2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 cornerbacks available

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 cornerbacks available

Cornerback is routinely one of the most popular positions to target in the NFL draft. In two of the past three drafts, cornerback has been the most selected position by NFL teams. And it's easy to understand why.

In the modern NFL, teams need to have as many athletic cover men as possible to keep pace with the league's best passing attacks. Often, it's recommended to have at least four strong corner options while also holding onto a young player to see special teams action or play at the position.

In 2020, cornerback figures to be a popular position once again. There are plenty of talented players at the position and as many as five could be selected in the first round. But if the number is lower than that, Day 2 will surely see a lot of potential starting corners come off the board.

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Cornerback is one of the New England Patriots' strengths. On the outside, they have arguably the league's best cornerback in Stephon Gilmore as well as quality veteran Jason McCourty and solid third-year player J.C. Jackson. In the slot, Jonathan Jones has been very good for the team and plays a key role on special teams for the squad.

But you can never have too many cornerbacks. And with McCourty turning 33 in August, the Patriots may want to add some depth at the position with one of their many mid-round picks.

And perhaps if the Patriots are lucky, one of the top 10 cornerbacks available will fall into their lap at some point during the 2020 NFL Draft.

1. Jeffrey Okudah

College: Ohio State
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 34 tackles, three interceptions, nine pass defenses

Okudah is the best cornerback in this draft class. He's a natural in coverage, has solid athletic ability (he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine and logged a 135-inch broad jump), and has good size and length on his 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame. Even playing on a team with Chase Young, arguably the best overall prospect in this draft, Okudah showed that he can be a stud at the next level and his ball skills were a big part of Ohio State's run to the College Football Playoff. He should be a No. 1 corner in the NFL for a long time and may be the second defensive player off the board in the draft.

Projected Round: First (Top 10 picks)

2. C.J. Henderson

College: Florida
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 26 tackles, zero interceptions, 11 pass defenses, one sack

Henderson is a player who has been on the rise of late. The Florida product could work his way into the top 10 and is similarly sized to Okudah (6-foot-1, 204 pounds). Henderson is an excellent athlete and was a standout at the combine, blazing a 4.39 in the 40 with a 37.5-inch vertical jump. He plays as fast as his numbers suggest and he should be able to cover speed receivers as well as bigger-bodied guys. And for those worried that he had no interceptions last year, he had six in the previous two combined. So, with better luck, he'll likely grab some as a rookie.

Projected Round: First (Top 20 picks)

3. Trevon Diggs

College: Alabama
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 37 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass defenses

Diggs started his career as a wide receiver at Alabama, the same position as his brother, Stefon. But he moved over to the defensive side of the ball given Alabama's talent at receiver and that has worked out well. Diggs had a very good senior season after recovering from a foot injury that sidelined him at the end of his junior campaign. He set career highs in all major defensive categories and should track the ball well in the NFL thanks to his skills as a receiver. And at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, he nearly identically matches Okudah and Henderson's size and had the longest arms among cornerbacks measured at the combine (32 3/4 inches).

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

4. Kristian Fulton

College: LSU
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 38 tackles, one interception, 14 pass defenses

Joe Burrow wasn't the only reason the LSU Tigers won the National Championship last season. The defense had to hold up against some tough offenses and that included Clemson. Fulton was the top corner, across from freshman standout Derek Stingley, and had a very good season. The 6-foot senior held up well in coverage and contested catches consistently. His 4.46 40-yard dash and sub-7-second time in the 3-cone drill helped him as well. He could be a late first-round pick as a result of those numbers.

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

5. A.J. Terrell

College: Clemson
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 34 tackles, two interceptions, three pass defenses, 0.5 sacks

Terrell is a former five-star recruit and while he had a lot of trouble against LSU in the National Championship Game, he has done a bit to rehabilitate his stock in recent weeks. Terrell performed well in the combine drills and showed off his good athletic ability by clocking a 4.42 40. He may need some time to continue to develop in the NFL, but the raw athletic potential is there and some team may view him as a starter on the outside who will only get better with time.

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

6. Jaylon Johnson

College: Utah
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 36 tackles, two interceptions, 11 pass defenses

Johnson was a big-time playmaker for Utah defense the past three seasons. The sturdily-built 6-foot, 193-pound corner was a great ball-tracker for Utah in his final season and likely played himself into the second round. He wasn't flashy at the combine -- a 4.5-second 40, 15 bench press reps, 7.01-second 3-cone drill -- but he showed well in the athletic tests and did well in the on-field drills. He looks like a rock-solid starter at the next level.

Projected Round: Second

7. Cameron Dantzler

College: Mississippi State
Class: Redshirt junior
2019 stats: 40 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass defenses, 0.5 sacks

Dantzler is one of the bigger corners in this class at 6-2. He was once considered to be a potential first-round pick, but a slow 40 at the combine (4.64 seconds) will likely drop him to the second round. That said, he plays faster than that speed and he knows how to use his height to his advantage. If he can bulk up a bit (188 pounds) while maintaining his play speed, he should be a fine starter.

Projected Round: Second

8. Jeff Gladney

College: TCU
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 31 tackles, one interception, 14 pass defenses, 0.5 sacks

Gladney has been a stalwart on the TCU defense for the better part of four seasons. He's highly productive and has a knack for knocking down passes with his 31 7/8-inch arms.  At 5-10, 191, he doesn't have great size. Still, he's a solid athlete who showed well at the combine and simply knows how to impact plays. Due to Gladney's slighter frame, he may be forced into slot detail in the NFL, which keeps him lower on these rankings than some have him. Either way, he should find an NFL home and hold up well on the outside or inside.

