CFF Overview: CB – Buyer Beware
With an eye toward spotting possible over-draft situations, Gordon McGuinness identifies a set of cornerbacks who carry concerns.
CFF Overview: CB – Buyer Beware
As we continue to look through the mass of CFF data we have collected, we’re turning our attention to cornerbacks. After bringing you the top of the crop and sleepers earlier in the week we now turn our attention to the Buyer Beware section.
The top of this cornerback class is filled with question marks and you can still find players 10-15 spots deep that aren’t too far away from the guys at the top. That means the guys at the top come with the added question mark of how much of a gamble you are taking by spending a high draft pick on them. So here are five players who we think teams should be wary of in the NFL draft.
Trae Waynes, Michigan St.
Waynes is regarded by many as the top cornerback in this class and at times it’s easy to see why. He has speed to burn and shows confidence, never looking worried about being beaten deep. He also holds the point well against a block and performs well against the run. Despite all that, though, there are some question marks that make him a risk to be selected as high as many are predicting.
His awareness at times is questionable, and there are times when he lost the ball in the air by focusing too much on the wide receiver in front of him. Those lapses leave him flapping after noticing the ball in the air, leading to contact which could lead to more flags in the NFL. His tackling can also be a bit suspect as he has a tendency to throw himself at tackles in space, a little bit like Asante Samuel, rather than wrapping up. That’s something that will cost him a few big plays when he misses, and something he must clean up in the NFL.
Signature stat: Missed a tackle once every 8.3 attempts.
Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
Johnson is also regarded as a first-round draft pick by many, but in a similar way to Justin Hardy at wide receiver he’s someone that neither myself nor Sam see the hype with. He does have great balance which stops him from being beaten immediately off the line where so much damage can be done, but there are too many question marks in the rest of his game.
He doesn’t possess great top-level speed on the field. This will lead to him losing plenty of one-on-one battles with NFL receivers and at times it looked like he was deliberately playing off to protect his speed. The need to jump up from there and attack under routes led to him being beaten on double moves on more than one occasion. Like Waynes, he too can be a bit of a sloppy tackler at times, tilting his head down and trying to tackle blind far too often which led to 10 misses last season.
Signature Stat: Missed a tackle once every 5.1 attempted, tied for the ninth-worst of all draft-eligible cornerbacks in this class.
P.J. Williams, Florida St.
Williams is arguably the most frustrating cornerback in this draft class and is the perfect example of how subset scouting can lead to a guy being overhyped. In his best games, he looked very good when getting his hands on a wide receiver early and attacked the run and screen passes aggressively, launching himself through blockers.
The problem with Williams is inconsistency. As good as he looked against Louisville and DeVante Parker, he played very poorly against Syracuse, North Carolina State, and Georgia Tech. Very good when he gets his hands on a receiver, but as soon as he loses direct contact he struggles, something that will be a big issue in the NFL. Like the previous two we mentioned, he missed too many tackles in 2014. It’s not something he doesn’t look capable of, but poor technique such as arm tackles and trying to swat at the ball when he’s in a bad position give him big problems.
Signature Stat: Williams allowed a quarterback rating of 100.0 on all passes thrown into his coverage.
Eric Rowe, Utah
Rowe is a cornerback who divides opinion, with some seeing him as a better prospect at safety than cornerback, while others think he’s a better fit at the position he played during his final season in college. One thing you can say for Rowe is he’s very strong. In the Washington State game he was too physical for the receivers he went up against and made life miserable for them. He’s physical enough that he makes contested catches tough on wide receivers, and works best in press-man when he’s able to get his hands on the wide receiver.
The problem with Rowe is he looks very uncomfortable in off-coverage at times, looking lost and struggling to get a feel for everything around him. He also struggles with recovery speed so when he loses at the line of scrimmage he’s in trouble. Any success he has in the NFL will come from being able to get a good jam on wide receivers at the line of scrimmage unless he can improve his work in off-coverage.
Signature Stat: Was targeted once every 6.6 snaps in coverage.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.