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Ranking the Top Cornerbacks in the NFL Draft

By Tucker Bagley, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

As the 2017 NFL Draft quickly approaches, it has become quite apparent the Philadelphia Eagles will be using at least one early-round pick on a cornerback. 

But outside of Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore, there seems to be little consensus as who will be selected early. With such a strong class of players who have such different skill sets, opinions between different analysts and pundits have differed greatly over the past few months and that could set us up for some draft night surprises. 

Just look at how these draft experts have ranked the top of the class.

2017 CB Draft Rankings

So let's take a look at each of these blue-chip prospects.

1. Marshon Lattimore

Lattimore seems to be the only prospect everyone agrees on, and for good reason. He's physical, quick and possesses all of the tools to become an elite, shutdown corner in the NFL. Despite being a starter for only one year in college, Lattimore did enough on the field to prove his worthiness to talent evaluators across the league, one personnel director had this to say about the former Buckeye:

I've studied the top cornerbacks coming out and he's the best I've seen. He's so athletic that he can just post up under the receiver's chin and shadow him all over the field. And he's tough, too. He'll be one of the top cornerbacks pretty quickly.

Perhaps the only question mark regarding Lattimore is his health. He had to get surgery on his hamstrings after they hindered his ability to play in his freshman season and. Then, in 2015, they caused him to miss half of the season. After finally staying healthy in 2016, Lattimore seems destined to be an NFL star. However, if his injuries prove to be chronic and 2016 was just a fluke, Lattimore could be one of the greatest "what ifs" in NFL Draft history.

2. Marlon Humphrey

Humphrey is a favorite prospect for a lot of analysts, but him ranking sixth in ESPN's rankings really hurt his stock. However, that won't factor in on draft night and it would be a shock if his name isn't called during the first round. 

Humphrey is a tremendous athlete who tested well at the combine and relied on his superior athleticism to make plays at Alabama. He may be a bit of a project, but he has all the tools to be a great cornerback for many years in the NFL. Although one talent-evaluator isn't so sure:

There are some things on tape that really worry you. If he has trouble playing the long ball it is going to be bombs away against him and his team might have to change how they cover because of that. Those issues usually don't go away.

If that proves to be the case, and the Eagles see the same things on tape, it would be hard for Howie Roseman to add another cornerback who struggles with the deep ball to a team that has been snake-bitten by long plays for the past few years.

3. Gareon Conley

Unlike his Buckeye teammate, Conley is an experienced starter with a very high floor. He started every game over the past two seasons, collecting All-Big 10 second-team honors in 2016. At 6'0", 195 pounds, Conley is a bigger corner who relies on his physicality and press-coverage skills to shut down opposing wide receivers. 

Conley has seen his draft stock rise since running a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine and could very well be in play for the Eagles at 14. In fact, the team has already met with Conley during one of their pre-draft visits. 

Conley's big issue at the moment is his ability to change direction. In college, opposing teams were able to beat him using deep inside patterns. However, in Jim Schwartz's defense where corners are asked to play on the line of scrimmage and mix it up with their opposition, Conley could be a great fit and a impact player from day one.

4. TreDavious White

White is a long, skinny prospect who has exceptional ball skills, but may not be physical enough to truly become a shutdown cornerback in the NFL. 

Despite those physical limitations, White may have the best cover skills in the class and he was able to match wide receivers step-for-step during his time at LSU and has proven to be very gifted when it comes to matching up against offensive weapons.

However, his game simply lacks any sort of physicality and that could hinder his draft stock depending on what teams will be expecting from him. 

5. Kevin King

If you're looking for a toolsy prospect who has a very high ceiling and a very low floor, King is your guy. Perhaps that low floor is why had him ranked 16th among cornerbacks which really hurt his ranking. But one look at his combine numbers reveals he has the speed to keep up with NFL receivers.

Standing at 6'3", King is reminiscent of Richard Sherman and Seattle's band of tall, lanky corners. However, King sometimes struggles to find the ball down the field and his technique needs a lot of work. He's a huge project and if he plays up to his potential, King could be the definitive corner for the next decade, but for a team like the Eagles who need immediate help, King may just be too risky of a prospect.


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