2009 NFL Draft - The Cornerbacks

Posted Apr 22, 2009

The 2009 NFL Draft is almost here. From a college football perspective, here's the CFN ranking of the top 25 cornerback prospects led by Malcolm Jenkins, Alphonso Smith, and D.J. Moore, along with the most overrated and underrated prospects and the deepest sleeper.

2009 NFL Draft Position Rankings

The Cornerbacks

2009 NFL Draft Post-Workout Rankings

| Running Backs | Fullbacks | Receivers | Tight Ends
Centers | Guards | Off. Tackles | Def. Ends | Def. Tackles
Inside LBs | Outside LBs | Cornerbacks | Safeties

By Pete Fiutak  

- 2009 NFL Rankings
| Running Backs | Fullbacks | Receivers | Tight Ends
Centers | Guards | Off. Tackles | Def. Ends | Def. Tackles
Inside LBs | Outside LBs | Cornerbacks | Safeties

The Class Is ... slowwwwwww. Normally there’s someone with sub-4.4 wheels who demands to be a first round pick just on speed alone. Not this year. Darius Butler can move, but he doesn’t have special speed. Malcolm Jenkins runs like a safety and way too many of the top prospects are around the 4.5 range or slower.

The Best Value Pick Will Be ... Asher Allen, Georgia

Most Underrated ... Bryce McCain, Utah

Most Overrated ... Vonte Davis, Illinois

The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is ... Lardarius Webb, Nicholls State

Rankings of the 2010 Top Prospects
- Possible 1st Rounders
Possible 2nd Rounders
- Possible 3rd Rounders
- Possible 4th Rounders
Possible 5th Rounders
- Possible 6th Rounders
- Possible 7th Rounders & Free Agents

- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Tackles 
- Offensive Guards
- Centers
- Defensive Ends
- Defensive Tackles 
- Outside LBs
- Inside LBs
- Safeties
- Cornerbacks
- Punters & Kickers 


1. Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State  6-0, 204
He has everything but speed. With good size and toughness, he’s terrific against bigger receivers ad has no problems being physical, even though he doesn’t show great weight room strength. For his size he has phenomenal quickness, coming up with a Combine best time (for the corners) in the cone drill and one of the best in the shuttle. However, he came up with a glacier-slow 4.54 in the 40 exposing his lack of pure deep speed. While he’ll be started out at corner, and will be more than fine, he could really shine down the road with a few years of experience and a move to free safety. For now, he won’t be asked to deal with too many blazers and will likely have to try to erase the bigger targets. But for where he’s picked and the money he’ll make, he needs to be a No. 1 corner and that just might not be in him.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Darius Butler, Connecticut  5-10, 178
A nice prospect going into the off-season, Butler ripped it up at the Combine and his stock shot through the roof. His 4.41 was a breath of fresh air among a slow corner class, and he came up with an NBA guard-like 43” vertical leap and 11’ 2” broad jump. He also stood out in practices at the Senior Bowl. He’s like a gnat when he tries to tackle, he can be brushed aside, and he’s not going to provide much help against the power runners, but that won’t be his job. He’ll handle the smaller, quicker receivers, but he has to get stronger to be able to deal with the bigger more physical ones. He’d get killed by a Calvin Johnson or a Larry Fitzgerald, but he could lock on to a Steve Smith.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest  5-9, 195
The ACC’s all-time leader in interceptions, he has a knack for being around the ball and he doesn’t miss when he gets his chance to make a big play. He’s not strong and he’s not all that physical, but he tends to hold his own against the bigger receivers and he has no problems keeping with the quicker ones. Very smart, he’ll have to overcome his lack of elite athleticism by outworking everyone in the film room and taking a few educated gambles here and there. He’ll start out in nickel and dime packages and could be a team-leader in interceptions.
CFN Projection:
Second Round

4. D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt  5-9, 190 (Jr.)
He was a star of stars in the SEC doing a little bit of everything for the Commodores seeing time as a return man and a receiver along with his corner duties. While he plays fast, and he certainly didn’t have any problems in the best conference in America, he had a disappointing Combine with a painfully slow 4.59 in the 40 and showing average quickness. However, he did come up with a 39.5” vertical leap, which helps make up for his lack of height. He’s a decent tackler, but not a great one and doesn’t have No. 1 NFL corner skills. He’s smart, a playmaker, and will do whatever is needed to succeed. He’ll be used in a variety of ways in a secondary and will be around the league for a decade.
CFN Projection: Third Round

