Chase Minnifield (USPresswire)
NFL draft analyst Ryan McCrystal of DraftAce.com reviewed the top players headed into the NFL Draft. As a special to Scout.com, here are his top five corners who can cover the likes of Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall or Hakeem Nicks...
Top 5 defenders who can cover
Ryan McCrystal, DraftAce.com
Scout: Instead of asking for a Top 5 ranking, we asked Ryan if he'd give us a more realistic look at the corners; Guys who can cover (Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall or
Here's what McCrystal told Scout.com:
To be a true shutout corner, you need pure athleticism. But to match up
with some of the game’s bigger, more physical receivers takes a
different type of skill set. Sometimes the top athletes aren’t the
players best suited to match up with the likes of Jackson, Marshall or
For that reason, this list isn’t necessarily about ranking the top
cornerbacks, but rather about the players with the unique skill set
necessary to take on some of the game’s taller and more physical pass
1. Morris Claiborne, LSU
Despite his relatively small stature (6’0”, 185 lbs) Claiborne is the premier shutdown corner in this year’s class. While receivers such as
Jackson or Marshall may have a significant height advantage over Claiborne, he makes up for it by consistently playing the ball rather
than the receiver. No corner in this year’s class can match Claiborne’s ability to turn himself into the receiver once the ball is in the air.
2. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
While Kirkpatrick can’t quite match Claiborne in terms of raw talent,
he makes up for it with his size. There are a small handful of corners
in the league with Kirkpatrick’s combination of height (6’2”) and
athleticism, which will make him a hot commodity on draft day. He isn’t
a particularly physical player, but his height alone will
make him an asset, especially in the red zone.
3. Chase Minnifield, Virginia
Minnifield doesn’t have the size or athleticism to immediately catch
your eye, but he is among the most polished prospects in this year’s
class. He checks in at 6’0”, 185 pounds, but is willing to mix it up at
the line of scrimmage and never backs down from more physical
receivers. He may lack the ability to dominate a one-on-one matchup,
but he knows how to be disruptive which is sometimes all you need to be
successful against bigger receivers who are used to having their way
with smaller defensive backs.
4. Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
Gilmore is a bit of a project who needs to work on his fundamentals
before he’s ready to excel at the next level. However, he does possess
the size necessary to lock down some of the game’s more physical
receivers. At 6’1”, Gilmore has the ability to cause problems for guys
like Vincent Jackson who struggle to separate and often rely on their
ability to leap over smaller defenders in jump ball situations.
5. Leonard Johnson, Iowa State
Johnson is the shortest player on this list (5’10”) but is well built
(202 lbs) and can be extremely physical in press coverage. Like
Minniefield, he’s a small, pesky corner who does just enough to slow
down receivers and throw off their route. He may struggle in the red
zone, due to a pure size disadvantage, but has the skills to match up
against any receiver in other situations.
TOP DB's Ranked by Scout.com
McCrystal's Top 5 exclusive to Scout.com. For more of his NFL Draft
coverage, be sure to visit DraftAce.com
Ryan McCrystal is the owner of DraftAce.com,
and has been scouting NFL
Draft prospects since 2004. His weekly Heisman Predictor column is also
featured on ESPN.com throughout the college football season. Ryan has
been a member of the FWAA since 2007.