Thursday, May 16, 2013
Kiper: Top cornerback draft prospects
By Edward Aschoff
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is rolling out his early top five rankings at each position this week.
Here are the positions he's looked at so far:
Now it's time to take a look at Kiper's top five cornerback prospects heading into the 2013 season. The SEC is full of talented defensive backs, and the corner spot is pretty deep this year. Kiper has Florida's Loucheiz Purifoy No. 2 on his list. Teammate Marcus Roberson made his "Next up" list, along with Vanderbilt's Andre Hal.
Purifoy is still a little raw, but he has great cover ability and is one of the more physical corners around. He also has tremendous speed and athleticism, which is why the coaches have put him on the return team and want to use him on offense as well. He still has to work on technique here and there and can get a little too aggressive, but the coaches think he has All-American skill.
Helping Purifoy out this fall will be Roberson, who has made an impact at the position since his freshman season. Roberson already has the technique down and has been great in one-on-one situations. He isn't as physical as Purifoy, and needs to improve in that area, but he could be more than just an All-SEC performer this season.
Hal really turned into an impressive cover corner last season. He grabbed two interceptions and defended 16 passes last fall. He also earned second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press. He also has a ton of athleticism and was the Commodores' top kick returner in 2011.
Other draft-eligible cornerbacks I'll be keeping an eye on this fall:
- Deion Belue, Alabama: He was thought to be the Crimson Tide's best corner before last season. He might not be as gifted in coverage as Dee Milliner was, but he'll certainly hold his own this fall.
- Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M: He was best known for his goal-line interception that sealed the Aggies' upset win over No. 1 Alabama, but Everett generated some good buzz during spring practice. He was a little overshadowed last season, but has a chance to be a star this fall.
- E.J. Gaines, Missouri: He was one of the top cover men in the Big 12 in 2011 and then didn't miss much of a beat during his first season in the SEC, defending 12 passes. He isn't the biggest corner, but he isn't afraid to match up with bigger receivers.
- Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss: He moved from safety to corner and really excelled at his new position. He's the quarterback of the Rebels' defensive backfield and has the speed to cover a lot of ground.
- Damian Swann, Georgia: The resident "old" man of the Bulldogs' secondary, Swann proved his worth by keeping his starting job when Sanders Commings returned from suspension last season. He's doing a lot more teaching than learning this year.