Seven Cornerback Prospects Patriots Could Target In NFL Draft

The Patriots must add cornerback help in the draft


Mar 30, 2023

As the 2023 NFL Draft draws closer, is taking a closer look at this year’s crop of prospects to spotlight ones that could be on the New England Patriots’ radar.

For each position, we’ve highlighted potential Patriots targets on Day 1, Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) and Day 3 (Rounds 4-7), with the acknowledgment that some players could wind up going earlier or later come draft day.

Next up: cornerbacks.

Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
6-foot-0, 181 pounds
2022 stats: 42 tackles, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups (12 games)

You could make a somewhat realistic case for the Patriots landing any corner in this draft — with Witherspoon the one exception. The consensus top player at his position, Witherspoon just put together one of the top seasons for a cornerback in recent college history. He gave up just 22 catches on 63 targets for 206 yards and zero touchdowns while racking up three picks and 14 pass breakups, per Pro Football Focus’ stat tracking. He almost certainly will be gone by the time New England picks at No. 14, meaning the Patriots must trade up in the draft if they want him.

Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
6-foot-1, 197 pounds
2022 stats: 51 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups (12 games)

Connected to the Patriots in multiple mock drafts, Gonzalez checks a ton of boxes and met with New England staffers in early March at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. With their top three corners — Jonathan, Marcus and Jack Jones — all under 6 feet, the Patriots would be well-served to land a tall, prototypical boundary corner who can match up with elite receivers. Gonzalez is that kind of player thanks to his size, talent and athleticism. Perhaps the fastest corner in the draft, Gonzalez posted a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
6-foot-2, 193 pounds
2022 stats: 27 tackles, zero interceptions and eight pass breakups (10 games)

Porter probably would be a reach at No. 14, but he’d make sense in the late teens or early 20s if the Patriots wind up trading down, which always is a possibility with Bill Belichick. Another tall, speedy corner, Porter has a ton of talent and is the kind of versatile defender that New England typically covets. He also met with the Patriots at the combine and later promised his father, longtime New England hater Joey Porter, wouldn’t be mad if his son lands in Foxboro.

Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
6-foot-1, 166 pounds
2022 stats: 46 tackles, six interceptions and 11 pass breakups (12 games)

Some mock drafts have Forbes going in Round 1, but he also is a candidate to slip to Day 2. Forbes possesses elite speed (4.35-second 40-yard dash time) and is one the top ballhawks in the draft. He’s slender and must add weight to avoid getting outmuscled in the pros, but his talent is undeniable. Forbes reportedly is scheduled for a pre-draft visit with the Patriots.

Eli Ricks, Alabama
6-foot-2, 188 pounds
2022 stats: 13 tackles, zero interceptions and four pass breakups (nine games)

Keeping with the theme, Ricks is a tall corner who can match up with receivers on the outside. He also played his college ball at Alabama, which always is a plus with the Patriots. Ricks isn’t all that fast and doesn’t possess overwhelming athleticism, but he’s a smart player with decent positional versatility. He’d make a lot of sense as a third-round pick.

Mekhi Garner, LSU
6-foot-2, 212 pounds
2022 stats: 43 tackles, zero interceptions and four pass breakups (13 games)

Each corner on this list is at least 6 feet, and Garner is no different. The LSU prospect doesn’t have great speed, but he’s strong and plays with impressive physicality. Most experts don’t view him as anything more than an average starter in the pros, but there’s value in that and Garner has the talent to develop into something more. Belichick got a first-hand look at Garner this week while attending LSU’s pro day.

Myles Brooks, Louisiana Tech
6-foot-0, 201 pounds
2022 stats: 29 tackles, three interceptions and eight pass breakups (12 games)

The Patriots worked with Brooks at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, and they have a history of selecting players who participate in the annual showcase. Brooks is viewed as a potential seventh-round pick for a reason, but his physicality and intense competitiveness might appeal to the Patriots, who apparently were successful in teaching him the importance of special teams.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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