10 best cornerbacks in the SEC after spring practice
Talent at cornerback tends to accumulate at certain programs in the SEC.
Take Florida. The Gators lost the 11th pick in the NFL Draft in Vernon Hargreaves but have potentially the top corner prospect in the 2017 draft coming back in Jalen Tabor.
Or LSU, which has potential first-round picks in the next two drafts (Tre’Davious White in 2016 and Kevin Toliver in 2017) and has to find ways to get 2016 prospect Dwayne Thomas on the field. Or Alabama, which has a similar dilemma with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey as starters while talented Tony Brown, saddled with off-field problems, waits in the wings.
How do you rank some of these guys? Do you place Brown, a potential high draft pick but not even a starter, ahead of productive, but less talented players? Here’s how we see it:
- Jalen Tabor, Florida: Projected by many to be either the first or second cornerback in the 2017 draft, Tabor outplayed Hargreaves in the eyes of many last season and could be a better prospect.
- Tre’Davious White, LSU: White could have been a second-round draft pick after last season but opted to return to school. The expected good season would make him a first-round pick this season.
- Cam Sutton, Tennessee: The first of three potential first-round picks on this list, Sutton’s return to school is part of the reason why many think Tennessee can challenge for the SEC East title this season.
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama: The only issue with Fitzpatrick on this list is he was the nickelback last year (Marlon Humphrey and the departed Cyrus Jones were the corners), and Alabama seems to want to keep him at that role, using Anthony Averett with the first team at cornerback at times during the spring. Still, Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, regardless of position.
- Kevin Toliver, LSU: Toliver inches down the list a little bit since our January ranking only because of shoulder surgery that kept him out of spring practice. He should be ready to be one of the league’s top corners by August.
- Marlon Humphrey, Alabama: The returning starter at cornerback for the Tide, Humphrey had a solid spring and is every bit as valuable to the defense as the more heralded Minkah Fitzpatrick.
- Chris Westry, Kentucky: He made an impact as a freshman, but Kentucky is pressing the 6-foot-4 Westry to be even better. His length gives him something the other top SEC corners don’t have — an NBA wing span to take on big receivers.
- Tony Bridges, Ole Miss: It hasn’t taken long for Bridges to go from junior college player, to Auburn commit, to Ole Miss starter, to the leader — along with Tony Conner — of the Rebels’ secondary in just his second season.
- Carlton Davis, Auburn: Davis was arrested for marijuana possession, but otherwise he’s been a solid member of the Tigers’ secondary with three interceptions last year while making the SEC’s all-freshman team.
- Dwayne Thomas, LSU: How talented is LSU? Thomas is a consensus pick to be one of the top 10 cornerbacks in the 2017 draft, and he is either the Tigers’ third or fourth option at the position after a solid spring that included a big spring game.
Dropped out: Donovan Wilson, Texas A&M (continued to play at nickelback for the Aggies while others started at cornerback).