Bengals Draft 2012: A Look At This Year's Cornerback Class

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03: Jayron Hosley #20 of the Virginia Tech Hokies intercepts a pass in the third quarter against Jeremy Gallon #10 of the Michigan Wolverines during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There's no argument when it comes to one of the Bengals top needs; the cornerback position stands alone as a glaring need. It's also a common thought that with one of their first round picks, the Bengals will more than likely draft a cornerback. Even with a rookie injected into the CB depth chart, Cincinnati will need more help. They'll need to sign a free agent and maybe even draft another CB in the middle rounds of the draft.

Here are my cornerback rankings, with help from David Hamilton (follow him on twitter), who's been working with me grading and evaluating this deep CB class. These rankings and quick breakdowns have a little bit of a twist to them. I'll be grading their positional skills 1-5 to see where each prospects match up. It will help you get familiar with some players you may not know and also help you make the decision on who fits best for the Bengals. The lower the amount total, the better the prospect (in theory).

Grading Scale

1

Elite Skill, This player is one of the best in the NFL at this particular attribute

2

Good Skill, Above average in this phase of the game

3

Average Skill, NFL average in this category

4

Below average Skill, Could be a liability at times

5

Bad Skills, Not fit for NFL at this aspect of the game

1) Morris Claiborne. School: LSU, Height: 5'11", Weight: 188
2011 Stats: 6 INT, 32 Tackles, 2 Touchdowns (Kick return and INT)
Draft Projection: Top 5

Size

1

Perfect height and length of most elite NFL CBs

Speed

2

Looks like a 4.45 guy in games, ran 4.47 at NFL Combine

Athleticism

2

Plus change of direction, strength and return skills

Man Coverage

1

Can press, play off and has great anticipation skills

Zone Coverage

1

Understands zone concepts, reads the QB, and makes a play

Vs. Run

2

Willing tackler and run defender but needs work on contain and angles

Ball Skills

1

Elite ball skills, can track ball and has great field/ball awareness

Experience

2

2-year starter in the SEC on one of the best defenses in country

TOTAL 13

2) Stephon Gilmore. School: South Carolina, Height: 6'0", Weight: 193 lbs.
2011 Stats: 3 Interceptions, 46 Tackles, 1 Forced Fumbles
Draft Projection: Top 25
Click here for Full Scouting Report

Size

1

Great height and length to go with good bulk

Speed

2

Ran a 4.40 at Combine but plays like a 4.45 guy

Athleticism

2

Good hips & feet for a CB his size, tackler & blitzer, Return man, Wildcat QB

Man Coverage

2

Has every tool you look for in a man cover CB, needs refinement & experience

Zone Coverage

2

Has a great deal of experience in zone but wasn't his strongest point

Vs. Run

1

Very aggressive, fights through or controls blockers, willing tackler

Ball Skills

2

Good hands & bats balls away, loses track of ball at times

Experience

2

Came out early (jr.), played 30+ games in SEC, relatively new to CB

TOTAL 14

3) Dre Kirkpatrick, School: Alabama, Height: 6'2" Weight: 186
2011 Stats: 0 INT, 30 Tackles, 2 Forced Fumbles
Draft Projection: Top 25
Click here for Full Scouting Report

Size

2

Great height, Shorter arms, Thin frame

Speed

2

Ran 4.43 at combine, faster than expected, doesn't always play to that speed

Athleticism

3

Not very agile or flexible, He's at best when moving forward

Man Coverage

3

Press man is solid, off man is shaky, smaller, quicker WRs a tough match

Zone Coverage

1

If Kirkpatrick can see it, he can defend it with the best of them

Vs. Run

1

Tremendous tackler and hitter, Diagnoses and reacts quickly

Ball Skills

4

Inconsistent hands, below average ball-awareness

Experience

2

Only started 2-seasons, Played in SEC vs. top WRs

TOTAL 18

4) Janoris Jenkins, School: Northern Alabama, Height: 5'9.5", Weight: 193
2011 Stats: 2 Interceptions, 53 Tackles, 3 PR TD
Draft Projection: Between picks 20, 40
Click here for Full Scouting Report

Size

3

Shorter than average but has long arms and good bulk

Speed

2

Quicker than fast, Ran 4.44 at Combine, Good recovery speed

Athleticism

1

Agility, acceleration and quickness are all elite ability, Good return man also

Man Coverage

1

Natural in press or off coverage, Anticipation skills are Rare

Zone Coverage

3

Slow to react in zone, Trouble processing information quickly?

Vs. Run

3

He isn't always willing but he's a pretty good wrap-up tackler, size a factor

Ball Skills

2

Reacts well and can track the ball easily, Good hands

Experience

1

4-year starter with 3-years in the SEC vs. elite WRs

TOTAL 16

5) Brandon Boykin, School: Georgia, Height: 5'9", Weight: 182 lbs.
2011 Stats: 3 INT, 50 Tackles, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 PR TD
Draft Projection: Between picks 35, 55
Click here for Full Scouting Report

Size

4

Below average height and bulk, solid arm length

Speed

1

Looks like a 4.35 guy, Routinely displays top speed

Athleticism

1

Great agility, acceleration, jumping, + special teams, Gadget player on offense

Man Coverage

1

Has the quickness, speed and agility to be a great man-cover CB

Zone Coverage

3

Looks comfortable and reads quickly, not great in press-zone or cover-2

Vs. Run

3

Average only because of size limitations, willing and solid tackler

Ball Skills

2

Can almost get to any ball in his vicinity, speed & ball tracking leads to PDs

Experience

1

3-year player in SEC vs. Elite WRs, Practiced against A.J. Green

TOTAL 16

6) Jamell Fleming, School: Oklahoma, Height: 5'10.5", Weight, 203 lbs.
2011 Stats: 60 Tackles, 2 INT, 3 Forced Fumbles
Draft Projection: Between picks 30, 50

