NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

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NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective


Who are the cornerbacks who’ll matter in the 2022 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?

2022 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

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It’s one of the strongest years ever for cornerbacks with at least six worthy of first round consideration and a whole lot more who’ll be in the starting mix right away.

There’s high-end elite talent there for the taking, but it’ll be a question of who fits and what the pecking order is. No matter how it goes, a whole lot of teams are going to instantly fill a need.

From the college perspective, here are the best cornerback prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, Analysis
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTsOGs & Cs | DEs & Edge | DTs
LBs | SsNFL Draft by college over last 5 years: 1-130 rankings

Joshua Williams, Fayetteville State

Size: 6-3, 197

The Good: An interesting prospect with a great frame and length with the size and quickness to create a slew of matchup problems. He’s not a blazer, but he’s fast enough with a great burst to the ball when it’s in the air. Good enough as a tackler, he made 79 career stops in three years with five picks and 20 broken up passes in his last two seasons. But …

The Not-So-Good: He’s not a blazer. You’d like him to overcome the small school stigma with freakish tools, but he’s around a 4.5 40 guy. He’s hardly slow, but his overall game doesn’t stand out enough against the lesser competition to scream MUST HAVE.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s a lot to like about the overall combination of tools with the upside to grow into a third corner or potentially a free safety. He’s got enough to like in the later rounds as a good-value shot at a versatile part of a secondary.

NFL Draft Projection: Fifth Round

Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska

Size: 6-0, 197

The Good: Fast, he’s got the 4.38 speed to go along with the good size and hitting ability. An excellent leader with a ton of experience, he’s been through more than enough key moments to be ready right out of the box. With the high-end wheels, no one is running past him. But …

The Not-So-Good: He’s not an NFL No. 1 corner. There are too many plays allowed and not enough big pops to translate his game into a free safety at the next level. For all the good things he did, he only came up with five career picks in 40 games.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: A four-year factor and three-year starter for the Huskers, ha was good at getting into the backfield and solid enough to generate 140 tackles, but it was his emergence as a playmaker on the ball that was the difference last year. He’s got just enough versatility – and speed – to be tried out at safety as well as corner.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Josh Jobe, Alabama

Size: 6-1, 194

The Good: The size and physical play are both there, and there’s a ton of experience to go along with it. He saw everything over the last four years with close to 40 games of experience. Still able to roll even though foot injury issues last season, he’s got the game to push around receivers, but …

The Not-So-Good: He’s not a blazer. The foot problem has kept him from fully showing what he can do, but even so he’s not a 4.3 outside corner and he’s not all that fluid. He has to prove himself all over again with a road senior season, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He toughed it out. He pushed through 13 games even though he was hurt, and that seemed to be a factor that caused a whole slew of problems. Even if everything is right he’s not a true lockdown top NFL corner, but he’s going to be a solid, physical starter.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Tariq Woolen, UTSA

Size: 6-4, 205

The Good: Speed, speed, speed, speed, and speed … and size. People 6-4 and 205 pounds who can run a 4.26 will always find a spot somewhere on an NFL roster. There are a variety of roles and positions he can play, getting a shot to do a little of everything as he grows into a position. You can work with all he’s going to bring athletically as a former wide receiver, but …

The Not-So-Good: He’s still trying to work on all the subtleties of working at corner. He spent 18 games over the last two years on the defensive side and showed moments, but not enough of them. He only came up with two interceptions and nine broken up passes in his time in the secondary.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s so much work to be done, but there’s so much potential fun to be had with a coaching staff that can figure it out. If he can grow into a more physical option against the run, the possibilities open up wide. Draft him for the measurables and the upside and then figure it out.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Damarri Mathis, Pitt

Size: 5-11, 195

The Good: Ultra-productive when healthy, he’s a fifth-year senior who came back after missing 2020 with a shoulder problem to come up with a strong 45-tackle season with two picks – taking one for a score – and six broken up passes. That was coming off a great 11 broken up pass season in 2019

He’s got good size, a ton of experience, and he can move – he ripped off a sub-4.4 40. Versatile, he’s physical enough to be used in a whole lot of ways.

The Not-So-Good: There’s too much tweener in his game. He’s not really a true NFL No. 1 cover-corner – even with his speed – and he’s not quite physical enough to be moved over to safety. He gave up a ton of plays, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It’s Pitt. It leaves its corners out to dry in a feast-or-famine style for the secondary – the negatives stand out more. There isn’t any one thing that makes him stand out as a big-time producer at the next level, but the raw speed and experience are enough to get him on the the field.

NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round

Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston

Size: 6-4, 200

The Good: All the measurables are there. He’s got tremendous size, 4.3 speed, and he’s amazing at attacking the ball in the air. Great in each of his five years at a high FCS level, he made 205 tackles with 13 interceptions and broke up a whopping 54 passes. With his skill set he could work anywhere in a secondary – he’s a fast safety prospect and a physical corner.

The Not-So-Good: He’s got the tools, but he’s not quite a No. 1 corner prospect … yet. There’s plenty of technique work to be done no matter where he plays, and he’s got a whole lot of tweener aspects with where’s he’s going to end up.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: You want big defensive backs with his speed on your team. He’s not a safety, for now – he’s a corner, and he’s going to be a good one with a little bit of time. Terrific with his ability to track the ball and attack, he’s going to be a find after the top 50.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Roger McCreary, Auburn

Size: 5-11, 190

The Good: Excellent over the last three seasons, McCreary produced at the highest of levels with 31 broken up passes and six picks. More than that, he’s a physical presence who’ll beat up receivers and always fight for the ball. Great against the run, he’s never going to shy away from contact as one of the toughest corners in this year’s bunch.

The Not-So-Good: The NFL quickness and speed are fine, but that’s not really his game. He’s not going to hang with the top deep threats and will struggle with the quick ones he can’t jam. He’s not going to be for everyone, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: You want an intimidating presence? You want a guy who can take a receiver out of a game plan by never letting him get comfortable off the line? Here you go. You’ll need speed around him, but he makes things happen.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Size: 6-1, 198

The Good: A good veteran defensive back who turned into a five-year rock-steady producer, he’s ready to roll out of the box. The size is good, the mental toughness is great, and he plays like a sound, professional corner who doesn’t need a whole lot of work. Technique-wise there’s nothing to worry about.

The Not-So-Good: The raw speed isn’t there. You wish he was a 4.3 blazer, and he’s certainly not slow, but he’s a mid-4.5 corner who might have to work around defensive backs with wheels. You’d also like him to be a bit more of an explosive athlete, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He could become the quarterback of your secondary. Teams started to avoid Sauce Gardner on the other side and Bryant came through with 11 broken up passes and three picks after coming up with four in 2020.

Able to hit – he saw a little safety time – he can do a little of everything, but again, he just doesn’t have the raw wheels. He’ll make up for that by always being in the right position.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Marcus Jones, Houston

Size: 5-8, 185

The Good: Ultra-speedy and unbelievably quick, he’s a baller who’ll never lose his guy. There are plenty of fast corners in this draft who can hang with the bigger receivers, but Jones is among the best at mirroring what the ultra-athletic ones can do. Don’t get too lost in his size – he can tackle with over 150 stops in his four years. But …

The Not-So-Good: Can he hold up? He’ll go and pop anyone, but he had shoulder problems and missed parts of the offseason process. Again, he’ll hit, but he’ll get erased by every blocker and he’s not quite physical enough for all that effort.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He started out his career at Troy before moving over the Houston. Now he’s an interesting jack-of-all-trades call with his speed at corner, elite upside as a returner, and possibilities as a receiver and offensive weapon. Every coaching staff will want the entire package after the second round.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

Kyler Gordon, Washington

Size: 6-0, 200

The Good: A terrific all-around athlete with the physical type of play to bully receivers, He plays faster than he is when the ball is in the air, and he’s a tough guy against the run who’ll never shy away from a big hit. With close to 97 tackles in his 29 games of work at Washington, he’ll add a presence to a secondary, but …

The Not-So-Good: For all the tools and all the positives, he’s a 4.5 runner. That, and the production when the ball was in the air was just okay, coming up with just two picks – both of them last year – and 12 broken up passes. There’s a bit more polish to his game than some will likely think, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: All the parts are there to be a good, sound No. 1 corner as long as you’re not looking for elite wheels. With his all-around skill set he’d be an amazing free safety, but he’s at least a second-corner who’ll get better and better with more work.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Andrew Booth, Clemson

Size: 6-0, 200

The Good: When he’s right, he’s got a terrific combination of NFL corner skills. Fast to the ball, quick with the more athletic targets, and with the right look and style when he has to get on the move, he’ll never be overwhelmed by whatever is being thrown at him. He turned into more of a tackler last season and remained steady in pass coverage, but …

The Not-So-Good: Can he stay in one piece? He’s got knee issues that’s he’s been able to work though, but he just underwent sports hernia surgery and wasn’t able to workout through the process. Even when he’s 100% you’d like to see a few more big plays when the ball is in the air, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It’s all there as a stand-up double draft pick somewhere after the 25. He might not have the wow factor of some of the other top corners in this year’s draft, but he’s got a tough guy attitude and the tools to match.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, Analysis
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTsOGs & Cs | DEs & Edge | DTs
LBs | SsNFL Draft by college over last 5 years: 1-130 rankings

Kaiir Elam, Florida

Size: 6-2, 196

The Good: Yeah he’s a tad thin, but he’s physical and can tackle to go along with all that speed. A sub-4.4 runner who moves easily and quickly, the measurables and playing style can fit anyone’s secondary. While he might not look like the intimidating presence of other corners in this draft, he’ll fight and win when the ball is thrown his way.

