Don’t be shocked if the New England Patriots take a cornerback high in the 2019 NFL Draft, even if it doesn’t make sense on the surface.
Stephon Gilmore is signed through 2021 and is essentially guaranteed to be on the roster through 2020. The Patriots have high hopes for cornerback JC Jackson, who doesn’t hit free agency until 2021. They just drafted Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen last season, Jason McCourty is on a two-year deal and Jonathan Jones is back for another year.
The Patriots seem to have the present and future set at cornerback for now. Yet we’ve heard it’s perceived as a need within the organization. Our thoughts: Jackson might not be viewed as dependable given his past legal history, McCourty is getting up there in age and Jones is best used as a special teamer and backup.
Leading up to the draft, which runs from April 25-27, we’ll go position by position and draft a player who fits the Patriots in each round. We tackled quarterbacks Monday, running backs Tuesday, wide receivers Wednesday, tight ends Thursday, the offensive line Friday and linebackers Saturday. Now we’ll look at cornerbacks.
Picks: No. 32
Byron Murphy, Washington
Murphy is a fantastic player, but he could drop based on his testing speed. He only ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash during the pre-draft testing process. He let up just 31 catches on 62 targets for 320 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions with the Huskies last season, per Pro Football Focus. He let up a 51.3 passer rating in 2017 as a freshman.
Picks: Nos. 56, 64
JoeJuan Williams, Vanderbilt
The Patriots have shown interest in this massive 6-foot-4, 211-pound cornerback. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash but impressed with a 6.92-second 3-cone and 4.07-second short shuttle. He let up 36 catches on 75 targets for 451 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions last season, per PFF.
Picks: Nos. 73, 97, 101
David Long, Michigan
Long has perfect measurables for a Patriots cornerback at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, 6.45-second 3-cone, 3.97-second short shuttle, 39.5-inch vertical leap and 10-foot broad jump. He let up nine catches on 31 targets for 42 yards with one touchdown and one interception last season. It’s tough to do any better than that.
Picks: No. 134
Corey Ballentine, Washburn
Ballentine, a small-school guy, wowed in pre-draft testing with a 4.47-second 40-yard dash, 6.82-second 3-cone, 4.14-second short shuttle, 39.5-inch vertical leap and 11-foot, 3-inch broad jump at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds.
Kris Boyd, Texas
The Patriots like good athletes at cornerback, and Boyd ranks up there with the rest of the players on this list. He allowed 51 catches on 95 targets for 664 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in 2018.
Picks: No. 205
Ka’dar Hollman, Toledo
Hollman wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he showed off at his pro day, running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash with a 6.81-second 3-cone at 6-feet, 196 pounds. He let up 34 catches on 75 targets for 426 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in 2018, per PFF.
Picks: Nos. 243, 246, 252
Tim Harris, Virginia
Harris also wasn’t invited to the combine. He had trouble staying healthy in college, but he let up just 19 catches on 39 targets for 207 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions as a senior. He has good size at 6-foot-2, 197 pounds and ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash with a 6.9-second 3-cone drill.
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