Size

2

Slightly shorter than average but great bulk, strength & long arms

Speed

3

Ran 4.43 at combine but looks slower than that in games

Athleticism

2

Fluid hips, good balance, gets TFLs, sacks and TDs

Man Coverage

2

Strong in press man and doesn't give much separation, recovery speed lacks

Zone Coverage

2

Reads and diagnoses well but doesn't look laterally that quick

Vs. Run

2

Good tackler and very strong upper body, gets TFL frequently

Ball Skills

2

Had 5 Interceptions in 2010 but dropped to 2 Interceptions in 2011, good hands

Experience

3

2-year starter in a pass heavy conference

TOTAL 18

7) Jayron Hosley, School: Virginia Tech, Height: 5-10 Weight: 178 lbs.
2011 Stats: 3 Interceptions, 59 Tackles, 2 Forced Fumbles
Draft Projection: Between picks 40, 60

Size

4

Below average height, weight and arm length

Speed

1

Ran 4.38 at Combine, displays his recovery speed often

Athleticism

1

Rare agility and acceleration to go with top speed, Great punt returner

Man Coverage

3

Not great in press, high backpedal, transition is shaky

Zone Coverage

1

Elite instincts and anticipation, reads and understands concepts

Vs. Run

3

Willing but inconsistent tackler, size hurts him against big ball-carriers

Ball Skills

1

9 Interceptions in 2010 and 34 passes defensed in last two years show rare ability

Experience

3

2-year starter in ACC

TOTAL 17

8) Casey Hayward, School: Vanderbilt, Height: 5-11, Weight: 192 lbs.
2011 Stats: 7 Interceptions, 62 Tackles, Interception Return For Touchdown
Draft Projection: Between picks 45, 65

Size

2

Good height and bulk, Average arm length

Speed

3

4.53 at the Combine, Long & Recovery speed is a question

Athleticism

2

Smooth player, natural athlete, plays bigger than he is, 6.76 cone drill-Combine

Man Coverage

3

Locks onto the WR and sometimes gets a little grabby, penalties

Zone Coverage

2

Natural in zone, High Football IQ, Reads & Anticipates, Plus instincts

Vs. Run

2

Big hitter but doesn't always wrap-up, takes poor angles at times

Ball Skills

1

Incredible ball skills, 15 career Interceptions, 43 career PD

Experience

2

3-year starter with great production

TOTAL 17

9) Chase Minnifield, School: Virginia, Height: 5'10" Weight: 183 lbs.
2011 Stats: Three Interceptions, 50 Tackles, Interception Return For Touchdown
Draft Projection: Between picks 55, 75

Size

4

Below average height and weight, decently long arms

Speed

3

Average speed, looks like a 4.50 guy, build-up speed

Athleticism

3

Not great change of direction skills, solid kick return man

Man Coverage

3

A bit leggy and choppy, uses hand & arms well to re-direct

Zone Coverage

2

Best in zone, route recognition is plus, can play inside in nickel

Vs. Run

2

Good tackler and is physical to get off blocks

Ball Skills

2

Better in zone when he can react quicker and get to the ball

Experience

1

4-year player will 13 INT and 30 PD in career

TOTAL 20

10) Trumaine Johnson, School: Montana, Height: 6-2 Weight: 204
2011 Stats: Interception, 44 Tackles, Forced Fumble
Draft Projection: Between picks 50, 70

Size

2

Good height and weight and very long arms

Speed

3

4.50 speed is average but good for his size, Quickness is area of concern

Athleticism

3

Agility hurt due to size but is a better athlete than you'd expect

Man Coverage

3

Struggles in transition to turn and run, not much press experience

Zone Coverage

2

At best when he can read QB's eyes and make plays in front of him

Vs. Run

2

Solid tackler, big enough to bring anybody down, aggressive style

Ball Skills

2

Has to see ball to make play on it but good hands and gets a lot of PDs

Experience

3

Played in Div II but started as a true freshman

TOTAL 20

Cornerback rankings 11-20

11) Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, 5'10", 204 lbs., 40-yard: 4.51 (Late 2nd, 3rd round)
12) Josh Robinson, UCF, 5'10", 196 lbs., 40-yard: 4.31 (3rd round)
13) Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina, 6'0", 197 lbs., 40-yard: 4.56 (Late 3rd, 4th round)
14) Leonard Johnson, Iowa State, 5'10", 196 lbs., 40-yard: 4.65 (Late 3rd, 4th round)
15) Dwight Bentley, La-Lafayette, 5'10", 182 lbs., 40-yard: 4.37 (4th Round)
16) Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, 6'0", 194 lbs., 40-yard: 4.44 (4th Round)
17) Ryan Steed, Furman, 5'10", 194 lbs., 40-yard: 4.69 (4th, 5th Round)
18) Donnie Fletcher, Boston College, 6'1", 195 lbs. (4th, 5th Round)
19) Asa Jackson, Cal Poly, 5'10", 191 lbs., 40-yard: 4.50 (4th, 5th Round)
20) Shaun Prater, Iowa, 5'10", 190 lbs. (4th, 5th Round)

Using this simple grading scale, how would you rank the cornerbacks in this draft?

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