Cornerback Boards: Few Surprises

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

With a week and a half left, let’s look at the cornerback board and how it’s stacking up around the league. As is the case almost every year, the position is top-heavy with underclassmen.

At least eight corners are expected to be off the board by the middle of Round 2. Denzel Ward of Ohio State is hands down the top corner on boards, which should come as no surprise to anyone.

After that it’s Josh Jackson of Iowa and Jaire Alexander of Louisville, though some teams put Alexander ahead of the Hawkeyes product.

The rest of the top end of the position is filled with Mike Hughes, Isaiah Oliver, Carlton Davis, Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden.

Teams are looking hard into Hughes’ background, as he’s had off-field issues in the past.

Quenton Meeks and JC Jackson -- players we have rated higher than Gaulden -- don’t break into the top eight at the position, but both are expected to be second-day selections.

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Injury Concerns on Vander Esch?

Earlier today a report on Rotoworld surfaced that stated Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch had received a failing medical grade from more than one team and was being dropped from boards.

I can tell you from the information I saw at the combine that this is not the case.

Combine prospects are medically graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the absolute best. I was privy to grades for many front-seven prospects, including the grade for Vander Esch; and while it wasn’t perfect, it was at the top end. Vander Esch also was not asked to return for the combine recheck, which would have been a sure sign that there were remaining red flags.

The Boise State product received a grade higher than the ones assigned to Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter of Georgia. And while medical exams differ team by team, there’s little chance of such a huge disparity between a prospect being at the top end of one grading scale and the other end of another.