1. JUSTIN GILBERT, Oklahoma State (6-0, 200, 4.36, 1) – Three-year starter with tremendous talent. “He’s the least productive of the (top) group but has the highest ceiling,” one scout said. “Size, speed. He’s a lot of what Johnathan Joseph was. You’ve got to project he will be better in the NFL than he was in college.” Started 39 of 51 games, finishing with 12 interceptions (15-yard average, two touchdowns) and 27 passes defensed. “You watch that guy and he like (expletive) you off and then he makes a big play, which none of these other guys do,” said a second scout. “He picks a ball off and returns it 50 yards. He’s not always tough.” Scored 14 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. “I hate guys with Marilyn Monroe bell curves,” a third scout said. “He was awful last year (2012) and this year he played a hell of a lot better. I can see his talent. That’s not the point. I’m not saying he’s a bad kid or a dumb kid. But he did the same thing in school that he does on the football field. He does not perform, and he can. He was going to get benched last year (2012). That’s how bad he was. He’s a big, long athlete that can run. I just don’t think he saw the ball real well.” From Huntsville, Texas.
2. DARQUEZE DENNARD, Michigan State (5-11, 197, 4.42, 1) – “He’s more polished than Gilbert,” said one scout. “Just not as talented. Real good in press.” Three-year starter played almost exclusively man coverage from the bump zone. “He’ll be a starter,” another scout said. “He’s not going to be great as a rookie. He likes to use his hands a lot downfield. He’ll be a penalty player in our league. It will take him a little time to get out of that habit.” Just 30 students were in his graduating class in Dry Branch, Ga. Didn’t have a single scholarship offer until Spartans entered the picture late in senior season. “He’s not the athlete the other two (Bradley Roby, Gilbert) are but he has great ball skills and makes plays,” another scout said. “He has a ceiling because of athleticism, speed and quickness. Things that make him a first-rounder are ball skills, instincts and awareness. There’s guys that play a long time because they have those qualities.” Durability is a significant question. Underwent double hernia surgery after the 2012 season, and the doctors for one team say he might have to have a similar surgery again, according to one of that team’s scouts. “He’s had concussions and shoulder problems in the past, and that affects his tackling sometimes,” a fourth scout said. Finished with 10 picks and 20 passes defensed.
3. KYLE FULLER, Virginia Tech (5-11½, 192, 4.43, 1) – First thing out of the mouths of many scouts are positives for the type of person that he is. “Great kid,” one scout said. “He can cover. Nothing wrong with him. I think he is the most solid (cornerback).” Three-year starter with six picks and 26 passes defensed. “Needs to put on a little bit of mass but a really good athlete,” another scout said. “He’s fast. He’s got cover skills…ball skills. He’s not afraid to play the run. He comes from an awesome pedigree. If he somehow got into the second round I would be offering everything I own to trade up to get him. There’s not a whole lot negative.” Brother Vince was a nickel back for three teams from 2005-’11. Brother Corey is a second-year WR for Detroit. Wonderlic of 11. “Just had an outstanding game against Alabama (Aug. 31),” a third scout said. “Had a pick, several breakups, was involved in run support. He went from probably the third-round area to maybe the first. He runs well enough, he’s got instincts and he’s tough.” Long injury history is a concern. From Baltimore.
4. BRADLEY ROBY, Ohio State (5-11, 195, 4.36, 1-2) – Fourth-year junior. “He’s a tremendous athlete but highly inconsistent,” one scout said. “You’re going to have to harness him. He needs a mentor and a direction. Athletically, he’s at the top of the group.” Finished with eight interceptions (28.3, two TDs) and 36 passes defensed. “All the talent in the world to be an exceptional corner but he’s a mess,” said another scout. “You don’t know when he’s going to show up. He lacks eye discipline. He starts peeking in the backfield. He’s twice as fast as (Wisconsin’s Jared) Abbrederis and Abbrederis embarrassed him.” Arrested on drunken driving charge April 20, the latest in an off-field résumé that concerns teams. “Guys like Gilbert and him frustrate me no end,” a third scout said. “They could be great or they can bust. Every time a thoroughbred goes on the track he performs. A race horse, a dog, they go out and are going hard every time. People draft these guys and they think they can change them. Could they be great players? Yes. Me? I’m nervous. I like to draft people I think are safe. There’s always something underneath that we never dig out. OK?” Wonderlic of 25. From Suwanee, Ga.
