The "The Triple Take" wraps up its position-by-position review of 2020 draft prospects with the Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta ranking those entering the draft at the cornerback position. If you want to hear the audio version of "The Triple Take" click here.
Matt's Takes ...
Matt Williamson: Cornerbacks are always in great demand with 11 Personnel (1 RB/1 TE) being the NFL's most used offensive personnel grouping now by a wide margin. Every team is looking for cornerback help and if they aren't, they should be. This draft class is a pretty good place to look for that help. In terms of the best positions in this draft, cornerback is pretty much middle of the road. It does have an elite prospect and quality depth.
#10 - Damon Arnette, Ohio State (5-11, 195 lbs.) - Arnette has good size and shows a lot physicality and aggressiveness. But he is really just a one-year producer-albeit at a fantastic school for cornerback prospects. Arnette is best in press man where he can do battle from the start at the line of scrimmage, but his arm length isn't ideal. He also plays the run well, even with a cast on his hand.
#9 - Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech (5-8, 187 lbs.) - Robertson is far from the size prototype for the position and might be just limited to a slot role at the next level, but his tape is a blast to watch. He has very quick feet and loves inserting himself into the action near the line of scrimmage. Robertson picked off 14 passes at Louisiana Tech and has excellent ball skills and feel for the game. Remember, top slot cornerbacks are now starters.
#8 - Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn (5-10, 198 lbs.) - This is a raw player with great tools to work with, but is inconsistent with his technique, particularly his footwork near the line of scrimmage. This is an explosive player that doesn't back down. The fact that Igbinoghene is the youngest player on this list really works in his favor with the anticipation that his best years will be on the horizon. It should be noted that Igbinoghene has only one career interception, but he did shine against Alabama's great group of wide outs this past year.
#7 - Jaylon Johnson, Utah (5-11, 193 lbs.) - Johnson is a smart player that understands route concepts while showing very good instincts and anticipation. Johnson plays hard even though he isn't the biggest guy. Johnson's short arms are a little concerning, but he does change directions well and shows good hips. He is a good productive player and is probably at his best in press coverage, but certainly isn't limited to one scheme.
#6 - A.J. Terrell, Clemson (6-1, 195 lbs.) - Terrell really had a tough time against LSU's passing attack in the National Championship, but such outings are extremely rare for him. He has very good length and is a smooth mover for someone with such dimensions. Terrell has been very reliable and durable and is regarded as a team leader.
#5 - Trevon Diggs, Alabama (6-1, 205 lbs.) - Diggs' size, length and physicality jump out immediately and few players at the position possess his traits. LSU's passing game tortured Diggs this past year, but other than that, he was stellar in 2019. Coming to Alabama as an offensive player, he has great ball skills and would be ideal in a predominant Cover 3 scheme. There are questions about Diggs' pure speed and not getting a test score on him could hurt his stock.
#4 - Jeff Gladney, TCU (5-10, 191 lbs.) - Gladney has good height, but is very skinny. Fortunately for him, Gladney has top notch speed as well as recognition skills and a good wingspan. He has light quick feet and can align in press or off coverage. He helps make up for his thinner body type with a nasty play demeanor and allowed very little in the way of production against him at TCU. Gladney is somewhat of an overaged prospect though.
#3 - Kristian Fulton, LSU (5-11, 197 lbs.) - Fulton had a rough National Championship game, but overall his tape was very impressive. He played a lot of man coverage at LSU and has excellent length to continue that at the next level. Fulton can eliminate a route at the college level instantly while in press. He sees the field well, but Fulton could improve his tackling.
#2 - C.J. Henderson, Florida (6-0, 204 lbs.) - Not always the most willing tackler, but a cornerback with good size and strength, Henderson has tremendous upside and already excels in man coverage. He doesn't find the ball in the air as well as you would like and that is a concern. But this three-year starter shows obvious and warranted athletic arrogance. Henderson is an easy mover with plenty of play speed and excellent patience.
#1 - Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (6-1, 205 lbs.) - Okudah rarely gotten beaten in college and very rarely got beaten deep downfield. He has a great body for the position, including a well-built frame and the longest arms of any defensive back at the Combine. His athletic testing at the Combine wasn't mind blowing, but he plays the game like an elite athlete on tape…and elite athlete with great competitiveness as well as technique. He did jump 41" in the vertical though and his Adjusted SPARQ was in the 96th percentile. The fact is, it is just tough to find obvious negatives with Okudah as a prospect.
Dale's Takes ...
Dale Lolley: There are three positions that always wind up being overdrafted each year, quarterback, offensive tackle and cornerbacks. The reason for that is because if you're weak at those spots, you're likely not a good football team.
This year will be no different. There will be several corners drafted in the first round.
This year's draft has a a deep cornerback class, if lacking in pure star power beyond top performer Jeff Okudah. But Okudah has everything you want in a potential star.
#10 - Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech (5-8, 187 lbs.) - The best pure slot corner in the draft, Robertson plays much bigger than his size. Also had 14 career interceptions. He's a playmaker.
#9 - Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State (6-2, 188 lbs.) - Long, lean corner who makes plays on the ball but is a little slower than ideal. Because of his lack of straight-line speed, he's probably better suited to play in a zone-heavy scheme.
#8 - Jeff Gladney, TCU (5-10, 191 lbs.) - Aggressive corner who can play inside or out, but lacks the size of some of the other top prospects. He's still a very solid prospect despite that drawback.
#7 - A.J. Terrell, Clemson (6-1, 195 lbs.) - Terrell can play solidly in press man coverage, but does lose the ball in the air at times. Corners with his size and speed get drafted early.
