2013 Draft Countdown: Cornerbacks
Something for everyone
All kinds of corners for all kinds of schemes are available in this draft. Maybe this is the trickle-down impact of the college game becoming a pitch-and-catch operation for the offenses. Whatever it is, there are five possible first-rounders led by Alabama’s Dee Milliner (left) and Houston’s D.J. Hayden in the mix.
Patriots pecking order
The Patriots are at a point where it seems their corner spots are capably manned with Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard on the outside and Kyle Arrington in the slot. Marquice Cole is a slot backup and special teamer. Ras-I Dowling needs to show signs of life and durability after having his first two seasons squished by injury. Malcolm Williams is a roster bubble guy at this point.
Dee Milliner, Alabama
Versatile with both short-area quickness and top-end speed. Technically sound and, at 5-foot-11, 201 pounds, has good size. Very smart and played in a pro-style defense at Alabama. NFL ready from Day 1.
DJ Hayden, Houston
Scaling mock draft boards because of being medically cleared after suffering a scary injury last season in which a major artery near his heart was severed after a collision. Well-respected with great character and determination. Good tackler and plays with great balance and in control. Mike Mayock of NFL Network has made Hayden his No. 1 corner ahead of Milliner.
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Big unit at 6-1, 210 who likes press coverage and is very good at it. The Patriots have tried to employ more press with poor results. If they still want to, this would be a guy for them to target.
Desmond Trufant, Washington
Not very physical but a smart, mature player with NFL bloodlines (brothers are Isiah and Marcus) who can leap (37 inch vertical) and turn and run with most receivers. Not a strong man corner.
Johnathan Banks, Mississippi State
At 6-2, 185 pounds, he and Rhodes are the biggest top-tier corners. Played against the SEC competition and showed well. Not afraid to be physical but has to improve at it.
Rhodes has the missing element of being able to get physical that the Patriots seemed to desire at the start of 2011 and 2012 but failed to get from their players. Trufant sounds like the kind of midget, zone roamer the Patriots like but he’s a weak tackler. Banks is recommended by the level of competition he’s played with. And Jamar Taylor (left) from Boise State – 5-10, 192 – has the strength, speed, intangibles and inside-out versatility that would make him a perfect Pats candidate. He just hasn’t seen the top competition and the Patriots thrive on that kind of info.