Todd McShay Breaks Down Cornerback Draft Options

Baltimore's secondary was the source of many defensive woes during the 2014 season.

Injuries hit the group hard, sidelining top corners Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb for portions of the season, and forcing five cornerbacks to injured reserve by the end of the year.

The Ravens struggled to handle all of the injuries, and now the front office could bolster the cornerback depth with a high pick in this year's draft.

"They certainly could go in the secondary [in the first round]," ESPN's draft expert Todd McShay said at the NFL combine.

The Ravens have mostly shied away from drafting cornerbacks with high picks in recent years.

Since taking Jimmy Smith with their first pick in the 2011 draft, the Ravens have used two of their last 27 picks on cornerbacks. Those picks were Asa Jackson in the fifth round in 2012, and Marc Anthony in the seventh round as the No. 247 overall pick in 2013. Smith and Jackson are the only two drafted cornerbacks still on the roster from the last five years.

If that trend changes this spring, McShay pointed to one player who could be an immediate starter as a late first-round pick: Washington's Marcus Peters.

"The Washington cornerback is probably the best cover corner of the group," McShay said.

Peters, 6-foot-0, 197 pounds, has the prototypical size to be the kind of physical cornerback that the Ravens like. Many analysts have him rated as the top overall cornerback in the class, which likely makes him a steal at the end of the first round.

But Peters comes with some off-the-field concerns, as he was kicked off Washington's team last year after reportedly having multiple spats with the coaching staff.

"I think Marcus Peters is one player, but you have to do a lot of work on his off-the-field issues," McShay said. "I don't know that outside of Peters, there's a guy that you feel really good about who is 'plug-and-play.' But with Peters you have to make sure you're comfortable with the off-the-field issues."

In the mock draft that he released before the combine, McShay had the Ravens taking LSU's Jalen Collins with their No. 26 pick. Collins, 6-1 and 203 pounds, also has the size that make him an attractive option at cornerback, but McShay believes he needs some more development before getting inserted into an NFL starting lineup.

"Collins is another one with the size, speed ability, but technique-wise has a little bit of work to do," McShay said.

If the Ravens passed on taking a cornerback in the first round, then McShay believes Baltimore could still get a quality player in the next couple of rounds. Potential second-round options he highlighted were Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest and Trae Waynes from Michigan State.

"You probably want to get value in the second, third round," McShay said. "[Johnson and Waynes] are two guys that you hear about in the first round, but could wind up in the second-round range."

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