Take Your Pick: Best Cornerback Prospects


This is a multiple-part series that encourages readers to participate in the draft discussion. Don’t agree with my top prospects at a respective position? Tell me who should be or shouldn’t be included and why, I want to hear your opinions!

When it comes to the discussion of cornerback prospects heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, there are players on the board that have the potential to be future all-pros in LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara. After those two, there is much debate about who is the best overall. Names that have been thrown out for the third spot include Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, Miami’s Brandon Harris, and Texas’ Aaron Williams. In the latest edition of “Take Your Pick,” I give my top three cornerback prospects in order. While it may not be surprising, I do have Peterson and Amukamara as my top two. My third? Here is my list for the best three cornerback prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Patrick Peterson, LSU

Peterson is regarded by many as the best overall prospect in this draft, regardless of position. Following the 2010 season, he was named the recipient of the Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back as well as the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defender. He was a three-year starter for LSU, including 30 starts. In that time, he recorded a total of seven interceptions and 135 tackles. Along with his production on defense, he scored two touchdowns via punt returns and one off of a blocked field goal.

He is built well (6’0”, 219 lbs.) and has the speed to be a solid player in the NFL. He has shown he can play man and zone schemes and has the ball instincts to make plays when the ball is in the air. One of his most important strengths is his physical play against wide receivers. He does a good job of jamming them near the line of scrimmage and throwing off the timing of the receivers’ route. At times he can be too aggressive on deeper throws in which the ball hangs in the air and also must work on being more physical in run support.

2. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

Nebraska’s 108th first-team All-American all-time, Amukamara was one of college football’s best defensive players last season. He was also named the 2010 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the conference’s coaches and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, ultimately won by LSU’s Patrick Peterson. Over his four-year career as a Cornhusker, Amukamara intercepted five passes, forced three fumbles, and recorded a total of 155 tackles. In 2010, he had a total of 13 passes defensed.

Amukamara (6’0”, 206 lbs.) is a very fluid corner who does a good job of mirroring receivers in man coverage. Like Peterson, he is solid at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and making it difficult for them to get into their route. He is also good in run support, coming up from his position to make contact with the running back near the line of scrimmage. He needs to work on his form when tackling though as he often goes too high on the ball carrier. Block shedding is also a weakness for him.

3. Aaron Williams, Texas

Williams was a three-year player for the Longhorns, declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season in 2010. In that time, he started 23 games. In 2010, he was on the watch lists for the Thorpe Award and Nagurski Trophy. Over his career, he had a total of four interceptions and 106 tackles, along with six forced fumbles. He also blocked five punts in his career at Texas, which ranks second all-time in University of Texas history.

When looking at all of the cornerback prospects in this draft, Williams ranks among the best when it comes to football instincts. He recognizes routes well and has good breaking speed. He is best in man coverage and is serviceable in run support. He shows good form when tackling and wrapping up when taking on larger ball carriers, something that smaller corners are unwilling to do at times. Unlike Peterson and Amukamara, he struggles with his press at the line of scrimmage. He also needs to improve his pursuit; at times he takes bad angles to the ball carrier.

So there you have it, my list of the top three cornerbacks for the 2011 NFL Draft. As always in this series, I welcome your opinions on who the best prospects are. Let me know in the discussion area below on who you think or don’t think should be on this list. It’s your call, take your pick on the 2011 NFL Draft’s best cornerback prospects.