5. JASON VERRETT, Texas Christian (5-9½, 187, 4.40, 1-2) – Three-year starter with a junior-college background. “He’s as good as any of them except he’s 5-9,” one scout said. “Very physical. Instinctive. Can cover. Very confident guy. If he’s 6-feet he’s probably the first corner.” Best vertical jump (39½ inches) of the top five CBs, Wonderlic of 17 and possesses a quiet fire. “Jumps out of the gym,” a second scout said. “Very strong. Great feet. Tough.” Finished with nine picks and 35 passes defensed. “Hell of a player,” a third scout said. “But there’s no way I would draft him there (first round). He played at 175 and weighs almost 190 now. That’s what bothers me. I saw some bigger guys run by him deep. Just outsized him.” Gave up three TDs passes to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in first start and almost walked away. Added a fourth scout: “Hell of a kid but I hate him. He’s too short.” From Fairfield, Calif.
6. STANLEY JEAN-BAPTISTE, Nebraska (6-2½, 215, 4.49, 2-3) – Two-year starter with a CB-best 41½-inch vertical jump. “He’s got the same measurables as (Nnamdi) Asomugha coming out,” said one scout. “He’s an unrefined guy who was a receiver. He’s a good prospect. He’ll probably get picked higher than people think.” Spent a year in technical school and another in junior college, but didn’t play post-high school until discovered by a Cornhuskers recruiter in late 2010. “It will take him some time,” said a second scout. “Tall, long guy. Ran fast at his pro day. I don’t know how strong he is. I don’t know if he can play off coverage.” Finished with seven picks (26.0, two TDs) and 22 passes defensed. Wonderlic of 12. “When you first see him you go, ‘Wow, this is a corner?'” a third scout said. “Super talented. Very quiet. Will need some reps.” From Miami.
7. ROSS COCKRELL, Duke (6-0, 190, 4.49, 3) – Four-year starter. “He’s OK,” said one scout. “You know what you get with him.” Finished with 12 picks and 42 passes defensed. Wonderlic of 27. “He’s a finesse guy,” a second scout said. “Good feet.” His interception and PBU totals were school records. “He’s 6-foot and the (40) time’s good but he don’t play,” a third scout said. “He ain’t tough. How many Duke corners can you name? I can’t even name a defensive player from there other than (linebacker) Mike Junkin, who was the biggest bust ever (in 1987).” From Waxhaw, N.C. “I watched one tape of him and gave him a free-agent grade,” said a fourth scout. “They said, ‘How come you don’t watch more tape?’ I said, ‘Name me a corner from Duke over the last 40 years?'”
8. AARON COLVIN, Oklahoma (5-11½, 177, 4.5, 3-4) – Started at strong safety in 2011 before moving to CB the past two years. “Hell of a player,” one scout said. “He just knows what the hell he’s doing. He’s a good athlete. Competes.” Three-year starter with five picks and 23 passes defensed. Was making a strong early impression in Senior Bowl practices when he suffered a torn ACL. “He tore his knee up,” another scout said. “He was a second-round player probably.” From Tulsa, Okla. Unquestioned leader of Sooners’ secondary. “You’ll have to buy him cheaper and shelve him,” a third scout said. Wonderlic of 25.
9. BASHAUD BREELAND, Clemson (5-11½, 205, 4.56, 3-4) – Fourth-year junior with 24 starts in 37 games. “He didn’t run exceptional but he runs well enough,” one scout said. “If you do keep him at corner you might have to do some things to mask the top-end (speed) when he gets with Demaryius Thomas and those guys. But against bigger receivers he competed. He’s probably not a guy you want to put inside in nickel. On the island, to the boundary, he might be able to survive. He’s probably a guy that eventually will transition to safety. He hasn’t tested great by any means but he hasn’t been godawful.” Finished with six picks and 20 passes defensed. “He was a second-round guy to me but then he ran 4.6 at the combine and at the school,” a second scout said. “He is instinctive, aggressive, makes plays. Now if you play zone the guy’s going to be excellent.” From Allendale, S.C.
10. MARCUS ROBERSON, Florida (6-0, 192, 4.65, 3-4) – Third-year junior. One of three Gators among the top 25 at the position. “A lot of people mistake speed for athletic ability,” one scout said. “He’s a great athlete. He may not have exceptional speed but he’s got size, length, ball skills. Because he plays with position he’s able to nullify speed a little bit. None of those Seahawk corners are burners. He doesn’t have the aggression of those guys but you see flashes of it.” Started 18 games outside, finishing with three picks and 17 passes. Dinged by some scouts for off-field and injury factors. “He’s smooth,” another scout said. “But he can’t run and he’s not physical and I’m not sure how competitive he is.” From Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
OTHERS: Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State; Jaylen Watkins, Florida; Pierre Desir, Lindenwood; Keith McGill, Utah; Antone Exum, Virginia Tech; Phillip Gaines, Rice; Marqueston Huff, Wyoming; Dex McDougle, Maryland; Travis Carrie, Ohio; Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame; E.J. Gaines, Missouri; Terrance Mitchell, Oregon; Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida; Victor Hampton, South Carolina.
