Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Day One Contributors
These are the players you can expect to play a role in a defense from day one, but might not be ready to start yet. Likewise, some of these guys might be able to start from day one but don’t project to be top-tier players. These tend to be ‘safe’ picks in general, despite CBs notorious bust rate.
P.J. Williams, Florida State
Once considered a lock for the first round, people started to see the cracks in his game once they went back to his tape. Some have even moved his teammate, Ronald Darby, ahead of Williams. I haven’t gone to that extreme, but I don’t see P.J. Williams as a plus starter in the NFL, nor do I think he’ll ever be one. He’s okay, could probably start as a #2 corner from day one, but I don’t think he’ll ever be more than that.
Trae Waynes, Michigan State
This might surprise some of you as Waynes has been considered the top cornerback by some at points this offseason. Indeed, I had him rated a tier higher earlier this week. Waynes has all world speed, but don’t use that as a complete judge of his athleticism. He’s a good athlete, but not a great one. Despite swivel hips, he doesn’t change direction well at all and despite his speed got beaten deep routinely. That concerned me, so I went back to his tape. I was surprised to find myself calling where Waynes was going on nearly every play, whether he was playing off or tight, inside or out. I believe he has a tell, and that could be a potentially fatal flaw for a cornerback. Waynes has the potential to be a #1 corner in the NFL, but it will be a long road with significant bumps along the way.
Alex Carter, Stanford
As rare as my grade for Marcus Peters was, Carter’s grade may be equally rare. Alex Carter could potentially start as a cornerback from his first snap in the NFL. He might even be a good corner when he starts. I think that’s about all you’re ever going to get, however. The upside just isn’t there for him. That isn’t to say he’d be a bad pick, everyone needs good corners, just don’t expect an all pro.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
At one point considered the 2015 NFL draft’s best cornerback, IEO sustained a torn ACL and saw his stock plummet. It might actually be fortunate for him in terms of his draft stock, because teams don’t overreact to injuries with known timetables. They do, however, overreact to players getting blasted for their size being a liability, or not living up to the hype they receive initially. IEO was never going to be a top corner drafted even without the injury as his size is a clear liability that will relegate him to the slot. He has the potential to be an elite, top-tier nickel cornerback however so he keeps this grade.
Where can Lions draft them?
Williams and Waynes should still be available when the Lions pick at 23 but almost certainly won’t be when the Lions next pick. Carter and IEO may last all the way to the Lions 3rd round pick, but it’s possible someone snatches them up before then.
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