10. Julian Blackmon, Jr. Utah
If it’s possible to earn All-Pac-12 honors and be under-appreciated, that’s Blackmon. He went from being a special teamer to a playmaker for the Ute defensive backfield, coming up with four interceptions and 48 tackles. The two interceptions in the bowl win over West Virginia should set the tone for a massive year.
9. Blace Brown, Sr. Troy
It took a little while to get his career rolling, but once he did, he turned into one of the nation’s top pickoff artists, taking away six last season and coming up with five more last year. The quick 6-0 and 184-pounder was a star high school receiver, but now he has grown into his own as a top cover-corner. He just knows how to make plays.
8. Amik Robertson, Soph. Louisiana Tech
One of the nation’s best young corners, the 5-9, 172-pounder isn’t big, but he’s very fast, very feisty, and very good at getting to the ball with five interceptions in his first season, taking one for a score against Mississippi State and one for a touchdown in the bowl win over SMU. A whale of a tackler, too, he made 62 stops, 51 solo.
7. Clifton Duck, Jr. Appalachian State
Amazing from the start of his career, he followed up a 57-stop, five interception freshman season with 50 stops and six picks. He might be wiry, and he’s not going to come up with a huge hit, but he blankets his man and is great at making teams pay for testing him.
6. Michael Jackson, Sr. Miami
After not doing much in his first few seasons, he became a huge part of the devastating defense, picking off four passes and making 43 stops in an All-ACC campaign. He has always had the tools as a great get for the program, and he’s got the 6-2, 195-pound size. Now he’s putting it all together.
5. Mark Gilbert, Jr. Duke
A nice player as a freshman, last season he turned into one of the nation’s most productive playmakers against the pass, picking off seven throws with 35 tackles. At 6-1 and 175 pounds, he’s got nice size, and he can really, really close, breaking up 15 passes on the year.
4. Iman Marshall, Sr. USC
With the right 6-1, 200-pound NFL size to go along with the tackling ability and coverage skills, he’s been a force from Day One. The one-time super-recruit has more than played up to the hype and potential, coming up with 170 career tackles and six interceptions, but he didn’t pick off any passes last year. However, he came up with a career-high ten broken up throws.
3. Julian Love, Jr. Notre Dame
After turning in a terrific freshman season – making 45 tackles with a pick and three broken up passes – he became special last year. All over the field, he came up with 68 tackles with three interceptions – taking two for scores in wins over NC State and Michigan State – and generated a whopping 20 broken up passes. The 5-11, 189-pounder is physical, and he’s fantastic at closing.
2. Deandre Baker, Sr. Georgia
The Bulldogs caught a massive break when Baker decided to return for one more season instead of starting in an NFL secondary. It’s all there for the Miami native, with 5-11, 180-pound size, good hitting ability, track speed, and suffocating coverage skills. The All-SEC star made 44 tackles with three interceptions and nine broken up passes, and now he’s the leader of a D that has to rebuild a wee bit.
1. Greedy Williams, Soph. LSU
If Andraez isn’t the first corner taken off the NFL board next year – assuming he’s coming out early – he’s No. 2. With 6-2, 182-pound size, ideal length, and superior tackling skills, he grew into the job last season with 38 tackles with six interceptions and 11 broken up passes. Smooth as glass, he looks and plays the part of a shutdown next-level corner. But first, he’ll do it for one more year at LSU.