5. Vontae Davis, Illinois  5-11, 205 (Jr.)
Without question, in terms of pure physical skills, Davis is the best corner in the draft with 4.4 speed (in a class that has problems finding sub-4.4 prospects), a linebacker-like 25 reps on the bench, a 36” vertical, and fluid quickness. His older brother, Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers, was also a workout marvel. However, they both seem to have the same dog streak. He played last year like he was counting the minutes before he could turn pro and wasn’t nearly the playmaker he should’ve been. Had he not been a pain in the butt for the coaches (try to get a strong word out of the Illini coaching staff about him) and had he focused on having a great year, realizing the mega-payday he would’ve received as a top ten pick, he would’ve been everyone’s No. 1 corner off the board. He’ll go relatively early based on pure physical talent, but he’ll bounce around the league teasing teams with his raw skills.
CFN Projection: Second Round

6. Jairus Byrd, Oregon  5-10, 205 (Jr.)
Slowwwwwwww. He’s a good all-around football player with tremendous ball skills and a nose for always making the big plays. The son of Gill Byrd, a former Pro Bowl defensive back, he has been coached and taught well and will work his tail off to be the best he can be. He won’t back down from a challenge and he’s hardly soft when it comes to getting his nose dirty to make a tackle. And then there’s the speed. To be generous, he’s around a 4.6, and he didn’t get a chance to run at the Combine with a groin problem. He’s not the best athlete and is better at playing football than he is in workouts. Because of his all-around ability, and his versatility, he’ll stick around the league for a long time as a good cog in a secondary, but he’ll never be a No. 1 corner.
CFN Projection: Third Round 


7. Mike Mickens, Cincinnati  6-0, 185
Ultra-productive with fantastic ball skills, he’s a playmaking corner who’ll have to get by on his instincts and big play ability. He had a knee problem this off-season and wasn’t able to work out at the Combine, and that’s not the worst thing for him considering his 40 time probably wouldn’t be better than around a 4.55. The lack of blazing speed is a problem since it forces him to gamble a bit too much. He’ll make big plays here and there, but he’ll also get torched against the speedsters. If he can add about 15 pounds of muscle he has a future as a ball-hawking nickel back or free safety, but he’ll have to start out as a No. 3 corner who’ll need to prove he’s durable enough to be on the field for three downs.
CFN Projection: Third Round

8. Sherrod Martin, Troy (S) 6-1, 198
Troy has become a pipeline of good defensive backs, and he has the raw skills to be the best and most versatile of the bunch. The question is whether or not someone can coach him up in a big hurry. He’ll be 25 when the season starts and he needs technique work as a corner, but the size, speed, and potential are all there. He’s a big defensive back with excellent range and decent wheels that could make him a starter at free safety, but he’s not a good enough tackler to be counted on right away at anywhere but corner. With his quickness and his upside, albeit with a range of about two years, he’ll be a potential boom pick.
CFN Projection: Third Round

9. Kevin Barnes, Maryland 6-0, 185
While he’s to going to tackle anyone, he’s a great athlete who can cut on a dime and has enough speed to handle the more talented, athletic receivers. He’s not bulky and he’s not all that strong, but he’s tall and plays bigger with a tremendous vertical leap. Because of his size and frame, or his lack of it, he’ll have problems staying healthy. He got hurt last year with a shoulder injury and was knocked out halfway through the year. While he impressed everyone with his post-season workouts, he needs refinement on his overall technique and he’ll have to be in a position where he doesn’t have to be physical.
CFN Projection: Third Round

10. Bradley Fletcher, Iowa (FS/CB) 6-1, 195

He has a great combination of size and speed with 4.49 wheels in a long frame. Extremely quick both on the field and in workouts, he has the skills to be a top-shelf corner and the size and strength to become a decent free safety. However, he’s still a work in progress. It took him a while to become a good player at Iowa and he’s still developing. Technique as both a corner and a safety are a problem and there’s a concern about substance abuse after getting suspended for a time earlier in his career. While he didn’t do enough on the field to warrant a high pick, his raw skills are too much to pass up.
CFN Projection: Third Round

