GREEN BAY, Wis. – With a healthy Jaire Alexander, the return of Rasul Douglas and the growth of Eric Stokes, the Green Bay Packers have a potentially superb trio of cornerbacks. The depth is negligible, though, meaning they might be searching for help in the 2022 NFL Draft.
State of the Packers
For his career, 2020 All-Pro Jaire Alexander has allowed a completion rate of only 49.2 percent. When Alexander went down last year with a shoulder injury, the Packers signed Douglas off Arizona’s practice squad. He allowed a 45.3 percent completion rate in a season-saving performance. Stokes, the team’s first-round pick, allowed a 46.2 percent completion rate.
That’s three starters who allowed sub-50 percent completions. However, the depth chart is beyond thin. Kevin King and Isaac Yiadom weren’t retained, and Chandon Sullivan signed with rival Minnesota. That leaves the unaccomplished quartet of Keisean Nixon, Shemar Jean-Charles, Kabion Ento and Kiondre Thomas. That’s weak, and midseason additions like Douglas don’t come along every year.
Jean-Charles, a fifth-round pick last year with slot potential, barely played as a rookie. His growth will be key if the Packers don’t use a premium pick to upgrade the unit.
Ranking the Draft Need
With Green Bay boasting a strong threesome, cornerback ranks ninth out of 11 position groups in our ranking of the team’s draft needs. Adding depth is practically a necessity.
Perhaps You Can Forget These Prospects
Based on Green Bay’s draft history, Day 2 prospects Houston’s Marcus Jones and Auburn’s Roger McCreary might be among those off the board. Overall, it’s a group that’s long on perimeter corners and short on guys made for slot duty.
Ranking the Cornerbacks
Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner and LSU’s Daryl Stingley will be off the board. So, fast-forwarding …
Trent McDuffie, Washington
Measureables: 5-10 3/4, 193. 29 3/4 arms. 4.44 40, 38.5 vertical, DNP shuttle. (The arm length could take him off Green Bay’s board.)
Analytical stats: McDuffie was a three-year starter. In his 28 career games, he had two interceptions and 10 passes defensed. He was first-team all-conference in 2021, breaking up six balls and recording four tackles for losses in 11 appearances. According to Pro Football Focus, McDuffie was one of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class to play more than 295 coverage snaps. Of that group, he ranked seventh with a 44.4 percent completion rate and ninth with a 52.0 passer rating. He gave up one completion for every 17.9 coverage snaps, good for 10th. He played in the slot on 19 percent of the snaps last season at Washington, according to Sports Info Solutions. Of the 43 corners ranked by SIS in its draft guide, McDuffie was sixth with a missed-tackle rate of 8 percent.
Personal touch: In high school, McDuffie’s coach was able to monitor his players’ study habits. That wasn’t needed with McDuffie. “He was an open book. He wanted to learn,” St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro told The Seattle Times. “He would spend time and never missed a practice (in the spring of 2018), even though he was in the heart of running for a state title in the 4×100. He still was at every single practice. He still did every single weightlifting session, never missed a film session. He was a student of the game and you could tell immediately that he wanted to be the best player possible and he wanted to use all the resources we had available at Bosco. He took full advantage of them.”
In high school, he was an excellent long jumper. “I love the long jump,” he said at the Scouting Combine. “It truly taught me how to just control your body at super-weird angles, high-pressure, going against gravity, flying into a pit. … I was always good at long jump because I am a technician. I really hone in on the details on my position, the details of playing DB, details of doing the long jump. As a DB, you have to be really smart to understand that every step is not going to be perfect, so you have to have that quick mindset of, ‘It’s all right.’ You have to have that confidence that if you do mess up, we get another play, we get another down.”
His favorite defensive back is Charles Woodson.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: McDuffie is a corner with average size and terrific instincts that shine in Washington’s zone-heavy defense. He stands out because of his natural feel for the position, as well as his understanding of where he has help. His eyes always seem to be in the right place and he picks up on route combinations very quickly. He rarely has a wasted step in his drops or breaks, and his angles are impeccable. Stays low in his drops and when positioning in zone, and his feet are quick and precise to change direction or spring into action. In addition, he’s very sound against the run.
Andrew Booth, Clemson
Measureables: 6-0 1/4, 194. 31 1/2 arms. DNP testing (quad).
Analytical stats: Booth started all 11 appearances in 2021, setting career highs with three interceptions, eight passes defensed and three tackles for losses. He had five picks in his final two seasons. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, Booth ranked 74th with a 61.7 percent completion rate, 69th with 10.9 snaps per reception and 27th with a 70.0 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 35th with a missed-tackle rate of 19 percent.
Personal touch: Booth grew up playing quarterback but – for a little while – quit growing. “I was trying to play quarterback, but I was 5-foot-5, probably 120 (pounds),” Booth told Gwinett Prep Sports. “I couldn’t really see over the line, so they changed me (to cornerback). It was for the greater good. If I was still trying to play quarterback, I don’t really know how that would go.”
Booth eventually had another growth spurt, which made him one of the top recruits in the nation and, ultimately, in this draft.
Booth threw a punch in a 2019 game against Louisville. While the rest of the team flew, coach Dabo Swinney made him take a team bus back to Clemson. “The devil can swoop in so fast, and be in and out,” Booth told The Post and Courier a year later. “He can embarrass you for that moment in time, and then just leave. As soon as I got up off the ground I was like, ‘What did I do?’ I couldn’t believe I blacked out like that.”
