With just ten days until the 2021 NFL draft, all 32 teams will be deep into the evaluation of areas on the roster that they need to address and the talent available in the draft.
Cornerbacks will be in demand during the 2021 NFL draft as at least 12 teams are in the hunt for a starter in that position ahead of the new season. With several teams in need of a fresh injection of talent in their secondary, we take a look at the top 10 CBs heading into the 2021 NFL draft:
Top 10 CBs available in the 2021 NFL Draft
#1 - Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
The son of former Miami Dolphins CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama's Patrick Surtain ll clearly takes after his father and is the best prospect available in at cornerback in the 2021 NFL draft.
Surtain II has great discipline as evident from the low number of holding penalties called against him during his college career. Despite not getting too physical with receivers, he is able to stick with them in both zonal and man coverage.
Surtain II wasn't flagged even once in 2020, showcasing self-restraint and experience that you don't often see in college football. He improved in each year of his college career. In 2018, PFF gave him a coverage grade of 78.7, followed by 84.6 in 2019 and then 88.6 in 2020.
Given his excellent temperament and technique, most analysts expect Surtain ll to go off the board early, with many penciling him in as one of the top 10 picks at the 2021 NFL draft.
#2 - Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
South Carolina's Jaycee Horn has a fine habit of landing big hits in the defensive backfield. As such, I'd have to consider him less of a disciple of Patrick Peterson and more an apostle of Jalen Ramsey when it comes to playing the cornerback position.
Playing in the SEC, which is a tough college division, Horn allowed the second-lowest pass completion percentage of any cornerback to opposing QBs and receivers.
The only issue with Horn is that he will need to improve his discipline once he gets to the NFL. He gave away too many penalties during Carolina's 2020 campaign. Assuming he improves that area of his game, Horn looks every bit an NFL player and is likely to go off the board in the first round of the NFL draft.
3. Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
I didn't get to see too much of Greg Newsome ll last season, but PFF's draft scouts seem to be very high on the player, writing:
Newsome is a super-long and super-smooth cornerback who makes the not-so-easy look easy. His hip-flipping ability is truly second to none in the draft class. It’s that ability to alter course on a dime that led to him allowing only 12 catches from 34 targets for 93 yards in six games this season.
While we’d have loved to have seen more of Newsome against top competition — he left midway through the Ohio State game this year — we saw enough to know he has the movement skills to be a top-flight corner.
Newsome II is one of the best CBs available in the 2021 NFL draft.
#4 - Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
The son of former New England Patriots player Asante Samuel, Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr. is one of those players whose stock seems to be on the rise the closer we get to the 2021 NFL draft. He tallied three interceptions and five PDs during Florida's 2020 campaign.
Samuel Jr. might be slightly undersized for a cornerback in the NFL, but his speed, agility and ability to leap high under the aerial ball are all first-rate, which is why he will be a big target for teams in the 2021 NFL draft.
He's a good option for a host of teams, especially if they line up Samuel in the slot, where he works best.
#5 - Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Strong, fast and tall, Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley has all the makings of a top CB in the NFL.
Farley possesses an elite level of awareness and incredible speed, which enables him to regularly get into position to make big plays.
PFF reports that Farley will need to improve his ability to play man once he gets to the NFL, but all rookies have something to work on, and Farley looks to be a top player on the whole.
#6 - Jevon Holland, Oregon
Oregon Ducks' Jevon Holland tallied nine interceptions and 11 pass deflections during his two seasons of college football. A versatile player, Holland would be a great selection in the NFL draft for a team in need of both safety and cornerback in the draft as he plays both positions well.
There are a few concerns over his speed and athleticism, which could see him drop down the board a little in the NFL draft, but overall, Holland looks to have everything required to play in the league.
7.Aaron Robinson, UCF
Due to his high-octane performance and propensity to put big hits in on opposing receivers, UCF's Aaron Robinson is a real fan favorite down in Florida.
Robinson amassed 15 pass deflections over two seasons with the Knights and allowed a pass completion rate of just 56.3% when targetted in coverage.
Another great thing about this young prospect is that his athleticism and physicality enable him to play up closer to the line of scrimmage in the slot, while also allowing him to drop back deeper to defend the zone.
I think Aaron Robinson could be a real sleeper pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
#8 - Tay Gowan, UCF
After playing only one season of college football and then opting out of the Knights' 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, UCF's Tay Gowan declared for the 2021 NFL draft.
Regardless, Gowan is one of the fastest cornerbacks to have declared for the draft with an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds. In his sole season, Campbell showed tremendous speed which enabled him to get back into position quickly when he made bad reads.
Campbell allowed just 20 catches from 50 targets for 274 yards (or, a 40% pass completion rate) in 2019. Despite his relative inexperience, Gowan will be a target for a few teams in the 2021 NFL draft.
#9 - Tyson Campbell, Georgia
Georgia's Tyson Campbell is one of the fastest players to have declared for the 2021 NFL draft.
Campbell managed only one interception and nine pass breakups in 869 snaps in coverage during his college career, so his stats are nothing much to write about. But his speed will make him a viable option for teams looking to add fresh blood to their secondary in the 2021 NFL draft.
Expect to see Tyson Campbell go off the board by about midway through the third round of the upcoming NFL draft.
#10 - Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
I didn't get to watch a Syracuse game last season, but PFF scouts seem to be down on Ifeatu Melifonwu's physicality and aggression, writing:
"The younger Melifonwu already plays the position that many thought his older brother and second-round pick, Obi, should switch to. While both brothers are physical freaks, each suffers from a distinct lack of physicality. One would think a 6-foot-3, 213-pound corner like Melifonwu would be a dog at the line of scrimmage, but that couldn't be further from the case. He excelled because of his smooth hips and long speed, not because he wanted to engulf receivers at the line.
While it's far less of a concern at corner than it is at safety, the question remains: Can you coach that mentality?"
Melifonwu is the tenth-best CB heading into the 2021 NFL draft.