2014 NFL Draft Prospects: Cornerbacks
By Bob Boyles
Of the 254 players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, 29 were cornerbacks. The only position with more players selected was defensive end (30). Clearly, someone is trying to do something about all those passing records being rewritten year after year.
The 2014 draft is shaping up to have another deep pool of cornerback prospects. Here's a look at the top 10 corners expected to be available next April.
1. Jason Verrett, TCU
5-foot-10, 176 pounds
2012 stats: Named to multiple All-America teams, 63 tackles, 6 INTs, 16 pass breakups
Verrett arrived in Fort Worth from junior college in 2011 and immediately contributed the most tackles (72) by a Horned Frog cornerback in 10 years. He nearly matched that number last year and improved as a cover man, the nation’s only defender to rank in the top 10 in both INTs and PBUs. The dynamic Verrett could make a really big splash this year as TCU welcomes back nine defensive starters for defense-oriented head coach Gary Patterson.
2. Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
2012 stats: 52 tackles, 4 INTs, 11 PBUs
Plenty of people think Colvin could easily top the CB draft prospect list by next spring. He came very close to declaring for the 2013 draft but decided to return for his senior year to chase team and individual goals. Colvin started 12 games at safety as a sophomore in 2011 and led the Sooners in tackles with 84.
3. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
2012 stats: 63 tackles, 2 INTs, 17 PBUs
The odd thing about Roby, a junior, is that he might not get tested too often in 2013. Ohio State offers a very inexperienced defense, except in the secondary, and offenses might concentrate on the running game. All four Buckeyes starters on the front wall are gone as well as two of the top linebackers. Last year, Roby saw plenty of action at his corner spot, enough to pass the test as the nation’s leader in pass breakups; his 17 set a new school record.
4. Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
2012 stats: 51 tackles, 5 PBUs
This junior has no career interceptions, but he is a tremendous all-around player. Purifoy might be the nation’s best special-teams player; on kick cover units, he racked up 22 tackles in 2011 and then blocked two kicks and forced three fumbles last year. Gators coach Will Muschamp has threatened his receiving corps to straighten up in spring camp or he’s sending over Purifoy, who will see at least spot duty as a pass-catcher in 2013. Florida’s other corner, junior Marcus Roberson (6-0, 195), ought to be watched as well, because despite only four career starts, he was named to the AP All-SEC second team in 2012.
5. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
2012 Stats: 63 tackles, 4 INTs, 6 forced fumbles
This junior, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, has been timed in the 40 at 4.40 and adds decent size. He was held out of the Ducks spring game, and the Green Team, which played only defense, surely missed him. They lost 65-0 to an offense rated awfully high.
6. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
2012 stats: 51 tackles, 1 INT, 5 PBUs
After 27 consecutive starts at safety, Joyner has been moved back to cornerback, the position he played as a frosh in 2010. Due to his lack of height, safety might still be the spot in his pro future, but it will be interesting to see how he performs for the new, more aggressive Seminoles defense this coming year. Joyner, the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year coming out of high school, is dangerous in the return game as he went 90 yards on a kickoff against Clemson last year.
7. Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame
2012 stats: 65 tackles, 4 INTs, 4 PBUs
Just think what Jackson could have done in 2012 had he been healthy. Turns out he played all of 2012 with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, yet he was third on the team in tackles. Now a healthy senior, Jackson also is outstanding on special teams.
8. Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
2012 stats: 56 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 INTs, 7 PBUs
“Johnny Football” got all the glory in Texas A&M’s upset of Alabama last year, but Everett also chipped in with a clutch end zone interception near the end to preserve the 29-24 win As a sophomore last year, Everett impressed the coaches enough to become the top cover man in a so-so secondary.
9. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
2012 stats: 63 tackles, 9 PBUs, 25.8-yard KO returns
Few draft hopefuls enter 2013 with as much to prove as Gilbert, a senior. Last year, he sometimes was picked upon by Big 12 quarterbacks after being selected defensive MVP of the previous Fiesta Bowl where Oklahoma State defeated Stanford and QB Andrew Luck. Coach Mike Gundy said this spring, “Justin’s had a really nice change of attitude,” which led to his two interceptions in the spring game. Superb on kickoff returns, Gilbert has five career TD returns.
10. Ricardo Allen, Purdue
2012: 45 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBUs
Allen moves into the 10th spot on our list, moving out Virginia Tech’s enormous (6-0, 224) Antone Exum, who tore his ACL and meniscus in January. Exum is in rehab mode with hopes of playing in the season opener against Alabama. Purdue’s Allen is good in press coverage and boasts plenty of confidence, proclaiming himself the “best cornerback in the Big Ten” last year. His best time in the 40 is 4.37. Allen has started since his frosh year in 2010 and has seven career interceptions.