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2019 NFL Draft Preview: Will The Seahawks Select A New Nickel Corner?

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With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand on the Seahawks' 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.

The Seahawks currently hold four picks in the 2019 draft, which begins April 25 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Seattle's 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 21 overall; Round 3, No. 84 overall; Round 4, No. 124 overall; Round 5, No. 159 overall.

So far we've covered offensive line, defensive line, tight end, linebacker and receiver, and today we turn our attention to cornerback. Thursday we'll take a look at where things stand at running back.

Draft History Under Schneider and Carroll: Walter Thurmond (No. 111 overall, 2010), Richard Sherman (No. 154, 2011), Byron Maxwell (No. 173, 2011), Jeremy Lane (No. 172, 2012), Tharold Simon (No. 138, 2013), Eric Pinkins (No. 208, 2014: Pinkins later switched to LB), Tye Smith (No. 170, 2015), Shaquill Griffin (No. 90, 2017), Mike Tyson (No. 187, 2017), Tre Flowers (No. 146 overall, 2018).

Where The Seahawks Stand

In Pete Carroll's always-compete world, anything is possible, so we can't just assume that Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers will be Seattle's two starting cornerbacks in 2019, but the fact that the Seahawks are returning two talented young starters from last season is certainly a great place to start.

If those two do indeed end up winning starting jobs, the Seahawks should only get better as Griffin heads into his third season and Flowers his second, which is also just his second year playing the position having been a safety in college. Given how much growth Flowers showed in his first year at that position, he and the Seahawks expect his game to take a big step forward in 2019.

"He has been such a great guy to work with," Carroll said of Flowers at the NFL annual meetings last month. "He has been so tuned in and so dedicated to figuring out and uncovering the issues and concerns about playing the position. He's continuing to apply that to the offseason. We always tell you about the enormous jump guys make from Year 1 to Year 2; he'll come back with all of this history already in the books, and what I think we'll see—he's already a really aggressive player and he loves to get after the ball and make his hits, and he's a very good tackler and all of that—I think all of that is going to show up even more. He'll just be more confident and more sure of himself, and I'm expecting him to be a monster out there. Expectations are high, we're not going to count on him being the same, we want him to be better, and hopefully draw on the strengths that he has, because he's got obvious strengths in his size and his tackling ability and the physical side of it. His ability to knock the ball out and force fumbles really stood out last year, it's something we really cherish about his play, I think he can get quite a bit better there too. He's got guys challenging him though too, he's going to have to play well. He was very fortunate to play all those games last year and be healthy and make it through it for the experience and growth of that. But I can see Akeem (King) and Jeremy Boykins coming after it too, so that's good stuff, competition is always good."

As Carroll noted, King, who saw his playing time increase late last season in dime packages, will get a chance to compete for a starting job, but another way he could push for significant playing time is in the competition for the vacated nickel cornerback job. With Justin Coleman leaving in free agency, the Seahawks have an opening at what is essentially a starting position, and King is just one of several players with a chance to battle for that spot.

"He's going to be in the competition of it," Carroll said. "He did a really nice job. He's going to have a shot at the nickel spot as well. We played him in there in the dime situation and moved him in and out of there. He's bigger than other guys—got a big, solid frame and over 200 pounds. He has been really consistent, he's really fast and we like the heck out of him. From what he did last year we expand his role, see where he can take it and expect him to play for us on a regular basis."

Asked who else could battle for the nickel job, Carroll said, "Jeremy Boykins, I want to see what he does in there. He's real quick guy that did a really nice job for us. You guys don't know much about him. He's longer, he's more like Akeem is. Really feisty, really challenging guy. Kalan Reed will get a shot in there, too. We like what he does. He's played there before. We know that he looks good there as well. It's going to be a wide-open comp and we'll see how it goes."

All of that being said, there are a number of intriguing prospects in this year's draft the Seahawks could look to in order to bolster that group, and as a team that has had so much success drafting cornerbacks in the late rounds, you can never rule out the possibility that the Seahawks will try to find a player they can develop on Day 3 of the draft.

NFL.com's rankings of the top cornerback prospects in the 2019 draft.

NFL.com's Top 5 Cornerbacks

1. Greedy Williams, LSU

Overview (via NFL.com): Long, athletic cornerback who is more smooth and fluid than twitchy and sudden in his coverage. Williams has the instincts and tools to play a variety of coverages, but his length and pattern-matching talent will likely get him drafted to handle press-man duties. His ball production dropped a little from 2017 and he continued to struggle with finding the ball downfield, but he is rarely ever out of position. He needs to get stronger and more competitive in run support, but he has the talent and traits to become a CB1.

2. Byron Murphy, Washington

Overview (via NFL.com): Ball-hawking man corner who makes up for a lack of physical tools with outstanding instincts, toughness, and short-area quickness. Murphy's ball production per target is as good as you will find thanks to an innate ability to process the quarterback and route development simultaneously. His long speed is below average and will panic and start grabbing when he ends up in an unexpected trail position. His short-area twitch and run support toughness could make him an early target for teams looking for help at the nickel.

3. Deandre Baker, Georgia

Overview (via NFL.com): Pesky press corner who has proven he can thrive against man-to-man challenges in a competitive conference. Baker isn't a burner, but has good play speed and the foot quickness and pattern recognition to stay tight in his coverage. The biggest issue teams might have with Baker is determining whether or not he can give up 30-plus pounds against bigger, outside receivers and still hold up. While there might be some matchup concerns at times, his ball skills, talent and competitive nature should overcome his smaller frame.

4. Rock Ya-Sin, Temple

Overview (via NFL.com): Body-beautiful cornerback with good size and potential, but just one year of FBS football experience. Ya-Sin needs technique work across the board, but the ability to handle the duties of the position are all in place and waiting to be unlocked. He has the strength, toughness and feet to go from shadowing presence to a more disruptive one as a press-man corner. His lack of technique allows for some pitch-and-catch moments in coverage, but he has moldable traits to become a future starter with more experience and coaching.

5. Julian Love, Notre Dame

Overview (via NFL.com): Pure and simple, Love is a cover guy who possesses the feet, hips, instincts and competitiveness you want in a corner. He operates with outstanding technique from both man and zone, and his ability to anticipate and recognize routes allows for stickier coverage. He's more finesse than physical and his lack of top speed might need to be schemed around with certain matchups. However, Love's cover talent, intelligence and ball skills give him a good shot at succeeding outside or from the slot.

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