No one wants to feel old.
If that sounds like you, dear reader, then you might not want to read this list of the top cornerback prospects in the 2021 NFL draft. Why not, you ask? Because a number of these players have NFL ties, either through siblings or - in most cases - through their fathers. That's right, you've reached that point in life where some of the players you grew up watching are now watching their own children embark on NFL journeys.
Nothing ages a fan more than that.
But these athletes offer more than a last name, they offer the potential to become lockdown cornerbacks at the next level. Here are the top 11 cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL draft. For the rest of the draft class, you can check out the handy Touchdown Wire Scouting Hub: Touchdown Wire's top prospects in the 2021 NFL draft class
Note: The percentiles in parentheses listed next to pro day data are compared to all historical athletic testing (combine and pro day) at the respective position of the player. Kudos to Pro Football Focus, and their pro day schedule and results , for this. As there was no scouting combine in 2021, and pro day schedules vary, we may not have all testing information for all prospects at publication time. For offensive tackles whose positional specificity is in question, we will include percentiles for both positions per PFF's data.
1. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
(Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)
Height: 6'2" (95th percentile) Weight: 208 (94th) 40-Yard Dash: 4.42 seconds (85th) Bench Press: 18 reps (33rd) Vertical Jump: 39 inches (84th) Broad Jump: 131 inches (91st) 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: In what will be a theme for this list of players, Patrick Surtain II is the first of a few top prospects at the position who comes from an NFL family. His father was a defensive back with the Miami Dolphins and played 11 seasons in the NFL, making three Pro Bowls. Surtain was a five-star recruit in the 2018 class and graded as the fifth-best prospect in the nation by ESPN, electing to play at Alabama over Clemson, LSU and Miami. It is hard to crack the starting lineup in the Crimson Tide secondary as a true freshman but Surtain did just that, and has been a starter ever since. He was a Unanimous All-American this past season, as well as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Stat to Know: Among the things Surtain offers is press coverage experience. Pro Football Focus charted him with 662 snaps over the past two years in press, 199 more than any other cornerback. Strengths: Surtain is a technically-sound cornerback, to the point that studying him feels more like watching clinic tape than evaluating a player. He is proficient at the line, whether in the slot or on the boundary, with patient hands and quick feet in press alignment. His eyes and vision are tremendous, against flood or switch concepts he does not panic at all when dropping into zone, allowing him to react to throws or break on routes as necessary. The experience shows even when the ball is not thrown in his direction, as you can see Surtain calling out routes and concepts and alerting teammates to crossers, shallows, unders, switches and a variety of designs. Coming from a Nick Saban defense Surtain is ready to handle any coverage responsibility. He is great in zone, but also great in man coverages or matching designs, whether man matching or zone matching. You can see that shows up on his Pick Six against Mississippi State, when he uses a press bail technique, then relates to the curl route and sticks right on the receiver's hip, and finally drives to the catch point for the interception and the score. Surtain is, in my mind, a pretty easy evaluation. Weaknesses: Some have pointed to his athleticism, wondering if he can handle faster receivers. That is not something that concerned me on film, and when you see the explosiveness as well as the long speed that he displayed at the Alabama pro day, you should put that concern to rest. He is an NFL-ready defensive back with technique and athleticism at his disposal. Try not to overthink this evaluation. Conclusion: If your team needs a cornerback who can start day one and is ready to handle everything the NFL can throw his way, this is your guy. Comparison: Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus compared him to Trumaine Johnson. Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network mentioned Byron Jones. You can see both in his game, and even after Surtain's pro day you can see the athletic side of Jones.
2. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
(Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'1" (79th percentile) Weight: 205 (91st) 40-Yard Dash: 4.39 seconds (85th) Bench Press: 19 reps (89th) Vertical Jump: 42 inches (97th) Broad Jump: 133 inches (96th) 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: Two cornerbacks, two players with NFL history in their family. Jaycee Horn's father Joe was a wide receiver for years with the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. Jaycee was a three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com and originally committed to Tennessee over Alabama and South Carolina, but ended up flipping that commitment to play for the Gamecocks. Stat to Know: Horn allowed a passer rating of just 54.9 this past season. Strengths: Competitive toughness is a trait I harp on at the quarterback position but it matters for cornerbacks as well, and Horn aces this part of the evaluation. He does not just want to shut you down, he wants to embarrass you from snap to whistle. Horn is physical off the line, fights through the route as much as he can and is physical at the catch point. His battle against Kyle Pitts in the Florida game has become a bit of scouting lore: [video width="960" height="720" mp4="https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/59/2021/03/HornVideo1.mp4">[/video] That is a freak receiver that he is working against with the wingspan of a 737, and Horn fights him step-for-step along the way. Horn can be patient in press and does not panic, nor does he panic and jump out of his backpedal early when stressed quick in the play on a vertical threat. He can drive on the ball well and you saw that on a play against Mississippi where he gave up around ten yards of cushion on a flat route and still drove on the play, stopping it for a loss. In that game you also saw him covering Elijah Moore, and a player that covers Pitts one week and Moore the next is a special kind of athlete. Weaknesses: If you take a spin through "Football Twitter" you might notice that Horn is a bit of a polarizing prospect. Is he as clean an evaluation as Patrick Surtain II? No. Do some have Caleb Farley above him? Absolutely, and that is a common sentiment. Quicker/shiftier players did give him a bit of trouble. DeVonta Smith certainly had a great game against him, but the Heisman Trophy winner had a great game against a lot of players. Will Horn draw some flags in the NFL due to his physical style of play? Probably, but we see flags every Sunday. Is he a perfect tackler? No, but are you drafting a corner to cover, or to tackle in run support? Conclusion: The bottom-line is this: Horn has the experience and the mental makeup to be a top-flight press coverage cornerback in the NFL. If that sounds like something your defense can use, you might want to grab him early because he will not be there next time you are on the clock. His versatility is a huge asset for his next team. Comparison: Schematically, and only schematically, I have compared him to Jalen Ramsey. For more on that comparison and why I think Horn is a sneaky pick for the Los Angeles Chargers you can dive into this piece.
3. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'2" (Listed) Weight: 207 (Listed) 40-Yard Dash: N/A Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: Caleb Farley breaks up our streak of players with NFL lineage -- but we will circle back to that in a moment -- but there is a lot to love about this player. Farley was graded as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com out of Maiden High School in Maiden, North Carolina, and chose the Virginia Tech Hokies over schools such as South Carolina and Wake Forest. He was a quarterback in high school who threw for 1,776 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior, along with a whopping 2,574 yards and 37 touchdowns, and that rushing yardage set a school record. Farley was recruited to play wide receiver, and redshirted in 2017 after suffering a knee injury during preseason practice. He made the switch to cornerback for the 2018 season and was a contributor all year, including notching an interception in his first college game. But 2019 was his breakout year, as he led the ACC with 16 pass breakups and was named a First-Team All-ACC player. Farley opted-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Stat to Know: Some aspects of his evaluation require some projection, and Farley's 58 press-man snaps will require a focus on the traits and not the experience. Strengths: It might be odd to start this section of the profile with how well Farley recovers on routes, but that is one of the traits that truly jumps off the screen when you watch him. Even if a receiver gets a step or two on him, Farley is one of the better prospects in recent memory at closing down the separation and getting to the football. One of his two interceptions against Miami in 2019 is a prime example, as he is beaten on a vertical route but he does not panic and makes up the gap, recovering for an interception. That closing speed was put to use in the Hokies' secondary, as Farley played a lot of off coverage, which allowed him to drive on plays and disrupt at the catch point. He is able to read routes well from that alignment, and his other interception against Miami -- down in the end zone -- is a great example. Farley starts playing a bit off the receiver and beats him to the ball off the break to the outside. He is adept at getting to the right hip and putting himself in position to make plays. Weaknesses: Again, the press-man part of the game requires a bit more projection. You can see examples of him handling those assignments well, such as early in the game against Miami where he stuck with some receivers on their routes from a press alignment and technique. There are moments on film where the change-of-direction skills are a bit lacking. Routes working back down the vertical stem, such as curls and comebacks, can see Farley a bit slow to sink the hips and drive back to the spot. Still, his recovery skills often put him in position to disrupt the catch and he has a solid rake technique at the catch point. The other thing to consider with Farley is the back injury, as recently underwent a microdiskectomy to help him deal with a herniated disk in his lumbar spine. Conclusion: There are some outlets and/or evaluators that have Farley as high as CB1 on their boards, and when you watch the Miami game you can see why. He has some elite traits at the position, such as that recovery ability, and given his relative inexperience at playing corner, you can see room for growth and a potentially high ceiling. His background as a quarterback also gives him a great feel for the game, and where to get on each route to disrupt the play. He might need time to round out the press-man part of the game, and the medical history requires some further examination, but this is a talented player who can contribute immediately. Comparison: Pro Football Focus' Mike Renner went with Jimmy Smith, and that is a comparison that is worth a second.
4. Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
(Nikos Frazier-USA TODAY NETWORK)
Height: 6'0" (71st percentile) Weight: 192 (51st) 40-Yard Dash: 4.38 seconds (88th) Bench Press: 18 reps (85th) Vertical Jump: 40 inches (91st) Broad Jump: 123 inches (55th) 3-Cone Drill: 6.94 seconds (49th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.28 seconds (31st) Bio: 247Sports.com graded Greg Newsome II as a three-star recruit at the safety position coming out of IMG Academy. Newsome entertained a number of different scholarship offers from over 20 schools, ultimately choosing the Northwestern Wildcats, close to his home town of Carol Stream, Illinois. He appeared in six games as a true freshman with four starts during the 2018 season and made eight starts back in 2019. He started every game for Northwestern in 2020 and was named First-Team All-Big Ten. Newsome is a younger prospect who will not turn 21 until next month. Stat to Know: Newsome allowed a passer rating of 31.7 this past season, with no touchdowns allowed and an interception. Strengths: Footwork is critical to solid cornerback play and Newsome's feet are up there with the best in the class. He is a fluid mover who stays patient in his backpedal even when stressed vertically, and he does not panic against switch concepts or double-moves. He pairs his feet and his eyes well, working through reads in zone coverage situations and Newsome has great feel for passing off routes to other defenders and getting to the next threat in his zone. Newsome also drives very well on routes, and a prime example of this came against Wisconsin when he was playing Cover 2 in the flat. He sank vertically when the outside receiver released downfield but kept his eyes on the flat, and when the QB threw the checkdown Newsome exploded downhill to breakup the play. Weaknesses: Northwestern was a heavy zone team this past season, and as such his strengths and experience pair him best with teams relying heavily on zone coverage. You can see examples of him handling man coverage well even from a press alignment, once such coming against Wisconsin when he was in a press alignment pre-snap and stayed right on the hip of a receiver on a post route, so the skills are there. But if you draft him hoping to get a Day One press-man corner, you might be setting the bar too high. Can he give you that part of the game? Sure, but perhaps not immediately. Conclusion: Still, teams that play a lot of zone will love his footwork and his eyes. He might be a more schematically-limited corner out of the box, but there is room for growth and a pretty solid ceiling. Comparison: Newsome reminds me a lot of Carlton Davis when he was coming out of Auburn.
5. Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Height: 5'10" (26th percentile) Weight: 180 (8th) 40-Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds (62nd) Bench Press: 12 reps (33rd) Vertical Jump: 35 inches (35th) Broad Jump: 124 inches (62nd) 3-Cone Drill: 6.95 seconds (46th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.13 seconds (71st) Bio: We return to the realm of NFL families, as Asante Samuel Jr. watched his father play for years in the NFL with the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. Samuel Jr. was a four-star recruit with multiple scholarship offers who chose to play his football at Florida State for the Seminoles. He was a Third-Team All-ACC selection in 2019, and a First-Team selection this past season. Stat to Know: You can see the improvement from him over the past three seasons as reflected in his passer rating allowed. After surrendering a passer rating of 109.1 in 2018, that dropped to 75.0 in 2019 nd 46.2 this past campaign. Strengths: Samuel has great feel, balance and change-of-direction skills. He displays good zone eyes when spot-dropping, and often "runs the route" for the receiver, beating him to the break or the spot on the play. Florida State put him in a lot of press-man alignments and you can see his press technique on film, from the patience with his upper body and feet, and his ability to stick on routes with ease. He, like Caleb Farely, has great closing speed and when you couple that with his feel for the game, you get a cornerback who can drive on the football and prevent completions. Pro Football Focus noted that his "forced incompletion rate" of 19.7% in 2019 was actually his worst single-season mark in that statistic. Samuel offers what I like to call "micro moves" at the position with his feet, as he stays balanced, does not over-react to breaks or double-moves, and stays patient from head-to-toe. Two of my favorite plays from him came against Miami this past season, first when he jumped a smoke-screen design that would have been an easy Pick Six if the QB did not pull the football down, and later in the game when he jammed the receiver off the line in the red zone, got his eyes inside to the slot receiver who was releasing to the flat, and broke downhill to notch a tackle for a loss. Weaknesses: Teams will have questions about his size and whether he can play on the outside in the NFL, or if he will be a slot defender only due to his frame. I think his feel and press-man ability gives him a chance at sticking outside, but that might not be a universal opinion. You can see him get handled easily by blockers both in the screen game or when running plays head to his side of the field. Conclusion: In my opinion Samuel Jr. has the ability to play outside and his combination of footwork, technique and experience makes him a boundary option at the next level. That is just one opinion, and teams might view him as more of a pure slot defender which could impact his draft stock. Still, it does just take one team, and the organization that gives him a chance outside might be glad they did. Comparison: Comparing him to his father is low-hanging fruit, but it does fit. You could also go with Brandon Flowers, as Joe Marino of The Draft Network did.