11. Victor “Macho” Harris, Virginia Tech  5-11, 198
Macho was a tremendous producer for a great Hokie defense. He made all the plays, has no problems coming up in run support, and is great when he has the ball in his hands. An instinctive, aggressive corner, he loves to take on big challenges and seems to rise to the moment when the spotlight is on. While he blasted the agility drills at the Combine, coming up with a sub-4.0 in the shuttle drill and a corner-best 6.68 in the cone, he only ran a 4.68 forever dooming him to certain schemes where he’ll need a ton of help from the safeties.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

12. Asher Allen, Georgia 5-10, 195 (Jr.)
Allen has a good all-around combination of skills. He’s fast, running a 4.48 at the Combine, strong, coming up with 22 reps on the bench, and is tougher against the run than most corners in the draft. He doesn’t miss a stop in the open field and he holds his own against the bigger receivers. On the down side, he’s not all that quick and has problems with the blazers. He’s good enough to be a starter in the right scheme, and he’s a lock to find a role as a nickel or dime back, but he’s missing the top-end wheels to be a No. 1 corner.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round 


13. Brandon Hughes, Oregon State 5-11, 180
In a slow class of corners, the 4.4 Hughes ran at the Combine, along with his 36.5” vertical leap, made him stand out. He’s not all that strong and he doesn’t provide any sort of a pop, but he’s more than willing to help out against the run and he doesn’t shy away from contact. While he has the basic skills, even if he does need to hit the weights, he doesn’t have much in the way of football sense. He’s not a playmaker, picking off just three passes for the Beavers, and he doesn’t seem to around the ball enough. However, he’s a good character guy who’ll work hard and will take to coaching, so if someone is willing and able to spend the time to improve his instincts, he could be a real find.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

14. DeAngelo Smith, Cincinnati  5-11, 190
Mike Mickens might have been the best player in the Cincinnati secondary, but it was Smith’s defensive backfield. A good starter who’s willing to help out against the run and has no problems being physical, but he’s just not a good enough athlete to be a regular NFL starter. His 4.5 in the 40 was solid, and his 17 reps on the bench were eye-opening, but was the slowest corner at the Combine in the agility drills and had the low 31.5” in the vertical leap. He’ll likely make his money down the road as a safety and will be a regular in the rotation because of his toughness and character, but there’s a hard ceiling on what he can do.
CFN Projection: Third Round

15. Donald Washington, Ohio State  6-0, 195 (Jr.)
A disappointment at Ohio State, he was suspended from the team for an early stretch and he lost his starting corner job. In a bit of a shock, he chose to leave early rather than come back to try to boost his stock by establishing himself as a No. 1 corner, and then came the Combine. With excellent size, he ran a respectable 4.5 and was lightning quick in the agility drills, but he opened up everyone’s eyes by leaping 45” in the vertical jump (tops for the Combine) and 11’ 3” in the broad jump. However, his reputation for a lack of physical play on the field was hurt more by only coming up with seven reps on the bench. There are huge, screaming red flags about his character and his ability to work to be a starter, but the raw skills are too great to not take a flier on.
CFN Projection: Third Round

16. Coye Francies, San Jose State  6-1, 185
Originally an Oregon State Beaver, Francies transferred to San Jose State after off-the-field issues surrounding the possession of a loaded gun. Despite playing with a few ailments, he was fine last year for the Spartans. He’s a corner, but he’ll end up playing safety some day with good strength, benching 24 reps at the Combine, and with a lack of pure speed to stick on the outside. He put up a painfully slow 4.63 in the 40, but he was quick and fluid in the agility drills. Because of his lack of speed, he needs to bust his tail in the weight room and get to around 200 pounds to find his niche.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

17. Keenan Lewis, Oregon State 6-1, 208
A productive starter for four years, Lewis has good size and decent coverage skills. While he didn’t come up with a ton of tackles or big plays, he was durable, played through injuries, and was reliable. He ran a decent 4.51 at the Combine, but he didn’t do the quickness or agility drills. However, he’s strong, evidenced by his 19 reps on the bench, and has the smarts to possibly be used down the road as a safety if he can learn how to hit. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t do any one thing all that well and is a tweener in a bad way. He’s not fast enough to stay with the quicker receivers, and he’s not tough enough to handle the bigger ones.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

