The Square Pigeon’s 2020 NFL Draft Coverage – Cornerbacks

by Jason Belschner | April 11, 2020 |

There are four potential first year starters in this cornerback class. There might end up being an early run on these guys because the talent runs thin quickly. The strange in cornerbacks is happening before our eyes as all of the potential first round picks are over six feet tall and more physical. The days of speed demons dominating the early rounds might be over.

1) Jeff Okudah Ohio State                                                           

The unanimous first team All American and unanimous top corner in the draft, Jeff Okudah played a spectacular season for Ohio State. While he isn’t the fastest corner in the draft, Okudah is very athletic with explosive abilities. He put up one of the best verticals (41”) and broad jumps (135”) in the entire combine.

At Ohio State, he played a bunch of zone coverage where he proved to excel. He eyes the quarterback and keeps solid positioning on the receiver. His arms look abnormally long which allows a great wingspan to knock down passes. Those arms also help him win many of the 50/50 balls thrown his way.

With a little work on anticipation skills, Okudah will make big plays at the next level. Learning to jump routes better, will allow him to rack up interception. Right now, he gives too much space to short routes which allows for easy completions. Needs to get off blocks better to support the run game more.

2) Kristian Fulton     LSU

This might look like a stretch, but I like Kristian Fulton. A limited number of games played at LSU despite being a senior causes concern. It isn’t from injuries; instead, he missed an entire season due to suspension for tampering with a drug test.

There is no better compliment that opposing teams give to a corner than not throwing at him. I watched the Alabama and Auburn games, and neither team threw his way much. I believe I counted only seven pass attempts combined in the two games with two competitions. He gives the quarterback no room to throw.

The tampering suspension is a big red flag. Fulton admitted that he had smoked marijuana two days before the test. Also, his tackling is a bit concerning. Corners aren’t exactly known for tackling, but Fulton is below average even for corners. His closing speed is below average, but he rarely lets the receiver get away from him enough to need closing speed.

3) Trevon Diggs     Alabama

Stefon Diggs’ younger brother makes his way into the league on the opposite side of the ball. Earlier in his career, Trevon Diggs played on offense, defense, and on special teams as a returner. Diggs found his home as a corner and made it all the way to a third team All American.

Hyper physical is the best way to define Diggs style as a corner. He battles the receiver down the field as he easily shadows the receiver around the field. He manages to stay with the receivers all the way down the field. Many people point to the LSU game as a knock on Diggs, but the two big plays against him were a perfectly thrown back shoulder pass and a play where he fell down.

Diggs is an average tackler, but on more than one occasion, he fought for the strip only to allow a bunch of extra yards. Going down the field, he gets too grabby especially when receivers change direction. Tracking deep balls can be an issue for him too.

4) CJ Henderson     Florida

Just because CJ Henderson is fourth on my list doesn’t mean I don’t like him. This guy is a day one starter after being named as a member of the first team All SEC team. This season, Henderson only played nine games because of an ankle injury.

CJ Henderson is an athletic monster who put up huge numbers at the combine. He played a mix of zone and man at Florida and excelled at both. His hips are smooth and fluid which allows for quick changes to mirror receivers.

Two things knocked Henderson down my list. First, he seems to be completely uninterested in making a tackle. Bad arm tackles galore. Also, it looks like he gets beat repeatedly by inside moves. I’m not talking about playing zone and receivers running a slant. Receivers go inside of him and just run down the field. When playing zone, sometimes waits too long to pop hips and flip to follow the receiver. He gets away with it in college, but players in the NFL will get the better of him.

5) AJ Terrell Clemson

In 2018, AJ Terrel snagged third team ACC honors while playing alongside Trayvon Mullen. Terrell, now the star, moved up to first team ACC in 2019. Durability is not a concern as he has started all 30 games in the past two seasons.

His eyes stay locked on the quarterback while playing zone, yet he manages to flow to the receiver. Unlike other players on this list, Terrell is not afraid to get in there and bang. In fact, he seems to look to lay a blow on someone.

Terrell lets receivers get behind him too often. Instead of being the deepest man, he ends up needing to chase receivers down. This is a huge problem especially because he lacks the quick burst to make up ground. He’s not slow, but his closing speed isn’t impressive.

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