In middle school, he was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease, which causes swelling and severe pain below the knee joint.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Twitchy athlete who brings a compact frame and long limbs to the cornerback position. Energy jumps off the tape with his effort and urgency he plays with. Very good fluidity to flip his hips and stay in phase with receivers, showing noticeable acceleration to burst when needing to turn and run. An easy mover who displays excellent short-area quickness driving downhill on throws, plays with clean footwork when planting out of his breaks. Superb ball skills to track the football and highpoint with soft hands, is a consistent competitor at the catch point. Loves to be a part of the run game, showing urgency to come up and be an efficient tackler on ball carriers of all sizes due to his strong frame and long arms aiding his tackling radius.
Kyler Gordon, Washington
Measureables: 5-11 1/2, 194. 31 arms. 4.52 40, 39.5 vertical, 3.96 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Gordon moved into the starting lineup as a senior and led the Huskies’ with two interceptions and nine passes defensed. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 18th with a 50.0 percent completion rate, 12th with 17.3 snaps per reception and fourth with a 43.3 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was eight with a missed-tackle rate of 9 percent. He was not penalized. According to SIS, he lined up in the slot 40 percent of the time, second-most in the draft class. His 9 percent missed-tackle rate ranked eighth.
Personal touch: A lot of football players also played basketball or baseball. The big guys sometimes wrestled. For Gordon, it was dancing and kung fu.
“With dance and king fu, honestly, just like my body control and the way I move my body,” Gordon said at the Scouting Combine. “It definitely helped my ball skills. Like when I go up, just the way I’m able to control myself or even just in press techniques with my hips and how I’m able to balance in the weight transition on the ground and just make up so much time and speed. I feel like that definitely helps a lot.”
He said ballet was the “hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He danced all over the world, competing in jazz, ballet, hip hop and other genres. At age 9, he was part of the Seattle Storm’s hip-hop dance troupe. That’s the age in which he stated playing football. “When he got to the field, I’ll never forget it,” Evamarie Gordon said of her 9-year-old son. “They’re like, ‘Where’s this kid been?’ I’m like, ‘He’s a dancer. He’s been in dance.’”
Gordon is one of the top slot-capable corners in the draft. “With the outside and inside, you just get a bunch of different routes,” Gordon said at the Scouting Combine. “Outside, you can expect different things. Inside, you’re more in the run fit as a nickel. You’re a blitzer now and a little bit more responsibility. You’re the quarterback of the defense. So, you get to make the calls and the checks and make sure everyone is aligned and assigned.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: A smooth athlete with easy movement skills, never looks panicked by the speed or quickness of the receiver lined up across from him. Excellent short area quickness to match the receiver at the top of their breaks and when driving downhill out of his breaks from a backpedal. Good eye discipline in zone coverage as an underneath defender, does not allow himself to get out leveraged by route concepts. A willing tackler who displays solid tackling skills in space.
Kaiir Elam, Florida
Measureables: 6-1 1/2, 191. 30 7/8 arms. 4.39 40, 37.5 vertical, 4.21 shuttle
Analytical stats: Elam started 27 games in three seasons. As a freshman in 2019, he had a career-high three interceptions. In 2020, he had two interceptions and a career-high 13 passes defensed. In 10 games in 2021, he had one pick and six passes defensed. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 26th with a 51.4 percent completion rate, fourth with 18.6 snaps per reception and 36th with a 74.1 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 31st with a missed-tackle rate of 18 percent. Of corners listed in this story, his seven penalties were the most. He lined up in the slot 35 percent of the time, fourth-most of the 43 corners ranked by SIS.
Personal touch: Elam is the son of former NFL safety Abe Elam (and nephew of former NFL and current CFL safety Matt Elam). His father held him out of football until seventh grade. “I heard a lot of professional players are doing the same with their kids,” Abe Elam told The Athletic. “They are not rushing to put them in. For one, the concussions. Two, they don’t want their kids to face the demands of the game. It’s a lot on a kid mentally and physically.”
At first, Kaiir wasn’t very good when he started and he wasn’t very good when he entered high school. It was as if he didn’t get any of his family’s athletic DNA. “He was one of the worst players” on the freshman team, Abe said. Beyond athleticism, there was motivation. “For me and my brother, it was our way of making it out, to be able to take care of our family. That was our focus,” Abe Elam said. “For Kaiir, he was blessed to have parents take care of him, and he was in a good situation.”
Eventually, the athleticism – and the motivation – kicked in. “I want to be the greatest,” Kaiir told The Orlando Sentinel. “Those guys (his father and uncle) are a big inspiration to me. I’ll watch their highlights and see how they play and the swagger they play will. I try to model my game after them. But I can’t really compare myself to those guys. I don’t want to set a limit for myself.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Long boundary corner with prototypical length and physicality. Loves playing from a press alignment where he utilizes a hands before feet approach, often opting to use his length to disrupt receivers with off-hand stabs and two-hand jams. Emphasizes using a kick step to win against vertical releases and force receivers off their path. Most comfortable playing away from the line of scrimmage whether it be in off-man or zone coverage. Shows good feel in zone coverage for seeing routes develop and passing routes off to attach to another.
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
Measureables: 6-1 3/8, 193. 30 5/8 arms. 4.54 40, 33 vertical, 4.33 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Bryant came back for the “COVID year” and had three interceptions, 14 passes defensed and three forced fumbles as a super-senior. He won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back in 2021; he didn’t even make the preseason all-conference team. In 63 career games that included 50 starts the last four years, he had 10 interceptions and 45 passes defensed. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked sixth with a 44.0 percent completion rate, 26th with 14.3 snaps per reception and 16th with a 61.0 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 19th with a missed-tackle rate of 12 percent.
