Top 10 cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL draft

Here are the top 10 cornerback prospects (with projected round) for the NFL draft, which is set for April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri:

1. Devon Witherspoon, Sr., CB, Illinois, 6-0, 180, Round 1: A late bloomer from Pensacola, Florida. Didn’t play football until his junior year of high school. First defensive back to be named consensus All-American in Illinois history.

2. Christian Gonzalez, So., CB, Oregon, 6-2, 201, 1: Named All-Pac-12 after he led the Ducks in interceptions (4), pass breakups (7) and blocked kicks (1) in 12 games. Gonzalez started his career at Colorado before transferring to Oregon.

3. Joey Porter Jr., Jr., CB, Penn State, 6-2, 198, 1: Father played 13 years in the NFL as one of the league’s top linebackers. Perhaps the top press corner in the draft.

4. Emmanuel Forbes, Jr., CB, Mississippi State, 6-0, 180, 1-2: Owns FBS record for six pick-sixes. Six interceptions last season and 14 for his career.

5. Cam Smith, Jr., CB, South Carolina, 6-0, 188, 1-2: Primarily played cornerback and was used at nickel back. Made 91 tackles over 33 games, including 19 starts. Six career interceptions and 18 pass breakups.

6. Kelee Ringo, So., CB, Georgia, 6-2, 210, 1-2: Considered of the top cornerbacks in the draft. He played in 30 games over the past two seasons, made 76 tackles and four interceptions.

7. D.J. Turner, Jr., CB, Michigan, 5-11, 180, 2-3: Speedster whose 40-yard dash could drastically help his stock. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network projected Turner as the No. 23 overall pick in his recent mock draft. Pauline wrote: “I like DJ Turner more than most. He’s a polished corner with outstanding ball skills despite being under the radar.”

8. Deonte Banks, Jr., CB, Maryland, 6-1, 205, 2: Honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Had 38 tackles, eight pass breakups and a half-sack last season for the Terrapins.

9. Clark Phillips III, So., CB, Utah, 5-9, 183, 2: Associated Press Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Started all 31 games of his career. He ranks fourth in Utah history with 232 career interception-return yards.

10. Tyrique Stevenson, Jr., CB, Miami, 6-0, 204, 2: Played in 11 games and made 10 starts for the Hurricanes. He finished with 43 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Best of the rest: Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly, Kansas State’s Julius Brents, Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark, Alabama’s Eli Ricks, South Carolina’s Darius Rush and Coastal Carolina’s Lance Boykin.

Teams in need: Titans, Steelers, Vikings, Lions and Raiders.

Local prospects: Terell Smith, 6-1, 215, Minnesota (South Gwinnett HS): Played in the East-West Shrine Bowl and was an All-Big Ten honorable mention at safety. Started all 13 games for the Golden Gophers and made 38 tackles and had 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Jay Ward, 6-1, 180, LSU (Colquitt Co. HS): Versatile defensive back who played safety, cornerback and nickel back for the Tigers. He played in 46 games over his career and made 23 starts.

Need area for Falcons: Yes. The Falcons traded for Jeff Okudah and signed Mike Hughes, two former first-round draft picks, but you can never have too many cornerbacks in the NFL.


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The Bow Tie Chronicles

Minnesota defensive back Terell Smith during an NCAA football game on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

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Credit: AP

American defensive back Jay Ward of LSU (1) runs drills during practice for the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Mobile, Ala.. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) during an NCAA football game against the Indiana on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in West Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

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Credit: AP