All signs point to A.J. Terrell ascending into a reliable boundary corner; he’s consistently showed up throughout training camp, including against Calvin Ridley. Similar to pass rushers, a defense can never have enough good cornerbacks. The future at the position looks bleak, but the 2022 corner class, much like the 2021 receiver class, is absolutely loaded. It has depth and elite talent and might be one of the best cornerback classes in recent memory. The Falcons will absolutely be looking at these prospects to pair with Terrell.
Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
I watched Stingley in high school at The Dunham School when I was a student at LSU working for Louisiana Gridiron Football, and anyone could’ve seen how special he would become. Entering his third season as a Tiger, Stingley was arguably the best cornerback in the country as a true freshman, where he recorded six interceptions and 15 pass deflections on his way to becoming a National Champion. He’s got good size at 6’1″ and 195 pounds, but he seriously can play any type of coverage, though he thrives in man coverage. Stingley has the length to dominate at the line of scrimmage and the catch point. He’s got incredible athleticism, which is evident in his recovery speed and fluidity. The last thing that has to be noted is his class-best ball skills. These things are great, but unless Atlanta is drafting in a similar position as 2021, Stingley will be long gone.
Kaiir Elam, Florida
Elam is similar to Stingley in almost every facet, except for production. In his first season as a full-time starter, he logged two interceptions and 11 pass deflections on Florida’s way to the SEC Championship. At 6’2″ and 196 pounds, Elam is slightly bigger than the LSU corner but doesn’t lose any fluidity of movement. He’s got the explosive burst to break on routes as good as any in this class.
Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
A Clemson cornerback tandem? Sign me up. Booth has as many interceptions as he does starts for the Tigers, but he displayed impressive body control and ball skills in those few opportunities — most notably, his one-handed end-zone interception against Virginia. He’s got good size for an NFL corner, and without much experience, I believe he’ll ascend to the top of this class because of his length and receiver-like hands.
Sevyn Banks, Ohio State
It seems like every year the Buckeyes are sending a high-level corner to the league — Jeff Okudah, Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore. Banks is no different; though, he showed his talent a bit later than those guys. He recorded his first interception last season against Northwestern, but inarguably his best game to date was against Clemson in the College Football Playoffs, where he broke up six passes and intercepted Trevor Lawrence. He’s one of the bigger corners in the class, but he seemed to be able to keep up with the Big 10’s faster receivers.
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Gardner is the definition of production, totaling six interceptions and 12 pass breakups in his career. He’s a big reason why Cincinnati boasted one of the best defenses in college football in 2020. He has big-play ability, which is evident in his numbers. Gardner’s length helps with those interceptions and deflections, but he has the footwork and hip fluidity to keep himself in a position to always make a play on the ball.
Those are the high-end prospects, but all of the corners below will certainly be on Terry Fontenot‘s radar. Even though he spent a fourth-round pick on Darren Hall, I fully expect the staff to continue to bolster the position as the future is foggy for the current depth chart.
Josh Jobe, Alabama; Trent McDuffie, Washington; Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU; Mykael Wright, Oregon; Garrett Williams, Syracuse; Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State; D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina; Sheridan Jones, Clemson; Tiawan Mullen, Indiana; Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State; Isaac Taylor-Stuart, USC; Chris Steele, USC; Roger McCreary, Auburn; Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn; Allie Green IV, Tulsa; Chase Lucas, Arizona State; Chandler Jones, Louisville; Coby Bryant, Cincinnati