Our look at cornerback prospects concludes with a look at the remaining mid-round corners who could come in and help make a difference as role players during their first season in the league. These are players who most likely not start as rookies, there are some gaps in their game to be resolved, but they are prospects who can serve as upgrades in situational action and on special teams and who have the potential to expand their roles through coaching and by gaining experience.
Alex Carter - Stanford 6'0" 200 lbs
Unlike many of the other prospects we have profiled, Carter has some size to his frame. The son of a former first round draft pick, Tom Carter of the Washington Redskins in 1993, Alex does have a football pedigree and being a Stanford student, he has the intelligence to go along with his background. The junior defensive back started all three seasons with the Cardinal, earning honorable mention All-PAC 12 honors each time. This season he led the squad with 10 passes defensed while adding an interception and a forced fumble.
Carter's best asset is that he does have the size and strength to match up against the bigger wide receivers in the game. He has decent ball skills, and he does a good job of tracking the ball in flight to make a play. On the other hand, Alex has proven to be penalty prone. He plays a physical game that matches his size, but as a result he draws his share of flags. His physicality does show itself in run support; Alex will not hesitate to take on blockers or lay the wood to a ball carrier.
With his skill set, and some attention being paid to disciplining himself, Carter has the potential to slip in to the late stages of the first round. To that end he would have benefited from another year of college ball to perfect his craft, but Alex has declared for this season's draft.
Jalen Collins - LSU 6'2' 198 lbs
When you talk about size, that is what Collins brings to the table that few others in this draft possess. Jalen looks like the guy you want as your corner, and he brings the things that coaching cannot teach. He can stay with receivers running down field, he displays perfect timing in jump ball situations and he has good instincts. Where he suffers is from lack of experience. During his time in Baton Rouge, Collins did not see much time as a starter. He is another athlete who would likely be best served by playing his senior season..
Jalen's weaknesses include being too high in his backpedal, which is something that working with a position coach will be able to rectify. He also struggles when trying to hinder a receiver's release. Collins does not deliver much of a punch to his man. He excels at man coverage, something common among LSU corners, but he has little experience with playing zone (shades of Morris Claiborne), and that might give the Dallas front office a cause for concern.
Senquez Golson - Ole Miss 5'9' 178 lbs
Senquez Golson is another undersized corner who plays like he is a big man. A couple years ago I got a tip to keep an eye on this kid as he developed, and I am glad that I heeded that advice. Golson is very athletic and very fluid in his movements. Confidence is a major part of his game and he plays that way. Senquez is highly competitive and explosive. Watching him play corner is like watching an artist at work.
The biggest thing keeping Golson down the list at his position is his size. Even with his leaping ability, he is going to be mismatched when facing bigger receivers. His confidence also tends to get him in trouble; Golson relies more on his gifts than technique and he will take himself out of the action when he decides to "freelance" in coverage. This will hurt him at the next level. That type of play did allow him 10 picks and 18 passes broken up in 2014, but in the NFL it will also leave him vulnerable to being burned.
Senquez Golson is an exciting player to watch, and he will become a fan-favorite for his playmaking ability. He will also be an enigma to his coaches because of his lack of self discipline. There is also some question about his commitment to football; Golson's first love is baseball and he has openly stated that ultimately he desires to return to that sport.
Ronald Darby - Florida State 5'11" 188 lbs
Darby is another prospect leaving school early. He has the speed and athleticism to play with any receiver. During the Seminoles national championship run in 2013, he was a key cog in the team's defense and he continued to display outstanding ability in 2014. The biggest thing that is holding Darby back is a series of hamstring issues. He is a natural track athlete, and that is a common issue with guys who possess that kind of speed.
Ronald has a rare combination of speed and physical presence that keeps him from being bullied while also allowing him to maintain coverage on the fastest of wide outs. He rarely allows receivers to gain separation. He is also a contributor on special teams.
Off the field concern may raise red flags for some teams. There are some serious questions concerning his association with the Jameis Winston rape allegations. According to the university, Darby was cleared in the incident, but questions remain. Any team considering drafting Darby should do its due diligence regarding the incident and proceed with caution, especially given the issues that have been raised around the NFL recently.
Josh Shaw - USC 6'0" 198 lbs
One additional corner who might slip his way into this mix is Josh Shaw of the University of Southern California, however he also has some character issues that need to be fully addressed. There are serious questions revolving around an incident where Shaw managed to suffer a pair of high ankle sprains prior to this season. Shaw apparently fabricated a story for his coaches and then got caught up in a lie. For that he was suspended from the team indefinitely. He finally saw some action late in the season. Josh Shaw has the size that teams are starting to covet and the coverage skills to match up on the perimeter. It is a shame that he has shown such poor judgement. I do not see any way that he would find himself a part of Jason Garrett's locker room. In fact, I can see this incident playing out similar to the plunge that Vontaze Burfict experience a couple seasons ago.