Mel Kiper has unveiled his top draft prospects at quarterback, running back, defensive end and defensive tackle already this week and today the NFL Draft expert from ESPN unveiled his top cornerbacks for next year’s draft.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu surprised many when he decided to bypass the 2014 draft where he could have been one of the first two-three players taken at the position and a likely top-20 pick and return to Oregon for his senior season. Returning to the Ducks means he is the top cornerback in the nation and the top senior on Kiper’s list. At 5-10, 195-pounds, Ekpre-Olomu doesn’t have elite size, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for it with great instincts in coverage. Barring injury, he should be taken in the top half of the first round in 2015.
Josh Shaw from the USC Trojans comes in as the No. 2 senior cornerback who also has some versatility and the ability to line up at free safety at 6-1. Quandre Diggs from the Texas Longhorns checks in at No. 3 and has a wealth of experience under his belt with 36 starts entering his senior season. The former top recruit out of high school has 10 pass breakups a season ago.
Steven Nelson from Oregon State brings world class speed to the position and the former junior college stud will add more valuable experience in the Beavers secondary and could be a player to watch in the pass-happy Pac-12 conference.
Kiper rounds out his top five list with three players he has ranked similarly in Ohio State’s Doran Grant who played in the shadow of 2014 first rounder Bradley Roby in Columbus, DeShazor Everett from Texas A&M who brings some physicality to the position and Kevin White who also played in the shadow of a 2014 first rounder, Jason Verrett at TCU.
The juniors feature a pair of Florida State Seminoles with P.J. Williams coming in as Kiper’s top junior. He has displayed outstanding instincts and an aggressiveness that could see him come off the board early next spring should he declare for the draft. His teammate Ronald Darby has been making plays since he stepped foot in Tallahassee having led the team in pass breakups as a true freshman and gives the defending champions the best cornerback duo in the nation and arguably the top secondary with Jalen Ramsey at safety.
Marcus Peters from Washington comes in behind Williams and will look to build off his 2013 campaign that saw him display a well-rounded game.
Michigan State had the Thorpe winner last year in Darqueze Dennard who went to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 24 in the first round in 2014 and could contend for the Thorpe award this season as the top corner in the Big Ten.
Mills was arrested on battery charges and suspended indefinitely from LSU on June 11, but if he comes back to the team and stays out of trouble should join Collins as the next in a continuing line of exceptional cornerback talent to come out of Baton Rogue. As talented as they are, they may not even be the best corners on the roster with sophomores Tre’Davious White and Rashard Robinson coming off strong freshmen campaigns.
Who do you think will be the first corner taken in the 2015 NFL Draft? Who do you think is the biggest snub and will make Kiper regret not having him on this preseason list?
Sound off with your thoughts in the comments section below.