The 2022 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 2023 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Cornerbacks.
Clark Phillips, Utah Utes
After joining Utah as a four-star recruit, Phillips started right away. He had 25 total tackles, one interception and one pass defended in his first season. In 2021, he totaled 61 tackles, two interceptions and 13 passes defended. His play helped Utah get to the Rose Bowl.
At 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds, Phillips doesn’t have the greatest size for a cornerback. He could show more aggression as a tackler and in run support. His ball skills are impressive, as he can get his head around quickly, locate the football then make a play on it. He stays connected in man coverage and has smooth hips. Phillips could end up being a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn Tigers
Pritchett has made an impact for the Tigers as both a returner and a cornerback. As a freshman he provided depth, then his role increased as a sophomore. He had 25 total tackles, one interception and 10 passes defended. In 2021, he jumped into the starting lineup, racking up 27 total tackles, one interception and three passes defended. He also had 313 kick return yards.
At 6-foot-1, Pritchett has good height, but will need to add some weight, as he is just 182 pounds. He can mirror well in man coverage and can also make plays on the ball. If he wishes to improve he can work on his zone coverage and his anticipation.
Eli Ricks, Alabama Crimson Tide
Ricks started his career at LSU before transferring to Alabama. He had 20 tackles, four interceptions and five passes defended as a freshman. In 2021, Ricks had 11 tackles, one interception and one pass defended in six games played. With LSU struggling, Ricks decided to transfer over to the Crimson Tide.
He is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, so he’ll need to fill out a bit more, but has good length. Ricks is great in man coverage and has displayed good ball skills. His speed has come into question and he could anticipate better to improve his stock. He is in play to be the top corner selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kelee Ringo, Georgia Bulldogs
Ringo has only played for Georgia in one season, but has made an impact. In 2020, he redshirted after having offseason surgery. For the 2021 season, Ringo had 34 total tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defended. His play helped Georgia win the National Championship.
He is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, giving him good size and length for the position. Ringo formerly ran track and is a good athlete. He can play both man and zone coverage. His pick-six sealed the National Championship for the Bulldogs, but he could have better ball production in 2022. Ringo is currently expected to be the first corner selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Cam Smith, South Carolina Gamecocks
Smith really helped fill in after Jaycee Horn left in the 2021 NFL Draft. He redshirted his first year on campus, then started three games in 2020. Smith was able to tally 16 total tackles, two interceptions and two passes defended. In 2021, he had 41 total tackles, three interceptions and 11 passes defended. His constant progression has been exciting to see.
He is 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, so he will need to add play strength. Smith has smooth hips and can stay attached in man coverage. He will need to show more physicality and anticipation. In 2022, Smith could propel himself into the second round.
Other Draft Prospects
Cameron Brown, Ohio State Buckeyes- Brown recovered from injury last season and had one interception and seven passes defended. He’ll need to really re-establish himself in 2022 to move up draft boards.
Cam Hart, Notre Dame Fighting Irish- At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Hart is a well-built corner. He will be a key player on Notre Dame’s defense and will need to show more ball production.
Joey Porter Jr., Penn State- Although Porter Jr. has good size, he needs to make more plays on the ball. He is physical in coverage and could have a big 2022 season.
Garrett Williams, Syracuse- Williams is 6-foot and 190 pounds, but has specialized with his ball production. He has also shown a willingness to make more tackles than most corners.
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