Personal touch: First, Bryant is not related to the basketball legend by the same name (but different spelling), though he did slam dunk a football after celebrating an end-zone interception. And when Cincinnati faced Alabama in the College Football Playoffs, he switched to jersey No. 8 to honor Kobe. “I was named after him for a reason,” Coby said before the game. “The Mamba Mentality is what I carry on to this day.”
Bryant’s parents named their son after the late Lakers great but changed the spelling so he could forge his own identity. “Mamba Mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most," he told Cincinnati.com. "It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes – and even non-athletes – embrace as a mindset.”
Older brother Christian spent time with the Rams, Cardinals, Giants and Browns. “He’s been the best big brother I could ever ask for,” Coby told Cleveland.com. “Christian taught and still teaches me a lot. Each week I’m asking him something about school or about something on the field. I’m so grateful for my brother.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Coby Bryant plays cornerback like a wide receiver and possesses scheme diverse traits plus fluid athletic ability which make him an intriguing prospect. It’s evident Bryant watches film and understands route combination tendencies out of certain formations and from specific areas of the field - occasionally gaining drastic inside leverage pre-snap vs. a dig route he knows is coming, for example. When trailing downfield, Bryant does a commendable job of turning his head to track the ball and get a hand into the catch point. Furthermore, he really understands how to use his length and physicality when necessary, whether it’s squeezing a receiver down the sideline or boxing them out in the end zone, Bryant brings a dog mentality to the secondary.
Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
Measureables: 5-10 5/8, 196. 31 1/2 arms. 4.38 40, 33.5 vertical, 4.13 shuttle.
Analytical stats: A three-year starter, Britt had one interception and a career-high 12 passes defensed as a senior. He had three interceptions and four forced fumbles during a breakout sophomore campaign that was split between corner and safety. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 33rd with a 53.0 percent completion rate, 58th with 11.4 snaps per reception and 28th with a 71.8 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 26th with a missed-tackle rate of 16 percent. He has the skill-set to play the slot but saw only 16 percent action there last season.
Personal touch: Taylor-Britt added the hyphen before the 2019 season. His mom, Courtney, married Darrell Britt in 2013. Cam and Darrell have been linked longer than that. When Cam was 13, his youth coach was Darrell. His mom would send Cam to practice with candy to give to the coaches as a thank you. In time, Courtney learned that Darrell liked Skittles. Later, when Cam tore his ACL in high school, it was Darrell who helped Cam break out of his funk.
“You have 24 hours to be in your feelings,” Darrell recalled to Omaha.com. “And after those 24 hours, we need to have a plan in place, figure out what’s the next step.”
Taylor-Britt was a three-time member of the Big Ten academic honor roll and he returned punts as a junior. His brother, Jaden, plays at West Alabama.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Taylor-Britt has some of the most fluid hips in all of college, allowing him to be patient in press-man coverage, staying square and not biting on route salesmanship, only transitioning when he needs to. He likes to use a well-timed two-handed strike to reroute receivers and has physical play strength to squeeze his man down the sideline. When the ball comes his way, Taylor-Britt has eye-popping ball skills with explosive vertical to high point the ball. Finally, Taylor-Britt is a very willing run defender who regularly comes downhill aggressively, taking on blocks with outside leverage and landing big hits on ball carriers.
Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh
Measureables: 5-11, 196. 31 7/8 arms. 4.39 40, 43.5 vertical, 4.22 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Mathis had two interceptions and 13 passes defensed in 2019, missed 2020 with a shoulder injury, and came back with two picks and eight passes defensed in 2021. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 18th with a 50.0 percent completion rate, 44th with 12.6 snaps per reception and 29th with a 71.8 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was sixth with a missed-tackle rate of 8 percent.
Personal touch: After missing the 2020 season, Mathis was ready and raring to go for his senior campaign. “I’m ready to go,” Mathis told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve been watching too much football. I’ve been working out too much. I’ve been in the dungeon too much. It’s time to let me out of the cage. That’s how I feel. Time to let the beast out.”
In a long line of quality Pitt corners, Mathis might be the best, according to coach Pat Narduzzi. “(Mathis is) gonna be really good in the NFL,” Narduzzi said at pro day. “He’s gonna play in the NFL for a long time because he’s smart, he’s tough, he will hit you, he’s a boundary corner. We usually put our best corner in the boundary because it’s shorter throws and the balls gonna go that way, so he’s tough, he’s physical, he’s got ball skills and he can jump out of the roof and he’s really fast with that 4.39 he ran in Indianapolis. So, he might be the most talented corner we’ve had come out of here in seven years.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Outside cornerback who frequently plays bail technique and press coverage in a cover four heavy secondary. Mathis is technically sound in man coverage, taking few false steps. He uses the sideline to redirect receivers towards it and create small windows. His hip fluidity is above average. At the catch point, he makes an effort to play the football. A vocal pre-snap communicator, Mathis gets his teammates lined up. He rallies to the ball with quick recognition skills. In the run game, Mathis is feisty and battles to gain outside leverage even when he has a size disadvantage.
Alontae Taylor, Tennessee
Measureables: 6-0 1/8, 199. 32 1/4 arms. 4.36 40, 39 vertical, 4.25 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Taylor started 31 games in four seasons but was a full-time starter only as a senior, when he set career highs with two interceptions and eight passes defensed. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 47th with a 55.8 percent completion rate, 21st with 15.6 snaps per reception and 28th with a 70.7 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 26th with a missed-tackle rate of 16 percent. He was not penalized.