1. HA HA CLINTON-DIX, Alabama (6-1½, 207, 4.59, 1) – Third-year junior. “I truly love him,” said one scout. “I think the guy is a damn good football player. He plays fast. He’s instinctive as hell. If you want to get caught up in what he ran…I don’t know about the brain but he killed it in our interview as far as the video stuff. Some people must have a completely different view of him than I do.” Scored 15 on the Wonderlic. “There’s just nothing he does really well,” another scout said. “He’s not particularly athletic, not particularly fast, not explosive, not always physical. You get him and you put him in there and he’s just OK. He played at Alabama and started a bunch of games. OK?” Started 20 of 38 games, finishing with 100 tackles (four for loss), seven interceptions and 10 passes defensed. “He’s just a solid starter,” a third scout said. “The average safety in the league runs 4.6. You don’t see a speed deficiency on film. He’s a nice, smooth (back) pedaler. Very instinctive. Got nice ball skills.” Served a two-game suspension in 2013 for accepting a $500 loan from the school’s assistant strength coach. “He’s 4.6,” another scout said. “He’s got good angles and ball skills. Lack of speed will eventually catch up to him. He’ll still be a good, solid starter. He scares me.” From Eatonville, Fla.
2. CALVIN PRYOR, Louisville (5-11, 207, 4.62, 1-2) – Third-year junior with 32 starts in 38 games. “I’d take Pryor at 15,” one scout said. “I did William Moore and Kam Chancellor coming out and I liked Pryor better than both of them. He’s a complete player. Very, very tough. He’s a head-hunter. He’s going to be a penalty player because he will have head shots. He plays faster than what he ran.” Knocked opposing players out of three straight games last season. “You love the size, the intensity, toughness,” a second scout said. “Big, physical guy. Brings an attitude with him. You love all that stuff. Not a great coverage guy. He’s never done any man. In zone, as long as it’s in front of him, he’s OK. Stuff behind him, he does not have a good feel. Little stiff.” Finished with 218 tackles (11 for loss), seven interceptions and 14 passes defensed. “He’s a 4.6 guy so I worry a little bit about the range,” a third scout said. “He can knock the (expletive) out of you but he also has a lot of drive-bys. Misses a lot of tackles. He’s reckless. It’s too much feast or famine.” From Port St. Joe, Fla. “I call him the poor-man’s (Troy) Polamalu,” a fourth scout said. “He’s got that long hair hanging out the back and he flies around and he’s up in the air. But he misses tackles. He’s more of a strong safety. He can play free but I’d like to have him closer to the line.”
3. DEONE BUCANNON, Washington State (6-0, 211, 4.51, 1-2) – Started 43 of 48 games. “I think he’s a top-10 pick,” one scout said. “Height-weight-speed. Tackling skills are equivalent to Clinton-Dix and Pryor, but when he hits you he knocks ’em out. He’s a bigger version of Ronnie Lott. He’s such a good player, you could take him out of the middle of the field and have him go one-on-one with one of those big wide receivers. He’s that athletic. I’ve seen him cover people in space. Did you know this guy played four years of golf in high school? Golf is the thinking-man’s game. Don’t tell me he can’t think his way through.” Figures to be the Cougars’ highest drafted player since 2007. “Best hitter at safety,” said another scout. “Over Calvin Pryor. Put on the Auburn game (Aug. 31) and watch the hit Bucannon puts on Tre Mason. Ouch. Somebody is going to get a good player there.” Finished with 384 tackles (13½ for loss), 15 picks and 14 passes defensed. “Box safety,” said a third scout. “He’s stiff as (expletive). Can’t cover. He misses more tackles. I’ll tell you what. If we play him we’re going to match (his team’s TE) up with him.” Added almost 20 pounds in last year. Wonderlic of 15. “He will hit you but he can’t learn,” a fourth scout said. “There’s a real mental concern with Bucannon. He runs and he hits. The coverage and the learning is an issue with him.” From Fairfield, Calif.
4. JIMMIE WARD, Northern Illinois (5-101/2, 195, 4.49, 2) – Started at CB in 2011 and at safety the past two seasons. “Remember Louis Delmas?” said one scout. “Plays a lot like Delmas but he’s better in coverage. He’s fierce, but Delmas was bigger and thicker. He’s already put on some weight and will continue to do that.” Finished with 320 tackles (six for loss), 11 picks and 26 passes defensed. “He is small,” said a second scout. “He has range. He’s the same size as Earl Thomas. Good open-field tackler.” Born in Racine, moved to Mobile, Ala., at 7. “Typical Mobile guy,” a third scout said. “He’s got swagger. He’s got a bright eye to him. Not sure you totally trust him but he’s confident and a good kid. Just small.” Wonderlic of 17. Had fewest reps (nine) of leading safeties on bench press. “He is the hittingest safety in this draft,” a fourth scout said. “He’s going to hit himself out. Wow, is he a hitter.”