#6 - Jaylon Johnson, Utah (5-11, 193 lbs.) - Would be higher on this list, but was scheduled to have surgery on a torn labrum after the combine that he played through in 2019. Given everything that happened soon thereafter, it's unknown whether that occurred.
#5 - Damon Arnette, Ohio State (5-11, 195 lbs.) - A physical corner who can play inside or out, but lacks speed and might be better suited to play zone. But his talent will have him selected sometime in the first two rounds.
#4 - Trevon Diggs, Alabama (6-1, 205 lbs.) - Another good-sized corner with ball skills. Diggs is the younger brother of now-Bills receiver Stephon Diggs. Another battle-tested SEC corner.
#3 - Kristian Fulton, LSU (5-11, 197 lbs.) - Outstanding in coverage, Fulton allowed a 40 percent completion rate against him the past two seasons. And that was essentially as LSU's No. 2 corner last year.
#2 - C.J. Henderson, Florida (6-0, 204 lbs.) - Henderson is lightning fast and very good in coverage, but his lack of physicality keeps him a notch below Okudah. He'll need to tackle better in the NFL, but his coverage skills will make him the second corner off the board.
#1 - Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (6-1, 205 lbs.) - Blessed with size, speed and coverage ability, Okudah has it all and is easily the top corner in this draft. He'll also tell you that.
Mike's Takes ...
Mike Prisuta: Cornerbacks are always in demand, that's an NFL absolute.
It's also one that reaches beyond the NFL.
"I've never heard of a pro, college or high school coach say, 'You know, I got enough corners,'" NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders maintained at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Never heard that word. Never heard that verbiage."
The good news for teams in need (according to Sanders' theory that would include all of them) is draft-worthy cornerbacks are available in abundance.
"I believe the corner position is the second-deepest position in this draft," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah assessed.
That includes players that project as sub-package or "nickel" contributors in the slot, an aspect of playing cornerback Sanders suspects is under-valued if not under-appreciated.
"Where do most of the balls go in the NFL?" he asked. "And we have a tendency to take all these kids late. But they're affecting the game."
Added Jeremiah on the subject: "They're one of 11, man, that's a starting position."
Here's one look at how they might come off the board:
#10 - Josiah Scott, Michigan State (5-9, 185 lbs.) - Jeremiah projects Scott as a mid-round "nickel" candidate. So does Dane Brugler of The Athletic, who assessed Scott as "a sub-package rookie with potential to be more." He has ball skills and he competes.
#9 - Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn (5-10, 198 lbs.) - Among the characteristics that intrigue with Igbinoghene are his two career kickoff returns for touchdowns and his track background (he ran indoor and outdoor at Auburn and his mother won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics). He's less polished than he is athletic but there's a lot to work with physically.
#8 - Kristian Fulton, LSU (5-11, 197 lbs.) - He endured an NCAA suspension that cost him the 2017 season but still managed to come out of it earning respect. Here was LSU head coach Ed Orgeron's reaction as reported by Brugler: "When Kristian was ineligible to play, I watched him every day come to work as if he was the starter."
#7 - Damon Arnette, Ohio State (5-11, 195 lbs.) - Fast and physical, willing against the run and capable against the pass. That about covers it, right? Arnette started for three seasons at Ohio State, returning in 2019 for a senior campaign that improved his game and his NFL prospects.
#6 - Trevon Diggs, Alabama (6-1, 205 lbs.) - If he can cover his brother, Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, he'll do just fine. Deep speed is a bit of a question mark but Trevon Diggs' ball skills are not.
#5 - Jeff Gladney, TCU (5-10, 191 lbs.) - He's been described as "fiesty" and "ultra-competitive." Jeremiah elaborated: "You watch him against (Texas wide receiver) Collin Johnson, who's 6-6, and he jumps him the first snap, gets him right in his chest, just jumped him." Added Sanders regarding Gladney: "That means he knows football."
#4 - Jaylon Johnson, Utah (5-11, 193 lbs.) - Another guy who has it physically and gets it mentally. "He has the athletic traits to ride receivers up and down the field," Brugler said. "And his competitive mentality will be an immediate fit in a pro locker room, projecting as an NFL starter." He played inside (slot) and outside at Utah.
#3 - A.J. Terrell, Clemson (6-1, 195 lbs.) - The physical package is as obvious as it is impressive. "That's a big corner," Jeremiah observed. "He's gonna end up going in the first round, he's just too big and fast and athletic." Terrell impressed Sanders by continuing to battle throughout what became a tough night against Ja'Marr Chase of LSU, so he can handle the failure and adversity that seems inevitable on occasion at the position.
#2 - C.J. Henderson, Florida (6-0, 204 lbs.) - His career stats include 93 tackles, 22 passes defensed and six interceptions. Better still, Henderson looks good while he's doing what he does, and that included gliding through the drills with the rest of the cornerbacks at the Combine. "Best in show, and I don't think it's been particularly close," Jeremiah insisted.
#1 - Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (6-1, 205 lbs.) - He's the presumptive No. 1 pick at the position. Everybody, it seems, is an Okudah fan. "I spoke to an executive and he said, 'If you need a starting corner, No. 1, for the next 10 years, you just take Okudah and you never worry about it again,'" NFL Network analyst Peter Schrager reported. "That's how polished a product he is he is." Schrager added Okudah watched Combine workout tapes of Jalen Ramsey and Stephon Gilmore to prepare for Indianapolis in February. "He's that much a student of the game," Schrager said.