NFL Combine: All vying for top spot, best cornerbacks in draft give Eagles options

NFL Combine: All vying for top spot, best cornerbacks in draft give Eagles options

INDIANAPOLIS -- Florida's Teez Tabor doesn't just think he's the best cornerback in the 2017 NFL draft.

He thinks he's the best player in the draft.

"That’s just the confidence I have in myself," he said, "and the ability I have to play the game of football."

Confidence is not lacking for the young cornerback. In fact, based on his media availability at the combine, confidence is oozing out of him. 

That confidence -- some might call it cockiness -- showed in just about every answer he gave Sunday afternoon. He said the NFL teams he's met with so far "without a doubt" like that confidence.

So which teams have shown him the most interest?

"Really everybody," Tabor said chuckling. "I mean, it's hard not to like a player like me."

While Tabor would clearly have himself at the top of the cornerback rankings in this year's draft, there's plenty of debate about that. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranks the corners in this order: 1. Sidney Jones, 2. Marshon Lattimore, 3. Marlon Humphrey, 4. Tabor, 5. Tre'Davious White.

But there are a lot more than that in this draft. The class is incredibly deep at corner and there are expected to be starters taken well into the fourth round.  

While the Eagles have signed plenty of "Band-Aids" at corner in free agency in the past, general manager Howie Roseman said the team doesn't want to force it anymore. He'd be willing to have a bare cornerback group until the draft. And if the Eagles want to take a corner in the first round, they'll have plenty of options. 

Among the top five on Mayock's list, as of Sunday afternoon, the Eagles had formally met with Jones, Lattimore and were scheduled to meet with Humphrey. There are plenty of options throughout the draft at corner, but here's a look at those top five guys.

1. Sidney Jones, Washington
Jones is Mayock's top corner in the draft for good reason. He's already being compared to another Huskies' product: two-time Pro Bowler Marcus Peters.

"I'm a lockdown corner," said Jones, who had a formal interview with the Eagles. "I'm an all-around corner. I give you instincts, ball skills and great football IQ. I'm a team player."

Jones didn't do the bench press at the combine -- he'll do it at his pro day on March 11 -- but said he'll compete in everything else. He has a chance to solidify his spot as the best of a very good bunch.

Despite his slender frame -- 6-foot-1, 186 pounds -- Jones isn't afraid to hit.

"I'm very aggressive," he said. "It's something I take a lot of pride in. I was a free safety until my freshman year of high school. Being a hitter is something that is always in my heart."

2. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Lattimore is a fascinating story because 2016 was the first year where he really got a chance to play and he was dynamic. He had four interceptions and nine pass breakups last year.

The big question about Lattimore -- and the one he hears from every NFL team he's met with, including the Eagles -- is about his hamstrings. Hamstring injuries forced him to miss the 2014 season and flared up again in 2015, ending that season early. Lattimore, a redshirt sophomore in 2016, has worked hard to leave his hamstring issues in the past.

"Just doing something different," he said. "It's not luck at all. I did yoga, I did extra exercises, stretching, all of that. It's no luck in that."

Lattimore said he knew this season was going to be different when he made it through preseason camp without the injuries flaring up. Then he went out and had a great season a year after his former Ohio State teammate Eli Apple (from Voorhees, New Jersey) was a first-round pick of the Giants.

"It's a lot of talent here from top to bottom," Lattimore said. "A team's going to get a great player in the fourth round just like they would in the first round. It's a deep draft and I'm honored to be considered one of the top cornerbacks in this draft. Just coming from where I came from, it's a blessing."

3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
While most of the guys on this list come from schools that churn out defensive backs, Alabama isn't one of them. Still, Humphrey is considered a really good prospect.
 
He's the son of former Crimson Tide running back Bobby Humphrey, which meant plenty of added pressure for the defensive back. But he handled it all really well.

"I think my best attribute is my speed and toughness," said Humphrey, who had a formal interview scheduled with the Eagles for Sunday night. "I think I can run with any guy. I think I can run with just about anybody." 

Humphrey said in most of his meetings with teams, the negative get more time than the positives.

"The negative feedback is just finishing the play, top of the route, things like that," he said.

4. Teez Tabor, Florida
The big question about Tabor is his speed, but he'll get a chance to put those fears to rest Monday on the field.

The biggest positive for Tabor is his aggressiveness on the field. Aggressiveness, of course, is a trait Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz really seems to value a ton.

"My passion for the game of football," Tabor said when asked where his aggressiveness comes from. "I'm not going to sit back and watch it happen. I'm going to make it happen."

