Which CB will have the best rookie season?


Chidobe Awuzie photo courtesy of James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

The 2017 NFL draft produced a bumper crop of cornerbacks, with five in the first round and five more in the second. Many will become walk-in starters. But who will have the best rookie season? That’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. Here are the candidates:

Chidobe Awuzie, Dallas. The most physical cornerback in the draft, Awuzie was a four-year starter at Colorado and left campus with 273 career tackles, including 26 for loss and nine sacks. He was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection and team MVP as a senior.  He intercepted only three career passes but broke up 35 others. The Cowboys selected Awuzie in the second round with the 60th overall choice.

Gareon Conley, Oakland. Redshirted by Ohio State as a freshman in 2013, Conley splayed three college seasons, starting the last two, before choosing to skip his senior season to turn pro. He has the size (6-0, 195 pounds) and the speed (4.44 40) to have an impact as a rookie.  He was a team captain at Ohio State and intercepted six passes in his career. Conley was the fourth corner selected in this draft with the 24th overall pick.

Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore. A two-year starter who was voted first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America. Humphrey redshirted as a freshman at Alabama in 2014 and then started his next two seasons before opting to turn pro. He has the size (6-0, 197 pounds) and speed (4.41 40) to succeed at the next level. Nick Saban players are NFL-ready when they step off campus. He was the second cornerback selected in this draft with the 16th overall choice.

Adoree Jackson, Tennessee. The Thorpe Award winner last season as college football’s top defensive back. Jackson started all three of his seasons at Southern Cal before giving up his senior season to turn pro. His 4.39 speed at the combine vaulted him into the first round of the draft. He intercepted five passes at Southern Cal, including four in 2016. He was the third cornerback selected in this draft with the 18th overall pick.

Kevin King. Green Bay. Another prototypical big corner at 6-3, 200 pounds, King intercepted six passes in his four seasons. He was a starting safety as a sophomore but moved to cornerback as a junior. Five of his interceptions came at cornerback, including three in 2016, and King also excelled at Washington as a special teamer. The first player selected in the second round with the 33rd overall choice.

Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans. Lattimore played only one full season at Ohio State but became a first-team All-Big Ten selection. He was redshirted as a freshman in 2014 and limited to just seven games in 2015 because of injuries. He started in 2016 and then elected to skip his senior season to turn pro. He has the size (6-0, 183) and speed (4.36 40) the NFL likes. He was the first cornerback selected in this draft with the 11th overall pick.

Teez Tabor, Detroit. Tabor slipped into the second round because, with a 4.54 40, he lacked the top end speed for the position. But so did Everson Walls, an undrafted free agent who led the NFL in interceptions three times with the Cowboys in the 1980s. Tabor was a two-time first-team All-SEC cornerback in college football’s toughest – and fastest – conference. The Lions chose Tabor in the second round with the 53rd overall choice.

Tre’Davious White, Buffalo. White was the other first-team All-SEC cornerback in 2016. He was a four-year starter at LSU and, as a junior, was given jersey number 18, which historically goes to the player with the strongest leadership qualities on the team. He has 4.47 speed and also returns kicks, scoring two touchdowns in his college career on punts.  He was the fifth and final corner selected in the first round with the 27th pick.

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