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2011 NFL Draft Predictions – Cornerback Rankings

2011 NFL Draft Coverage – CB Preview (Defensive Back)

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The NFL draft moves to primetime for the second time in 2011. The first round will be in PRIMETIME, and is scheduled to take place Thursday, April 28, 2011; the second and third rounds on Friday, April 29; and the final four rounds on Saturday, April 30, 2011.

The Panthers with the worst record for 2010 have the right to the 1st pick in 2011.

Note: A provision in the current NFLPA-CBA ensures that this draft will still take place even with the current labor dispute.

Cornerback Rankings

PATRICK PETERSON, LSU
6”0, 219 lbs

With his measurables, Peterson joins players like Charles Woodson and Deion Sanders as those once-in-a-generation CB prospects. If he played a more mission-central position (QB, pass-rushing DE, LT perhaps)  he would go first overall with what he brings to the table. Still, he’s definitely a Top 5 pick. A 4.3 second forty and a 38-inch vertical leap while weighing in at nearly 220 lbs? Ridiculous. In addition to the coverage you need in the NFL, this guy can support the run and return punts. One of the true studs of 2011.

May remind you of: Charles Woodson, Packers

PRINCE AMUKAMARA, Nebraska
6”0, 206 lbs

If Peterson is the King of the CB class this year, Prince is, well, definitely the Prince. He’s a top-flight prospect with good size (though a tad less bulk than Peterson) and almost equivalent athletic traits (a sub-4.4 forty and a 38-inch leap) to the top dog. Amukamara played very well all season with the Huskers and he joins Ndamukong Suh as Nebraska alumni well suited to the pro game. Amukamara would look good going ninth overall to the Cowboys – who sorely need help in the secondary – but he should almost certainly be off the board in the first 10-12 picks.

May remind you of: Aqib Talib, Buccaneers

JIMMY SMITH, Colorado
6”2, 211 lbs

The tangible specs for Smith make him appear off the charts – sub-4.4 and springy legs in a very large CB frame. The character issues, however, bring down Smith’s stock. He tested positive for drugs at Colorado and was arrested twice, yet only admitted to one arrest in team interviews. Bad news bears. If Smith were a model citizen, he’d definitely be a Top 15 or maybe a Top 10 pick in the first round; as it stands Smith will probably go later in Round 1.

May remind you of: Antonio Cromartie, Jets

BRANDON HARRIS, Miami-Fl
5”10, 191 lbs

Harris possesses good speed, though not next-level like a couple of the other higher-rated prospects. Yet Harris looks excellent on the field; he really shined in Combine drills and he has the intrinsic swagger and confidence of an NFL corner. He throws his body around with reckless abandon and his man coverage skills are as sticky as anyone’s. Everyone salivates over the clocked speed trials, but Harris has shown that he could be a productive NFL starter and will be a solid first or second rounder.

May remind you of: Richard Marshall, Panthers

RAS-I DOWLING, Virginia
6”1, 198 lbs

This should raise your eyebrows: Dowling ran a 4.4 forty despite pulling up lame at the 35-yard mark with a hamstring injury. Some scouts were concerned Dowling would clock a slower 40-yard dash, but he exceeded expectations and has shown plenty on the field to suggest he can be a good NFL corner. He has nice size and body control and is fluid in coverage. For a rather middling ACC program, Virginia is adept at producing pro-caliber prospects; Dowling seems to fit that mold. He’ll probably go in Round 2.

May remind you of: Jason Allen, Texans

Honorable Mention: CURTIS BROWN, Texas Brown’s teammate Aaron Williams might be rated higher than him, but there is concern about Williams’ speed and he may make the switch to free safety – so I will grade him at safety. Brown can jump out of a building and he plays the game aggressively.

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