Friday, February 9, 2018

The 2018 XFL Mock Draft - Cornerbacks

In anticipation of Vince McMahon bringing the fun back to football (more concussions, woohoo!), Lukewarm Jonah and I went back and forth to do an XFL Draft. Instead of breaking this down round by round, we are going to go by position groups. Today, we move to the back half of the defense and tackle the secondary, starting with the guys outside at cornerback.

Jonah: Jalen Collins, Vontae Davis, Tharold Simon, Leodis Mckelvin, Jayshawn Jordan

Joe: Alfonzo Dennard, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Justin Gilbert, Dee Milliner, BJ Lowery

Joe: I have some serious crushes on my cornerbacks. I am such a huge supporter of Alfonzo Dennard that it is ridiculous. You will never be able to convince me that he is not at least a good second corner in the NFL. He just completely shut down his half of the field in college when he was at Nebraska. When the season ended, Mike Mayock had him ranked as his third best cornerback. After workouts, he fell to 11th, and then he fell all the way to the seventh round to the evil New England Patriots since he punched a cop a week before the draft. He then managed to work his way up from fifth cornerback to starter by the end of his rookie season. The only thing that kept him from always being the starter for New England were injuries the next two seasons, and then after his third season, he basically fell off the map of the NFL. He played in the Arena League and the CFL while struggling with alcohol. He’s only 28 years old, and if he has his personal issues in order, he is without a doubt a NFL talent.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was a three-time All-Pac 12 Cornerback, including a consensus All-American in 2014. He was considered one of the top cornerbacks coming out, but fell to the seventh round due to a torn ACL and dislocated knee. Those injuries prevented him from really getting his game off the ground at the professional level. But those injuries have had a few years to heal, and considering Ekpre-Olomu is just 24 years old, there is still time for him to redesign, rebuild, and reclaim his potential.

Justin Gilbert was not only good enough to become a unanimous All-American at Oklahoma State, but he was drafted eighth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns as he was seen as a shutdown corner who could solidify a defense. The issue with Gilbert seemed to be that he didn’t love football, and in the summer of 2017, he was suspended for a year for violating the substance abuse policy. With the latter, hopefully he is willing to clean up his act, but with the former issue, maybe he didn’t love NFL football, but the XFL is all about fun, so Gilbert should be able to have a blast playing for my team.

Dee Milliner has a similar story to Gilbert. He was a unanmious All-American at Alabama in 2012 and was the ninth overall pick by the New York Jets in 2013. His issues were various injuries as he managed to injure different parts of his body every year. He’s just 26 years old, so there is still time for him to show what made him such a special player in college for the Crimson Tide.

Finally, I added BJ Lowery who does not have the pedigree of the guys above, but he has something better and that is the fact that he played for the University of Iowa. He is not the greatest athlete, but he had a nose for the ball and deterred quarterbacks from throwing his way when he was a Hawkeye. He has bounced around lower level football leagues, but at age 26, the XFL is exactly what he needs to become a household name.

Jonah: You’ve got to be able to cover in the XFL, everyone knows that.  With that being said, I picked up some solid veterans and mixed in some young talent that needs a shot.  My top two guys are legit NFL starters who aren’t in the league for different reason.  Looking back I was sad Joe got Ifo, and maybe I should have drafted fellow Oregon Duck Cliff Harris if he’s out of jail, but I have some incredible talent in my secondary.

Jalen Collins is a 24 year old LSU corner who should have been a first rounder but fell to the second.  He’s 6’2” which Mike Zimmer has taught me is important in evaluating cornerbacks.  The truth of the matter is he would still be starting for the Falcons if he didn’t get popped for a second substance abuse violation in the NFL’s program.  That’s the NFL, he has no strikes in the XFL system and is a true young shutdown corner.

Vontae Davis on the other hand is a wily veteran but still only 29 years old.  He’s a two time Pro Bowler who is recovering from groin surgery but could be ready for the XFL season, whenever that is.  He is a free agent as the Colts released him after his injury.  Once he recovers, he’s another shutdown corner that gives me two unbelievable talents, where are you going to throw the ball other teams?

Tharold Simon isn’t a household name like my first two corners, but he’s only 26 and got to play on the Seahawks championship defense.  He’s another LSU player, because if LSU knows anything it’s how to play defense.  He’s a guy I think would shine if he got a shot and I’ll give him his shot.

Leodis Mckelvin is a household name since he was the number 11 pick in 2008.  He started 12 games in 2016, but is looking for a home now, the XFL is that home.  I mean he played nine good years in the NFL and he’s 32 now but he could at least be a very strong nickel corner.

Jayshawn Jordan is someone known in my household by me and in the Jordan household and that’s about it.  However, I need more Vandals on my team because I need guys who can win against all odds.  Jordan can play either corner or safety so he’s versatile and is a talented special teamer as well.  He was expected to be a camp player this year, but didn’t catch on.  But Jordan is a playmaker.  He plays well against the run as well as the pass as he had six interceptions this past season to go along with 94 tackles.  The guy can play football, he just needs a chance.

Joe: I definitely like Jonah’s top two corners as they have shown flashes. Jalen Collins is worthwhile since the only thing holding him back from the NFL is substance abuse. Vontae Davis is another head case, and I have a strong feeling that the NFL is going to steal him away from the XFL before he has a chance to contribute. He had some weird circumstances with injuries and issues with the front office that led to his release, but the guy can still play as long as there are no unexpected issues with his recovery.

Let’s do word association for his remaining corners.
Tharold Simon - Thorrible (get it?)
Leodis McKelvin - Old
Jayshawn Jordan - Who?

Jonah: Collins is an absolute stud and so is Davis, they’re true shutdown corners and no one signed Davis when he was released so he’s good.  McKelvin was young enough to be a starting cornerback last year and Jayshawn Jordan is a homer pick but like I said 94 tackles six picks this past year.  If he played at a bigger school he’d be in the NFL.  As a fellow draft nerd I appreciate a lot of your cornerback picks, but there’s usually a reason guys who are drafted that high wash out early and it’s never a good thing.  My favorite pick of yours is Ifo.  He was a first rounder until he had that grisly injury.  That being said, if he’s back to 80% of what he was before the injury he’s a great pick.  As I said in my write up, I’ve got an eye of Cliff Harris another standout cornerback from the University of Oregon if I can confirm he’s not in jail.

Joe: Jonah, your definition of absolute stud must be different than the rest of the world’s. Absolute studs can be massive headaches for their team, but because they are absolute studs, teams will deal with the headache. Davis has been too much of a headache for two teams, and Collins didn’t take long to be too much of a headache for one. Davis is definitely good, Collins might be, but we aren’t talking about Darrelle Revis in his prime here so don’t expect them to be much more than a speed bump for my boy Calvin Johnson.

Jonah: If Collins wasn’t suspended he’d be starting on an NFL team.  Someone will probably pick him up and let him serve his suspension next year, but that’s after he dominates the XFL.

Next time, we conclude the secondary with our safety selections.

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