Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee
Draft Prospect Outlook:
High-cut "big" slot cornerback with plus blitzing skills and burst toward the quarterback. Plays with ultra-aggressive style and has underrated ball skills. Half strong safety, half slot corner. Will be a presence on outside runs. Downfield speed leaves a little to be desired.
The former four-star prospect out of the Nashville area enjoyed quite the welcome to college football by breaking a bone in his hand on the first kickoff he covered in 2014. The recklessly aggressive Gaulden played through the injury while contributing primarily on special teams as a freshman, and he was set to step into the starting nickel corner spot for the Vols in 2015 before suffering a season-ending foot injury during a punt coverage drill during an August practice. He finally ended his wait to become a defensive starter in 2016 and finished with 68 tackles, the third-best on the team.
Gaulden blossomed during his junior season in 2017, when he was arguably Tennessee's best player despite the team's overall struggles. Gaulden improved his coverage skills to become one of the better-graded cornerbacks in the SEC in defending opposing wide receivers. He finished with 65 tackles, one interception, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and five pass breakups and elected to capitalize on the strong season by entering the NFL draft a year early. -- Patrick Brown