2016 NFL Draft: Top 5 CBs

Story posted April 18, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by George Stockburger

In a draft class that is widely considered to be defensive heavy, the cornerback class shines the most. With four or five projected to go in the first round alone, the cornerback class is rich in talent. Teams picking in the top 15 will have a plethora of options if they desire a reliable man coverage defender.

Here is a look at the top five cornerbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

1.  Jalen Ramsey, Florida State

Jalen Ramsey is a highly versatile defensive back, probably the most versatile we have seen in a long time. He spent his first couple seasons at Florida State playing safety and his final year as a cornerback. With excellent size and range, Ramsey has the talent to either be a Pro Bowl strong safety or a shutdown cornerback in his first year playing in the NFL. He will not fall out of the top five, and will most likely be a top three pick depending on what happens with the quarterbacks. Look for Cleveland, San Diego, and Dallas to be potential landing spots.

2.  Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

While people criticize his height at 5-foot-10, Vernon Hargreaves is the best pure cornerback in this years draft. He’s not going to move to safety or linebacker like some of the other guys this year and he has all the talent to shutdown NFL receivers. He makes up for his lack of size with excellent ball skills and speed; a lethal combination that allows him to shadow receivers down field and create turnovers. Hargreaves is a top 15 pick, but I do not expect him to fall out of the top 10. Look for Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Oakland to be in the market for Hargreaves.

3.  William Jackson III, Houston

William Jackson is a fast riser heading into the draft. He gives you very good speed as well as the length desire in todays NFL. He can use his long arms to deflect balls and create turnovers with ease. He is very physical, but not to the point where he will draw a lot of penalties. Look for Jackson to go in the top 20 to a team such as Oakland. If he slips out of the top 20, Pittsburgh and Kansas City will be making a hard push to trade up.

4.  Eli Apple, Ohio State

Eli Apple out of Ohio State can adapt to most NFL schemes. He plays well in either zone or man coverage and he can provide help on the outside of the field. Like Jackson, he has excellent length that he uses to create deflections and turnovers. He will struggle with his tackling and over-aggression, but he will most likely be lined up against the vertical receiver on the outside. Tackling is something I value incredibly high in a defensive back, but with good coaching Apple can harness the mechanics needed. Once again, look at Pittsburgh and Kansas City to be in play for the former Buckeye.

5.  Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

After a tough National Championship game, Mackensie Alexander saw his draft stock take a slight dip, pushing him towards the end of the first round. He has a frame similar to Vernon Hargreaves and shows excellent athleticism and quickness in space. He has a fluid lower body and the footwork scouts desire from an NFL prospect. He ran a sub-4.50 at his pro day and proved to be a strong man coverage defender. Look for a team in the late first to early second round take a chance on the undersized corner from Clemson.

George Stockburger is a junior majoring in journalism with a focus in broadcasting. He can be reached at gos5187@psu.edu