In a draft class with no clear-cut top cornerback and very few, if any, first round-caliber talents at the position, the Combine will be crucial for a league looking for traits at the position. It's a given that very few cornerbacks in this class will be considered finished, high-end prospects, but if the league can see the size and athleticism potential in some of these guys, they'll come off the board sooner than their tape indicates they should.
Here are the three cornerbacks with the most to prove in Indy.
Greedy Williams, LSU
I don’t doubt Williams athleticism, size or length. He might be a little light for the position given his height, but he has the frame to bulk up. What I do question is his physicality and effort on the field, as there were far too many times where Williams allowed receivers to work open late in the rep.
Williams also abhors tackling, a tendency that is reflected in his production and in his tape. He leaves a soft edge against the run consistently, doesn’t take on wide receivers to stack/shed blocks and is content to hang back and let teammates do the dirty work on tape.
Can he prove to NFL teams that effort is going to improve in the NFL? Is physicality an issue that can be fixed? Williams talks a big game and plays with some swagger in coverage, but I’m not sure how hard he is willing to work to be great. That will be something NFL teams need to fully vet before they cast a verdict on his evaluation.
Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky
Johnson’s tape is concerning to say the least, as he consistently loses at the line of scrimmage and at the top of his route. He’s a technical mess that doesn’t have the peak plays to get you excited about his upside, but he’s big, long and reportedly will test very well in Indy.
Good, because he’ll need to. There just isn’t any reason to take Johnson high in the draft unless you are completely buying in on his upside at the position. If he doesn’t test well, the incentive to draft him goes out the window completely. I think he’s overhyped as it is, but the Combine can at least give teams that like him one reason to consider drafting him in the top 100.
Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
Williams tape is undeniably up-and-down - at times he'll look like a complete stud (Ole Miss), and at other times (Florida, amongst others), he'll struggle immensely with technique and tackling. I think he's fluid for a big corner, and his flashes of ball skills will make him a prospect the NFL will want to fall in love with, if, IF he runs well.
That 40-yard dash will loom over Williams’ draft stock until he proves he’s not only big for a corner, but fast too. There are some examples of receivers getting behind Williams on tape, but it is tough to tell if that is due to a lack of balance and footwork to turn and run or actual concerns with his long speed. The 40 and agility drills at the Combine should help indicate just how fast and fluid an athlete Williams is.