5. TERRENCE BROOKS, Florida State (5-11, 199, 4.42, 2-3) – Served as dime back in 2011 before starting two years at safety. “He’s athletic, fluid,” one scout said. “Not a killer. Not great in space, but OK. He can be physical. Got good range. Fills the alley. Good ball skills.” Finished with 126 tackles (9½ for loss), five picks and 15 passes defensed. “If he can ever clean up his consistency with tackling…he should be a starter,” a second scout said. “Really good athlete. He doesn’t have great size but it’s good enough. You’ll feel comfortable with him back there. He’s a great communicator. He puts the work in.” Wonderlic of 23. “You don’t see the speed translated to the field,” said a third scout. “If he can put it all together from a vision, mental and physical standpoint he’s good enough to start at some point.” From Dunnellon, Fla.
6. LAMARCUS JOYNER, Florida State (5-8, 184, 4.51, 2-3) – Started 27 games at safety as a sophomore and junior before moving to CB in ’13. “Earl Thomas isn’t very big and the guy from Iowa (Bob Sanders) wasn’t very big,” one scout said. “Smaller guy but flies around and blows people up. Little stiff for corner but there’s places where they can get away with it. Just a good football player. He’s a fun kid to be around. At school they call him the Frisbee dog because he’s chasing everything down. If people go three wide you can stay base and move him down. If he has to tackle a (big) back one-on-one in space 10 times a day then that means you’ve got more problems than him and you’re (expletive) up up front.” Had a 37½-inch vertical jump. Finished with 197 tackles (10½ for loss), eight picks and 15 passes defensed. Wonderlic of 13. “He’s a great player but he’s so (expletive) small,” another scout said. “He’s a good little nick (nickel back).” From Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
7. DEZ SOUTHWARD, Wisconsin (6-0, 212, 4.39, 3-4) – Two-year starter at safety but also played extensively from the slot. “You watch the Penn State game and the (Allen) Robinson guy breaks away on a screen,” one scout said. “Southward comes up, sees it, gets blocked and chases Robinson down from behind. That was the first time I saw the 4.4 speed. He’s a banger and he can run. He has some stiffness. They tried him at corner but he can’t play corner.” Wasn’t invited to the combine but blazed a sub-4.4 40 and had a CB-best 42-inch vertical jump at pro day. “Yeah, I know he runs fast, but they roll the turf there (UW),” said another scout. “They’re trying to (expletive) us. It’s nonsense, that’s all.” Finished with 152 tackles (11½ for loss), two picks and 13 passes defensed. Wonderlic of 31. “Lot of athletic traits but a long way to go,” a third scout said. “He’s been moved around so much and he had only one year of high school football. He’s a project, but he’s a worthwhile project.” From Sunrise, Fla.
8. MO ALEXANDER, Utah State (6-1, 220, 4.55, 4) – Played two seasons in junior college and transferred to Utah State, where he started at OLB in 2011. In ’12, he socked a teammate in the face (who underwent emergency surgery) and eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor aggravated assault. Kicked off team for the ’12 season but returned to start at FS in ’13. “He is really humbled by that whole thing,” one scout said. “Really like him. Big and really athletic. Tough guy.” Finished with 125 tackles (16 for loss), one pick and seven passes defensed. Wonderlic of 14. “He’s a box safety,” another scout said. “He’s too rigid to play in coverage. If you’re going to have a strong safety you’ve got to at least have enough movement to mirror guys. He will struggle.” From St. Louis, where he was an outstanding prep wrestler.
9. NAT BERHE, San Diego State (5-10½, 194, 4.57, 4) – Three-year starter at a combination safety-LB hybrid position. “He’s tough as hell,” one scout said. “Good ol’ football player. He didn’t run as good as we thought he would. He and Jimmie Ward are real similar. But you’ve got to have a special role for him.” Finished with 299 tackles (11 for loss), five picks and 19 passes defensed. “He’ll make a team,” another scout said. “He didn’t time good but he might be a free safety.” From Colton, Calif.
10. BROCK VEREEN, Minnesota (5-11½, 199, 4.46, 4) – Started 18 games at FS and 18 at CB. “He’s a little bit like Southward,” one scout said. “He’s an athletic guy. There’s an up side to the kid. He needs to make more plays.” Posted 200 tackles (7½ for loss), four picks and 22 passes defensed. Brother, Shane, was drafted in 2011 by New England in the second round. “I liked his toughness,” said another scout. “That you can’t coach. Comes hard on the blitz. Gets turned around in coverage.” From Valencia, Calif.
OTHERS: Craig Loston, Louisiana State; Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky; Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State; Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State; Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech; Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama; Ed Reynolds, Stanford; Tre Boston, North Carolina; Ahmad Dixon, Baylor; Daniel Sorenson, Brigham Young; Alden Darby, Arizona State.