2025 NFL Draft Summer Scouting: Top 10 Cornerbacks

Continuing our new Summer Scouting series here at NFLTR, I’ll be going position by position breaking down my preliminary top prospects for each position to set the table for the upcoming collegiate season and 2025 draft cycle. You can find the other positions done so far here:

Today, I’m ranking cornerbacks, one of the highest-value positions on a football field. With the mass of wide receiver talent entering the league over the last five years, high-quality corners that can match these receivers are more important than ever. This class, in particular, has a lot of talent. I had first-round grades on six corners, with three of those being potential top-ten picks.

Let’s take a look at the early top five cornerbacks in 2025:

1: Will Johnson, Michigan

A consensus five-star recruit who’s borne the weight of immeasurable expectations since he arrived on campus, Johnson has never shied away from the pressure. At 6-2, 202, Johnson was a two-way athlete in high school before settling at cornerback at Michigan. He flashed his potential from Day 1, winning a place on the freshman All-American team in 2022 before being a regular All-American in 2023. His numbers don’t jump off the page the way they do for others in this class, but Johnson has shut down top-flight competition during his time in college, including holding his own against the sensational Marvin Harrison Jr. He now enters the 2024 season as a projected top-five pick come April, with room to continue elevating his stock.

Johnson is the total package at cornerback. He has elite size, physicality and length for the position. Whether he’s jamming his receiver at the line, running in trail technique or closing on the ball from zone coverage, he has the length to make every play. He has a strong core and won’t get pushed around during a route or at the catch point. His speed and acceleration are top-notch and allow him to run with any receiver. Simply put, he won’t get beat over the top, and he can stop and start on a dime.

With change-of-direction ability as good as I’ve scouted, Johnson has the fluidity in coverage to take advantage of his speed and acceleration. There isn’t a route or receiver he can’t cover; he truly is a near-perfect physical specimen at corner. But his talents don’t stop there, he’s a smart and disciplined coverage player as well. He knows how to read the quarterback from zone coverage and plays with incredible instincts. His background as a receiver in high school helps him make plays on the ball when presented with the opportunity. He checks every box you could ask for.

If there was one criticism I could make about Johnson’s game, it’s that he can be a little too physical at times. This hasn’t been an issue in college, but there are some plays he’d get called for a penalty in the NFL. Other than that, I don’t have much to critique. You’d like to see him clean up his tackling form a little bit, but this is a minor complaint, as he doesn’t have that many missed tackles on his tape.

It’s no exaggeration to say Johnson is one of the best cornerback prospects to come through the ranks in years. He might be an even better prospect than Jets CB Sauce Gardner was coming out of Cincinnati. There are no red flags in Johnson’s game, he’s a cerebral player with every physical tool in the toolbox. He’s a true blue-chip prospect, an easy first-round grade and likely top-five pick if he doesn’t have a bad season at Michigan in 2024. In a class without any top quarterback prospects right now, Johnson could be in the conversation for the first overall pick. He’s that good.

2: Travis Hunter, Colorado

The No. 1 overall recruit in 2022, Hunter made waves when he committed to Deion Sanders and Jackson State, playing his freshman season at the historic HBCU before following Sanders to Colorado in 2023. Since joining the college ranks, Hunter has followed in Sanders’ footsteps in more ways than one, becoming the rare college two-way player. He played over a thousand snaps across nine games his sophomore year, an astronomical number that highlights his incredible talent and conditioning. Simultaneously one of the best wide receivers and cornerbacks in college football, Hunter earned first-team All-American honors as a sophomore and looks to once again star in 2024 as one of the faces of the sport.

Hunter is a difficult evaluation. A 6-1, 185-pound athlete, Hunter played so many snaps on both offense and defense that clearly wore him down over the course of the season. I will be purely evaluating him as a cornerback prospect today, but on both his corner and receiver tape, he has lapses that appear to be from exhaustion, late in the season and at the end of games. Settling at one of these two positions for the majority of his snaps in the NFL could eliminate these fatigue-based errors. 

Speed and ball skills are the draws to Hunter’s game. He’s an elite top-end athlete and speedster, capable of running stride-for-stride with anyone in the NFL. As you’d expect for someone who also plays receiver, he has excellent hands, snagging interceptions away from his body and high-pointing the football. He’s consistently disruptive at the catch point, playing aggressively and contesting every catch thrown his way.