6. Eric Stokes, Georgia
(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'0" (66th percentile) Weight: 195 (59th) 40-Yard Dash: 4.34 seconds (95th) Bench Press: 14 reps (51st) Vertical Jump: 39 inches (80th) Broad Jump: 128 inches (84th) 3-Cone Drill: 6.96 seconds (45th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.36 seconds (17th) Bio: ESPN graded Eric Stokes as a three-star prospect coming out of Eastside High School in Covington, Georgia, as a running back/defensive back. Stokes considered a number of different schools and fielded 19 scholarship offers, but chose Georgia over other SEC schools such as Florida and Mississippi. He redshirted as a freshman but in the 2018 season he appeared in 13 of Georgia's 14 games with three starts, and was named the co-winner of the Bulldogs' Defensive Most Improved Player Award. 2019 was Stokes' big breakout as a cornerback. He was named an Second-Team All-SEC player after starting 13 games and leading Georgia with nine pass breakups. 2020 was even better for him, as he was named a First-Team All-ACC player and finished second in the conference with four interceptions. Stat to Know: Pro Football Focus charted Stokes with five games this past season with less than ten yards allowed. Strengths: If an experienced cornerback who played at a high level in the SEC and is ready to handle a variety of coverage responsibilities in the NFL sounds like your cup of tea, then Stokes might be the player for you. He is a schematically-diverse cornerback with man coverage skills, including from press alignments, as well as the ability to handle zone coverages without panicking or bailing out of his drop early in the down. He is very patient in press alignment, waiting for the receiver to make his move before firing out his hands to get into the receiver's body. A perfect example of this comes from his game against Florida, where he was aligned in press down near the goal line and prevented a touchdown on a slant route. He is physical off the line, and if you remember Malcolm Butler's interception at the end of Super Bowl XLIX you might also remember what Brandon Browner did on that play, driving into the receiver off the snap. Stokes did the exact same thing on a similar design against the Gators this year. Stokes also has good feel for the position, and will jump routes and peel off his responsibility if the QB's eyes lead him elsewhere. He moves well and can flip his hips in an instant, as he did covering a corner route early in Georgia's game against Mississippi State. In all, he is an experienced corner with schematic versatility. He also tested very well, particularly with his long speed. Weaknesses: Stokes does get physical at times, and that could lead to flags at the next level. There are also moments where he could be more physical, particularly against the run or against the screen game. There are moments on film where he looked tentative, and that allowed blockers to get into him and erase him from the play. Change-of-direction skills are a mixed bag, as illustrated by his agility testing numbers. There are moments when he moves well, such as that corner route previously mentioned. Then there are moments where he looks more stiff, an struggles to match shiftier receivers. Conclusion: Despite that, I remind you that if you want a scheme-diverse CB with extensive experience in the SEC going up against some of the best receivers in college football, then Stokes is the kind of player you want on your board. I might be higher on him than consensus, but I think his background, press coverage experience and his long speed make him a very solid option early in the draft. Comparison: I see a little J.C. Jackson to his game, and Stokes does also compare athletically to Kyle Fuller when he was coming out of Virginia Tech.