Projected Round: Second or Third


9. Noah Igbinoghene

College: Auburn
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 42 tackles, zero interceptions, seven pass defenses

Igbinoghene converted to defensive back after his freshman year at Auburn. And while he is raw, he has the makings of a really good NFL corner. Igbinoghene has a thick build. He's just 5-foot-10, but he tips the scales at 198 pounds and has 31 3/4-inch arms. He should hold up well against strong receivers and has enough athletic ability and explosiveness (4.48 40) to stay with quicker guys. Because of his lack of experience, he may need more time to hone his technique before he can be a starter. But his upside is sky-high.

Projected Round: Second or Third


10. Damon Arnette

College: Ohio State
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: 35 tackles, one interception, eight pass defenses

Arnette was overshadowed a bit by Okudah, but he was still a strong corner for the Buckeyes last season. He is versatile with the ability to play outside or in the slot and plays faster than his 4.56 time in the 40 would indicate. Arnette isn't perfect and he'll need to improve his discipline in the NFL. Still, he has all the tools needed to make that happen.

Projected Round: Second or Third

NFL Rumors: Patriots re-sign undrafted rookie WR Isaiah Zuber

NFL Rumors: Patriots re-sign undrafted rookie WR Isaiah Zuber

The New England Patriots brought one of their undrafted rookies back into the fold on Wednesday.

Isaiah Zuber, a wide receiver out of Mississippi State, reportedly has been re-signed after being cut by the team a week ago.

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Zuber played three seasons at Kansas State before transferring to Mississippi State for his senior season, in which he tallied 14 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns. The 23-year-old's best college season came during his junior year, when he had 52 catches for 619 yards and five touchdowns.

The Patriots have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season so far -- including WR Marqise Lee -- thus opening up roster spots for the undrafted free agents who initially were cut. Fellow UDFA receiver Will Hastings also was re-signed by the team shortly after being released.

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL training camps officially began Tuesday, but there were some notable absences.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season last Friday, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, multiple players have followed suit, continuing a trend across all major North American professional sports of players declining to participate in their seasons as COVID-19 persists in the United States.

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The Patriots especially have felt the impact of this trend: Eight New England players -- including star linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- already have opted out, the most of any NFL team.

Below is a running list of the players who have opted out of the 2020 NFL season, according to reports or team/player confirmations. The list is sorted alphabetically after the Patriots, with the date of the players' opt-outs in parentheses.

New England Patriots

RB Brandon Bolden (July 28)
OT Marcus Cannon (July 28)
S Patrick Chung (July 28)
LB Dont'a Hightower (July 28)
WR Marqise Lee (August 1)
OG Najee Toran (July 27)
FB Danny Vitale (July 27)
TE Matt LaCosse (August 2)

Arizona Cardinals

OT Marcus Gilbert (August 4)

Baltimore Ravens

OT Andre Smith (July 28)
WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas (July 27)

Buffalo Bills

CB E.J. Gaines (August 2)
DT Star Lotulelei (July 28)

Carolina Panthers

LB Jordan Mack (July 28)
LB Christian Miller (August 3)

Chicago Bears

DT Eddie Goldman (July 28)
S Jordan Lucas (August 3)

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Isaiah Prince (July 31)
DT Josh Tupou (July 31)

Cleveland Browns

DT Andrew Billings (August 4)
OL Drake Dorbeck (July 29)
OL Drew Forbes (July 29)
OL Colby Gossett (August 4)

Dallas Cowboys

CB Maurice Canady (July 27)
WR Stephen Guidry (July 28)
FB Jamize Olawale (August 2)

Denver Broncos

OT JaWuan James (August 3)
DT Kyle Peko (July 28)

Detroit Lions

DT John Atkins (July 29)
WR Geronimo Allison (August 2)
C Russell Bodine (August 5)

Green Bay Packers

WR Devin Funchess (July 28)

Houston Texans

DT Eddie Vanderdoes (July 28)

Indianapolis Colts

DB Rolan Milligan (August 5) 
LB Skai Moore (August 4)
DB Marvell Tell (August 5)

Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE Larentee McCray (August 1)
DL Al Woods (July 31)

Kansas City Chiefs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (July 24)
RB Damien Williams (July 29)

Las Vegas Raiders

LB Ukeme Eligwe (August 4)
CB D.J. Killings (August 3)
DE Jeremiah Valoaga (August 3)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Chandler Brewer (July 31)

Miami Dolphins

WR Allen Hurns (August 4)
WR Albert Wilson (August 5)

Minnesota Vikings

NT Michael Pierce (July 28)

New Orleans Saints

TE Jason Vander Laan (July 28)
TE Cole Wick (July 28)

New York Giants

CB Sam Beal (August 5)
WR Da'Mari Scott (August 2)
LT Nate Solder (July 29)

New York Jets

OL Leo Koloamatangi (July 28)
LB C.J. Mosley (August 1)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Marquise Goodwin (July 28)

San Francisco 49ers

WR Travis Benjamin (August 4)

Seattle Seahawks

OG Chance Warmack (July 27)

Tennessee Titans

OL Anthony McKinney (July 28)

Washington Football Team

DT Caleb Brantley (July 27)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (August 3)

Free Agents

G Larry Warford (July 28)