The entire NFL draft is full of hits and misses and there's no real formula that would give any one team a competitive advantage over another in drafting the best talent available. Believe or not, there is as much uncertainty in the first and second rounds as there is in the later rounds. It's part luck, part talent evaluation, and part forecasting a player's heart, and dedication to his craft and work ethic. A recent diagnostic tool calculated the bust rate tor the 1st round to be about 33%. That's one of every three players drafted. That's right - One third of all 1st round picks will be busts. By the 2nd round that number grows to an appalling 50%. So it's very difficult to grade out who will be very successful in the NFL based on their college performance even with all the prediction software and evaluations ever present. Luck has a key role in picking the right player and can easily be predicated on what happens before a team makes their pick. In the case of the Steelers at the 15th pick, they will have to go with the player at the top of their board based on need and value and hope for the best. In all likelihood, there will be a player or multiple players who drop or rise in the top 15.
The cornerback position has been discussed extensively in this year's draft because of their exceptionally high grades with many of them going in the first round, but does that mean they will be a franchise cornerback. In looking at the last five years of first round corners, there is strong evidence that it is a risky position to draft. I'm not a talent evaluator, but it's hard to ignore the facts. The only cornerbacks of note are Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden, who have truly lived up to expectations coming out of college and been worth a first round grade. Some other cornerbacks who have been first round picks and not living up to expectations as a first rounder - Kyle Wilson , Patrick Robinson, Jimmy Smith , Prince Amukamara, Morris Claiborne , and Dre Kirkpatrick just to name a few. Last year's first cornerback taken was Dee Milliner who didn't look anything like a first rounder for the Jets. Morris Claiborne was a "can't miss" by Mel Kiper and struggled with the Cowboys. Trading back has great value in such a deep draft like this year, but team evaluators must be wary of reaching for "cover-corners". Here is my list of the Top Ten Cover Cornerbacks available for this year's draft. Note: The operative word is 'cover' corner because a 'speed' guy or 'athletic' guy doesn't necessarily translate to a great cover corner. I am sure the last half of this list will shock many of you.
Top 10 Cover Cornerbacks
1. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St. (projection 1st round)
2. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma St. (projection 1st round)
3. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech (projection 1st round)
4. Bradley Roby, Ohio St. (projection 2nd round)
5. Jason Verrett, TCU (projection 2nd round)
6. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood (projection 3rd – 4th round)
7. Keith McGill, Utah (projection 3rd – 4th round)
8. Bashaud Breeland, Clemson (projection 3rd – 4th round)
9. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida St. (4th – 5th round)
10. Phillip Gaines, Rice (4th – 5th round)
Which one of these players will buck this trend?