7. Elijah Molden, Washington
(James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 5'9" (10th percentile) Weight: 192 (52nd) 40-Yard Dash: 4.62 seconds (6th) Bench Press: 13 reps (41st) Vertical Jump: 37 inches (58th) Broad Jump: 125 inches (69th) 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: Once more we encounter a cornerback prospect from an NFL family as Alex Molden played for eight years in the NFL as a defensive back, and is a member of the University of Oregon Hall of Fame. Elijah Molden was a running back and CB at West Linn High School in Oregon and the four-star recruit considered following his father to Oregon, but decided to play at Washington. He was a rotational player in 2018 before carving out a starting role in 2019 as a slot defender, where he played 725 of his 884 snaps that season. This past year Molden was used in a few different roles, which we will discuss in a moment. Stat to Know: Pro Football Focus charted him with just 22 missed tackles on 172 career attempts. Strengths: It is time to level with you, dear reader. I came to Molden late in the process, and he was probably in the final group of the hundreds of prospects I have watched for this draft cycle. Beaten down by the weight of draft season I turned on his film...and rediscovered why what I get to do for a living is an incredibly fun job. Watching Molden fly around the field rekindled the passion for this game and if it clouded my evaluation of him a bit, I do not care in the least. He is a fascinating player to watch and his usage in 2020 where he saw time at safety, particularly in the game against Stanford, has me thinking about the versatility he offers at the next level. He is explosive and plays with his hair on fire, and can be an impact player underneath, in the slot or down the field. He can mirror routes extremely well from the slot and changes direction with ease. If you watch him against Utah this season you will see him in more of the slot/box role and he flies downhill against the run, handles tight ends and slot receivers equally, and is a disruptive force. Then you watch him against Stanford playing as a rangy center fielder, or even a half-field safety, and you can see why defensive coordinators might feel like I did watching him. Weaknesses: Molden's size and athleticism might give teams some concerns. He could lack the frame and length to transition to safety full-time, and the aggressive, downhill nature of his game could take a hit at the next level against bigger, faster competition. His transition to safety is also a work in progress, as he seemed tentative at times when dropping into zones and trying to read and decipher concepts downfield. But if you view him as a slot corner, he is so solid there and so skilled at the position that he can step in an play immediately for an number of teams. Conclusion: Every draft cycle you come across player that are "your guys," athletes that you would bang the table for or want to have on your team. Molden is one of those player for me this cycle. I think he could step right into most teams and be a starting slot corner, and I think his ability to play at the safety spot makes him an enticing option due to that versatility. He plays this game with passion, anger and rage and after all, that is kind of the foundation of this sport. Comparison: Mark McAleenan. Now I know that name means nothing to the 99% of people reading this but during my time at Wesleyan University I played with a safety, Mark McAleenan. He played with his hair on fire on every single down, and despite being undersized he would make plays all over the field. During the 1995 season he notched 97 total tackles, which sounds impressive on its own, but we played an 8-game schedule. For a comparison that might be more familiar to readers, PFF went with Jimmie Ward and that works too. But to me, he's "Mac."
8. Ifetau Melifonwu, Syracuse
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'2" (96th percentile) Weight: 205 (91st) 40-Yard Dash: 4.48 seconds (49th) Bench Press: 16 reps (70th) Vertical Jump: 42 inches (97th) Broad Jump: 134 inches (98th) 3-Cone Drill: 7.01 seconds (34th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.34 seconds (20th) Bio: Yet another cornerback prospect with a family connection to the NFL. Ifeatu Melifonwu's older brother Obi was a second-round pick by the then-Oakland Raiders following a standout career at the University of Connecticut and an impressive pre-draft process. Ifeatu was a running back, receiver and defensive back for Grafton High School in Massachusetts and the three-star recruit considered offers from schools like Navy, Maine, Michigan and the University of New Hampshire before picking Syracuse. He redshirted his freshman year but started to see more playing time over the past few seasons, including in 2020 when he was named a Third-Team All-ACC player at corner. Stat to Know: Having mentioned passer rating allowed a lot during this list, after allowing a rating of 73.7 over 209 snaps in 2018 and 67.0 over 523 snaps in 2019, Melifonwu allowed a passer rating of 94.9 over 910 snaps in 2020. Strengths: Melifonwu is a long, explosive cornerback with the frame and size to be a dominant player