18. Lardarius Webb, Nicholls State 5-10, 180  
Originally a Southern Miss Golden Eagle, Webb was booted off the team and ended up at Nicholls State where he was a star returner and do-it-all defensive back. He’s not all that big, but has tremendous leaping ability to make up for it. More than anything else, he’s really, really fast, coming up with a 4.35 in Indy to go along with good quickness in the agility drills. For good and bad, considering his size and frame, he’s not afraid to mix it up to try to make the big hit. He’ll have to learn how to play corner at an NFL level after spending a lot of time playing safety in college, but he has the attitude and the raw skills to be a sleeper.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

19. Greg Toler, St. Paul’s 5-11, 190
A small-school reach, Toler has decent speed around the 4.45 range and good size. He dominated when the ball was in the air and fights to make plays. He needs a lot of work and needs to hit the weights hard, but he was great in post-season workouts and all-star practices making him a pet-project on the list for some teams. Nowhere near ready to start, he has the athleticism to be used on special teams while he refines his talent.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

20. Bryce McCain, Utah 5-9, 185
Way short but way productive, he was a star for the strong Ute defense for the last four years as both a corner and a kick returner. While he’s not all that bad for his size against the run, his money is made on pure blazing speed. In a very slow draft for corners, McCain’s 4.33 stands out and he’s been clocked by some as below 4.3. He’ll never be good against bigger, more physical receivers, but he’ll have a place in a secondary because of his range and his wheels.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

21. Domonique Johnson, Jackson State  6-2, 195
A nice blend of skills, Johnson is a 4.5 runner with good size who dominated at the lower level. Originally considered a possible top 100 pick when the season ended, his stock fell through the floor in post-season workouts with a mediocre Senior Bowl week and a lousy Combine. He only benched seven reps, jumped just 32”, and was shocking slow in the agility drills. He’s a project who needs to find a niche on day one of a camp, and he has to play faster than he showed in shorts.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

22. Cary Harris, USC  6-0, 190
With decent size and good tackling ability, Harris is a good football player who had a decent career for the loaded Trojans. He has two big issues: durability and speed. He was always dinged up and pulled up lame at the Combine trying to run the 40. Quicker than fast, he runs around a 4.6 when he’s right and isn’t the best athlete around. He provides enough of a pop to be a decent nickel or dime back, but he doesn’t have the feet to be a starter.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

23. Joe Burnett, UCF  5-10, 190
While he’ll see time in the secondary and will get a chance to win a corner job, his money will be made as a returner. A star from day one for the Knights, everyone knew he was a next-level punt returner early on yet still couldn’t keep him from producing. Extremely strong, he benched 225 pounds 22 times at the Combine, and he was more than solid in the quickness and leaping drills. He’s not good against bigger receivers and will likely work mostly in pure passing situations, but he’ll make a team with his range and his special teams duties.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

24. Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina  5-9, 185 (Jr.)
Thanks to a disastrous decision to come out early, he needs to try to catch on by making some big plays early on in a camp or he’ll be a early cut. He’s strong, has good leaping skills and decent speed, but he can’t play at an NFL level. Fast receivers will blow past him and big receivers will shove him aside. With all that said, he could find a niche as a nickel back and a fourth corner if he can show off his run stopping ability and he’s just good enough of a return prospect to warrant a look.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round

25.  Morgan Trent, Michigan 6-1, 190
After starting out his career at receiver, Trent turned into a decent cog for the Wolverine secondary with a good mix of speed, size, and strength. Considering he was a Michigan high school track superstar, and considering he plays fast on the field, he ran a surprisingly slow 4.52 at the Combine. He made up for it with 23 reps on the bench and a 38” vertical. While he has good skills, he’s not the best football player and didn’t play up to his talent in college.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round


Bruce Johnson, Miami  5-10, 170
DeAndre Wright, New Mexico  5-11, 195
Ryan Mouton, Hawaii  5-9, 185
Jerraud Powers, Auburn  5-9, 190
Jahi Word-Daniels, Georgia Tech 6-0, 195
31. Michael Ray Garvin, Florida State 5-8, 175
32. Mark Parson, Ohio 5-9, 188
33. Ellis Lankster, West Virginia 5-9, 180
34. Jacob Lacey, Oklahoma State 6-2, 198
Lydell Sargeant, Penn State 5-9, 190