clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2015 NFL Draft: How do you rank the cornerback prospects?

A drag & drop ranking poll exploring Steeler Nation's favorite coverage prospects in the 2015 draft.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we did a poll looking at the top 12 pass rushers that might fall to the Steelers at 1:22 and/or 2:24. This week we're looking at the other position that Pittsburgh fans see as a dire need: cornerback. The poll will be limited to only the potential picks in Round 1 (allowing for a trade down scenario to #32) and will exclude Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters, because (a) they probably won't be available at 1:22, and (b) barring major changes we already know they are the consensus #1 and #2 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Instead of simply voting for your favorite, drag and drop the prospects into your view of the proper order - best for the Steelers on top, least desirable on the bottom.

The poll will close later in the week and we will publish an analysis as soon as work schedules allow. Here's a primer on the different prospects (in alphabetical order):

Alex Carter, CB, Stanford - 6'0", 200 lbs. A smart, physical, athletic corner we should really keep an eye on. His skillset and personality seem to really fit what the Steelers like to do. FWIW, his father Tom was a 1st-round pick back in 1993, who went on to an 8-year journeyman's career. A very solid prospect who gets big, giant checks for football IQ and college performance, and whose stock might rise even higher if the measurables come through.

Jalen Collins, CB, LSU - 6'2", 195 lbs. This is a kid with all the physical tools, including the balance and quickness of a much smaller man, and who seems to have the mental tools as well, such as a well respected work ethic. In other words, he's exactly the kind of prospect that makes coaches nod wisely and say, ‘I can work with that...' The drawback is that he'll absolutely require a redshirt year before being ready to take on crafty NFL guys, especially in the Steelers defense. This is a very encouraging scouting report from a reliable Seahawks draft site, which parallels a lot of the "buzz" going around draft circles. Here is a pre-2014 scouting report.

Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State - 5'11", 195 lbs. Darby is one of those guys who gets unfairly damned with faint praise. He is a fine athlete with decent size and decent performance, and... it's enough to make the poor young man begin to hate the word "decent". OTOH, rumor has it that Darby ran in the 4.3 range while preparing for the Combine, and if that's even close to true the tenor of all that buzz will do a quick 180. However fast his 40 time, Darby's technique will force a redshirt year with professional coaches before he can really start to contribute. And however slow that 40 time, based on the film he looks to be a very solid piece of the puzzle for many years to come. This write-up/scouting report was produced in November after a middling game against Miami. If forced to give a pithy summary, Darby is a high-floor, moderate-ceiling type of prospect who plays a position where the floors are very shifty and the ceilings incredibly hard to judge.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon - 5'9", 195 lbs. Remember Jason Verrett last year? That's IEO this year. Speed, quicks, hands, head ... he's got it all except height. Translating to draftese, IEO is a ‘safe' pick because he has such a high floor that it's hard to see him being less than a really good slot corner. But how high does that get you when a true #1 has to cover the Calvin Johnsons of the world as well as the Antonio Browns? The "small" Joe Haden was 5'11" and 193 lbs. at the Combine. NOTE: IEO started the process with a 1st-round grade but suffered what is being described as a "serious knee injury" on December 17.

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - 6'0", 175 lbs. Often mocked to the Steelers, Kevin Johnson has several years of solid tape showing everything asset you'd want but the sheer heft to take down big NFL receivers. Reports laud the overall length, nimble feet and hips that let him cover shiftier guys, and his willingness to stick his nose in on tackles. It's just that your nose doesn't always do the job when there's only 175 pounds of mass behind it. Add in the lack of any drama in his background and you have a player with a very high floor and a potentially great ceiling. Note that Mr. Johnson skipped the Senior Bowl, reportedly as part of his effort to add the bulk that everyone is looking for, and may well show up at the Combine weighing closer to 190 than 175. This adoring November review comes from the normally reliable Rob Rang at CBS, but should be balanced by this more critical scouting report from the NFL site. This scouting report from a Bills site is less authoritative but just as nice because it includes some footage clips and discussion.

Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio) - 5'11", 193 lbs. As discussed in this college article on his background, Quinten Rollins is a basketball player who turned to football in his final year of eligibility, and then excelled because he possesses a fair share of that special athletic genius which can separate the 'merely good' from the 'potentially great.' He'll be badly out of his depth as a rookie, but sounds like exactly the sort of player who could make a huge sophomore leap with a second one to follow the year after. Here is an interview he did with CBS. This is a brief scouting report from a Patriots site, this is a slightly better scouting report from, and this is a pretty good scouting report from our sister site for the Jets. The NFL site's scouting report makes a point of noting his "rare start-stop-start suddeness" and "ability to change gears instantly." Rollins was one of the biggest stars at the Senior Bowl, where he made a spectacular interception. The draftnik press is waiting with bated breath for his 40 time at the Combine.

Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah - 6'0-5/8", 204 lbs. with fairly long (32-1/2") arms. Eric Rowe is a converted safety with the height, length, and speed to make him an object of abject greed. He reportedly ran a 4.37 40-time in college, and if that's true he could vault into very rarified air indeed because the scouting report at lists long speed and sudden acceleration as the primary gaps in his profile. Rowe's biggest test in college came against Michigan where he pretty much dominated WR/TE Devin Funchess all day long despite having a lot of room to keep developing his skills as a corner. Here is an upbeat scouting profile from our sister site for the Jets. This article from Football Insiders, which is paired with a brief video interview, is even more positive and suggests an interesting idea: Rowe is a solid corner, but he has experience as a cover safety too and in that capacity might be the #2 guy overall behind only Landon Collins. Innnnteresting....

P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State - 6'0", 196 lbs. You could argue that Williams underperformed in 2014 but if he'd lived up to the pre-season hype we'd be looking at a top-10 player. As it is, Mr. Williams offers exactly the skillset that the Steelers like: athletic, tough, big, good in run support, and eager to work and to learn. The downside is that he's likely to get burned early and often if he gets on the field in year 1, but that's true for pretty much every corner in this year's class with the possible exception of IEO. I've heard him described as a classic press corner, but there seems to be no doubt he can play zone and off coverage too. This scouting report from the NFL site is a good place to start. This scouting report from our sister site for the Jets is less complimentary than most, but supports that view with some very clear critiques that are plenty enough to merit a double-check. This nice little scouting report is also well balanced and useful to get a rounded opinion.