I've written about it several times in this space and I'll say it again: It isn't easy to be a cornerback in today's NFL. Offenses are designed more than ever to take advantage of matchups, and if there is a weak spot in a defense, an offensive coordinator will find it and keep going back to the well until the defense can stop it.
For a rookie cornerback, this presents issues because a lot of the time he will be identified as that weak spot by default. D-coordinators will try to give help as much as possible, but for blitzes to be executed there have to be one-on-one matchups on the outside -- and as a high pick, they're expected to play early on. They have to play with their eyes, their feet and their hands -- and they have to be a willing tackled to succeed. And receivers are bigger, stronger and faster than they are in college.
A rookie corner will get beat no matter how talented he is, but his success will be largely influenced by how he responds to that failure. Mental toughness, recovery speed, change-of-direction ability, an understanding of how offenses attack and ball skills are all vital to success.
This year's class of cornerbacks doesn't have the same buzz as last year's crop, but there are still some good players available. However, there isn't a guy who is a complete corner. Some of the top guys have several of the traits you look for, but no one possesses the complete package like a Patrick Peterson.
Here are my top five cornerbacks in the 2014 class.