I was looking at the top cornerbacks in 2010 according Pro Football Focus and wanted to break down where the top 20 were drafted and have a look at their height, weight, 40 times and vertical jumps from either their combine or pro day. I was looking for any keys to a particular size of a corner drafted early that stands to have success. No such thing really.
Let me say that all 40 times are pretty misleading as in my opinion, a player really does not have an official 40 time, they have a range. Ranges meaning he was a 4.3, 4.4 or 4.5 guy. As far as the measurables go, it is doubtful a player will grow that much more after his combine weigh in. Adding a half an inch is not out of the question, but a full inch I see highly unlikely. Weight is a different story though as players can certainly add weight and certainly muscle as they get older and grow into their bodies. DISCLAIMER: I should note that I am not a doctor and not a dietician though, I am a blogger.
The ranking by Pro Football Focus could also be up for debate, so I have also included the 2010 AV rating from Pro Football Reference for each player just for a comparison purpose.
According to the PFF top 20, only 4 of these corners were over 6 feet tall and only 6 weighed over 200 pounds. None of the top 7 were 6 foot guys and none weighed in over 200 pounds before being drafted. Of the top 20, only 6 were drafted outside of the second round and 2 were actually undrafted. Of course all clocked 40 times in the 4.5\'s or less except for Ronde Barber. That is in no way a surprise as speed matters.
I found it interesting how Antoine Winfield is one of the smallest guys on the list though, yet he ranked number one according to PFF. He is regarded as a pretty good tackler and also plays well against the run. His small size does not seem to hurt him in pass coverage either and he still has great quickness and leaping ability. Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes is close to the same mold as Winfield, but not as good against the run as he is, but he is certainly not afraid to tackle.
In the second table I listed the true cornerbacks that have been drafted over the last 6 years in either the first or second round that did not make the top list in the first table just for comparison purposes.
I have also denoted the underclassmen in both tables with a *. 8 of the top 20 from 2010 were underclassmen that were drafted.
In conclusion, there is not one definitive pattern out of this. Young corners come in all shapes and sizes and can be successful. The cream of the crop that all teams look for every year are guys that offer size, strength, speed and can tackle. These types are few and far between as we all know. The top 3 in the 2011 class that offer all of these traits are Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara and Jimmy Smith. Although character concerns surround Smith, I still see him being drafted in round one. Next up are the guys that come in just under 6 foot tall and weigh in around 200 pounds. These guys also should be able to run in the 4.4 or low 4.5\'s. The stronger they are the better, and they need good change of direction skills. There are a few names that come to mind when thinking about guys the Steelers might have a shot at drafting in the earlier rounds. This short list of guys I have would be Brandon Harris, Brandon Burton, Curtis Brown and Chimdi Chekwa. Some mid round guys for consideration would be Chykie Brown, Brandon Hogan and Buster Skrine that sort of fit these criteria. It should be noted that Harris and Burton also are underclassmen. The Steelers certainly have no problems drafting these types of juniors as history has shown.
Outside all of this sits Aaron Williams. He has the size, but lacks the speed. Although he improved his 40 time at his recent pro day on a fast track, his fluidity and tackling skills are still very much a concern. Most scouts have him pegged as a safety at the next level and because of that, he very well could fall out of the first round.
The cornerback position is a deep one this year, but the guys drafted after round 4, as history has shown us, are crap shoots. This holds true with all players drafted after the fourth round, but very few slip through the cracks. These guys usually end up being small school guys like Tramon Williams and Grimes. A few players that fit the bill the Steelers might eye late would be Justin Rogers and Loyce Means.
Time and time again we see it is a trap to judge these guys just by combine measurables, but what they do in Indianapolis at the combine and at their pro days, should match what they offer as far as game tape. Some things like the willingness and ability to tackle along with how a player matches up against top notch competition can not be measured at the combine. Running fast on a straight line and doing drills in shorts can only go so far, but some measurables have their place in my opinion.
|Champ Bailey *||DEN||1||7||5116||184||4.28||37||9|
|Brandon Flowers *||KC||2||35||5096||189||4.55||30||8|
|Joe Haden *||CLV||1||7||5106||193||4.52||35||4|
|Sean Smith *||MIA||2||61||6034||214||4.50||34||4|
|Nate Clements *||SF||1||21||5111||209||4.39||N/A||7|
|Vontae Davis *||MIA||1||25||5111||203||4.40||36||6|
|Aqib Talib *||TB||1||20||6006||202||4.44||38||6|
|Darrelle Revis *||NYJ||1||14||5114||204||4.38||38||15|
Corners Drafted In Round 1 or 2 Since 2005 Not In Top 20
|Kareem Jackson *||HOU||1||20||5104||196||4.40||37.5||5|
|Johnathan Joseph *||CIN||1||24||5110||193||4.31||37||5|
|Richard Marshall *||CAR||2||58||5111||189||4.42||37||7|
|Pacman Jones *||TEN||1||6||5094||187||4.38||38.5||N/A|
|Fabian Washington *||OAK||1||23||5104||188||4.29||41.5||4|
|Justin Miller *||NYJ||2||57||5096||201||4.42||41.5||N/A|