Cosell breaks down the best cornerbacks in the NFL draft

Greg Cosell broke down the upcoming draft’s top cornerbacks on a Yahoo podcast Friday morning. Here’s what Cosell said.

D.J. Hayden

COSELL: I watched four games of D.J. Hayden this week, and I’m telling you it was the first time I’d ever seen him play, and as I’m watching I say, “Wait a second, this guy’s the best corner in the draft.” My guess is he won’t be drafted as such. But on film to me, he was the best corner in the draft. He has the naturally quickest feet of any corner in the draft. His backpedal was the most fluid. His balance and body control was absolutely remarkable. He was a sudden mover. He was competitive. He played the run. To me, he was the most physically gifted corner in this draft class.

Think about the backpedal and what has to happen off of the backpedal: Either you have to plant and drive and go forward, or if the receiver runs some kind of vertical route, you’ve got to then transition with smooth hips and fluid change of direction in order to turn in run. There are a lot of guys who can plant a drive but struggle with vertical routes. There are some guys who are good at turning and running, but it takes them fives steps to plant and drive. He was really, really good at both. And when he played press-man, he was right in the hip of the wide receiver. I watched him against Quinton Patton. Quinton Patton was irrelevant in the game. Hayden matched up to him the whole game.

Dee Milliner

COSELL: Milliner is a very, very good corner prospect. He played more to the boundary than he did to the field in the games I watched, and I thought there were some similarities to Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina last year. Milliner’s an aggressive kid. Overall he’s a very comfortable press-man corner. He’s got smooth balance and body control, but he’s not as good with his back pedal as Hayden is. But Milliner’s going to be a good player.

Xavier Rhodes

COSELL: You could argue he’s a little tight-hipped at times. Maybe at times he looks a little stiff. You could say the exact same things about Brandon Browner. Now, Rhodes isn’t quite as big, but his style of play is similar. He’s a physical, handsy guy. I can’t imagine Rhodes getting beyond No.15 in this draft, but we don’t know that.

Desmond Trufant

COSELL:  I watched four or five games, and I like Trufant. I think he’s got quick feet. I think he changes direction well. He showed the ability on film to play press man. I particularly watched him against USC because I wanted to watch him match up against Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Trufant easily ran with Lee on Go routes, which was very impressive to me because Lee’s an explosive kid. I think that he’s got fluid footwork. He’s very agile. He was physical in press man. He could easily play outside in the NFL and be very good, but he also could play effectively in the slot. He gives you a lot of versatility.

Jamar Taylor

COSELL: I like Trufant, but I just like Taylor more. To me, he was one of the smoothest corners I watched. He was a very easy mover. You could make the argument that he and Hayden were the smoothest guys. He didn’t play that many snaps of press man, and I think a lot of teams look at corners and feel you have to be able to play. Now, he has the skill set to play it, but it’s got to be taught. But he planted and drove in off coverage extremely well. He had great closing speed. He can turn and run. He’s got the complete skill set athletically. I could easily see him drafted late in the first round. He has what it takes to be a quality NFL starting corner.

Johnthan Banks

COSELL: I didn’t love him as much as some. I’m not suggesting he’s a stiff and a bust. He’s a very tall and lanky kid. I would say for the most part he’s smooth. He played quite a bit of safety in their sub packages. I think NFL teams wills start him at corner, but I’m wondering if possibly he ends up at safety. I don’t know if he’s a true corner. He struggled with transitions. He got beat deep a number of times in the games I watched. He’s a more measured and methodical mover than a quick-twitch guy.

David Amerson

COSELL: He’s a big kid. He’s a pure off coverage corner. I can’t recall him playing in press position. He’s clearly more measured than explosive. He’s got length. He was beaten for sloppy things that were easily coachable. He’s got ball skills. He’s got a sense of timing. I’m not saying he’s Asante Samuel, but he plays the same way.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson

COSELL: I like him. I think he’s got the size, length and movement to become a very good press corner. I thought even in off coverage he looked comfortable. He’s a bigger kid. That could impact where he’s drafted.

Darius Slay

COSELL: I like him more than his teammate, Banks. I think he’s a much more comfortable and composed player in press coverage. I think his press coverage is far smoother than Banks. Slay is a physical player. I like him better. I would draft Slay before Banks.

Tyrann Mathieu

COSELL: I saw him play against Tennessee in 2011 and cover Da’Rick Rogers in the slot. He handled Mathieu. I’m not as high on Mathieu as a lot of people. He made plays in college, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s going to make plays in the NFL.

Leon McFadden

COSELL: I think he’s a terrific player. He’s got everything you desire in a corner in terms of movement. Really good backpedal. I could argue his backpedal is one of the best in the draft. Very loose hips with the ability to plant and drive, but he’s 5-9. Is he a slot player? He probably is.

Sanders Commings

COSELL: He played boundary corner for Georgia and he played press all the time. I don’t know if he can do anything else. I thought he was a good press-man corner with physicality and transition skills. I don’t know what else he can do, but I liked him on film.

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