Personal touch: In high school, he was a dual-threat quarterback who tallied 8,225 yards of total offense and 86 total touchdowns. He arrived at Tennessee as a receiver but moved to cornerback during his first spring.
“In high school, I played quarterback, and my coach told me, in high school it’s kind of like you put your best player where he’s touching the ball a lot,” Taylor said via 247 Sports. “So I played quarterback in high school, but every time I went to camps, I would do wide receiver. Then I started watching film, watching Marquez Callaway and stuff like that, and I was like, ‘I’m going to be just as great as him one day.’ My whole goal coming into Tennessee was to play on the opposite side of Marquez Callaway.”
At first, Taylor recalled, coach Jeremy Pruitt said the change would be for a “few days.” Those few days became a “couple more days.” And then cornerback started to click and the move became permanent.
“I didn’t like hitting people,” Taylor said. “I liked to run over people as a quarterback and to juke a lot. That was me, the little fancy guy. But when you go to DB, all that’s out the water. You’ve got to be a grown man and you’ve got to come up and play football. You’ve got hit, you’ve got to be aggressive, you can’t be the pretty boy no more. I had to change that about myself.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Outside cornerback who possesses good length. Taylor is deployed in press, off man and a variation of zone coverages. He has above-average speed, allowing him to carry most wideouts vertically. Confidence in off is apparent as he stays square and does not get turned easily. Taylor thrives in press coverage, where he has a very powerful strike to disrupt and redirect receivers at the line of scrimmage. Taylor turns for the ball if he is in position to do so. He baits quarterbacks in zone coverage. Getting in the face of receivers and feisty play in general shows that he has the mentality to succeed in the NFL. In the run game, his competitiveness and effort are outstanding.
Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
Measureables: 6-2 1/8, 199. 30 3/4 arms. 4.33 40, 39.5 vertical, 3.94 shuttle.
Analytical stats: McCollum was a second-team All-American during the FCS spring season and a second-team All-American during the traditional fall season. As a super-senior, McCollumn had three interceptions and eight passes defensed. In 56 games over five campaigns, McCollum posted 13 interceptions, 54 passes defensed and six forced fumbles. Facing FCS competition, he allowed a 55.4 percent completion rate, 65.4 passer rating and 14.0 snaps per reception. Even against lesser competition, he missed a too-high 18.4 percent of his tackle attempts.
Personal touch: McCollum and his twin brother, Tristin, went to Sam Houston together. Tristin is a safety in this draft class. “We never really had any plans of separating,” Zyon McCollum said upon signing with the program. “We kind of just figured that we would always be together and so through the recruiting process we learned that it might not be able to happen.”
Humorously, Zyon wanted to be the safety and Tristin the corner but the coaches got confused.
Their dad, Corey Carr, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1998. “He came to the Bulls one year after Michael Jordan,” McCollum told NFL Draft Blitz. “He was a shooting guard. He went to Texas Tech and broke the record for three-pointers in a season. He went overseas and played in the Euro league. He played in Israel. He had a long career. He retired and is still coaching up there. Basketball was my first love. During my freshman year of high school, I wasn’t as tall. I had a growth spurt at the end of high school. After my freshman year, I gave up on basketball. My brother and I also ran relays and did the jumps in track. I did the long jump, and my twin brother did the triple jump.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: The measurables McCollum has are going to be really intriguing for NFL teams. He is physically imposing on the field and towers over the receivers he is guarding. His length stands out on film, allowing him to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and make a play on the ball in zone coverage. Teams rarely targeted him, but he displayed impressive recovery speed. McCollum is also a physical player. He is a willing run defender and wants to make plays outside of coverage. He has the mentality for the next level.
Joshua Williams, Fayetteville State
Measureables: 6-2 7/8, 195. 32 7/8 arms. 4.51 40, 37 vertical, 4.47 shuttle.
Stats: A Division II player, Williams burst onto the scene in 2019 with two interceptions and 15 passes defensed. The 2020 season was canceled due to COVID; in 2021, he had three picks and nine passes defensed in nine games.
Personal touch: Williams is the son of a track coach. In high school, he spent his first three years at receiver before shifting to cornerback for his senior year. In 2017, he went to Palmetto Prep Academy, a prep school, in hopes of boosting his recruiting status. That got him a ticket to Division II Fayetteville State.
“I’ve always loved football,” he told Pro Football Network. “I started playing at about 10 years old. It was football and track at first then I started playing basketball. Those were the sports that I was playing through middle school. I actually started off as a running back up until high school, then I was a receiver up until my senior year. It’s crazy because, in high school, I actually was a better track athlete than football.”
While Williams didn’t play at a big school, he always believed he’d reach the NFL. “Maybe it’s because I’m delusional,” Williams jokingly told Andscape. “But, no, I always felt somehow that it was going to work out.”
Williams will be the first Fayetteville State player drafted since 1976. “I want to put my best foot forward coming from Division II, a smaller school, showing what I have to offer, that there’s no knock against D-II football,” he said at the Scouting Combine. “I want to show everyone I’m just as talented, if not more talented, than these other guys.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Long corner with a physical presence. Mirrors receivers well in man to man and instinctual in zone coverage when carrying. Quick pedal with a smooth transition into breaks. Footwork allows him to stay square and keep body positioning advantageously on in-breaking routes. Fires downhill with quick hands causing pass breakups. Great ball skills and uses length to go up and grab the rock. Great at diagnosing screens and arrives fast with perfect pad level and technique in tackling. Stands out on tape and the game looks far too easy at times.
