The obvious answer is of course that’s a possibility. The more pertinent question for the Green Bay Packers is: what are the probabilities of drafting a cornerback who can significantly aid the team this year?
I went back to 2010, and looked at rookie cornerbacks who were named to the All-Rookie team by Gil Brandt of NFL.com or, when they did not coincide, by the Pro Football Writers Association. Here’s the list (draft = overall draft selection, honors include second-team All-Pro selections):
|Year||Draft||Player||Team||Other NFL Honors|
|2010||7||Joe Haden||Browns||All-Pro, 2 Pro Bowls|
|2010||27||Devin McCourty||Patriots||3 All-Pros, 2 Pro Bowls|
|2011||5||Patrick Peterson||Cardinals||3 All-Pros, 6 Pro Bowls|
|2011||154||Richard Sherman||Seahawks||4 All-Pros, 4 Pro Bowls|
|2012||62||Casey Hayward||Packers||1 All-Pro, 1 Pro Bowl|
|2012||39||Janoris Jenkins||Rams||1 All-Pro, 1 Pro Bowl|
|2013||22||Desmond Trufant||Falcons||1 Pro Bowl|
|2013||69||Tyrann Mathieu||Cardinals||1 All-Pro, 1 Pro Bowl|
|2015||18||Marcus Peters||Chiefs||2 All-Pro, 2 Pro Bowl|
|2015||51||Ronald Darby||Bills||PFF Def. Rookie of the Year|
The list consists of nine first-rounders, four second-rounders, one third-rounder and three others. Bear in mind that in a typical year, four to five cornerbacks are drafted in the first round.
I would therefore say that the probability is low that a first-round cornerback will be able to hold his own on the field in 2017 – as a rookie. Worse for the Packers, all nine of the above first-round picks were chosen prior to when the Packers get to choose this year, at overall pick number 29.
If the Packers don’t pick a cornerback in the first round and instead wait until the second round, the prospects for help from a rookie all but disappear. The Packers did once defy those odds though, when they selected Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward in 2012.
This is not to say you can’t get a quality cornerback in round one or even round two, but I’m confining myself here to someone who can help right away, not as he develops. For example, Xavier Rhodes (25th pick in 2013) has developed into a fine cornerback for the Vikings. Stephon Gilmore (10th pick in 2012) just signed with the Patriots at $13 million per year. Dre Kirkpatrick (17th pick in 2012) just re-signed with the Bengals at $52.5 million for five years.
To wait until after the first round for the kind of cornerback the Packers desperately need is to be hoping to get lucky.
What this adds up to is that the odds are poor the Packers will fill their foremost need in the upcoming draft. An exception would be if the Packers could move up in the draft to the middle of the first round, which they should attempt to do.
There’s an even better option: acquiring a proven NFL cornerback via a free agent signing or a trade. The Packers missed out on most of these opportunities, but not all. The pickings are slim, but it only takes one player.