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Why the 2019 true freshman cornerback class is the best PFF has ever seen

From 2014 to 2018, we here at PFF saw only five true freshmen at Power-5 schools finish their first-year campaigns with a PFF overall grade above 78.0. And of those five, three belonged to the 2014 true freshman class.

This past year, we saw seven Power-5 true freshmen accomplish that feat.

[Editor's Note: Check out PFF's 2021 Mock Draft Simulator as well as 2020 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams. And if you haven’t already, be sure to pick up a copy of PFF’s 2020 NFL Draft Guide by subscribing to PFF EDGE or ELITE.]

From 2014 to 2018, there was just one Power-5 true freshman cornerback to rank among the 25 most valuable at the position in regard to PFF Wins Above Average (WAA): Adoree' Jackson in 2014 at USC.

This past year, there were five Power-5 true freshman cornerbacks to produce WAA that ranked among the 25 most valuable cornerbacks in college football.

Best true freshman season by a Power-5 cornerback in the PFF College era (by PFF grade)
Player, School and season
1. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU (2019)
2. Teez Tabor, Florida (2014)
3. Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati (2019)
4. Kaiir Elam, Florida (2019)
5. Trent McDuffie, Washington (2019)
6. Adoree’ Jackson, USC (2014)
7. Mykael Wright, Oregon (2019)
8. Carlton Davis, Auburn (2015)
9. Tiawan Mullen, Indiana (2019)
10. Quincy Wilson, Florida (2014)
11. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (2018)
12. Storm Duck, North Carolina (2019)

What the incoming sophomore cornerback class accomplished as true freshmen last year is unlike anything we have ever seen. It’s rare to have one or two standout first-year players at the cornerback position, let alone seven as we witnessed this past year. Without further ado, let us introduce you to the cornerback class that has the potential to break the NFL Draft in a couple of years:

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