on the outside. He is sticky in man coverage, particularly against vertical routes, but he moves well when receivers break off yet maintain depth, such as on dig routes, post routes or corner routes. He can flip his hips well in those moments and stay in phase on the receiver. He shows good feel and awareness in both man and zone coverage, and when tasked with crossing the field he is adept at not getting picked off by traffic and staying on his man. His length puts him in position to get to passes and disrupt at the catch point. He is physical when he wants to be, although that will merit more discussion in a moment. Melifonwu is at his best working against vertical routes. Weaknesses: Physicality is a bit of a question mark. You can find examples of him being a bit of a bully, as he was against Clemson against some of their screen designs, or against Notre Dame coming downfield against the run or trying to force plays back towards help. Or after the catch, as he was on a completion against UNC where he put a strong hit on the receiver after a catch in the flat. But at other moments he is a bit more tentative, particularly when in press alignment or working underneath. Dyami Brown was able to out-muscle him on a few cuts. In terms of changing direction, Melifonwu often needs an additional gather-step or two when the route works back downhill towards the line of scrimmage, such as comebacks, hitches or curls. Routes that maintain or gain depth such as posts, corners or digs he can handle with ease, but the more sudden change-of-direction routes give him more difficulty. Conclusion: I have often thought that it is easier to teach a player to dial things back than it is to get more aggressive, and if that is indeed the case with Melifonwu, there could be some concern about his transition to the NFL. Still, his size, frame and ability to move is going to be attractive to teams. Comparison: Melifonwu reminds me of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, another long corner with athleticism coming out of Nebraska. He was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Saints and never quite managed to stick in the NFL. Hopefully Melifonwu enjoys a much better career.
9. Paulson Adebo, Stanford
(Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'1" (85th percentile) Weight: 198 (73rd) 40-Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds (62nd) Bench Press: 18 reps (85th) Vertical Jump: 37 inches (57th) Broad Jump: 121 inches (39th) 3-Cone Drill: 6.69 seconds (91st) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.13 seconds (71st) Bio: Paulson Adebo dreamed of attending Stanford, but when the Cardinal did not offer the four-star recruit early in the process Adebo committed to Notre Dame over Colorado, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma, to name a few. But when the Cardinal did make him an offer, he flipped his commitment to his dream school. He started 12 games in 2018, making 64 tackles and recording four interceptions. He followed that up with four more interceptions as a junior in 2019, and despite speculation that he would enter the draft, Adebo announced he would return to school for the 2020 season. He then decided to opt-out due to COVID-19. he leaves Palo Alto having been named a two-time First-Team All-Pac-12 player. Stat to Know: Adebo notched 24 pass breakups over his two seasons of action. Strengths: Adebo is a long cornerback with good ball skills, who is a true disruptor at the catch point. He does a good job at tracking the football and raking through the pocket, turning would-be completions into incompletions in an instant. Stanford was a heavy zone scheme so Adebo is well-versed in handling zone coverage responsibilities, and has a good feel for route distribution and passing off receivers to the next player and immediately locating his next target. He sticks on routes well in man coverage situations, and is fluid enough to handle and cover a complete route tree. His hands are his strength, and if quarterbacks lose sight of him or are off-target with throws in his direction, he will make them pay. Weaknesses: Adebo has much more experience playing in zone than in man or press-man, so that part of the evaluation is a bit of an "incomplete." He looks to have the tools to handle more press responsibilities, but teams that are heavy press-man defenses will need to adjust expectations early in his career. Tackling is another issue, as Pro Football Focus charted him with 25 missed tackles on 135 career attempts, and the numbers match the tape. He is much better on the outside against receivers, however, than he is down near the line against running backs so teams might be willing to overlook the sheer numbers. He also gave up some big plays on double-moves, which is something to watch. Conclusion: Scheme fit might be critical here, and if a defense is looking for an experienced zone coverage corner with room to grow, Adebo could be an ideal fit. From a size and physical profile, Adebo could take on more man coverage responsibilities and become a proficient corner in man-heavy systems, but that will take some time. Comparison: Watching Adebo I'm reminded of Eli Apple during his time at Ohio State.
