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Top 10 Cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft: Andrew Booth Jr. and Kaiir Elam battle for CB2

Derek Stingley Jr., Kaiir Elam, Andrew Booth Jr. -- we all know they are the top cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, but who is CB1?

The top cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft come in various skill sets and styles. But one thing is for sure: there is no shortage of talent. The SEC reigns supreme, with six out of the top 10 CBs hailing from the prestigious conference. Yet, which player holds the CB1 crown, and is there anyone else deserving of the mantle?

Top 10 Cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft | 6-10

Which cornerbacks round out the top 10 in the 2022 NFL Draft class?

10) Roger McCreary, Auburn

Roger McCreary has been a starting corner for the Tigers since 2019. His experience, ball production (6 career interceptions, 23 pass deflections), and route recognition will leave any DB coach salivating. McCreary doesn’t possess any elite physical attributes, though he doesn’t severely lack in any one area either. As one of the most battle-tested CBs in the SEC, McCreary should have no issue finding a home in April.

9) Josh Jobe, Alabama

The Crimson Tide have a pair of outside corners on varying trajectories. Josh Jobe just cracks the top 10 cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft but is sliding down. Meanwhile, Jalyn Armour-Davis is quietly having an exciting season and is working himself up draft boards. Nevertheless, we are here to talk about Jobe.

The second-year starter is excellent in press and at the line of scrimmage, flashing impressive hand usage. However, once he is beat, he panics. Jobe was called on 11 penalties in 2020 and already has 6 this season. Additionally, he isn’t smooth downfield and just isn’t a refined package. There is still time, and Jobe owns stellar length and athleticism. But he relies on his elite physical tools far too much right now.

8) Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU

Nephew of Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson has allowed just 37.5% of his targets to be completed in his two years as a starter at TCU. At 5’9″ and 177 pounds, Hodges-Tomlinson is one of the smallest corners in the class. Yet, he doesn’t play like it, consistently making opponents work for catches and yards.

His change-of-direction ability is mesmerizing, as are his instincts with the ball in the air. THT’s height limits his ceiling, but his floor is higher than most of the top cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

7) Tykee Smith, Georgia

While most outlets list Tykee Smith as a safety, he has played primarily in the slot and closer to the line of scrimmage throughout his career. Although he hasn’t played much in Georgia’s dominant defense due to injury this year, his two seasons at West Virginia warranted a spot on this list. He allowed just 4.4 yards per reception in 2020, one of the lowest numbers among all CBs. Smith can slide right into a C.J. Gardner-Johnson-type role in the NFL.

6) Derion Kendrick, Georgia

After transferring from Clemson during the offseason, Derion Kendrick has put on a clinic for the Bulldogs in 2021. He only has 1 interception and 2 pass deflections, but that is because he has locked down his side of the field. Opposing quarterbacks have looked his way less than 3 times in five out of seven games this year. Kendrick doesn’t possess the overall long speed you would hope for, but he can play in any scheme and any alignment at the next level.

Top 10 Cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft | 1-5

The top five cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft have first-round potential, but who is CB1?

5) Trent McDuffie, Washington

Some of us need external motivation to get our jobs done, but Trent McDuffie doesn’t fall into that category. He plays for the number on his back — 22. When Trent was in eighth grade, his brother Tyler passed away. Tyler wore No. 22 while playing youth football. Although Trent didn’t request the number when he enrolled at Washington, fate had other plans. When he walked into the locker room, he knew his brother was still with him.

But McDuffie isn’t just a heartwarming story. Although Washington has been an utter disappointment in the Pac-12 this year, he’s showcased why his name is consistently in 2022 mock drafts. His size (5’11”, 195 pounds) leaves more to be desired, but McDuffie is one of the best tacklers at the position. Furthermore, his skill set is tailor-made for zone schemes in the NFL. His speed triggering downfield or up to the catch point is a sight to behold.

4) Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

One of the questions surrounding Ahmad Gardner entering the season was his slight frame. Well, “Sauce” put those questions to rest after putting on muscle mass this offseason. The true junior is a juiced-up 6’3″, 200-pound corner that does not get beat — ever.

Gardner has yet to allow a touchdown in his three-year collegiate career. Don’t believe me? Turn on the tape. Yes, he is playing Group of Five competition, but that isn’t his fault. He locks down every man that lines up across from him. Moreover, Gardner has reined in the penalties that plagued his first two seasons. He is best against bigger receivers due to his imposing wingspan and press ability.

3) Kaiir Elam, Florida

While I personally love McDuffie and Gardner, the next three CBs are in a tier of their own. Turn on Kaiir Elam‘s tape against Alabama this year, and you will know why so many in the draft community love his potential. He is 6’2″, 196 pounds, with length for days.

In three seasons against SEC competition, Elam has amassed 6 INTs and 18 pass deflections. What makes that even more impressive is he wasn’t a full-time starter in 2019, and Florida has five games left on their schedule this year.

2) Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

Much like McDuffie at Washington, don’t condemn Andrew Booth Jr. for Clemson’s failures. He is quick with his feet, maintains his balance, and is one of the most twitchy athletes in the class. Booth also has two of the most highlight-reel interceptions you will see from a prospect.

As a smooth playmaker with some of the best mirroring ability in the country, it’s no wonder he excels in man coverage. He can still be too eager in zone coverage, but that isn’t anything more reps and practice can’t improve.

1) Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

After undergoing an operation for an injured left foot, Derek Stingley Jr. is out indefinitely for the Tigers. Regardless, he has put enough on film since his true freshman 2019 campaign to maintain his CB1 standing. LSU deploys a man-heavy scheme, yet Stingley has allowed an outstanding 41.1% completion rate.

At 6’1″ and 190 pounds with 4.3-speed and superb length, Stingley checks every box. Injuries have plagued his last two seasons, but if he can stay healthy in the NFL, as Michael Jordan said, “The ceiling is the roof!”

Honorable Mention

  • Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn 
  • Mykael Wright, Oregon
  • Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
  • Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State
  • Garrett Williams, Syracuse

James Fragoza is a Writer and News Editor at Pro Football Network. You can read his other work here and follow him on Twitter @JamesFragoza.

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