FLOWERY BRANCH — Here are the top 10 cornerback prospects (with projected draft round) for the 2016 NFL draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday in Chicago:
1. Jalen Ramsey, 6-1 1/4, 209, Florida State (first): He’s the physical press corner who fits all schemes. He’s been compared to Xavier Rhodes and Antonio Cromartie by NFL scouts. He’ll whip receivers up at the line of scrimmage and run with them on routes. Some have questioned his production for the Seminoles, but pro scouts are drooling over him.
2. Vernon Hargreaves III, 5-11, 199, Florida (first): He was a Jim Thorpe Award finalist after starting all 13 games and amassing 33 tackles, eight pass breakups and four interceptions. He was a three-year starter for the Gators. He’s the son of a football coach and plays with smarts. His Dad, Vernon played at Connecticut and is Arkansas’ linebackers coach.
3. Mackensie Alexander, 5-10, 190, Clemson (first): With all of hype over the Tigers defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, some have forgotten about Alexander, who is potentially a shut-down corner. He was a first-team all-ACC selection who plays with swagger and confidence. He’s a press cornerback, who’ll have to adjust his techniques in the pros.
4. Eli Apple, 6-0 5/8, 199, Ohio State (first): He was the Buckeyes top cornerback during their national championship run. He started 14 of 15 games and had 53 tackles, 10 pass breakups and three interceptions in 2014. He started all 13 games last season and was named the defensive most valuable player in the Fiesta Bowl.
5. William Jackson III, 6-1, 195, Houston (late first): His ball skills are elite. He led the nation with 23 pass break-ups, which is the second highest total over the past 20 years behind only Aquib Talib (28) in 2006. He had eight career interceptions.
6. Kendall Fuller, 6-1 1/2, 197, Virginia Tech (second): He’ll become the fourth Fuller brother to be drafted by the NFL joining Kyle (Bears, first round in 2014), Corey (Lions, sixth round in 2013) and Vincent (Tennessee, fourth round in 2005). He finished his career with 119 tackles, 35 pass breakups and eight interceptions. He had microfracture surgery on his right knee.
7. Zack Sanchez, 5-11, 185, Oklahoma (second/third): He started all 11 games last season and had 45 tackles, seven pass breakups and seven interceptions. He’s known as a gambler and will bite on double-move routes.
8. Xavier Howard, 6-0, 210, Baylor (third/fourth): He played a lot of man to man coverage for the Bears. Started all 26 games over the past two seasons and had nine interceptions.
9. Artie Burns, 5-11 7/8, 193, Miami (fourth/fifth): He started his career on special teams before cracking the starting lineup as a sophomore. He was a two-year starter for the Hurricanes. He’s a speedy player.
10. Jalen Mills, 6-0, 194, LSU (fourth/fifth): Considered the top nickel back prospect because he’s spectacular and tenacious while covering receivers out of the slot. Some teams might shy away from him because he was arrested and charged with battery for allegedly punching a woman.
Top 5 seniors for the 2017 draft: 1. Desmond King, Iowa. 2. Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson. 3. Dwayne Thomas, LSU. 4. Jourdain Lewis, Michigan and 5. Cameron Sutton, Tennessee.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter gives his top players for the Falcons to draft at #17, talks about the interest in LB Myles Jack & tells CineSport’s Noah Coslov where the team may go in round 2.
NFL DRAFT 2016 – POSITION BY POSITION SERIES
Sunday, April 17 — QUARTERBACKS
Monday — RUNNING BACKS
Tuesday – WIDE RECEIVERS
Wednesday — TIGHT ENDS
Thursday — OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Friday — DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Saturday, April 23 — LINEBACKERS
Sunday, April 24 — CORNERBACKS
D. Led’s breakdown of the cornerbacks
A look at the top 10 cornerbacks
Monday, April 25 — SAFETIES
D. Led’s breakdown of the Safeties
A look at the top 10 Safeties
Tuesday, April 26
D. Led’s breakdown of the Specialists, kickers, punters and returners
Position by position: Specialists chart
Wednesday, April 27
Final mock draft