Cornerbacks- NFL Draft 18

1. Denzel Ward (Ohio State)– I really got to know more of him last year and in my opinion, he was the best secondary player in college football not named Derwin or Minkah. He was replacing Marshon Lattimore for the Buckeyes as the top corner and he didn’t disappoint. He’s the best corner in this draft. His athleticism speaks for itself. He has excellent footwork which allows him to mirror and match throughout a receiver’s entire route. He’s got scrappy hands and likes to be a nuisance at the line of scrimmage against the receiver he’s defending. He has the ability to match changing routes speed stride for stride and he plays the low side of the route to take away comebacks. He’s a ballhawk with the sudden hands to attack the throw and over the last two seasons in Columbus, he’s allowed a completion percentage of 32 percent. One Ohio State corner had a huge impact for their defense last season and I see Denzel Ward doing the exact same.

2. Josh Jackson (Iowa)– Before coming to Iowa City to play for Kirk Ferentz, he was one of the best wide receivers in the state of Texas. Josh thought he would be doing the same thing and he would, just from the opposition’s quarterbacks, not his own. He became a star in 2017 and led the entire nation with 8 interceptions and 26 passes deflected. He’s a taller corner and he uses his length to his full advantage as his long arms allow him to jam receivers. His ball-hawking skills simply speak for themselves. He has top-notch instincts and he always plays the football, not the receiver and it works for him. He’s what I refer to as a “high-point winner” and can make the one-handed interception. He plays the position with the mentality of an offensive player and he recorded three interceptions in Iowa’s upset win over Ohio State and two pick-sixes against Wisconsin. After week four, he didn’t allow a single touchdown for the rest of the season.

3. Mike Hughes (UCF)– He originally signed on to play for his hometown North Carolina Tar Heels in 2015. Also that season, he was suspended for violating team rules. When the 2017 season was slowly approaching, then-head coach of UCF, Scott Frost convinced Mike to come play for him and it was the best decision he could’ve made. UCF went undefeated and Mike Hughes was an intricate reason for the team’s zero in the loss column. He’s a shorter cornerback, but he has a lot of toughness for the position. He’s very physical in press coverage and he’s always looking to halt the receiver’s entire route with a punch and aggression. He can track and catch the football as a receiver and his skills include timing, soft hands and the ability to adjust his body to make the interception. He has the speed to keep pace with every receiver on the field.

4. Jaire Alexander (Louisville)– He had to prove quite a few people wrong. Coming out of North Carolina, he was only a three-star prospect. When he was scouted, Louisville saw a guy with terrific ball skills and physical play on the outside. He’s very athletic and tough and he always keeps his eyes on the quarterback. Jaire is very aware, instinctive and spots traffic from the zone to squeeze the passing lane. He has very light feet and that allows him to crowd and mirror the receiver he is defending. He’s extremely quick when the quarterback is set to release and throw. He’s aggressive when attacking the catch point and climbs on top of receivers and rips arms through potential catches. He also has decent recovery burst on the deep ball.

5. Isaiah Oliver (Colorado)– He has elite size and speed with arms that go on and on for days. Looks the way teams want corners to look. He’s also a true competitor with deep speed and he’s also an explosive leaper. He can disrupt the route release with long jabs into the receiver’s frame from the press. Sprints well against vertical threats and has the tools and trigger to stalk and challenge routes underneath from off-man. Oliver is aggressive to claw and rake hands and arms through catch attempt. Requires touch and precision to drop downfield throws over his rangy frame.