Less than a month remains until those glorious three days in April, when teams can considerably impact their roster for the next five or so years. It is so difficult to discern actual team interest from smokescreens that the best approach might be to focus on individual rankings at this time.
In the meantime, Kay Adams (@heykayadams) and I (@JoshNorris) ran through my top cornerbacks and safeties in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Rankings: Top Five Cornerbacks and Safeties
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1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
Where he wins: Sticks to receivers from the snap all the way downfield with physical play and speed to stay in hip pocket. Well-built for the position and it shows when attacking ball carriers. Uses hands to disengage or keep the edge.
2. Xavier Rhodes, FSU
Where he wins: Press man coverage to slow receivers’ routes off the line and stick with them downfield. Remains balanced with his punch and shows that same physicality when wanting to attack the run on the edge.
3. Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Where he wins: Adept in press of off coverages. Very good at getting physical at the catch point to disrupt the receiver. Fluid hips and smooth turns with footwork to stick with vertical or breaking receivers. Comes up to set the edge, forcing the running back inside.
4. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Where he wins: Played a lot of cover 3 and not afraid to cut off his line and take a chance on underneath targets. His risks tend to pay off. Height and willingness to go up and get it allows him to win at the catch point. Not shy against contact.
5. Desmond Trufant, Washington
Where he wins: Quick feet to stay in close range of receivers in their breaks. Keeps a safe distance from his assignment which will help to not draw downfield contact penalties in the NFL.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Where he wins: Combo safety that fits where many schemes in NFL are moving. Interchangeable in the back half and showed plenty of comfort and aggression while covering slot receivers. Change of direction is there.
2. Johnathan Cyprien, FIU
Where he wins: An aggressive, physical player with enough mobility, awareness, and range to play the safety spots interchangeably. Sure tackler with aggression to make a play on ball carriers or when blitzing. Experience in the slot.
3. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
Where he wins: Big hitter that can set the tone for a defense. Interchangeable safety in the back half. Showed well at cornerback when asked to play the position, but natural fit at safety. Feisty, downhill player.
4. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Where he wins: Center field type safety who tracks the ball well with angles to disrupt the catch point. Shows enough tackling ability to be a reliable last line of defense. Great ball skills and shows a physical side closing downhill versus receivers.
5. J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern
Where he wins: Aggressively closes on pass catchers in front of him with strong hits. Same goes for run defending, not afraid to sacrifice himself to take out lead blockers from a strong safety role. Still learning the position.