2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Cordrea Tankersley/CB Clemson – 6’1/2 199

The Good

– Height/weight/speed player (32 1/4 inch arms, 4.4 40 at Combine)
– Good press man corner who wants to be physical at the line and disrupt timing
– Timed speed matches long speed, will thrive in man to man scheme
– Impressive leaper, better than how he tested, who times his jumps well and uses length to contest 50/50 throws
– Plays pocket well on non-vertical throws and again, uses length to his advantage
– Good hands and finishes plays, shows body control along the sideline and acts like a receiver in coverage
– Shows route recognition and appears to have done some pattern matching
– Experience as left and right corner, field/boundary, and appears to have shadowed opponent’s #1 receiver
– Productive career, ballhawk in the secondary
– – Hasn’t played a ton of cornerback and much room to grow and improve

The Bad

– Lanky frame, needs to add some muscle
– At best, an inconsistent tackler who doesn’t show much strength
– Tackling angle is too high and causes him to miss, drag down tackler in best case scenario
– Not very physical and isn’t going to offer much in run support, can lose run fit as the force defender
– Needs a little bit of work in press coverage, will punch with wrong hand when fooled by initial stem of the receiver


– 30 career starts in 55 games
– Career: 149 tackles, 22 PDs, 9 INTs
– 2016: 65 tackles, 4 INTs
– Third-team AP All-American in final year
– Played on special teams coverage unit even in 2016
– Spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy after high school

Game Tape

Tankersley’s Clemson bio says one scouting outlet had him listed as a receiver before committing to the Tigers back in 2013. And that makes sense because there are moments where he looks like a bonafide receiver with great hands and ball skills.

Watch his body control and ability to keep his feet in along the sidelines. Looks like Antonio Brown out there.

He has good length and a long, lean frame that allows him to contest throws even on well-thrown passes. On this fade against Notre Dame in 2015, he gets full extension to bat this pass away. Big time play in a big time spot.

The bad news is that he plays like a receiver in coverage…and tackles like one, too. He missed a ton in the five cut-ups I watched on Draft breakdown. You’re not going to make every tackle of course but you have to do more than play two-hand touch, like this bizarre play against Virginia Tech. He’s number 25 to the bottom of the screen.

Tankersley thrives in press man but he is going to have to learn to play a little cleaner at the next level. He get his hand on the receiver too much to keep a feel of where he’s at and that’s going to get him in trouble. Flagged I think three times in the five games I watched. Didn’t get called for this one but could have and you can see the receiver throw his arm up, hoping for a flag. Corner at the top of the GIF.

There’s zero question Tankersley has legitimate talent. He has all the triangle numbers, is less stiff than you’d expect, and plays the ball in the air really well. But his lack of physicality, like I wrote, at best he’ll be a drag down tackler, still isn’t totally what the Steelers are aiming for. He’ll do well in a man-heavy scheme. And that isn’t something Pittsburgh will provide. For teams who do desire that though, he’ll be one of the most attractive options and could go higher than conventional wisdom.

Projection: Early Day Two

Games Watched: at Notre Dame (2015), vs Troy, vs Georgia Tech, vs Virginia Tech, vs Ohio State

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowellDesmond KingSolomon Thomas
Cordrea Tankersley

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Steelers12

    i got a couple of CBs i prefer before him but i wouldn’t complain if he was selected

  • Douglas Andrews

    As a big Clemson fan I’m lukewarm on him. He got away with alot of grabbing. If we don’t like Cockrell in run support this dude is worst. He shows a serious lack of effort in supporting the run.

  • AndyR34

    Thanks Alex! I like it when I can knock guys off of the possibles list. 🙂

  • Steelers12

    Jorduan Lewis out of Michigan is who we need but he has a domestic case now and the Steelers might shy away

  • Brian Tollini

    Rasul Douglas please : )

  • steelburg

    Maybe at the beginning of last year I wouldn’t have considered him a good fit. But I think this team will make the transition to more of a man based defense. Consider who the team showed interest in during FA and he fits that mold like both Kirkpatrick, Ryan, and I think Sensabaugh is also better in man. Alex I’m curious to know why you don’t think he would be a fit considering who the team showed interest in during FA, and also how we got drummed in zone by the Pats. I love Tankersley and I think he fits the new look CB we NEED to compete with the Pats

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Case of the girl crying wolf from what I’ve read

  • Alex Kozora

    I’m sure they’ll try to play more man, like I said, but it won’t be man-heavy. You still need to be able to tackle the catch and support the run. And he doesn’t do that well.

  • Steelers12

    typical, he probably broke up with her and she sees the money train coming and don’t wanna let go

  • Zach Holzworth

    The shove in that one gif makes me want to never see this guy in black and gold. I can’t even wrap my brain around what he wasn’t trying to accomplish.

  • Alex Kozora

    Me too man. That’s jut ugly.

  • Thomas

    This is my guy right here, the unteachable coverage atributes you want and the flaws you can correct.

