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Which CBs in the 2021 NFL Draft meet the Packers’ athletic benchmarks?

With the Packers’ preference for elite agility and good size at corner, there are few individuals who fit the team’s ideals perfectly.

Arizona v Stanford Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers love quick cornerbacks, and they don’t want short ones. If you have followed the team’s drafts over the past several years, you have likely heard about these preferences over and over again, but they remain valid.

The Packers simply do not draft cornerbacks shorter than 5-foot-10. Additionally, the team almost exclusively drafts cornerbacks with a 3-cone time in the 6.8s or faster. Every one of the Packers’ 12 cornerback draft picks since 2008 has met the height criterion, and ten of the 12 have met the 3-cone number.

Green Bay has a rough maximum in terms of long speed for the team’s corners, but that is a much less stringent number than the value for the 3-cone drill. Although 8 of the 12 picks ran faster than 4.48, the other four (including three second-round draft picks in Josh Jackson, Casey Hayward, and Quinten Rollins) had Combine 40 times in the mid-4.5s.

Likewise, the Packers have shown that they prefer fast shuttle times, drafting six players with a shuttle time under 4.13 seconds. This may actually be more important for them in the early rounds, as five of the seven players drafted before round four were sub-4.1. While we did not filter out slower shuttle times here, keep that in mind when looking for potential early picks at this position — and this may actually help one player whose size is questionable.

Finally, we come to RAS. Of those 12 players, seven had a RAS over 8.00, with a total of nine players being above 7.00. In more recent history, the last four corners drafted (Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Jackson, and Ka’Dar Hollman) were all above 9.00. All of those four picks since 2017 also met each one of the following benchmarks, which we will use as the final numbers:

  • Height > 5100
  • 40 time < 4.58
  • 3-cone time < 6.90
  • RAS > 7.00

Perfect Fits

Among players generally receiving a draftable grade, there are just six cornerbacks who hit all of the Packers’ cornerback preferences based on available data, and none of them are projected as first-round draft picks. Those players are as follows:

  • Paulson Adebo, Stanford
  • Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas
  • Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota
  • Zech McPhearson, Texas Tech
  • Marco Wilson, Florida
  • Nate Hobbs, Illinois

All of these players are generally rated as late second-day or third-day players, so this may be the group of corners to watch on Friday if Green Bay drafts a player at a different position in round one. Notably, everyone in this list except Adebo and Hobbs ran sub-4.10 in the shuttle as well, with both of those two coming in under 4.20.

Where are the top prospects?

However, the potential first-round players are all either excellent athletes in their own right who either chose not to run agility drills at their Pro Days or were just outside the Packers’ traditional sub-6.90 cone time. Greg Newsome II and Asante Samuel, Jr. were both in the 6.9s, with Newsome reportedly running a 6.90 flat and Samuel coming in at 6.95 and 6.98, depending on your source. Given Newsome’s size and general athleticism (RAS of 9.66), that 6.90 is almost certainly enough to put him on the board, though a 4.26-second shuttle time would be a little outside the team’s general early-round preferences. We’re keeping Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, and Caleb Farley on the board as well because of their general profiles and draft stock.

To keep this consistent across the full draft class, I have decided to include a handful of additional corners whose 3-cone times fall in the 6.90-6.99 range or who did not perform agility drills but who have exceptional overall workouts as indicated by a RAS of 8.00 or more. Those players are listed in italics in the table below to signify them as borderline prospects.

Finally, we included Samuel despite a few borderline tendencies. He just squeaks in at the “you must be this tall to be a Packers CB” level, measuring in at 5-foot-10-1/8. Brian Gutekunst said at last year’s NFL Combine that Jaire Alexander (5-foot-10-1/4) was right at the “Mendoza Line” for the Packers on cornerback height, which is what led us to extend the height cutoff to 5-foot-10 so long as players fit all of the other benchmarks. The Packers also have shown significant interest in Samuel, meeting with him virtually multiple times and sending Gutekunst to Florida State’s Pro Day. And although his 3-cone time is also borderline in the mid-6.9s, he does have an elite shuttle time, which helps his case. Samuel’s RAS comes in at about 7.5 thanks to his small stature and just okay explosiveness numbers, though, so it would not be a shock if he were off the team’s board or at least not rated as a first-rounder.

The Full Board

Based on athletic testing, here’s the full list of players we project for the Packers’ board at CB. Players in bold hit every benchmark; players in italics were borderline on the 3-cone; and others were missing agility testing numbers.

2021 Packers CB Board

Name College Proj. Round Height Weight 40 official 3-cone 20 Shuttle RAS
Name College Proj. Round Height Weight 40 official 3-cone 20 Shuttle RAS
Patrick Surtain II Alabama 1st Round 6020 208 4.41 DNP DNP 9.96
Jaycee Horn South Carolina 1st Round 6006 205 4.40 DNP DNP 9.99
Caleb Farley Virginia Tech 1st Round 6017 197 No workout No workout No workout No workout
Greg Newsome II Northwestern 1st Round 6000 192 4.38 6.90 4.26 9.66
Asante Samuel Jr. Florida State Day 2 5101 180 4.45 6.95 4.09 7.46
Aaron Robinson UCF Day 2 5114 186 4.38 6.90 4.31 8.36
Eric Stokes Georgia Day 2 6005 194 4.29 6.96 4.36 9.37
Paulson Adebo Stanford Day 2 6010 198 4.44 6.69 4.13 9.55
Robert Rochell Central Arkansas Day 2/Day 3 5116 193 4.39 6.84 4.08 9.65
Benjamin St. Juste Minnesota Day 2/Day 3 6032 202 4.52 6.63 4.01 8.12
Ambry Thomas Michigan Day 2/Day 3 5117 191 4.40 DNP DNP 8.96
Shaun Wade Ohio State Day 3 6005 196 4.43 DNP DNP 9.65 (estimated)
Zech McPhearson Texas Tech Day 3 5105 196 4.50 6.84 4.03 9.56
Marco Wilson Florida Day 3 5115 191 4.34 6.80 4.09 9.99
Brandon Stephens SMU Day 3 6001 213 4.44 6.99 4.29 9.20
Rodarius Williams Oklahoma State Day 3 5116 189 4.52 6.95 4.18 8.13
Brandin Echols Kentucky Late Day 3/UDFA 5101 179 4.35 6.84 4.12 9.15
Nate Hobbs Illinois Late Day 3/UDFA 5113 196 4.46 6.85 4.17 9.61
Nick McCloud Notre Dame UDFA 6001 193 4.44 6.93 4.16 8.34
Jason Pinnock Pittsburgh UDFA 6004 204 4.45 6.90 4.10 9.78

Note that there is one player increasingly mentioned with the Packers of late who does not appear on this list: Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu. Although he had a RAS of 9.70, he didn’t quite break through the 7-second mark on the 3-cone drill (7.01 reported), leaving him off the list.

Stay tuned for more positional draft boards in the coming days!