Draft Grades for Top 10 by Position - Cornerbacks

By Lance Zierlein
March 29, 2013

Lance Zierlein drops his Drafting the Top 10 by Position Series with cornerbacks.

Cornerback Rankings

Cornerback School Round
Dee Milliner Alabama 1st
Desmond Trufant Washington 1st
Xavier Rhodes Florida St. 1st
Johnathan Banks Mississippi St. 2nd
David Amerson NC State 2nd
Darius Slay Mississippi St. 2nd
DJ Hayden Houston 3rd
Robert Alford SE Louisiana 3rd
Leon McFadden San Diego St. 3rd
Tyrann Mathieu LSU 3rd


Dee Milliner is the top CB in this class, but the stigma surrounding many Alabama players around the league is that they are physically beat up coming out of school and they are coached up to such a high degree that they don't get much better on the next level.  Milliner only started full-time just one year at Alabama, but he is a classic Alabama CB who will come up and hit you in run support.  Milliner is fluid and does a good job of making plays on the ball.  He looks to have fewer weaknesses to his game than Dre Kirkpatrick or Kareem Jackson before him.

One player who has shown a steady improvement since the season started is Desmond Trufant.  When you watch him early in the season, you'll see a player who looks like a mid-rounder, but by the end of the year and especially at the Senior Bowl, Trufant looked like a sure-fire first rounder.  Trufant is a talker and competitor and can be very sticky in man to man on short and intermediate routes.  The one area where he has shown a potential weakness is with his long speed.

Xavier Rhodes and Johnathan Banks are a couple of big CBs who appear to be headed in opposite directions on draft day based, in part, on their combine performances.  Xavier Rhodes isn't just 6'2, he's a solid 210 pounds and he showed of his explosiveness at the combine with a sub 4.4 and an eye-popping vertical leap and broad jump.  What concerns me about Rhodes is that I see a CB who is a little slow to transition out of press coverage and he allows separation on crossing routes due to that same issue.

I like all other elements of his game, but the transitioning concerns me.  As for Banks, I like the potential.  He's tall but not bulky and he has long arms.  Banks is a willing tackler and is terrific when the ball is in the air.  His biggest concern is that he sometimes peeks too long into the backfield and loses sight of the WR and if that happens in the NFL with his 4.59 speed, he could be in trouble.

David Amerson was a bit of a disappointment for the Wolfpack this year, but I like the potential.  The problem is that when he was matched up against good WRs this year he was very inconsistent.  He showed blazing speed at the Combine which will get him over-drafted, but is his confidence going to be where it needs to be?

I like Darius Slay's game.  Slay is pretty good with run support, shows pretty good awareness/instincts and can be a plus player on special teams.  There is a level of confidence that Slay plays with that I really like and he's a natural cover corner.

D.J. Hayden has been flying under the radar for much of the draft process, but now that he's healthy, his stock is back on the rise.  Hayden is a terrific athlete who has had to take on some very aggressive passing units in C-USA.  His cover skills are underrated and you'll see him keep rising up draft boards.  I may have him too low.

Robert Alford has a great combination of length and overall athleticism and when you are as physically gifted as Alford is, you tend to get over-drafted and that could be the case.  He's got talent and really closes on the ball well.  Leon McFadden is one of my favorite CB prospects in the draft.  McFadden does a good job of reading QBs and does a good job of sticking to his man on short and intermediate routes.  The one area of concern for McFadden is his top-end speed.

Tyrann Mathieu is mentioned as purely a slot CB, but a league source who scouts CBs tells me that Mathieu has the skill set and toughness needed to play outside as well.  The baggage has to be taken into account with Mathieu when formulating a draft grade, but the talent is Top 40.