Tariq Woolen, Texas-San Antonio
Measureables: 6-4 1/8, 205. 33 5/8 arms. 4.26 40, 42 vertical, 4.30 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Woolen’s workout numbers are insane. His playing career is not. A full-time starter for the first time as a senior, he had one interception and six passes defensed in 2021 to earn merely an honorable mention on the all-Conference USA team. According to PFF, he allowed a 57.5 percent catch rate, 99.5 passer rating and 10.7 coverage snaps per reception. Had he met our playing-time threshold, he would have ranked 80th in passer rating and 73rd in snaps per reception. According to SIS, he was 30th out of 43 with a missed-tackle rate of 17 percent.
Personal touch: Woolen arrived at UTSA as a three-star receiver. He redshirted in 2017, caught 15 passes in 2018 and caught nine more in 2019 before moving to cornerback.
“Oh yeah, it was a hard choice,” he said at the Scouting Combine. “I played offense my whole life. My former coach, Frank Wilson – he’s at LSU right now – he recruited me as a receiver throughout the whole process. But toward the end of the 2019 season, he came to me and was like, ‘Hey would like to play cornerback?’ I told no at first. I’m an offensive guy, I never played a lick of defense in my life. When he told me that, I was like, ‘Nah, no, no.’ And he basically told me it would help the team and, when I thought about it that way, I said ‘OK.’ But we would go to practice at first and I would stay with the wide receivers and he was like, ‘No, go to the cornerbacks.’ I practiced for like two week, then the last week of that season I played at corner. Then his time at UTSA came to an end and our new coach gave me a choice to play at wide receiver or corner and I chose cornerback.”
His transition was sidetracked in 2020 when he suffered a broken arm. He only missed one game but it impacted his play. “His nickname is ‘Riq the Freak,’ and that’s really all there is to it,” safety Rashad Wisdom told The Express News. “Having him over there with me, I know I’m going to be good on that corner. I trust Riq, I’m glad he’s on our team, and I’m glad he’s usually on my side of the field.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Redshirt seniors are typically experienced prospects that teams hope can contribute early. Tariq Woolen, though, transitioned from wide receiver to cornerback at the end of the 2019 season; 2021 was only his second full year on defense. Nonetheless, he has notably grown week to week and season to season since making the change. The Texas native boasts excellent size, length, and fluidity for his frame. While Woolen’s play speed does not match up with his reported 4.34 40-yard dash time, it is sufficient when aided by physicality.
Akayleb Evans, Missouri
Measureables: 6-2, 197. 32 arms. 4.46 40, 36 vertical, 4.09 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Evans spent his first four seasons at Tulsa, where he had zero interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 30 games (23 starts). At Mizzou in 2021 for his super-senior year, Evans finally had an interception and added seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles. According to PFF, he allowed a 53.2 percent completion rate, 97.0 passer rating and 10.4 snaps per reception. Had he met our playing-time threshold, he would have been 69th in rating and 76th in snaps per completion but 34th in completion percentage. He’s the best tackler among the draft-worthy cornerbacks, according to Sports Info Solutions, with a missed-tackle rate of just 3 percent. That is good. What is not is he gave up five touchdowns, most for any corner in this story.
Personal touch: Why did he transfer? “I graduated at Tulsa after three-and-a half-years,” he told SI.com’s The Spun. “My time there was great. I made a lot of great relationships with teammates and coaches, but I felt like it was time for me to take that next step. My position coach left for Missouri, which made the decision easy for me. The transition took me some time, but once the season started I was ready to go. Overall, I felt like it was a smooth transition from Tulsa to Missouri.”
In 2017, he started the Akayleb Evans Foundation with an eye toward helping the people of his hometown of McKinney, Texas. In Spring 2011, he donated $100 gift cards to a urgent-care facility, and he’s started a scholarship dedicated to a McKinney football player who is active in the community. “I saw a lot of kids that had ability like I did in terms of sports, but maybe they didn’t have the foundation at home like I do,” Evans told The Columbia Missourian. “I have really great parents and a really great support system, but not everybody has that. And that’s something I had to realize, and I felt like it was a responsibility to me to give back as much as I could, do as much as I could and help those guys.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Evans aligns mostly as an outside corner and also shows versatility by lining up in the slot as well. He shows physicality at the line of scrimmage when playing up in press coverage. While playing in press, he also demonstrates very good patience to wait for the receiver to make his move, rather than biting on a head fake or another move. The Missouri corner is an aggressive run defender who is not afraid of contact or making challenging tackles.
Jalyn Armour-Davis, Alabama
Measureables: 6-0 5/8, 197. 30 7/8 arms. 4.39 40, 36.5 vertical, 4.37 shuttle.
Analytical stats: A first-time starter in 2021, Armour-Davis had three interceptions and seven passes defensed in 11 games. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 72nd with a 61.4 percent completion rate, 37th with 13.1 snaps per reception and 10th with a 52.3 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was fourth with a missed-tackle rate of 6 percent.
Personal touch: Armour-Davis is a family man. His siblings are much younger. When he was a senior in high school, his sisters were 3 years old and 11 months. "I've changed a lot of diapers," Armour-Davis told AL.com. "It started with Brooklyn so now I kind of know how to handle Nyla. They stay home with me a lot while mom is working. I try my best to take care of them like anyone would their own child."