The other question about Tabor isn't about his performance on the field. A failed drug test and a fight with a teammate have been focal points of his conversations with NFL teams.

5. Tre'Davious White, LSU
White, a senior in 2016, followed a long line of really good defensive backs to come from LSU. He's very close with Eagles' second-year corner Jalen Mills. White credited LSU's coaches with getting their guys ready to play at the next level.

White is the kind of guy who is used to being on an island, which is something he'd be asked to do in Philly. As of Sunday afternoon, he hadn't had a formal interview with the Eagles but had talked informally with them. He was also at the Senior Bowl.

"I don't want to leave no question marks," White said. "I can pretty much do it all. I played inside and outside at a high level. I played a game at safety at the end of my junior year, so I have a high football IQ and know how to play all three positions in the defensive backfield at a high level."

NFL Notes: NFL looking to speed up games via officiating and breaks

NFL Notes: NFL looking to speed up games via officiating and breaks

NEW YORK -- The NFL is making plans to speed up the pace of games, including changing how video replays are handled and using a time clock for extra points.

The league also is discussing with the TV networks how to make commercial breaks less intrusive.

For officiating replays, the referee no longer would go under a hood to watch a play. Instead, a tablet will be brought to him on the field and he will consult with league headquarters in New York. The final call will be made in New York.

Support by 75 percent of the 32 team owners would be needed at next week's annual meetings for passage of the proposal.

In addition to a time clock for PATs when there is no TV break, the league is considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown.

Also, to improve the flow of games on the field and for television audiences, commercial breaks would be reduced from 21 per game to 16, although each would last 30 seconds longer.

Giants: RB Shaun Draughn signs
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have signed veteran running back Shaun Draughn.

The Giants announced the signing Wednesday, a little more than a month after releasing veteran Rashad Jennings in a salary cap move.

Draughn has played for six teams in six years, most recently the San Francisco 49ers. He has played in 57 games with seven starts. His career totals include 225 carries for 723 yards and seven touchdowns, plus 80 receptions for 597 yards and two scores. He also has 17 special teams tackles.

Draughn says the Giants were interested in his versatility. He says: "I don't know exactly how they'll use me. I'm sure they'll use me to the strengths that I have."

Draughn played in all 16 games last season with one start for the 49ers. He scored a career-high four touchdowns while rushing for 194 yards on 74 carries. Draughn also had career-best totals of 29 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns.

He joins a backfield that includes second-year pro Paul Perkins, the team's top returning rusher, Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen.

Bengals: 'Pacman' Jones faces misdemeanor charges
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones faces three misdemeanor charges, including assault, but no longer is charged with a felony.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (DEE'-turs) announced Wednesday that a felony charge of harassment with a bodily substance was dismissed at the prosecuting attorney's request.

Deters said the misdemeanors also include disorderly conduct and obstructing official business.

The 33-year-old veteran whose career has been marked by off-the-field legal issues was jailed Jan. 3 after a confrontation with a hotel security employee was followed by a struggle with Cincinnati police and a sheriff's office report Jones spit on a nurse's hand.

Deters says the criminal charge won't be pursued, given that the nurse has been pursuing a possible civil remedy.

A Bengals spokesman said the team has no comment.

Two Eagles question why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned

Two Eagles question why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned

Two weeks into NFL free agency and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains available. He decided to test the market in free agency after not picking up the player option on his contract.

While there's still a chance Kaepernick gets signed, a couple of Eagles players are pointing out that some of the quarterbacks to get contracts recently aren't as good.   

On Monday, Geno Smith signed with the Giants, Josh McCown signed with the Jets and E.J. Manuel signed with the Raiders.

Kaepernick has a better record and completion percentage than those three quarterbacks. He's also second in touchdown passes, trailing only McCown by seven, 79-72, despite playing nine fewer seasons.

So, why aren't teams giving the quarterback who nearly won the Super Bowl against the Ravens in 2013 a chance?

It could be because of his protest of the national anthem last season.

According to Bleacher Report, about 20 percent of teams around the league believe he can play, but the others are simply using showing no interest as punishment for his protest:

"He can still play at a high level," one AFC general manager said. "The problem is three things are happening with him.

"First, some teams genuinely believe that he can't play. They think he's shot. I'd put that number around 20 percent.

"Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.

"Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can't stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won't move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did."

And of course, President Donald Trump chimed in on Kaepernick's status in free agency.

Last year, Trump commented on Kaepernick's decision not to stand for the national anthem saying, ​"maybe he should find a country that works better for him."