NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the top cornerbacks and safeties

Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Cam Smith (9) celebrates an interception against the Charlotte 49ers in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The PFF draft board was due for a refresh at the midway point of the 2022 college football season.

Quarterback-needy teams, you’re in luck: This is one heck of a quarterback class, with five signal-callers making the top 50. It’s also a strong class at edge defender, running back, defensive tackle, cornerback and tight end.

Here are the class' top cornerbacks and safeties.

CORNERBACKS

1. Cam Smith, South Carolina

Big board rank: 12

After producing three picks and nine pass breakups last season, Smith is simply being avoided by quarterbacks this season. He’s allowed only nine catches on 22 targets for 137 yards in eight games.


2. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

Big board rank: 15

Ringo had a bit of a slow start to the season but has rebounded nicely enough. He looks like a walked-out linebacker at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, and he plays with that kind of physicality on the outside.


3. Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M

Big board rank: 20

One of the biggest risers this season, Jones has shown a very mature playstyle through 10 weeks. He’s allowed only six catches on 11 targets for 72 yards.  At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he has ideal size for the position in the NFL.


4. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Big board rank: 32

At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, Gonzalez has the kind of size everyone is looking for in a boundary corner. He’s already had a career year in terms of ball production, with three picks and six pass breakups.


5. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Big board rank: 34

Porter is a long, physical outside corner who’s in the middle of a career year. Through nine games, he’s broken up nine passes and allowed only 13 catches and 123 yards across 28 targets.


6. Clark Phillips, Utah

Big board rank: 36

Phillips always seems to be around the football and already has five picks on 49 targets this season. At only 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, his size will be his biggest concern coming out.


7. Garrett Williams, Syracuse

Big board rank: 38

Williams has been starting ever since he was a true freshman for the Orange and has played nothing but quality football over that span. He’s racked up 14 career pass breakups and four picks in two and a half seasons.


8. Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri

Big board rank: 39

Abrams-Draine is a former wide receiver turned cornerback. After playing primarily in the slot in 2021, Abrams-Draine has been solely an outside corner this season and is still excelling.


9. EMMANUEL FORBES, MISSISSIPPI STATE

Big board rank: 58

10. DEVON WITHERSPOON, ILLINOIS

Big board rank: 65

11. TRE'VIUS HODGES-TOMLINSON, TCU

Big board rank: 76

12. TYRIQUE STEVENSON, MIAMI (FL)

Big board rank: 91

13. DJ TURNER, MICHIGAN

Big board rank: 100

SAFETIES

1. Brian Branch, Alabama

Big board rank: 16

Branch is just a football player. He’s sound in every facet of the game and fills the ever-valuable slot role in Alabama’s defense. You want him around the ball with how lights-out he is as a tackler. On 136 career tackle attempts, Branch has missed only two.


2. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

Big board rank: 26

Johnson is a unique safety at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. He’s a long, rangy tackler who operates out of the slot for the Aggies. He may not be the best pure coverage safety, but he knows how to find ball carriers in space.


3. S TYLER NUBIN, MINNESOTA

Big board rank: 52

4. S JL SKINNER, BOISE STATE

Big board rank: 67

5. S BRANDON JOSEPH, NOTRE DAME

Big board rank: 81

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