It was good training. He got married in 2019 and became a father in 2020. "I would think of every time I line up or every time I put on a football helmet,” he told SI.com’s Bama Central. “It’s just something that’s just a different type of burn in your stomach that you never want to fail, you want to give her the world. In order to do that, you have to figure things out. You can’t dwell on the past, and you can’t be too high on the future. You’ve got to figure out how to be successful in the moment where your feet are. That was the main thing that was kind of instilled in me when she came about. She definitely was the best thing that ever happened to me. So I’m very blessed, very thankful. I love her very much, and I just try to continue be successful so I can make her proud and give her the best life that I can at the end of the day."
Armour-Davis had a long wait to play. He missed his redshirt season of 2018 with a knee injury and barely played on defense in 2019 and 2020. Transferring was not an option. “Something my mom instilled in me as a kid was how to fight through adversity and how to persevere through tough times,” he told SI.com’s Horseshoe Huddle. “I knew early in my career, when I had those injuries, that it was just the card that I was dealt. … Honestly, being at a place like Alabama, it can be hard to build yourself back up the depth chart after an injury. It just pushed me even more, because I knew what I had in me and I knew what I was capable of. I kept the confidence in myself, I continued to work, and I let the rest take care of itself.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Armour-Davis primarily aligns in a press-bail technique where he uses a strong stab to disrupt route timings. He plays perfect trail technique with strong closing speed and the ability to carry vertical route concepts up the boundary. When asked to defend the middle of the field, Armour-Davis plays crossers and deep overs with sufficient leverage. He shows strong hand usage at the line of scrimmage and down the field on contested throws. Hip fluidity is adequate enough to speed or man turn when displaced by a route.
Cordale Flott, LSU
Measureables: 6-0 1/2, 175. 30 1/8 arms. 4.50 40, 34 vertical, 4.10 shuttle. (Flott’s 8-inch hands are among the smallest in the draft and 5/8 inch smaller than any cornerback the Packers have drafted.)
Analytical stats: Flott was a two-year starter for the Tigers. He had four passes defensed in each of his three seasons and recorded his only interception in 2021. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 24th with a 51.1 percent completion rate, 23rd with 14.4 snaps per reception and 33rd with a 74.3 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 31st with a missed-tackle rate of 18 percent. Of the 43 corners ranked by SIS, his 64 percent slot rate was by far the highest.
Personal touch: There’s no shortage of football DNA. A brother, Wydale, was a defensive back at Southern Miss. A cousin, Bobby Flott, played cornerback at South Alabama. Another cousin, Velus Jones, is one of the better receivers in this draft class.
"We competed all the time," Cordale told AL.com of his older relatives. "They tried to pick on me, of course, because I was the youngest. They really kind of bullied me in the backyard, but in a good way. It toughened me up. I'm not sure I would be where I am today without them." Said Jeff Kelly, who coached Cordale Flott, WyDale Flott and Jones at Saraland (Ala.) High School: “They are all like brothers. Cordale has watched and seen those guys progress. I think deep down he wants to be better than those guys. He is driven like few players I've been around.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Versatile defensive back who has lined up in the nickel, on the outside and even as a deep safety. Flott is a light-footed mover with easy change of direction in space and man coverage. He possesses a quick first step to drive downhill. His aggressive play style and length allow him to get his hands inside on smaller wideouts and stall them at the line. Flott comes downhill aggressively, sidestepping blockers in the run game and on screens.
Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State
Measureables: 6-0 5/8, 197. 30 3/4 arms. 4.38 40, 37 vertical, 4.06 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Castro-Fields had zero interceptions and six passes defensed during his super-senior season. Two of his three picks came in 2019, when had a career-high 10 breakups. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 49th with a 56.3 percent completion rate, 32nd with 13.3 snaps per reception and 53rd with an 85.8 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 40th with a missed-tackle rate of 23 percent.
Personal touch: On Senior Day, he was greeted by his mother and grandmother, both of whom are from the Philippines. “That’s going to be super-special,” Castro-Fields told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “My grandma … just for her to be out there and for her to kind of share this last memory of Beaver Stadium with me means the absolute world to me. She means the world. She’s my rock. When I think I’ve got problems going on, I always remember her and everything she did for our family, coming over from the Philippines, just little things like that.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: The traits are all there with Castro-Fields. He is 6’0'' tall and has 4.4 speed. Those are two things almost every team covets in an outside cornerback. In coverage, Castro-Fields does a great job of mirroring wideouts. He is sticky in coverage and gives up very little room. Castro-Fields is fantastic in press-man coverage, as he can use his length to disrupt receivers and take them off their spot. His length allows him to take chances and play an aggressive style in coverage. In zone coverage, Castro-Fields can cover a lot of ground.
Josh Jobe, Alabama
Measureables: 5-11 1/2, 182. 32 5/8 arms. DNP testing (foot).
Analytical stats: A two-year starter, Jobe had two interceptions and six passes defensed in 2021, when his play suffered due to turf toe, an injury that required season-ending surgery. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 101st with a 71.4 percent completion rate, 73rd with 10.5 snaps per reception and 94th with a 113.6 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. He gave up four touchdowns. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 24th with a missed-tackle rate of 15 percent.
