2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Cornerbacks & Safetys (Pre-Combine)


Even though they are secondary positions, these two groups seem quite distant from each other. Right now, this cornerback group seems to be very talented at the top and very deep. As for the safeties, you have a big star at the top of the boards with some quality depth pieces after. Anyway, I like a lot of players in this squad, so let’s get started. Previous editions of this series are listed below, and I’ll revisit all of these rankings after the combine and closer to the draft.


9. Martin Emerson – Mississippi State

Emerson has an excellent build for the position, and his lanky arms helped him a lot in a very heavy scheme. He’s a solid run defender and has been a really high quality player at Mississippi State from day one – I love his ground in this class.

8. Derion Kendrick — Georgia

I loved Kendrick as a prospect heading into the Georgia playoffs, but Kendrick’s solid play against top talent no doubt helped his record going into the draft. Kendrick could use a little work with his technique, he can get caught peeking sometimes, but he can become a high quality starting corner.

7. Kyler Gordon – Washington State

As is the case with many corners in this class, Gordon is an athletic freak who is a pesky defender in men’s coverage. Gordon has a nose for football and always flies to the tape game. He can get a bit too aggressive at times, but if he can play within his limits, he will be a stud inside or outside corner.

6. Kaiir Elam – Florida

Although Elam has tumbled many rankings, I’m still very high on his talent and physical gifts. He’s a big, fast corner, and he uses his hands very well and rarely commits bad penalties, at least from what I’ve seen. He’s a constant presence in the secondary, and there’s a lot of upside and value with him.

5. Roger McCreary—Auburn

He wasn’t a big name at the start of the season, but McCreary showed his chops and monster athleticism at Auburn, and he was a borderline threat to the Tigers. It covers short routes very well and can squeeze indoors or outdoors. He’s always around the ball and trying to return it, which I love about a defensive back.

4. Trent McDuffie—Washington

As is the trend with this class, McDuffie is a very nimble, sticky corner of a man who presses the line of scrimmage very well. He’s a guy you can play upside down at the slot or the edge, and his versatility and athletic gifts should appeal to many teams come draft day.

3. Andrew Booth Jr.—Cincinnati

In many other classes, Andrew Booth Jr. is the undisputed CB1. Booth has immaculate ball skills, and as is the case with many guys on this list – he’s a physical outside corner who can press guys much bigger than him. Add to that the fact that he has elite ball skills and instincts, and you’re talking about a real potential franchise cornerback for many years to come.

2. Gardner Sauce—Cincinnati

I was really tempted to put Gardner at CB1. I’ve been a huge fan of his since last season, but second place isn’t a hit. He is one of the best players in this whole class. His curriculum vitae speaks for itself; he hasn’t allowed more than 13 yards to any receiver in 2021 and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in his entire college career. He’s fantastic when he presses the line of scrimmage using his 6’3 frame, and Gardner is really looking to beat his opponent. He has the body, athleticism and instincts you want in a prospect. He has all the makeup of a franchise cornerback on the border.

1. Derek Stingley Jr. – LSU

Deciding on the top three spots was tough, and you really can put them in almost any order, but I can’t deny Derek Stingley Jr.’s physical traits and mental gifts. Stingley has some of the best ball skills. of all college football, and his athletic traits are nothing to ignore. His makeup reminds me of former LSU Tiger Patrick Peterson, and I absolutely think he’ll reach that potential in the NFL.


4. Lewis Cine—Georgia

Although Cine is a high-grade safety, he is a downhill batsman who can dish out heavy punishment, especially on the edge. His covering skills could use some polishing, but he’s an immediate contributor in an obvious running situation and should be able to clear ball carriers and some tight ends with ease after the catch.

3. Daxton Hill—Michigan

Hill is a brilliant player, and that’s a big reason Michigan deployed him in multiple roles during his time with the Wolverines. He can back up against the run, but he understands route concepts very well and can handle some man cover. It should be able to have an impact from day one.

2. Jaquan Brisker – Penn State

I understand that’s a pretty short list, unlike 2021, but I think these four names have the potential to be quality starters in the NFL almost immediately. Brisker is an athletic freak who can play in the box or as a high safety, and his versatility will make him a valuable chess piece if he lands in the right spot.

1. Kyle Hamilton—Notre Dame

If I ranked the players overall in this draft (which I could do), Kyle Hamilton would take first place. Hamilton really can do it all – he has impeccable instincts and ball skills, but he can blitz and support against the run better than a lot of linebackers in this class. Not only is he one of the safest picks in this draft, he is absolutely one of the most talented.



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