  • steelburg

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one Alex. “His best fit will come in a press man scheme. Punching with the away hand and riding the receiver will cut down on space the receiver has while helping open up Burns hips. That isn’t the dominant concept Pittsburgh runs and he simply is not an ideal fit for Keith Butler”. You wrote this last year about Burns in his scouting report. I think Burns started the transition from a guy who can play better man then zone and they are going to coach them up on the zone stuff which is what I think they did with Burns this year. Tankersley is just as physical as Burns IMO and he is more polished in man coverage then Burns was when he came out. I think Tankersley is a great fit and would make a ton of since to be matched with Burns on the other side. I have my figures crossed for either him or Awuzie in round 2.

  • Alex Kozora

    That’s where we disagree. I’m not opposed to taking a guy who can thrive in press man, I’m on board with Kevin King, but you need to be physical for when the team plays Cover 2 and 3 (which will happen just as often, probably more). I don’t agree Burns and Tankersley are on the same level. Find me one “big” hit Tankersley had – I didn’t.

  • Luke

    I watched a few Clemson games this season and he really stuck out to me. He was making play after play, I thought he’d be a first rounder for sure and wanted him to be a Steeler, but after watching whatever he tried to do in that third GIF I’m not sure Id touch this guy, I mean c’mon at least fall at the runners legs and hope he trips or something, no effort whatsoever

  • Steeler4l1f3

    I like him too. Let’s not forget that Burns was very raw and had poor tackling. Look how much he improved.

    I think the team is looking for Cover 2 press corners that can play zone or man. Look at Artie and I think you see our vision of a CB. Fast, long, tremendous athleticism, elite arm length and good press cover skills.

    Hope we grab one in round 1 or 2 with Edge pick being the other pick or BPA at WR or TE if an elite prospect falls.

  • steelburg

    Find you 1 big hit that’s a tricky one lol. He is a different kind of tackler then Burns is IMO he tackles more like William Gay who rarely has big hits. Tankersley takes out legs just like Gay does the majority of the time instead of trying to lay big hits on people which is what Burns does sometimes. Tankersley hasn’t mastered that kind of tackling like Gays has but just like Gay he can work to get better. Burns struggles tackling at times and we saw that this year in several games so let’s not act like he is a good tackler. He worked on it and got better over the course of the season but I would qualify Burns as not good, not great, but just an ok tackler and I think Tankersley would also be qualified as just an ok tackler in the NFL.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I came in weeks ago with an open mind on Tankersley, and all of the CB’s, because I really love the position, and I wanted to get an unbiased view of who I could see as a Steeler. Then came the Combine and I wanted to see all of these guys workout in shorts, run, go through the drills, and see who was there to really compete and make a name. I had seen quite a bit of Clemson football, so I had a feel for Cordrea already. After the Combine, I’ve been watching tape on all of these guys. And honestly, Tankersley makes more plays on ball on tape, but I really thought he had a bad Combine overall. In my blurb recap I wrote:

    “Cordrea Tankersley was someone I wanted to see. What I saw, I didn’t care for. He ran fine but jumped abysmally. I can equal a 29.5 Vert. He too had drops and fought the ball. I was simply not impressed with his hip, footwork, or change of direction. Pass. Thank you very much.”

    And really, I haven’t seen too much to change my mind. I always speak on what they would do for us as Steelers.. NOT what they may mean to other teams who run different systems or value different attributes. Could we work with Tankersley to take advantage of his good height, relatively solid ball skills, and the perfectly fine speed? Sure, I bet we could (though Lake is NOT Max the Miracle Worker) (Mostly dead for us may as well be ALL dead). But the grabby/penalty thing is pretty evident on some scouting reports and in the tape.

    I personally think Tankersley is a 3rd or 4th round talent who may go as high as somewhere in the 2nd. But really, only because he played at Clemson and is 6’1, and may be a fit for a man-heavy team. I won’t be shocked at all though if he stays in that 3rd round range or so. He’s not a bum or a bad CB, I just don’t know if he is the right fit for us. Certainly not in the LeBeau/Butler scheme. But maybe in a new hybridized version that in fact does include more man.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Time to defer to the Clemson fan on this one…

  • SoCal Steeler

    I kind of feel the same way with him. The speed, height and making plays on the ball ability is nice but I don’t like the tackling deficiencies and the stiffness. I do like that he’s one of the better man coverage CB’s. I guess I’d be ok with him, just not excited exactly because we’d most likely have to pick him in Rd. 2 and I’d prefer it in Rd. 3

  • Brian Miller

    I agree, would rather have King, Lewis, Stribling, or Kazee…or Sutton.

  • Steelers12

    i would add Adoree’ Jackson, Kevin King, Rasul Douglas, Shaquil Griffin, Corn Elder and Chidobe Awuzie better

  • Charles Haines

    Alex, have you done one of these on some of the bigger CB’s like Witherspoon or Brian Allen? The latter I believe might be available in the 3rd for Steelers.

  • popsiclesticks

    If I was going for a corner who can’t tackle (and I wouldn’t write them off completely), I’d probably wait a few rounds and draft Myrick.