Personal touch: Jobe grew up in Coconut Grove, Fla. Those from there call it a “rough” area. That’s why Jobe, as an eighth-grader, asked his math teacher about attending Christopher Columbus High School, a shirt-and-tie school in Miami. He pushed and pushed until, finally, the teacher, Lilly Parkin, took him to an open house. Next, he had to take an entrance exam. The last hurdle was paying for tuition. A scholarship took care of some of it. Parkin took care of the rest, as well as Jobe’s uniform and books. “Any child at that age who’s that determined and wants it so much … he deserved the break and the help,” Parkin told The Crimson White. Getting to school required light rail and two city buses, no easy task with books and football equipment. “I mean, if that’s not determination,” one of his teachers said. “Anybody would’ve just quit. You can do that for two weeks, but a year?”
Jobe blamed the injury for a disappointing season. “It affected me a lot,” Jobe said at the Scouting Combine. “I had to change my technique, but I had to deal with it. I’m a physical corner. I’m a good man-to-man corner. I couldn’t do what I had to do. I had to play soft.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Physical corner with length. Jobe has good spatial awareness at the backend, filling areas vacated by teammates that are put in conflict by the offense. Communicates to pass off routes and get his side of the secondary lined up. Fast enough to carry verticals down the sideline. When he triggers, he gets downhill quickly, displaying straight-line burst. Jobe contributes willingly in the run game, getting off blocks and tackling ball carriers reliably.
Jaylen Watson, Washington State
Measureables: 6-2, 197. 32 1/4 arms. 4.51 40, 38 vertical, 4.22 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Watson went the junior-college route before starting all 15 games the last two seasons. As a senior, he had two interceptions and five passes defensed in 12 games in 2021. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 58th with a 58.3 percent completion rate, 40th with 12.9 snaps per reception and 38th with a 75.9 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 40th with a missed-tackle rate of 23 percent.
Personal touch: As part of a Red Bull commercial and all-time prank, NFL quarterback Jared Goff changed his name to Dreaj Foge and arrived at Ventura College as a transfer. Watson, a zero-star recruit from Augusta, Ga., was part of that Ventura team. “Let me tell you, that was really something,” he told The Draft Network with a laugh. “We were told we had a new quarterback transfer. We came out to practice and it didn’t take very long for us to realize this “kid” so to speak had an absolute cannon of an arm (laughs). We’re starting to think we might have a new starting quarterback. It was a great, funny time. We didn’t have a clue in the world that it was Jared Goff.”
Watson was a two-time juco All-American at Ventura and got 40-plus offers, he said. He chose USC for the 2019 season but didn’t qualify academically. “That’s when I got to the lowest point of my life,” he said in a Pac-12 video. He went back to Augusta. “I just felt like a bum.” He got a job at Wendy’s with his mom making $7.25 an hour. “Working at Wendy’s showed me how much I didn’t want to live that lifestyle.” So, he got his grades in order and landed at Washington State for the COVID-shortened 2020 season. For his final season, he wore jersey No. 0. His goal? Zero catches allowed. “I don’t want to give up anything,” he told The Union-Bulletin.
He started playing football when he was 4 or 5. His first taste of the NFL was playing as halftime entertainment at Falcons games.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Great fit in a cover-3 heavy scheme where he can match WR’s vertically. Excels on a vertical plane staying in phase on the routes and using his size and length to make it difficult for receivers to stack him. Shows good ability to play versus bigger body WR’s that he can match with athleticism and length. Good awareness in zone and shows a good understanding of spacing and leverage. Has some good reps in press when he gets hands on and disrupts route timings. Good transitions when breaking downhill on curls and comeback routes. Looks and locates the ball when being thrown at vertically and knows when to turn into and away from the WR.
Chase Lucas, Arizona State
Measureables: 5-11 1/4, 180. 31 7/8 arms. 4.48 40, 39 vertical, 4.16 shuttle.
Analytical stats: A super-senior, Lucas took advantage of his COVID year to break up six passes in 10 starts in 2021. He had six interceptions in five seasons but none since 2019. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 80th with a 62.7 percent completion rate, 103rd with 8.0 snaps per reception and 49th with an 83.3 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was 13th with a missed-tackle rate of 10 percent.
Personal touch: Lucas almost went to UCLA. During a visit in 2016, he toured the campus alongside Brett Hundley, who had just had his pro day, and then-coach Jim Mora. During a film session, Mora wanted Lucas – a high school running back in Chandler, Ariz. – to be his slot corner. Lucas was on board. As told by AZCentral:
“Coaches, I’m so glad to be here," he said. "I appreciate everything you've done so today I want to …”
Valerie reached out and grabbed the hair on her son’s leg and pulled. When she got a better grip, she grabbed Lucas’ calf muscle and twisted. Lucas looked like he had just been bitten by a rattlesnake. He glared at his mom.
Valerie mouthed: “Sit down.”
Lucas has the names of his grandparents tattooed on his left arm. Valerie’s name is on his left bicep. The name of an aunt, Tara, is tattooed to his ribs. Tara, who served as a second parent and never missed Lucas’ games died in a car accident. “It showed me how loved she really was,” Lucas told The East Valley Tribune. “I’m very proud of my aunt for the legacy she built here on this earth. I want to dedicate everything I have done, everything I accomplish from here on out to her.”
Lucas was in tears when he was not named a captain in 2020. His goal for 2021 was to be “legendary.” Because of the bonus COVID year, Lucas started a school-record 49 games.
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: He has experience playing zone and off man, the former of which is where he looks the most comfortable. Possesses good spatial awareness and discipline. Stays in phase with receivers and redirects to the sideline. He possesses adequate athleticism to close on routes and interrupt at the catch point. Lucas is also a good tackler and fights off blocks very tenaciously. Provides plenty of help on special teams as well, both as a returner and running down on kickoff or punt.
