CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: Top 20 Cornerbacks
Who are the best cornerbacks coming into the college football season? Here are the projected 20 top guys
Preview 2017: Top 20 Cornerbacks
Who are the best cornerbacks coming into the 2017 college football season? This is a projection of the top COLLEGE players, and not necessarily the best pro prospects. Talent, of course, matters, but this is about looking ahead at who will be the top 20 this year.
20. Julian Love, Soph. Notre Dame
A rising star, the 5-11, 190-pound young lockdown defender stepped in as a true freshman making 45 tackles with a pick and three broken up passes. Very quick and very feisty, he’ll be a key part of an improved pass D.
19. Kameron Kelly, Sr. San Diego State
A lockdown corner with safety size, the 6-2, 200-pound playmaker came up with 38 tackles and five picks last season and is a whale of a special teamer.
18. Shawun Lurry, Sr. Northern Illinois
While he didn’t come up with the special nine-interception season like he did as a sophomore, the 5-8, 180-pound all-star came up with 38 tackles with three picks – teams started avoiding him.
17. Heath Harding, Sr. Miami Univ.
A seasoned veteran, he was fantastic from the start as a freshman in 2013, but missed most of the 2015 season hurt. Eligible for one final year, the First Team All-MAC star is a big hitter for a 5-10, 188-pounder making 67 tackles with four picks and 11 broken up passes.
16. Quenton Meeks, Jr. Stanford
He’s living up to the hype. The 6-2, 204-pound great recruit was great from the start, with 56 career tackles with five picks – taking two for scores – and 15 broken up passes. He’s big, aggressive, and doesn’t screw up.
15. Andre Cachere, Sr. San Jose State
The solid, strong, 6-0, 200-pound All-Mountain West longtime starter was a playmaking machine with 14 broken up passes with four interceptions and 36 tackles for a fantastic pass defense.
14. Parry Nickerson, Sr. Tulane
Good enough to have thought about turning pro early, the 6-0, 175-pound all-star made 97 tackles in his first two full seasons but just 29 last year. However, he picked off four passes with 13 broken up passes.
13. Clifton Duck, Soph. Appalachian State
Duck came on the scene and rocked right away with an First Team All-Sun Belt true freshman season. At 5-10 and 170 pounds, he’s wiry and thin, but he’s not afraid to attack the ball making 57 tackles with five picks and 13 broken up passes.
12. Duke Dawson, Sr. Florida
The next great Gator defensive back star, he was banged up a bit at times, but last year had a solid season with 24 tackles with a pick six and seven broken up passes. Now it’ll be his job to rise up and be the main man of another great secondary.
11. M.J. Stewart, Sr. North Carolina
The 5-11, 190-pound all-star was a factor from the start, but blossomed as a sophomore with 62 tackles and four picks and 18 broken up passes. He didn’t intercept a pass last year, but made 66 stops with 11 broken up passes and three fumble recoveries.
10. Deatrick Nichols, Sr. USF
The longtime star of the Bull secondary, Nichols is a 5-10, 189-pound big tackler making 62 tackles and four picks as a sophomore and 49 stops with four interceptions last year. He can get behind the line if needed, but he’s at his best handling No. 1 targets.
9. Darius Phillips, Sr. Western Michigan
A deadly talent as both a defender and kick returner, he has 88 tackles over the last two seasons with a ridiculous 34 broken up passes and nine picks. He also averages 24 yards per career kickoff return and 11.7 yards per punt return last season.
8. Jamar Summers, Sr. Connecticut
A rising pro prospect, the 6-0, 190-pound speedster has been a great tackler from the start of his career, and is only getting better. He came up with a career-high 59 tackles last season, but compared to the eight-pick season of 2015, intercepted two passes. However, he broke up a nine passes.
7. Richard Fant, Sr. Indiana
The Hoosier defense has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and the play of Fant has been a big part of it. A broken up pass machine, he’s come up with 20 or more in each of the last two years and is the nation’s returning leader with 48. Ultra-quick, he can hit a little, too, with 108-career tackles.
6. D.J. Reed, Jr. Kansas State
The 5-9, 188-pound former Fresno State Bulldog and JUCO transfer stepped in and dominated in his first year with the Wildcats earning All-Big 12 honors making 75 tackles with three interceptions – taking one for a score – and averaging over 28 yards per kickoff return.
5. Iman Marshall, Jr. USC
At 6-1 and 200 pounds, Marshall is a big, physical tackler who’s been steady over the three years, making 169 career tackles with 11 broken up passes or more and three interceptions in each of his three seasons.
4. Jordan Thomas, Sr. Oklahoma
Good enough to have left early for the NFL and be a top 50 draft pick – at least – the 6-0, 186-pound two-time All-Big 12 talent has 127 career tackles with seven interceptions. Last year, though, he became an even better attacker of the ball with 17 broken up passes.
3. Jaire Alexander, Jr. Louisville
The 5-11, 188-pound junior is the darling of the NFL scouting circles, coming up with a 39-tackles, five interception season with nine broken up passes while averaging 10.5 yards per punt return with a score. Exceptionally quick, he’s among the best returners in college football, and quarterbacks will avoid him at all costs.
2. Donte Jackson, Jr. LSU
Really, really fast, the 5-11, 173-pound blazer can do a little bit of everything. A devastating kickoff returner, “Cheetah” averaged 23.4 yards per try, while coming up with 39 tackles with two picks and eight broken up passes. With his skills and speed, he can play anywhere in the secondary.
1. Tarvarus McFadden, Jr. Florida State
With Derwin James and Nate Andrews, Florida State has the best safety tandem in college football, and it also has the top cornerback in the 6-2, 198-pound McFadden. He went from getting his feet wet as a freshman to a dominant sophomore, coming up with eight interceptions and 20 tackles, spreading out his picks throughout the year and with a stretch of one in four straight games. With his size, speed, and ball skills, he’s the prototype.