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Is Cornerback a Redskins Draft Need?

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Heading into the April 28-30 NFL Draft, the Redskins have apparent needs along the defensive line and at outside linebacker. The safety position was shored up with the pickup of free agent O.J. Atogwe.

And then there's cornerback.

DeAngelo Hall leads the group coming off a Pro Bowl campaign, but it's uncertain if Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon are going to return for another season. Third-year corners Kevin Barnes and Byron Westbrook have shown flashes but don't have a great deal of experience.

The Redskins could look to add to the position in the draft.

Coaches and personnel officials will find a cornerback crop that has two elite prospects in LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara. Both are expected to be top 10 picks in the draft.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock says cornerback depth drops off after Peterson and Amukamara, but there is intriguing talent expected to be available in later rounds.

Here's a look at the cornerback prospects in the draft:

-- PATRICK PETERSON, LSU

Peterson is widely regarded as the top cornerback prospect – the 6-1, 211-pounder has been compared to the Dallas Cowboys' Terence Newman. Peterson, a classic speedster at cornerback, started three years for the Tigers and improved each season, finishing with a career-high four interceptions last season. He was a consensus first-team All-American and earned the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. He's also a cousin, interestingly enough, of wide receiver Santana Moss.

-- PRINCE AMUKAMARA, NEBRASKA

The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Amukamara is close to Peterson in terms of talent – and some teams may have him ranked higher on their draft board due to his tackling skills. Amukamara, 6-0 and 206 pounds, was a three-year starter for the Cornhuskers and posted five interceptions in his junior season. As a senior, he posted a career-high 13 passes defended.

-- JIMMY SMITH, COLORADO

There has been a lot of buzz about Smith in the days leading up to the draft – some gurus have him rising due to his athleticism while some have him falling due to character concerns. Of the top prospects, Smith has the best size at 6-2 and 202 pounds and he brings elite speed, but he reportedly admitted to drug use during college. A two-year starter, teams rarely threw in his direction, as evidenced by his two career interceptions and 15 passes defended.

-- RAS-I DOWLING, VIRGINIA

Dowling was thought to be a first-round prospect heading into his senior season at Virginia, but he struggled with knee and ankle injuries and played in just five games. Dowling, 6-1 and 200 pounds, recorded eight interceptions in his college career. He grades out well at most measurables, so if he can prove his health, he could be a steal in the early rounds.

-- RASHAD CARMICHAEL, VIRGINIA TECH

Carmichael could be next in a long line of Hokies cornerbacks in the NFL, including Redskins' DeAngelo Hall and Macho Harris. A native of Clinton, Md., Carmichael is a 5-9, 185-pound speedster. He started the last two seasons, playing man and zone coverage and logging 105 tackles, 10 interceptions and 13 pass break-ups. He was part of a Hokies defense that ranked second in total interceptions in college football.

-- KENDRIC BURNEY, NORTH CAROLINA

Burney emerged as a top-tier prospect after a standout performance at the Senior Bowl last January. His 5-9, 181-pound frame could work against him, though. In four years for the Tar Heels, Burney recorded 11 interceptions, including a career-high five in 2009. He has shown good instincts and reads coverage well, but the concern is he could struggle against taller receivers.

-- BRANDON HARRIS, MIAMI

Harris possesses great speed, toughness and smarts at cornerback. The negative? He has questionable hands. (That's a trait that Redskins fans may frown upon.) Harris, a three-year starter for the Hurricanes, logged four career interceptions while breaking up 28 passes. He was a solid tackler in run support.

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