Bryce Watts, Massachusetts
Measureables: 5-11 5/8, 187. 31 arms. 4.40 40, 37.5 vertical, 4.25 shuttle
Analytical stats: Watts went from Virginia Tech to North Carolina to UMass. He sat out the 2019 season as a transfer and the 2020 season as a COVID opt-out. In his only season with the Minutemen, he started eight of his 12 appearances and had one interception and five passes defensed. According to PFF, he allowed a 58.8 percent catch rate and one reception for every 11.2 coverage snaps. Had he reached our playing-time threshold, he would have been 58th in completion percentage and 63rd in snaps per reception.
Personal touch: Watts started 12 games for the Hokies in 2018 but decided to transfer to North Carolina. He had to sit out the 2019 season. Then, the pandemic struck and he opted out of the 2020 season. For 2021, he transferred again, leaving North Carolina without playing a game and landing at UMass.
“I pride myself on my man coverage. I feel like I can guard anybody,” he said before the 2021 season. “Being that I’ve played in the ACC and played against Power 5 schools, I know their techniques, what they’re going to bring to the table. I know the speed of the game.”
He told NFL Draft Diamonds: “If I could hang out with 1 player it would be Jaire Alexander. His style of play is on point and off the field he seems to be a vibe.”
NFL.com Scouting Report: Two-year starter (Virginia Tech and UMass) with adequate size, good athleticism and above-average speed for the position. Watts possesses the physical and athletic profile of a Power Five cornerback but his ball production and stickiness in coverage are both just average by NFL standards. He lacks desired play strength for press and will need to improve his discipline in off coverages. He's both athletic and tough enough for the pro game and should have a chance to state his case in camp.
Martin Emerson, Mississippi State
Measureables: 6-1 5/8, 201. 33 1/2 arms. 4.53 40, 32 vertical, 4.14 shuttle.
Analytical stats: Emerson was a two-year starter who broke up 11 passes in 11 games in 2020 and three passes in 12 games in 2021. His only pick came as a freshman. Of 105 cornerbacks in this draft class with 296-plus coverage snaps, he ranked 53rd with a 57.1 percent completion rate, 40th with 12.9 snaps per reception and 82nd with a 100.6 passer rating allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Of 43 corners in Sports Info Solutions’ draft guide, he was fourth with a missed-tackle rate of 6 percent.
Personal touch: Emerson’s path to the draft started midway through his sophomore year at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla. "Hey, Martin, we need a defensive back," Emerson recalled longtime, former head coach Jerry Pollard telling him for a story in the Pensacola News-Journal. "You go over there and play cornerback ... you are going to start." This sent chills down his spine. "I thought, 'No, coach, I'm a receiver.' That was the first time playing defensive back my whole life," he said.
Emerson was a PFF freshman All-America in 2019. He had a quiet final season because, in Emerson’s eyes, teams were afraid to throw his direction. “It was a statement, in a sense,” he said at the Scouting Combine. “If they weren’t gonna throw my way, that meant I was doing something right.” At practice, he asked quarterback Will Rogers to test him as often as possible. “That was like my enemy, in a sense,” Emerson said. “We always went against each other. I always told him I’d pick his ball off in practice. He really didn’t throw it at me, but when he did it was fun… I just had to mouth-off sometimes — try to get him mad, get in his head.”
NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Long-limbed cornerback with high cut waist and slender build. Excellent feel in zone coverage, naturally sinks with depth on routes without being out leveraged. Excels at playing off the quarterback indicator while playing with tempo to match routes in zone. Shows solid hip fluidity when he is flipping his hips to redirect downhill, making him competitive on routes working back to the quarterback when playing off. Length to compete at the catch point against bigger receivers. Physical player who is good in the run game, fights to shed blocks and is efficient when tackling ball carriers to limit extra yards.
Dallis Flowers, Pittsburg State
Measureables: 6-1, 196. 32 arms. 4.40 40, DNP vertical, 4.34 shuttle.
Stats: Flowers’ nomadic collegiate career started as a redshirt at Robert Morris, an NAIA school, way back in 2015. He was an NAIA All-American at Grand View in 2019 and 2021. In 2021, his one and only season at Pittsburg State, he had four interceptions, 10 passes defensed and two kickoff-return touchdowns.
Personal touch: Flowers might not have gotten a shot in the NFL without the additional year of eligibility provided by the NCAA through the bonus COVID year. “I believe that I got more mature throughout the game. I learned different calls, different techniques and different schemes,” Flowers told KOAM, “Playing in front of a crowd like that really prepared me for the next level. 10,000 isn’t like an NFL fan-base, but a lot of colleges don’t even have 10,000 unless you’re like a power-five school. Taking this step here to Pitt State was important and very beneficial.”
At Robert Morris, he played basketball and football – and helped both teams win conference championships. "(Being a two-sport athlete) played a huge part, a huge part," Flowers told The Chicago Tribune in 2017. "Coming out of high school, I really wasn't sure which sport I wanted to play. But they offered me both football and basketball, so I took it.”
Dane Brugler’s Scouting Report: Flowers competes with fast footwork and quick acceleration to match and chase out of his transitions. However, there is room for him to improve his anticipation and pattern recognition. Overall, Flowers needs to play more controlled, especially against the jump in competition waiting for him in the NFL, but he has an outstanding mix of height, length and speed and he has been productive at every level of football thus far.