As your New Orleans Saints prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft, we take a look at the top 10 ranked players at various positions. The 2023 NFL Draft big board rankings are reflective of Bucky Brooks' top five 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position 2.0 and ESPN's NFL Draft "Best Available" list.
Here are the top 10 ranked draft prospects at cornerback:
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 1 Devon Witherspoon | Illinois
Devon Witherspoon is a ball-hawking cornerback who is always looking to make a play on the ball. Coming into the draft as the best available cornerback on NFL.com and ESPN, Witherspoon will be looking to solidify his place in a defensive backfield. He has the traits and play-making abilities to be half of a powerful cornerback tandem, but may need to refine his skills just a little bit before he gets to that point. He lacks the elite speed to keep up with faster receivers, so he may need safety help on some routes, but if he is right next to the receiver, then there's a decent chance he will be making a play.
Height: 5 feet 11 1/2
Weight: 181 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.47
NFL.com overview: "Witherspoon is a fun watch but requires evaluators to carefully consider his strengths and weaknesses relative to scheme. He plays with anticipation, route feel and a consistent sense of urgency to prevent catches, as displayed by his high number of pass breakups. He plays with ball-hawking eyes and good balance from zone coverage and is very aggressive tackling both after the catch and in run support...The play-making mentality and traits give him a solid chance to become a CB2 in the league."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerbacks | No. 2 Christian Gonzalez | Oregon
Christian Gonzalez enters the draft as the second highest rated cornerback according to NFL.com and ESPN, but don't be surprised if he is taken first. Gonzalez has the traits that jump off the page. He ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 41.5 inches. There's no question that his physical abilities turn heads, but he will need to reign in his technique before he can be trusted consistently on the field. His coaches can likely help him with that, though. A personnel director for an NFC team hinted that Gonzalez may be a higher selection than initially believed. They said, "He's got size, he's strong, he can run, he's long. I want all of that. He just needs to keep working at his craft."
Height: 6 feet 1
Weight: 197 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.70
NFL.com Overview: "Explosive outside cornerback possessing a rare blend of physical and athletic traits. Gonzalez plays with fluid hips and blazing top-end speed, which should help him match against top-end targets in the future. He can rough up the release or use mirror-and-match footwork from press-man coverage and he has all the tools to become a highly capable route shadow...His testing numbers could send his draft stock skyrocketing, but the ingredients are already present to become a feared CB1 if he plays to his gifts."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 3 Joey Porter Jr. | Penn State
Joey Porter Jr is an interesting prospect that has scouts torn on where he should fall. Ultimately, both NFL.com and ESPN decided on him being the third best available cornerback. He is on the rise as we approach the draft, which may bode extremely well for the former Nittany Lion. An AFC area scout said, "He can't change direction well but he's strong and physical, so you put him in press and let him play in the receiver's pocket all game." That seems to be the consensus on Porter. He has great size and strength, but some play limitations may only allow him to succeed in certain schemes. Scouts do believe that is fixable, though and he can become a high-end CB1 with the right coaching.
Height: 6 feet 2 1/2
Weight: 193 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.42
NFL.com Overview: "Ascending cornerback combining traits and above average play strength that create a clear definition of who he is as a player. He can reroute the release and has the frame to close catch windows against big receivers in press-man or Cover 2 looks. Delayed transitions and sluggish change of direction put him in conflict in off coverages, so teams must pay attention to matchups and scheme in order to avoid a field full of yellow laundry. There is work to be done to improve tackle consistency in the run game, but he finishes tackles after a catch. Porter has scheme limitations, but he also has CB1 potential with more work and if utilized properly."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 4 Cam Smith | South Carolina
Cam Smith has scouts extremely divided on his production level and place taken in the draft. NFL.com has him listed as the fourth best cornerback; however, ESPN has him as the ninth best. Some of the biggest discrepancies come from what he is able to do clashing with what he does on the field. He has the skills and mentals to be a force on the defensive side of the ball, but he can get lost in some routes and does not have the blazing speed needed to recover, which can often lead to penalties. If he can take coaching well, he may be able to fins himself on the field more consistently.
Height: 6 feet 1
Weight: 180 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.27
NFL.com Overview: "Long outside cornerback with instinctive eyes and the ball skills to consistently close on throws when in position. Smith lacks fluidity and acceleration to consistently press and run with speedy downfield targets...However he's highly anticipatory with the vision and route recognition to shine from coverages allowing him to play with his eyes and feet forward. While his timing/length can be formidable weapons on contested catches, he often fails to move his feet quickly enough in transitions and ends up grabbing receivers, leading to penalties. Smith appears to be better suited for zone coverages and off-man but if he can trust his technique, he might become more scheme-diverse and develop into a CB2."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 5 Emmanuel Forbes | Mississippi State
Emmanuel Forbes is the fifth best prospect on NFL.com and ESPN.com. After running a lightning-fast 4.35 in the NFL Combine, scouts started adding him to more and more draft boards. Add to that his knack for taking the ball away (six interceptions in 2022), and you have an intriguing prospect that will likely find himself on a team before Day 3. He may get the starting nod early on, but teams may have to expect some up-and-down games in the early stages due to his wiry frame and lack of consistency in man coverage. He will need to bulk up to become more proficient in open-field tackles, but he would thrive in a zone-heavy defensive scheme.
