Top 5 Cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft

It is highly likely that we will see a dozen cornerbacks drafted in the first two rounds this year. We have a loaded class of talented cornerbacks making this one of the best classes ever and in for a great draft. The depth makes this one of the toughest positions to lock down a top 5 in this position and we’ll give our take of why the 5 on this list deserve their ranking.

#1: Patrick Surtain II – Alabama

Surtain won the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award and was named a first team All-American for good reason as he was consistently the best defensive back throughout the entire season. One could argue that Surtain is not only the best cornerback but also best defensive player in this entire class. He is a great athlete who had the highest coverage grade putting him atop the cornerback rankings. He has started every season since arriving at Alabama and was a key factor in their National Championship run this season. Surtain is on his way to making his Pro-Bowl father proud by becoming a Pro Bowler himself in the near future. 

#2: Jaycee Horn – South Carolina

Horn might not be the fastest but he is not afraid to get physical and stop a receiver when it matters. Horn has played in a wide variety of coverage schemes that he has been able to thrive in. He can close the gap with his physicality but it can be costly some times with unnecessary penalties being warranted against him. If he can work on being a little more tactical with his coverage, Horn has elite potential in the NFL. Horn has one of the highest upsides of any defensive player in this draft. 

#3: Greg Newsome II – Northwestern

Newsome enters this year’s draft class as last year’s Justin Jefferson, despite being on opposite ends of the ball. Jefferson was highly underrated despite being a 1st round pick as multiple receivers were selected ahead of him. Jefferson went on to be the best receiver so far in the class and runner up for the rookie of the year. Where Newsome is comparable to Jefferson is multiple cornerbacks are ranked higher on draft boards with high upside with both and in size. Jefferson and Newsome are both long-limbed guys who are undersized compared to some of the other talent that surrounded them. Newsome doesn’t have as much experience either, but he makes up for it with high athleticism scoring one of the best grades available on Pro Day. Newsome will come out of this class as one of the best defensive backs. 

#4: Caleb Farley – Virginia Tech

Once graded as the top cornerback of this draft class, Farley has remained in the top 5 but slipped down to the 4th position due to the uncertainty of the recovery timetable required from his offseason back surgery. Farley had it all when he was healthy – the size, athleticism, versatility and overall talent. Farley is a dangerous force for opposing receivers who were not very productive when matched against Farley. Farley is still an intriguing draft choice for many teams as he is expected to slide down the board. If he goes down any further than the #15 pick, he would definitely be worth taking by most teams if still on the board. 

#5: Ifeatu Melifonwu – Syracuse

Melifonwu is a name that has risen in draft boards but still remains relatively unknown to most and we don’t know why. He has a solid physique and is a premier zone coverage defender. Melifonwu comes into this draft as a cornerback, but we have a feeling that a team might move him to safety due to his ability to cover a lot of space with his size, speed and athletic ability. This would be a great move and why Melifonwu ranks so high in this list is for his versatility capabilities that he should be able to easily adapt to multiple coverage schemes and positions. He also is well above average when it comes to the run stop and is a better tackler than most. This puts Melifonwu in a good position to continue to rise and be a trendy 2nd round pick and the 5th best cornerback available.

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