The Cleveland Browns are in an enviable position when it comes to the cornerback position.
The club selected Denzel Ward in 2018, then added Greg Newsome II in 2021 and Martin Emerson Jr. in 2022 to form a talented trio to combat the league’s various passing attacks.
While the position is in good hands with those three, the drop-off from there is somewhat steep, which could lead general manager Andrew Berry to select a cornerback in the draft for the third consecutive season.
One possible name to keep an eye on, thanks to Dane Brugler’s seven-round mock draft at The Athletic, is Maryland cornerback Jakorian Bennett, so let’s dive in with a look at Bennett.
Name: Jakorian Bennett
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 188 pounds
College: Maryland Terrapins
Stats (4 seasons): 28 games, 24 starts, 69 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 31 passes defended, 5 interceptions
Relative Athletic Score
Jakorian Bennett is a CB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.58 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 92 out of 2171 CB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/sW9Yavgwa4 #RAS pic.twitter.com/9mLgs04ERd— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 4, 2023
Average “Big Board” Position As of Publishing Date
150th Overall (NFL Mock Draft Database)
TDN Consensus Grade: 74.50/100 (Fourth-Round Value)
PFF Big Board Rank: 146
What an Expert is Saying
Pros and Cons
Bennett is quick, which you like in a defensive back, which also comes in handy as he is a cornerback who “coverage tends to lack the needed anticipation and discipline to stay connected to NFL route runners,” according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, so that speed comes in handy when he loses the man he is supposed to be covering. That also leads Bennett to grab receivers and pick up a penalty in the process.
He was still a productive player in college, one that showed an upward trajectory as his overall defensive grades from Pro Football Focus increased from 58.5 in 2020 to 66.8 in 2021 and 71.8 last season.
Bennett is also a willing participant in defending the run, according to The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez:
Bennett’s technique also allows for him to be an asset in run defense. Bennett does a fairly good job of closing to blockers and inserting himself on run plays becoming a willing tackler on the perimeter.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler sums it up by pointing out that Bennett’s athleticism and ability to get on the ball make him a player who can contribute as a rookie:
With his ball skills, he displays an innate ability to judge and disrupt the catch point, although teams must be comfortable with the tradeoff, which is his aggressive propensity to draw flags. Overall, Bennett’s lack of discipline mid-route and at the catch point created rough patches on tape, but his cover speed and knack for getting his hands on the football are traits that will follow him to the NFL. He will compete for gunner reps and defensive snaps as a rookie.
Browns Player Drafting Could Impact
The Browns have a solid cornerback rotation with Ward, Newsome II and Emerson Jr., so they are safe at the top level. (Don’t worry about those “reports” about Newsome wanting out.) After that, it would be a grab bag, although Cleveland continues to show loyalty to A.J. Green three years into his career. That leaves Mike Ford Jr. and Thomas Graham Jr. as the players who would be sweating out a roster spot if the Browns pick up another cornerback, although Ford is the self-proclaimed best gunner in the league, so he might be sweating less than Graham.
Low to Medium: Given that the NFL is a passing league, you can never have enough defensive backs on the roster. And given that both Ward and Newsome have missed a handful of games the past two seasons, more depth at the position is always nice.
But the Browns have other issues along the roster that need addressing, so cornerback may not be high on Berry’s wish list for draft weekend. But if he is interested, Bennett could be a player to watch given that he would be an asset on special teams and would need to be counted on to play significant snaps on defense as a rookie, which would give him some time to work out the flaws in his game.