In the NFL, where the passing game has become increasingly relevant, and receiving cores are getting more and more talented, pass defense has become more and more important to every team. In order to build up that talent, hitting in the draft is a must. However, not every general manager has the luxury of selecting the top corner in the class. In this article, I will highlight some corners that are falling under the radar in the 2021 NFL Draft.
It may be somewhat controversial to have a consensus top 5 corner listed as one of the most overlooked cornerbacks in the class. However, in my opinion, Farley is the indisputable top corner in this class. His lack of film and experience playing press is one of the only concerns on his tape but, his athletic testing and the slew of NFL teams that don’t place an emphasis on playing press coverage suggest that it should not really be a problem. Farley’s back injury, his only other real concern has been checked out and cleared by NFL doctors. The narrative suggesting that because Caleb didn’t play in 2020, he won’t be ready for the NFL, is overblown and quite preposterous. If Farley ends up being the fourth corner taken in the draft, he will most certainly be considered a steal.
Shorter corners tend to be undervalued in the draft for one key reason: their size tends to limit them to the slot. That is not always the case as cornerbacks Jason Verrett and JC Jackson (as measured at the combine) are both outside corners at 5’9”. Tre Brown himself is 5’9 and has played 44 games as an outside cornerback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Tre flashes elite playmaking ability accumulating 4 interceptions and 31 pass break ups over his college career. He also lit up the Senior Bowl with multiple interceptions and pass breakups in 1 on 1s. His tape and motor screams Brent Grimes, a former Dolphins and Falcons corner, who constantly made plays despite his small stature. It is not entirely absurd to suggest that Brown will be a starting outside corner at the next level and his nose for the football is bound to aid him in becoming one of the premier intercepting corners in the NFL.
Nahshon is one of the biggest hidden gems in this class. Nahshon is 6’4 with 32 7/8-inch arms while running a 4.46 40 yard dash. He plays aggressive, and plays hard nosed in the run game. He also possesses really smooth hips for a corner of his stature. So, why is he so under the radar? Well, the Oregon State defense played nearly exclusively man coverage during Nahshon’s tenure there. That is not the scheme that Wright will fit into best in the NFL. The way that Nahshon is built with his aggressiveness, and his instincts translate best to a cover 3 scheme such as the used in Seattle. Nahshon also has a slight fram, so he’ll likely need to add some bulk at the next level if he is going to be running press. A year or two in an NFL weight room should do him wonders. Nahshon has a Richard Sherman-esque ceiling and will be an absolute steal if taken after the 5th round.
Photo Credit: Brett Davis