Height: 6 feet 1
Weight: 166 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.36
NFL.com Overview: "Forbes is long, can run and has a talent for taking the ball away, which means he has a chance to become a coveted cornerback. However, his wire-thin frame does not work in his favor. Forbes' instincts and recognition are fun to watch. He pounces on quick-game throws and has the ball skills to take the ball away. He's highly capable in all forms of zone coverage and operates out of press-man, but is inconsistent matching the release and staying in phase with routes through sharp cuts. His slender build and lack of tackle strength will make him a target for opposing running games. Forbes could become an early starter with quality ball production, but teams might need to expect some up-and-down performances."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 6 Deonte Banks | Maryland
Deonte Banks is a prospect that has been steadily rising the ranks of cornerback prospects since his impressive showing at the NFL Combine. Hi 4.35 in the 40-yard dash combined with a 42-inch vertical earned him a spot in ESPN's top five as the fourth best available cornerback. An NFC area scout said, "He's one of my favorite cornerbacks I've studied. He's going to be a really good pro." The biggest challenge with Banks is his on-field discipline. He can get lost in routes at times which can lead to penalties of not corrected, but he has everything it takes to be a CB1.
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 197 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.37
NFL.com Overview: "Perimeter corner with desired blend of size, strength and athleticism. Banks is capable of release disruption from press. He plays with smooth hips and easy feet to pedal and glide around the field. He's capable of matching the release and running with his opponent. However, he struggles to play with poise and awareness when his back is to the football. He needs to play with better route anticipation and reactive quickness at the break point, but his eye-popping NFL Scouting Combine testing and scheme versatility should create interest from a wide range of NFL teams. Banks has first-round traits and could become a CB1 if he can play with better discipline when challenged."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 7 DJ Turner | Michigan
DJ Turner may be smaller, but he is a menace in the nickel spot. He can line up inside or outside, but his frame tends to lean him more to an inside role as big receivers can beat up on him in coverage. He ran a lightning-fast 4.26 at the NFL Combine, which was predicted by a Midwest scout for an NFC team when they said, "He's going to be a monster tester at the combine. One of the best in his position group." Speed like that may make him one of the fastest players on the field in almost any matchup, and that will lend itself to some playing time for the young prospect. Keep an eye out for a team that may see something they like in Turner early in the draft.
Height: 5 feet 11
Weight: 178 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.41
NFL.com Overview: "Explosive athlete combining fluidity, speed and superior technique to excel at his craft. Turner is scheme-diverse with the ability to line up inside or outside in coverage. He's graceful with his mirror and match movements from press or off-man coverage, but he is plenty feisty when challenging throws or hitting receivers after the catch. Despite his competitiveness, big receivers can bounce him around and beat him on 50/50 balls. Turner has the tools and talent to become an early starter as a nickel corner capable of matching up with both shifty and speedy opponents."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 8 Kelee Ringo | Georgia
Kelee Ringo is a physical cornerback with the traits to matchup against some of the premier targets in the NFL. His route inconsistency may hinder his ability to see the field at first, but more coaching to help him understand the game can bring him to new heights. He is the seventh best cornerback available according to ESPN, and a regional scout for an NFC team seems to agree: "There are some really good games but there are some average ones, too. I think you project the size and athleticism because he's got them both and he's scheme independent." If he can cut back on the 'average' games, then he will be a high-end CB2 or even CB1 for a team down the line.
Height: 6 feet 2
Weight: 207 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.39
NFL.com Overview: "Boundary corner with an impressive blend of size and athleticism. Ringo is uniquely suited to travel the field and match talents against some of the bigger targets in the league. He can press and does a nice job of controlling plays in front of him from off coverages. However, he is very average at anticipating breaks and transitioning with them to squeeze the top of the route. His physicality in coverage and in run support are big assets in his favor, but there is still work to be done in consistency of coverage. Ringo's traits will be highly coveted and he has a chance to become a very good NFL cornerback if his route recognition continues to develop."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 9 Julius Brents | Kansas State
Julius (JuJu) Brents is entering the draft as a zone-based corner with the size and athletic ability to move to safety if needed. He excels in coverage and was able to force four interceptions in 2022. His biggest strength may also be his weakness though as he can sometimes lose track of receivers if he is only watching the quarterback in the zone. Brents can become a successful corner, but will need a year or two to fully develop into a full-time starting role. Depending on which team selects him, he may not see the field consistently until his sophomore season.
Height: 6 feet 3
Weight: 198 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.28
NFL.com Overview: "Brents is a classic zone cover corner with an outstanding blend of size, length and leaping ability. He has the disruptive traits to reroute the release and the dog in him to handle his business in run support. He can play some press-man on a vertical plane but lacks the top-end speed and pattern matching to play in that scheme full-time. Brents needs to maintain eye discipline from zone but has the ball skills to win a battle for the pass when he's in position. While he's likely to be targeted in the draft as a zone-based corner, he has the instincts and demeanor to make a move to safety if needed."
2023 NFL Draft prospects - Cornerback | No. 10 Tyrique Stevenson | Miami
Tyrique Stevenson is a larger cornerback at 6 feet and nearly 200 pounds, which makes him an ideal cover man for bigger receivers. He tends to do better in press-man schemes, so zone-heavy defenses will likely pass on him in the draft. An area scout for an AFC team said, "You look at how big he is and think he might be a safety, but he's a big press cornerback with the size to push receivers around if his technique is right." A move to safety may be in his future, but as of now he will be looking to be selected in one of the later rounds of the draft.
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 198 pounds
NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.24
NFL.com Overview: "Big cornerback with the size and play strength to help match up with bigger receivers in the league. Stevenson is patient but physical in press-man and has good recovery speed when he falls behind. He struggles as a pattern matcher in off-man and had issues with busts in zone, so he might be scheme-dependent. Stevenson is talented when attacking the catch point and has the ball skills to make plays on 50/50 throws. He needs to become more consistent in run support but has the physical attributes to become a starter in a press-man scheme."