Top Returning ACC Cornerbacks For 2017

    Who’ll emerge from a deep group of talented contenders to be the top ACC cornerback for 2017?

    March 13, 2017

    In a deep crop of returning ACC cornerbacks for 2017, who’ll climb to the top of the talented defenders.


    It could be a challenging 2017 for ACC quarterbacks, who no longer have Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, Nate Peterman, Brad Kaaya and Jerod Evans to count on. Plus, the league will be home to a handful of very good corners, from Tarvarus McFadden in Tallahassee and Jaire Alexander in Louisville to a host of potential lockdown types in Blacksburg. McFadden versus Alexander ought to be especially interesting, since the juniors’ trajectory could impact both the upcoming season in the ACC as well as the opening round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Top Returning ACC Cornerbacks

    5. Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech

    When Facyson announced he’d be returning for his senior year, it solidified that the Hokies would have the deepest cornerback corps in the ACC in 2017. Facyson, Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander are all talented, experienced and long. The 6-foot-2, 197-pound Facyson has started 36 career games, despite being saddled with knee and leg problems. He played all 14 games a year ago, leading Tech with 11 pass breakups, but he hasn’t intercepted a pass since picking off five as a rookie in 2013.

    4. M.J. Stewart, North Carolina

    Stewart is back for one final season to anchor the back end of the Carolina defense. He’s a versatile and active playmaker for the Heels, earning All-ACC recognition in each of the last two years. At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, Stewart is also thicker and more physical than most corners, allowing him to defend the run and outmuscle receivers on 50/50 balls. His production dipped in 2016, though he still produced 66 stops, 3.5 tackles for loss and team-highs with 11 pass breakups, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

    3. Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech

    A late-season ankle injury aside, last season was a turning point in Stroman’s college career. Before the Nov. 5 injury versus Duke, he was emerging as one of the league’s toughest pass defenders, affording opposing quarterbacks a small window in which to complete passes. The 6-foot, 180-pound Stroman has the length to match taller receivers, and his coverage skills are advanced. Despite missing more than three games, he still picked off three passes, broke up 10 and wound up on the All-ACC Third Team.

    2. Jaire Alexander, Louisville

    Confidence. Instincts. Speed. Alexander possesses the tools of an elite pass defender, which is what he hopes to become in 2017. He’s an explosive all-around athlete, both on special teams and in the Cardinal secondary. And the swagger he brings to the field resonates throughout the locker room and Papa John’s Stadium. Alexander, who earned Second Team All-ACC after picking off five passes in 2016, unleashed a 4.32 forty during offseason testing, which will further improve his NFL Draft grade.

    1. Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

    The Noles really needed a defensive back to step up in 2016 after the graduation of Jalen Ramsey and an early injury to star S Derwin James. McFadden delivered in a huge way as a sophomore by tying for the nation’s lead with eight interceptions to earn First Team All-ACC and the Jack Tatum Award, which is given to the nation’s premier DB. And he’ll only get better with more reps and seasoning. If the 6-2, 198-pound McFadden can build off last season, it’ll be tough to see him remaining in Tallahassee in 2018.

    MORE: Top Returning Cornerbacks In College Football For 2017

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