August 27, 2010

Preseason power rankings: Cornerbacks

MORE RANKINGS: RB | WR | TE | C-G | OT | DE | DT | LB

Here is part eight of our preseason power rankings at each position.

We will update the power rankings each week during the regular season and release the final rankings for the season after the BCS title game.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

Here are the nation's top 20 cornerbacks. Next up: safeties.

CORNERBACK POWER RANKINGS

1. Patrick Peterson, LSU (6-1/222, Jr.)
BUZZ: Not surprisingly, Peterson was inconsistent as a true freshman in 2008 but started to live up to his massive high school hype last season. Peterson has good speed and athleticism (he possesses a 39-inch vertical leap), and has 93 tackles, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups in his career.

2. Aaron Williams, Texas (6-1/195, Jr.)
BUZZ: Williams is a big-time cover corner who's not afraid to stick his nose into the fray in run support. As a freshman, he blocked four kicks and returned an interception for a TD. Last season, he had three picks, including key grabs in wins over Oklahoma and Nebraska.

3. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska (6-1/205, Sr.)
BUZZ: Amukamara (pronounced Ah-moo-kuh-mara) has excellent coverage skills and big-play ability. Last season he established himself as one of the nation's premier corners, earning All-Big 12 recognition with five picks and 11 pass breakups. He also had 64 tackles and two sacks.

4. Trevin Wade, Arizona (5-11/185, Jr.)
BUZZ: Wade had five interceptions - returning one for a TD - and nine pass breakups last season. He has nine picks in his career and needs three more to break into the school's career top 10. He's also a solid tackler. Wade and Aaron Williams, the No. 2 corner on our list, both attended high school in Round Rock, Texas, but at different high schools.

5. Ras-I Dowling, Virginia (6-2/205, Sr.)
BUZZ: The ACC is loaded with good corners, and Dowling is the best. He heads into his fourth season as a starter with eight career interceptions and 28 pass breakups. Dowling's size/speed combo has NFL scouts impressed.

6. Brandon Harris, Miami (5-11/195, Jr.)
BUZZ: Harris was part of UM's big recruiting haul in 2008. Last season, he broke up 15 passes and ranked second in the nation with 1.31 passes defended per game. He also had two picks and forced two fumbles.

7. Kendric Burney, North Carolina (5-9/190, Sr.)
BUZZ: He has started all 38 games for North Carolina since his arrival on campus, and he has nine interceptions and 180 tackles in his career. Last season, he had three picks against Miami and set an ACC single-game record with 170 yards in interception returns against the Hurricanes.

8. Chimdi Chekwa, Ohio State (6-0/190, Sr.)
BUZZ: Chekwa is heading into his third season as a starter. He has three interceptions and 20 pass breakups in his career. He made a career-high 43 tackles last season.

9. Janoris Jenkins, Florida (5-11/184, Jr.)
BUZZ: After a standout season as a true freshman in 2008, Jenkins struggled at times last season as teams threw his way more often to stay away from All-America CB Joe Haden. But Jenkins looked to have regained his form in spring drills and should be a leading contender for All-SEC honors this fall. He is a sure tackler and has 77 tackles, five interceptions and 17 pass breakups in his first two seasons.

10. Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech (5-11/186, Sr.)
BUZZ: The Hokies always seem to have an All-America-caliber defensive back, and Carmichael is that guy this season. Last season was his first as a starter and he responded with six picks, six pass breakups, a sack, six quarterback hurries and 55 tackles.

11. Curtis Brown, Texas (6-0/180, Sr.)
BUZZ: Although somewhat overshadowed by teammate Aaron Williams, Brown is a solid corner with NFL potential. He's started 18 of the Longhorns' past 20 games. Last season, he posted 53 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

12. Brandon Hogan, West Virginia (5-10/189, Sr.)
BUZZ: Hogan is an All-American candidate who already has All-Big East credentials. He's a big-play threat and a shutdown corner with excellent speed. In '09, he 74 tackles, an interception and 11 pass breakups.

13. Davon House, New Mexico State (6-0/190, Sr.)
BUZZ: He plays for a bad program, but House has a lot of talent. Entering his fourth season as a starter, House was a first-team All-WAC selection in '09. He posted three interceptions and recorded 68 tackles last season. House scored touchdowns on interception and punt returns, and already owns the school record for career interception return yardage.

14. Shareece Wright, USC (5-11/185, Sr.)
BUZZ: A neck injury and academic ineligibility have plagued Wright's career, but when he is on the field, he's a force. Though academic issues kept him out of action most of last season, he regained eligibility for the Trojans' Emerald Bowl appearance and grabbed an interception in a win over Boston College. He played well as a starter in the first two games of '08 before a hairline fracture in his neck ended his season.

15. Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina (6-1/189, Soph.)
BUZZ: He's looking to be an even bigger factor than in '09 when he made virtually every freshman All-America team. Gilmore is a tremendous athlete who plays quarterback in the "Wildcat" formation. He's also a physical tackler. A year ago, he had an interception, broke up eight passes, had three sacks and forced two fumbles.

16. Anthony Wright, Air Force (5-10, 190, Jr.)
BUZZ: A third-year starter, Wright is a big-play threat who earned All-MWC recognition last season. He grabbed seven interceptions, including a school-record three of Houston's Case Keenum in the Armed Forces Bowl. He returned interceptions for touchdowns against San Diego State and Navy. He also scored on a punt return.

17. Brandyn Thompson, Boise State (5-10, 180, Sr.)
BUZZ: Although departed teammate Kyle Wilson received all the attention - and was a first-round pick - Thompson proved himself more than capable on the opposite corner. He has 10 interceptions in the past two seasons, including a team-leading six last fall. Thompson also made 45 tackles in '09.

18. Shaun Prater, Iowa (5-11, 180, Jr.)
BUZZ: He has great closing speed and is adept at making plays on the ball in the air. He started all 10 games in which he played in '09. He posted 25 tackles, had two interceptions and broke up eight passes and should be one of the top corners in the Big Ten this season.

19. Emanuel Davis, East Carolina (5-11/190, Jr.)
BUZZ: Though he had a shoulder injury that forced him out of several games, Davis led the Pirates with 12 pass breakups last season. He also had two interceptions and led the Pirates with 51 solo tackles; he had 69 tackles overall.

20. Neiko Thorpe, Auburn (6-2/186, Jr.)
BUZZ: No, the Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's premier defensive back, isn't named after him. But if he builds on his '09 performance Thorpe could become a serious contender for the honor. As a sophomore, Thorpe broke up 10 passes and intercepted two. He also made 84 tackles and forced a fumble.



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