NFL Draft

Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley has cover skills NFL teams desire

31 December 2015: Oklahoma Sooners tight end Mark Andrews (81) battles with Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (25) in action during the College Football Playoff Semifinal - Orange Bowl Game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Clemson Tigers at Sun Life Stadium, in Miami Gardensm FL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

After flirting with the idea to follow the rest of his secondary teammates to the NFL, Clemson corner Cordrea Tankersley opted to become the only starting member of the Tigers’ 2015 defensive backfield to return for 2016.

Coming off a successful junior campaign, his first as a starter, he led the team in interceptions with five and pass breakups (11). Tankersley is hoping to continue evolving his game so that next year, at this time, he will have joined other Clemson (cornerback) alums like Byron Maxwell, Marcus Gilchrist, Coty Sensabaugh, Bashaud Breeland and Mackensie Alexander in the NFL.

Tankersley possesses good size at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, with long arms and quick feet that a lot of today’s NFL teams are looking to acquire. His quickness and agility allow him to change directions without needing to slow down, which in turn permits him to keep pace and mirror the receiver — near the line of scrimmage as well as downfield in coverage. Tankersley also displays the ability to run step for step with a receiver across the field maintaining proper distance to either make a play on the ball or limit the yards after the catch.

When lined up in press coverage, Tankersley stays low and balanced in his stance. He is able to get his arms extended and turn and open his hips in one motion as he covers the receiver downfield. In confined areas of the field, like the red zone, Tankersley does a good job of maintaining contact with the receiver and keeping his body in position to make a play on the ball.


While Tankersley is asked to play both press and off coverage for Clemson, he looks to be more comfortable as a press corner where he is able to better utilize his aforementioned length and quickness.

Tankersley also displays good ball skills as he’s able to put to use his receiving ability (former high school receiver) and reel in five interceptions. He possesses good hands to go along with those long arms, and if he is not able to reel in the interception, he is at least in position to deflect the ball away.

As a run defender Tankersley has shown that he is willing to come downhill, square up his shoulders and wrap up ball carriers. He does a nice job of attacking the runner’s legs, wrapping up and securing the tackle. On tape, Tankersley appears to have been one of the better open field tacklers Clemson had in their secondary last season.

A couple of areas where you would like to see Tankersley improve on this season revolve around his technique while coverage.

Tankersley has to do a better job of turning his head and locating the ball as he is downfield covering a receiver. When scouting Tankersley you noticed that on a number of the completions he did allow, if he had just turned his head and located the play he was in position to make, he could have intercepted the ball or deflected it away.

Secondly, Tankersley has to improve his footwork at the top of the route. Receivers were able to turn him around or get him off balance as they reached the top of their route and were able to easily stem Tankersley.

Both of these appear to be minor technique issues that hopefully Tankersley will clean up as a senior as he enters his second full season as a starter and gains added experience.

As previously mentioned, when scouting Tankersley, you get the feeling that he has the skillset and tools necessary to develop into a cover corner at the NFL level. His size, length and ball skills will be sought after as the NFL continues to evolve into a passing league, and finding corners who can cover is becoming a higher priority for almost every team.

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