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2016 NFL Draft Preview: Will the Seahawks Find Another Late-Round Steal at Cornerback?

A look at where the Seahawks' roster currently stands at cornerback, and at some of the top prospects in this year's draft.

With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand with Seattle's roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

Seattle currently holds nine picks in the 2016 draft, which begins on Thursday, April 28 in Chicago. 

Round 1 | Pick 26 | No. 26 overall

Round 2 | Pick 25 | No. 56 overall

Round 3 | Pick 27 | No. 90 overall

Round 3 | Pick 35 | No. 97 overall*

Round 4 | Pick 26 | No. 124 overall

Round 5 | Pick 34 | No. 171 overall*

Round 6 | Pick 40 | No. 215 overall*

Round 7 | Pick 4 | No. 225 overall (from Dallas) 

Round 7 | Pick 26 | No. 247 overall

* - Compensatory Pick (compensatory picks cannot be traded).

So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines, running backs, linebackers and receivers, today we shift our focus to cornerbacks.

Draft History (Under Schneider and Carroll)

CB Walter Thurmond* (No. 111 overall, 2010)

CB Richard Sherman (No. 154, 2011)

CB Byron Maxwell* (No. 173, 2011)

CB Jeremy Lane (No. 172, 2012)

CB Tharold Simon (No. 138, 2013)

CB Eric Pinkins (No. 208, 2014; Pinkins later switched to LB)

CB Tye Smith (No. 170, 2015)

* signifies a player no longer with the team.

Where the Seahawks Stand

The Seahawks have arguably had more success drafting cornerbacks than any other position group under Schneider and Carroll. Richard Sherman, a fifth-rounder, has become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, while recent starters like Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell were sixth-round picks. Brandon Browner, a starter for three seasons, was signed out of the CFL; DeShawn Shead, a starter for part of last season, was undrafted, as was Marcus Burley, who has made significant contributions in the past two seasons since being acquired in a trade with Indianapolis; and fifth-round pick Tharold Simon has shown flashes when healthy.

Part of Seattle's success with late-round or undrafted cornerbacks has to do with the scouting department's ability to find talent where others might miss it, but another big piece of the puzzle is the way coaches are able to develop players. Of all the players mentioned above, only Browner was a starter right off the bat, which speaks to the way the Seahawks like to bring their cornerbacks along slowly to make sure they can master the scheme and technique they are asked to use in Seattle's defense.

So does that mean the Seahawks, who have never taken a cornerback before the fourth round under Schneider and Carroll, absolutely won't take a corner in the first two days of the draft this year? Not necessarily, but it would probably take a pretty special talent to break that trend, because the Seahawks feel good not just about their ability make the most out of late-round picks at corner, but about what they have at corner heading into 2016.

While things didn't work out with 2015 free-agent signing Cary Williams, the Seahawks liked what they saw out of Shead and Lane late in the season after releasing Williams, with those two splitting time between right cornerback and the nickel cornerback spot. The fact that both of those players, who have different talents and physical traits, can play both spots, as well as the presence of Burley, gives Carroll the kind of flexibility he says he has not previously had in his time in Seattle. Also added to the mix this offseason is Browner, who re-signed with Seattle after two years away, and the Seahawks have some young depth—Simon, Tye Smith, Mohammed Seisay and others—that has yet to prove itself on the field, but that has the potential to contribute.

Take a look at NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5 cornerbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Cornerbacks 

*1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Press ­cover corner with disruptive length to fluster receivers and the makeup speed/leaping ability to stymie downfield attacks. Ramsey made more plays on the ball from the slot last year, but his ability to jam and trail receivers limited playmaking opportunities this year. Ramsey has all-­pro potential and traits, but could use a little more bravado and attitude play in and play out.

2. Vernon Hargreaves, Florida

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): While scouts have voiced some concerns about Hargreaves' size and recovery speed, you won't find anyone who doesn't admire his competitiveness and consistency of production. Hargreaves has a level of suddenness and explosiveness in his movements that should always have him near the ball. With top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts that drew praise from Alabama's Nick Saban, Hargreaves possesses the football makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback.

*3. William Jackson III, Houston *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Tall cornerbacks with length who can run and play the football are usually in high demand and that could be the case for Jackson as well. While he has the traits for the position, the league is turning into small and fast or big and strong at the receiver spot and handling those two elements could take a year or two for him to improve in before he becomes a full-­time starter.

*4. Eli Apple, Ohio State *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com):Highly recruited two­-year starter who is entering the draft as a draft eligible redshirt sophomore. Apple's size and strength allows him to compete against physical receivers, but he also has the talent to mirror and match as a man defender. Covering for longer could be challenging early on after playing with talented defensive fronts who ravaged quarterbacks. Apple will have to learn to trust his feet rather than grabbing so often or he'll find that quarterbacks and refs will find him often.

*5. Artie Burns, Florida  *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): While his tape is average and technique can be non­existent at times, NFL teams often draft on traits at the cornerback spot and assume that coaching will take care of the rest. Burns has length, speed, ball skills and abundant potential. Keep in mind he was limited in his growth at the position thanks to a spring track schedule, but he is still in the infant stages of reaching his pro potential.

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