Hunter is a fluid athlete, agile in his hips and feet, able to flip his hips and run with anyone. Receivers have a difficult time losing him in their routes, as his blend of speed, acceleration, physicality, and agility make him perfectly suited to sticky coverage. It’s not just man coverage, though — he’s a smart zone defender, reading the quarterback well and breaking on the ball in an instant. He’s scheme-versatile, an important skill for top cornerback prospects.

There are two main drawbacks to Hunter’s game right now. The first is that he’s undersized at 185 pounds. He has good length, but he needs to fill out his frame more. It’s too easy for receivers to outwork him at the catch point because he lacks the strength to dominate bigger players. This also shows up in his run support, where he can struggle to get off blocks and make tackles against strong runners. Additionally, he’s too aggressive at times, leading to big plays when he takes too big of a risk.

As a cornerback, Hunter is an elite prospect worthy of a top-ten pick. His additional value as a receiver needs to be taken into account as well. NFL teams may be in the unique position of having to evaluate him the way college programs often need to evaluate top high school recruits: figuring out how he’ll best fit on their team and drafting him accordingly. It remains to be seen if Hunter will be viewed primarily as a corner or a receiver in NFL circles, but as a cornerback, I have him rated as an easy first-round pick.

3: Benjamin Morrison, Notre Dame

Morrison enters his true junior season with high expectations. A 6-0, 185-pound outside corner, Morrison has started since his freshman season and made an immediate impact, earning several freshman All-American honors before truly breaking out as a sophomore. To date, he has 15 pass breakups and 9 interceptions, including a pick-six in 2023. Morrison has built a strong draft profile, and if he can stack another good season at Notre Dame, he’s a good candidate for the top half of the first round.

Speed and agility mark Morrison’s game. He has excellent speed for a cornerback, able to stick with burner receivers step-for-step in coverage and quickly regain position if he slips behind. With fluid hips and natural agility, he can bend and change directions with ease. Mirroring receivers down the field is never an issue for him. This is best exemplified on reps where he’s able to flip his hips without slowing down, keeping his momentum and closing off the passing windows usually created when a receiver makes a quick cut.

Morrison also has long arms and uses them to his advantage. He gets his hands on a lot of footballs, breaking up or intercepting passes, or just generally making it hard for the receiver at the catch point. Despite his smaller frame, he disrupts and redirects routes well in press coverage. He doesn’t allow free releases and his speed lets him play more aggressively at the line since he can quickly regain positioning down the field.

Morrison’s lack of weight does hinder him in other areas of his game. He’s not great in run support, often getting caught up on blocks, and shows hesitancy when coming up to make tackles. Receivers can body him out at the catch point, sometimes blocking him out like a basketball player going for a rebound, and there’s not a lot Morrison can do about it. He can also be overaggressive, allowing big plays, missing tackles, and being overly grabby in coverage. These tendencies will need to be cleaned up if he is to be successful in the NFL.

Ultimately, Morrison is an instinctual corner with excellent press coverage abilities and natural movement skills. He’s a bit light but makes up for it with long arms and the fluid agility to remain sticky against any receiver. I have a solid first-round grade on him, and this is a player who could push to go top-ten when it’s all said and done. Teams that play a lot of man coverage will be particularly interested in Morrison’s skillset.

4: Denzel Burke, Ohio State

The first Ohio State defender to start as a true freshman since 1996, Burke secured that role despite coming off a season-ending injury his senior year of high school. He’s since started every game he’s been healthy over three years, recording 21 pass breakups and 2 interceptions over 33 games. He reached first-team All-Big 10 status as a junior in 2023 and enters 2024 as one of the best corners in the conference. Looking forward, he needs to show growth in a few areas of his game to become a first-round pick, but returning to college for one more year gives him that chance.

Burke is best in zone coverage, where his recognition skills and excellent click-and-close abilities are put to good use. At 6-1 and 190, Burke possesses ideal size and length for a variety of schemes, and his skills are versatile as well. Despite his low interception totals, Burke’s ball skills actually stood out on tape. He’s able to high-point the football and uses good timing to disrupt at the catch point. He has quick, bursty feet that let him rapidly close on receivers in zone or mirror them effectively in man, with the footwork to maximize his suddenness.