The Not-So-Good: He fell off last year – but so did everything else for Florida in 2021. Fantastic in 2020, he seemed poised and ready to do something amazing but wasn’t the same playmaker. Overall the 20 broken up passes in three years were nice, but 11 came two years ago and he wasn’t the same tackler because …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He hurt his knee early on and wasn’t quite the same the rest of the way. He’ll fall out of the first round because he didn’t progress like most would’ve liked – again, the knee had a lot to do with it – but with his size and speed combination he’s a must have very, very early on Day 2.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

Trent McDuffie, Washington

Size: 5-11, 185

The Good: Everything about his game works. Ultra quick with the deep ball 4.4 speed to match, he’s able to stick with any of the speed receivers and doesn’t flinch against the tougher ones. Throw in his playing style, leadership, and attitude to go along with his smooth-as-silk movement, and he looks and plays the part.

The Not-So-Good: Can he bump up the ball production? He made close to 100 tackles in his three seasons with the Dawgs, but he also came up with just two picks and eight broken up passes. While he’ll battle, he’s missing the bulk and size some might be looking for.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It wouldn’t be all that shocking if he was the second corner off the board. Expect him to be a draft X factor with the tools and upside to go anywhere from 8 on, but there’s a chance he could slide a bit because of all the value corner talent around later. No matter where he goes and when, he’s a Day One NFL starting corner.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Size: 6-3, 200

The Good: Sauce has elite size and length to go along with his 4.4 speed. Beyond just the amazing measurables and right size, the guy is a purely great football player with the right attitude you want in your No. 1 corner.

He kept on making plays even as he reputation grew, coming up with three picks in each of his three seasons to go along with a steady stream of tackles with close to 100. There are no deep passes thrown on him, he’s great at battling for the ball, and …

The Not-So-Good: He’ll hit, but he won’t intimidate. More of a functional tackler than a strong run popper, his ability to beat up receivers doesn’t always transfer to the run defense.

And yes, he was able to step up his game in a big way when it was time to go against an elite targets, but he’s going to need a whole lot of tweaking with his style – the technique consistency just isn’t there. However …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Let me put it this way. I had an Alabama guy tell me “THAT is what an NFL defensive back looks like.”

Yeah, there will be a few too many penalties early on, and he’s not the smoothest corner in the high end of the draft, but if you need one guy out of this bunch to come up with a stop against an NFL star receiver, this is your man.

The problems can be worked on – some defensive backs coach will come up with a few tweaks – and the Sauce swagger is there. He’s an elite talent who’ll play like it at a Pro Bowl level for a long, long time.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Size: 6-1, 195

The Good: Scouts soured on him a bit after a lackluster 2020 and injury-plagued 2021, but when he was on as a freshman there wasn’t a better defensive back in college football. He made six picks and 15 broken up passes for the national champion Tigers, and now with some time off he appears to have regained his physical form.

His pro day was phenomenal, he ripped off a 4.37 40, and everything about him looked like the guy the NFL world was gushing over in 2019. No corner in this draft has better tools and looks more like a superstar pro defensive back. But …

The Not-So-Good: Is he really back to form? He’s going to have to turn the light back on after two okay seasons and a Lisfranc injury that became a huge setback. It’s not fair to say the want-to wasn’t there over the last two seasons – along with the injuries – but let’s just say there was an overall LSU malaise after the 2019 party. And …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: This isn’t a knock like this is going to sound like, but he was ready to get into the NFL mix after the 2019 season and now it’s time to be where he’s supposed to.

As long as he’s healthy he’ll be fine. If he brings the production like he did three years ago – to go along with the prototype skill set – he’s the best corner in this draft. Sauce Gardner is the safer high-end corner pick, but if Stingley plays up to his capabilities, he’s the shot for the stars prospect.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, Analysis
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTsOGs & Cs | DEs & Edge | DTs
LBs | SsNFL Draft by college over last 5 years: 1-130 rankings

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams


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