10. Aaron Robinson, Central Florida
(Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 5'11" (53rd percentile) Weight: 186 (25th) 40-Yard Dash: 4.39 seconds (85th) Bench Press: 15 reps (62nd) Vertical Jump: 37 inches (62nd) Broad Jump: 123 inches (54th) 3-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds (61st) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.29 seconds (29th) Bio: Aaron Robinson began his college football journey at Alabama, the school the former three-star recruiting prospect chose over other options such as Florida and Kentucky. But after playing his freshman season for the Crimson Tide Robinson transferred to Central Florida and sat out for a season. He then lost most of his sophomore year due to an injury suffered on the first kickoff of the 2018 season. He returned to the field and was named a Second-Team All-AAC player in each of the past two years. Robinson also earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl this draft cycle. Stat to Know: Robinson allowed a passer rating of just 74.5 this past season when targeted in the 10-19 yard range. Strengths: Robinson has the mentality of a linebacker in a slot cornerback's body. He is physical against the run and in pass coverage, and is well-versed in both man and zone coverage. In zone coverage he feels routes well and can keep his eyes on the QB while relating to each threat, and also passes off routes well underneath. In man coverage he is slow to flip his hips at times, but he plays well in trail technique. He did play on the outside some at UCF, but the bulk of his work was done in the slot. He plays downhill with a vengeance, and seems most comfortable triggering against run looks and flowing towards the football. Weaknesses: Ball skills are a question with him, he did not record an interception this past season and there are moments when it looks like he could be more disruptive at the catch point than he is. He struggled at times against vertical routes and gave up some big plays downfield, as evidenced by the 141.4 passer rating allowed on throws of 20 yards or more. Robinson also had some tackling issues, moreso in 2019, but that was probably due to his physical and frenetic style of play. Conclusion: Because of his physical nature of play Robinson looks the part of a slot corner at the next level, because he offers run support as well as the ability to handle routes on the inside. Comparison: Robinson might remind some of Duke Dawson when he was coming out of Florida, an aggressive, physical cornerback who was helpful in run support and did most of his work on the inside.
11. Ambry Thomas, Michigan
Height: 6'0" (62nd percentile) Weight: 191 (45th) 40-Yard Dash: 4.37 seconds (91st) Bench Press: 15 reps (62nd) Vertical Jump: 38 inches (74th) Broad Jump: 122 inches (46th) 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: Ambry Thomas had no shortage of scholarship offers coming out of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit as a four-star recruit. Penn State, Arizona, LSU and Miami were among the 40 schools to give him an offer, but he stayed close to home to play for the Wolverines. He saw action as a true freshman, mostly on special teams and as a kick returner. Thomas took on a bigger role in 2018, playing both in the secondary and on the offensive side of the football while still helping as a kick returner, as he did against Notre Dame with a 99-yard kick return touchdown. 2019 was his big year on the defensive side of the football, as Thomas started all 13 games at cornerback and finished the year with 38 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions. Stat to Know: During that 2019 season, Thomas allowed a passer rating of just 56.3. Strengths: Thomas is a fast corner with press-man ability and experience. Back in 2019 while he spent the most of his time on the boundary, he also saw 43 snaps on the inside. He has good press coverage technique with fast hands and patience, and he changes directions well against quick-game routes such as pivots, whips, slants and shallows. His hands in press are some of the best in the class, and he has the ability to counter the receiver well, almost like an EDGE defender working against an offensive tackle. He does not panic at the line or downfield, and his speed allows him to recover when beaten downfield. He showed the ability to make plays and disrupt the catch point, traits you saw on film against Ohio State, Alabama and Wisconsin. Weaknesses: Thomas is almost a blank slate. He was only targeted 57 times in college, he started just one season and he opted-out in 2020 due to COVID-19. What we saw on film in 2019 looks the part of a press-man cornerback in the NFL, but there are some question marks. He was bullied a bit by bigger, stronger receivers and unfortunately, things will not get easier on Sundays. The long speed certainly shows up on film and during his testing, but Thomas struggled to change directions at times on film and the lack of agility testing at his pro day leaves that concern lingering. Conclusion: Despite the questions, cornerbacks who come from press-man systems tend to stick in the NFL, even with thin resumes. Thomas could be the next player in that mold to stick on Sundays given his ability to press and the hand technique that works at the next level. His ability to contribute on special teams as well might give him a path to make an impact early on an NFL roster. Comparison: Kyle Crabbs compared him to Jourdan Lewis coming out of college, and this comparison makes sense to me.