Now that we know a little bit about the big-shot college receivers who will likely be available in next April's draft, let's keep the ball rolling and look at the 2013 cornerback class.
Cornerback has been a virtual leaky faucet for the Dolphins since the Sam Madison/Patrick Surtain "Miami Vice" combo bit the dust during the mid-'00s, and though fourth-year starter Sean Smith has improved by leaps and bounds since his days as a Utah Ute, the team just doesn't have any true "splash" players at the position. Vontae Davis could've--and was drafted--to be that player in Miami, but he's insane, and was promptly shown the door in exchange for a second-round pick and conditional sixth.
As someone who went from October 2008 to April 2009 hoping/praying that the Dolphins would get a chance to nab Davis, I was extremely disappointed by his failure to get it together while in Miami. He was on the cusp of becoming sunk cost, and all I can say in my defense is that 2009 was the first year in which I actually researched the draft (albeit for just a month prior to draft day). I'd like to think I've gotten much better at evaluating college prospects over the last three years, and for what it's worth, I did have major interest in Hakeem Nicks and Clay Matthews during spring 2009, and I actually wanted to draft Sean Smith if we went with one of those players in the first round. Grrr ...
Anyway, onward with the premier cornerbacks in the 2013 draft class.1) David Amerson, North Carolina State (6'2", 200)
Amerson gets the No. 1 spot on this list because of his blend of technique, length, fludity and intelligence. Scouts Inc.'s recent suggestion that Amerson's lukewarm performance against Tennessee on Labor Day weekend makes him a fringe-first-round corner is pure crazy talk (kind of like when people wrote of Nebraska's Prince Amukamara after his mediocre performance against Justin Blackmon in 2010). Amerson doesn't boast true shutdown ability, but he's a playmaker corner in the Patrick Peterson mold.
2) Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State (6'2", 190)
After Amerson, this list basically turns into a three-way tie, but Banks gets the nod because of his prowess in man coverage and his willingness to step up and dismantle the run. Ball skills are still in question, but Banks' game is similar to former Buckeye standout Nate Clements. That's a very good thing.
3) Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (6'2", 210)
Rhodes might have the most upside of any corner on this list, bringing great size and speed to the table. His instincts are way underrated at this point, but his technique could use some refinement.
4) Dee Milliner, Alabama (6'1", 200)
Milliner is arguably the closest thing to a true "shutdown" prospect in this draft, and he'll fit well in most any defensive scheme at the NFL level. Milliner might not be a brash a run defender as former Tide corner Dre Kirkpatrick, but he's worlds better in pass coverage and as a playmaker.
5) Desmond Trufant, Washington (5'11, 182)
Trufant gets the nod here for being the smartest corner in this class, and his technique and ball skills aren't far behind, either. Full disclosure: Trufant and Amerson are my fave corners in this class. Thus, get ready to read about them often in my posts.
6) Greg Reid, Valdosta State (5'9", 180)
Reid's the tiniest corner on this list, but he also might be the most aggressive. His blend of elite athleticism and instincts should have him ranked higher here, but his inability to behave himself (he played for Florida State prior to this season) is a major red flag.
7) Tharold Simon, LSU (6'2", 185)
Morris Claiborne's former partner in crime, Tharold Simon should get plenty of attention as the Tigers' No. 1 corner this season. His Amerson-like blend of length, speed and heads-up playmaking could vault him into the first round next spring, but his less-than-stellar efforts against the run can be an eyesore.
8) Johnny Adams, Michigan State (5'11", 175)
Behold my sleeper corner prospect in 2013. Adams' game is reminiscent of current Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins. And what Adams lacks as a run defender, he more than makes up for as a pure cover corner with above-average technique and agility.