football Edit

Ask Farrell: Should cornerback evaluations evolve?

Jeffrey Okudah
Jeffrey Okudah (AP Images)

Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah is expected to be the first cornerback taken in the NFL Draft later this month. He’s 6-foot-1.

Of the top 10 projected cornerbacks by CBS Sports, none of them are over 6-foot-1. The top-rated corner at 6-foot-2 is Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler, but he struggled at the NFL Scouting Combine and could fall on draft weekend.

Of the 51 cornerbacks listed on that site for the NFL Draft, only seven are taller than 6-1, only one is 6-foot-3. There are 17 under 6-feet tall.

Any reading of those numbers leads to some conclusions: That NFL teams are not crazy about super tall cornerbacks and there’s not a major concern in corners under 6 foot. It could be anecdotal evidence since it's only for one draft class but it could be a continuing trend in a league that is becoming more pass-friendly.

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MORE ASK FARRELL: What's the best way to evaluate linebackers?

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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Which brings us to the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes.

There were three five-star cornerbacks in the 2020 group with LSU's Elias Ricks and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo – both at 6-foot-3, leading the group. Texas A&M signee Jaylon Jones at 6-foot-2 finished third in the position rankings. Four of the top five corners and six of the top 10 in the 2020 class were 6-foot-2 or taller.

In the early 2021 rankings, six of the top seven cornerbacks nationally are already 6-foot-1 before their senior seasons. There’s a good chance some - if not many of them - will at least grow another inch to put them in that 6-foot-2 classification.

With all this considered, we ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell whether we need to rethink how we evaluate and rank cornerbacks?

FARRELL'S TAKE

"Corners are a tough evaluation but many of these guys will end up as excellent safeties and some of our safeties will end up proving they can play corner like Okudah has and like Minkah Fitzpatrick did before him. The NFL wants big cornerbacks, that will never change, but it’s a tough position to play at 6-2 or 6-3 and guys like Richard Sherman are very rare.

"The game changes often and now covering speedy receivers is as important as covering the giants of yesteryear like Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson. We will continue to evaluate corners equally and gravitate toward bigger and more athletic guys over smaller corners. But prospects like Andre Seldon, who is headed to Michigan, will still be highly rated if they are special despite their size. Size matters at cornerback, it always will."