Cornerback Kyle Fuller is sneaking up the NFL draft boards.
Since the NFL Combine in February, most of the debate on who is in the best corner in the draft has focused on Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State) and Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State).
Both are good, no doubt.
Fuller got the nod as the top corner from NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock during a conference call on Thursday.
“Kyle Fuller is one of my favorite players in the whole draft,’’ Mayock said. “What's interesting about the corners is that most of the personnel guys have (Bradley) Roby and (Justin) Gilbert as their highest-rated corners just because they have better movement skills. Most of the coaches like Fuller and Dennard because they're better football players today. You know what you’re getting. Fuller is my No. 1 corner, first-round corner.’’
Fuller is one of several defensive backs who have had pre-draft visits with the Lions. That also includes Dennard, Gilbert and Roby.
It’s possible the Lions could draft a cornerback with their 10th overall pick, or they could trade down a few spots and possibly nab one of these four corners.
Kyle Fuller is intriguing. His brother Corey, a wide receiver, was selected by the Lions in the sixth round of last year’s draft. Corey Fuller was a track athlete who made the move to football and played just two seasons in college, so was still raw and spent the season on the practice squad.
Their older brother, Vincent, played safety for six seasons for the Tennessee Titans (2005-10) and one game for the Lions (2011). Younger brother Kendall was a freshman this season. All the Fullers attended Virginia Tech.
Mayock isn’t the only analyst who likes Fuller.
"I think that his instincts and recognition skills are very good. He’s calm. He doesn't get rattled, when you study him on tape,’’ ESPN’s Todd McShay said in a conference call on Tuesday. “He knows when to take a chance and when to gamble and when not to. And his ball skills are outstanding. Excellent ball awareness, tracks the ball well, 38- inch vertical jump, plucks the ball away from his frame, confident hands, is confident going when he attacks the football."
McShay is also impressed by his tackling skills.
“That is one thing I’m starting to value more and more. It’s not just run support but after the catch. Teams are throwing more screens, more underneath stuff, quick hitters, than ever before in the NFL. And with these spread offenses and a lot of the shorter throws, you’ve got to be able to tackle as a cornerback,’’ McShay said. “And there are some guys in this draft that don’t. And it scares me. And Kyle Fuller is one of the guys who really excels in that area.’’
Speed had been a concern for Fuller who is coming off sports hernia surgery in November. But he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the Combine.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. Thursday with the first round. There seems little doubt now that Kyle Fuller will be a first-round selection.