Supply and demand in the draft: Cornerback

Supply and demand in the draft: Cornerback
April 22, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Last week we looked at supply and demand at safety in the NFL draft. Today, we’ll take a look at the Redskins’ other main need, cornerback. How many teams are likely to take a cornerback in the draft and will have two chances to do so? Let’s take an in-depth look.

The Redskins are not in a position where they need to get a starter at corner right away. They have last year’s starters, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, plus free agent E. J. Biggers, who started 12 games for the Bucs last year.

But all three of those players will be free agents after the season. They will have Richard Crawford and, if healthy, Chase Minnifield but we don’t know how much either of them can contribute.

If they can pick up a starting-quality cornerback in this year’s draft they could groom him and have him ready to take the place of Hall or Wilson in 2014. Will they be able to get one with their first selection, the 51st overall? Let’s take a look at supply and demand

As we did last week, let’s take a look at the demand side first. Who else out there could reasonably be expected to draft a cornerback before pick 51 and which teams will have two or more chances to do so?

The draft landscape has shifted somewhat since we looked at safeties last week. The Darrelle Revis trade means that the Bucs are no longer picking twice before pick 51 and the Jets now pick three times with their own picks at ninth and 39th and Tampa Bay’s pick at 13.

We’ll use the Approximate Value (AV) metric from Pro Football Reference to gauge the strength of each team’s players (go here for the nitty-gritty on AV).

Both Hall and Wilson had an AV of 6 in 2012 so we’ll use that as our line. If a one or more of a team’s starting cornerbacks (per Ourlad’s depth charts) has an AV of 5 or lower, that means there is a need there and a good possibility that they will spend a first- or second-round pick on one.

Here are the teams, their picks, and the AV’s of their starting cornerbacks:

TeamOverall picksStarting CB's, AV's
Jaguars2, 33Hayes 3, Harris 5
Eagles4, 35Fletcher 3, Williams 8
Lions5, 36Houston 6, Bentley 1
Bills8,41McKelvin 1, Gilmore 4
Chargers11, 45Gilchrist 2, Cox 5
Dolphins12, 42Grimes 0*, Marshall 2
Panthers14, 44Munnerlyn 6, Norman 5
Steelers17, 48Allen 4, Taylor 6
Giants19, 49Webster 7, Thomas 0**
Vikings23, 25Robinson 3, Cook 3
49ers31, 34Rogers 6, Brown 5
   
*Injured most of 2012; AV of 5 in 2011  
**Injured 2011-2012; AV of 8 in 2010 

So there are 11 teams with multiple picks before 51 and that could be said to have a need at cornerback. Add in teams that might spend their one pick prior to 51 on a CB and teams that might want to add a quality nickel corner they could groom into a starter and you might have as much as half of the league.

What about the supply side? We’ll return again to the National Football Post’s grades. This represents just one viewpoint but since we can’t get a look at 32 teams’ draft boards it’s as good a way to go here as any. NFP’s minimum grade for a player they think will be a quality starter is 6.0.

They have 14 cornerbacks with a grade of 6.0 or better—Dee Millner, Xavier Rhodes, Jamar Taylor, Desmond Trufant, Sanders Commings, D.J. Hayden, Johnathan Banks, David Amerson, Robert Alford, Darius Slay, Jordan Poyer, Leon McFadden, Marc Anthony and Dwayne Gratz. Two more, Terry Hawthorne and Tyrann Mathieu are rated just below there at 5.9. Other analysts would add players like Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Tharold Simon to the list of potential starters.

So we have a list of cornerbacks who can, in the opinion of some, develop into starters approaching 20. Even if all 11 of the teams in the table above take a corner in the first or second—and they won’t—that should leave a few of those players for the Redskins at 51.

We will see if they think that one of them is worth the pick.