an enigma and ranked 73rd among all corners last year according to ProFootballFocus.  While it’s not a great sign, the Jets still ranked 12th against opponents second receiver, so with some safety help, Wilson was able to play decently over the course of the season, but he’s not the sort of talent that will be a priority to keep upon his hitting free agency.  And the combination of the threat of losing Revis, along with considering Cromartie’s shelf lie and Wilson’s seeming underwhelmingness is what will have to be accounted for come 2014.  Trufant and Lankster had their moments in the nickel spot, and might prove to me more reliable players in 2013 as they know the system more and become more familiar with their assignments, but they seem to be destined as third options over the long term for most NFL teams.

Analysis:  Playing at Alabama has allowed Milliner to be an excellent plug in option as an NFL team’s #1 cornerback.  Milliner might be raw, but his awareness and ability to diagnose the play will get better and pair well with his strength and ability to re-route receivers at will. Rhodes is a steady player without flashy ballhawking skills that come in an imposing and rangy frame for a cornerback.  Rhodes has had some injury concerns over his college career.  Banks is tall but has less than ideal mass and doesn’t have the change of direction skills to impress NFL scouts and only adequate straight line speed as he heads into the Combine.  Even so, Banks has been hawkish, durable and isn’t afraid of contact in run support.  Trufant has to be the biggest riser since January when he impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and in which he semeed to become a consensus first rounder.  Trufant is a fluid athlete, has good diagnosis skills and has two brothers playing in the NFL.  Trufant might not be a playmaker, but he has good ball skills and will need to work on his press coverage skills as he enters the NFL. Poyer has some ball skills and is another natural athlete with the fluid hips and recovery speed to play the position.  Poyer had an altercation at a bar which resulted in a misdemeanor charge last year that might make it hard for him to be a first round pick.

Keep an Eye On … : Whether the Jets move Revis or not, I don’t anticipate them actively targeting a player in the first two rounds.  There are plenty of players that would come in the middle of the draft that might have some promise with a little polishing … but like any prospect at that point they are going to be limited in one regard or another.  Some of the guys the Jets might consider in the middle rounds would be players like:  Will Davis (Utah State), Dwayne Gratz (Connecticut), Nickell Robey (USC), or Adrian Bushell (Louisville).