The 2021 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2022 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Cornerbacks.
Sevyn Banks, Ohio State Buckeyes
Banks decided to leave the state of Florida as a four-star prospect and attend Ohio State. He played in five games as a freshman, mostly on special teams. During his sophomore season, he saw the field more and produced 11 tackles, three passes defended and one interception. He was a big part of the 2020 team that made the College Football Playoff and finished the season with 23 total tackles and six pass break ups.
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Banks has good size and length for an NFL corner. His length helps him specifically in zone coverage and to go with it, he uses his eyes well. He showed solid ball skills in some cases, but needs to increase his ball production. Banks did give up some ground to some receivers with some agility in 2020, but another season could be an opportunity for him to stay more attached in coverage.
Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson Tigers
Clemson went to the state of Georgia to lure Booth to campus. He played in a limted role as a freshman, but started as a sophomore in 2020. On his way to All-ACC Second Team honors, Booth had 27 total tackles, four passes defended and two interceptions. His play helped the Tigers reach the College Football Playoff.
He has decent size for a corner at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. Booth was able to demonstrate good athleticism and ball skills in 2020. He has highlight reel-worthy interceptions and stays attached to his man pretty well. The 2021 college football season will give him the chance to get more reps, especially with corners leaving the program. He will also have to show he can keep his cool on the field, as he was ejected from a game as a freshman.
Kaiir Elam, Florida Gators
As the nephew of former Gator Matt Elam, Kaiir decided to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and play for Florida. He made five starts as a freshman for the Gators and finished the year with 10 total tackles, two interceptions and four passes defended. As a full-time starter in 2020, Elam elevated his level of play with 39 total tackles, two interceptions and 11 pases defended. His play helped Florida make the Cotton Bowl.
He has solid length and size for a corner at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds. Elam is a good athlete and also makes plays on the ball. He stays attached in man coverage and can be trusted on an island. Against Georgia in 2020, he did get beat deep a few times, but the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage. He may not be able to be the first corner selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, but if he plays well this season, he won’t have to wait long to hear his name called by the commissioner.
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati Bearcats
Despite being a three-star prospect, Gardner has made a huge impact for the Bearcats very early in his career. He started as a freshman and played well enough to be a First Team All-AAC selection. The man nicknamed “Sauce” registered 31 total tackles, three interceptions, six passes defended and two touchdowns. For his sophomore campaign, Gardner totaled 28 tackles, three interceptions and six passes defended, as he helped Cincinnati reach the Peach Bowl.
He’ll need to add some muscle to his frame, but he has good height and length at 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds. His length allows him to be disruptive at the catch point, as he showed solid ball skills over the last two seasons. He has solid agility and decent short area movements. Gardners stays attached well, but can give up some space deep down the field and has to use his recovery speed to catch up. Cincinnati and Gardner are both poised for a big 2021 college football season.
Josh Jobe, Alabama Crimson Tide
Jobe was a four-star prospect from Florida who signed on at Alabama and waited his turn to take the field. He played a little bit on defense and special teams in his first two years on campus, before taking over a starting spot in 2020. The Pro Football Focus Honorable Mention All-American totaled 55 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 11 passes defended in 2020. He was a part of an undefeated National Championship run for the Crimson Tide.
At 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Jobe will more than meet the desired height and weight measurements for the NFL. He has shown to be effective in both man and zone coverage, as he doesn’t allow many yards when asked to do either. Jobe also makes plays on the ball well. He will lose his man at times, especially on double moves, so he’ll need to tighten up in that area for the 2021 season.
Derek Stingley Jr., LSU Tigers
Stingley was a heralded recruit, who has made his name known early in his college career. When he was a freshman, Stingley was an All-American with 38 total tackles, 15 passes defended and six interceptions. He helped LSU win the National Championship that season. In 2020, he only played in seven games and recorded 27 tackles and five passes defended. The team struggled, but will be looking to bounce back in 2021.
He has the measurables to play in the NFL at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. Stingley is a great athlete that can match up well with most any receiver he faces. He has good ball skills and battles well for the football when it is in the air. There might not be a better corner in the class at press-man coverage. Stingley did not have a great 2020 season, so he’ll need to regain his form, but his talent was apparent from the first day he laced up the cleats for LSU.
Other Draft Prospects:
Derrion Kendrick, TBD- Kendrick could’ve gone pro for the 2021 NFL Draft, but opted to return to school. He has since been dismissed from the Clemson program for unlawfully carrying a handgun. His talent is apparent, but he still needs to find a home for the 2021 season.
Trent McDuffie, Washington Huskies-McDuffie is a lockdown corner for Washington, but does need to make more plays on the ball.
Roger McCreary, Auburn Tigers- Over the last few years, McCreary has received a lot of experience. Another big year for him could have picked within the first few rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn Tigers- Auburn will have two draft prospects at corner for the 2022 draft. Pritchett will need to add some weight to his long frame, but he did show the ability to make plays on the ball with an interception and 10 passes defended last season.
Chris Steele, USC Trojans- In six games during the 2020 season, Steele had one interception and four passes defended. WIth a full season ahead, he has to show he can increase his ball production.
Mykael Wright, Oregon Ducks- Wright won’t be the biggest corner on the field, but he did show the capability to make plays on the ball with nine passes defended in 2020.
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