Agility isn’t Burke’s strongest suit, but he’s got the lateral quickness to succeed in man-coverage schemes at the next level. He’s smart when using his length in press coverage, jamming receivers effectively without overextending himself. He’s a willing tackler capable of making consistent stops in run support, utilizing his frame well. Maybe his best trait, however, is his intelligence. He reads quarterbacks well, diagnosing plays as they happen and putting himself in positions to succeed. It’s part of why he’s so good in zone coverage.

Deep speed will be a problem for Burke in the NFL. His speed is adequate, but the league’s faster receivers will outpace him in man coverage down the field. Likewise, he lacks the agility to consistently flip his hips in bump-and-run coverage against NFL-caliber receivers. Like many younger college corners, he’s too grabby at the tops of routes, which will be called once he gets to the league. All this combines to paint the picture that while he has man coverage flexibility, you probably don’t want him playing that primarily once he gets to the pros.

Despite his reputation as a rawer prospect, I found Burke to be fairly advanced in his game. He has some physical limitations that could cap his effectiveness in man coverage, but his instincts, burst, and reading ability make him a very attractive zone corner. I have a late first-round grade on Burke, and with another solid college season, he’ll be a good option for playoff teams needing cornerback help.

5: Jabbar Muhammad, Oregon

After playing for three seasons at Oklahoma State, Muhammad transferred to Washington for his senior season and enjoyed a breakout campaign, becoming one of the better cornerbacks in college football. He had 10 pass breakups and 3 interceptions for Washington’s national runner-up team, routinely matching up against the opponent’s best receiver. Taking advantage of his extra covid season to play Oregon in 2024, Muhammad is looking to play his way into the first round with another strong season, this time in the Big 10.

Though he mostly plays on the outside, Muhammad has some slot versatility, particularly when following a matchup. He’s not a big corner, standing at 5-10 and 183 pounds, but that doesn’t stop him from being physical in coverage. Primarily a zone corner with Washington, Muhammad took advantage of his few snaps in press to be disruptive off the line and stay sticky down the field. In zone, his click-and-close ability is excellent, driving on passes to prevent catches and big gains. When he’s able to drop into a zone and watch the quarterback, he’s incredibly disruptive, as he anticipates well and cuts off receivers entering his area.

Muhammad covers ground well, able to turn and run with receivers downfield or break on passes from a zone. His underneath coverage is good, as he doesn’t allow much of a cushion and can recover to defend double moves or quick breaks. He’s got good, quick feet with the lateral agility to take advantage of his other skills. You’re not going to outsmart him — he simply won’t bite or put himself out of position.

Being 5-10 and 183 pounds does have its disadvantages, and this primarily shows up in his run defense. Muhammad is a liability in run support, hesitant to come up and make tackles and often gets lost in the wash of a blocking scheme. He also lacks elite top-end speed, though this isn’t a major issue, as he’s fast enough to keep up with all but the fastest NFL receivers. Lastly, he has questionable ball skills, as he seems to struggle tracking the ball from man coverage and allows catches despite being in good position. If he can get better at finding the ball with his back to the line of scrimmage, he’ll be that much better.

Small outside corners don’t always go high in the draft, but Muhammad could be an exception. I have a late first-round grade on him as well. He’s an instinctual player with excellent zone principles and good man skills as well. Versatile and feisty, Muhammad knows his limitations and continually puts himself in positions to rely on his strengths instead, showing good self-scouting and knowledge of opposing schemes. A big year at Oregon would put him more firmly in the first-round discussion, but even matching last season leaves him as a solid top-50 player and early NFL starter.

Best of the rest

6 — Tacario Davis, Arizona: Instinctual, disruptive corner with elite size-speed combo. Smooth mover despite being listed at 6-4 and versatile across many schemes. Another potential first-round cornerback.

7 — Quincy Riley, Louisville: Smaller outside corner who may need to move inside at the NFL level. Great instincts and ball skills, feisty competitor with fluid movement skills.

8 — Cobee Bryant, Kansas: Versatile, lengthy corner with excellent press coverage skills. Can give up big plays but is disruptive at all levels of the field.

9 — Malachi Moore, Alabama: Safety/slot corner hybrid with length and agility. Aggressive, good trail technique and has ball skills at the catch point.

10 — Aydan White, North Carolina State: Smaller zone corner with press potential. Quick feet and hips with good ball skills.

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