Best Defensive Backs
Mar. 28, 2002
This year's defensive back class is loaded with quality prospects and is one of the deepest positions in the draft. There are many players in the elite category, but this class is about as deep as any class in the last several years. Here's a look at where we see the prospects going on draft day.
Jammer is the complete package. He's excellent in coverage, while dominating as a hitter in the run game. He hasn't been challenged a lot in the past couple years, but in the NFL he will be challenged a lot. He will take a little time to develop, but has the goods to be an elite cornerback at the next level for a long time to come.
Ranking: No. 4, 1st Round.
If you didn't get a chance to see Williams play at Oklahoma you really missed out. The word that best describes him is "playmaker". He's an absolute terror against the run and on the blitz. If he has a weakness, it may be in coverage. He's somewhat inexperienced in coverage, but seems to have all the skills to develop that area of his game.
Ranking: No. 7, 1st Round.
Reed is one of the best free safety prospects to come out in the past several years. He always seems to know where to be and has great ball skills. He's a solid tackler and will deliver a big hit from time to time. He's good enough in coverage to possibility move to corner if needed.
Ranking: No. 18, 1st Round.
Rumph is the prototype big corner. He developed the reputation as a shutdown corner, and was rarely tested his junior year. This past season he was tested more and struggled somewhat. He is sound in coverage; but seems to lose focus at times. Considering the influx of tall receivers, Rumph should be a hot commodity on draft day.
Ranking: No. 20, 1st Round.
Buchanon is a smaller corner with great man-to-man coverage skills. He doesn't offer much for run support. He also made a name for himself as an explosive return man in college. Overall, we see his lack of size to be a real issue that pushes him down in our rankings a bit.
Ranking: No. 28, 1st Round.
Sheppard is one of the better all around corners in this class. He's solid in all areas of the game, and also brings some return skills to the table. His height may be a slight issue, but his leaping ability should make up for it. Overall, he's not flashy in any phase of the game, but very solid and well rounded.
Ranking: No. 34, 2nd Round.
Ross is an underclassman who could have used another season in college. He's pretty raw at this point, but is athletic and has shown good coverage skills. He's not a complete player at this time but may develop into a very good corner in a couple years.
Ranking: No. 37, 2nd Round.
Thompson may end up being the best safety in this class. This kid is exactly what the NFL scouts are looking for, except for one thing. He has a past history of a neck injury, which has teams throwing up a red flag. He looks to be fully recovered from the injury, but it will cause him to slide some on draft day.
Ranking: No. 50, 2nd Round.
Craver is one of the more inconsistent corners in this class. He's a big hitter, but struggles a lot in coverage. He also recently suffered a neck injury in an all-star game, which may affect his draft day status. He may be better suited to move to free safety.
Ranking: No. 60, 2nd Round.
Lewis is a versatile player who should fit as a strong safety in the NFL. He's better against the run, but is above average in coverage. He didn't stand out too much in college and may be a late bloomer.
Ranking: No. 63, 2nd Round.
McGraw is a very athletic player who should prove to be very versatile. He could play either safety position and also may be matched up as a nickel corner.
Ranking: No. 64, 2nd Round.
Prather is in the same mold as Oklahoma safety Roy Williams. The main difference is that Prather has some injury concerns. The past two seasons, he's had shoulder problems and at the end of the 2000 season he tore an ACL. This past season he appeared to be almost 100 percent healthy. If it weren't for the injury concerns, he would project to be a much higher pick.
Ranking: No. 67, 3rd Round.
Echols is an undersized cover corner. He's very solid technique wise, and also brings good run support for his size. Overall he looks like a solid cornerback. Heath issues (Diabetes) may scare some teams off.
Ranking: No. 73, 3rd Round.
Williams is a big run stuffing strong safety. He lacks a lot in coverage skills, and seems pretty limited at this point. If he adds weight he may be moved to weakside linebacker. If he stays at his current weight, he'll likely be limited to special teams and nickel linebacker.
Ranking: No. 81, 3rd Round.
Walker is another underclassman who could have used an additional year in school. He is a raw prospect who lacks many of the traits of a NFL safety. He plays like a strong safety, but doesn't have good size. He's a playmaker, but doesn't look to be a good fit right now.
Ranking: No. 82, 3rd Round.
Wiliams is a small college prospect. He didn't always dominate at the lower level, which may not bode well for him at the next level. He's a very good athlete, with good size. At this point he's a project with good upside.
Ranking: No. 86, 3rd Round.
Phillips is a former wide receiver with a couple of seasons at safety under his belt. He wasn't overly impressive, but steadily improved over the course of the past two seasons. Overall he has skills, but isn't completely developed.
Ranking: No. 91, 3rd Round.
Walls played cornerback in college but projects as a free safety in the NFL. He has very good coverage skills and but for his size isn't good enough against the run. He has a shot to develop into a good player if he can make the position switch.
Ranking: No. 100, 4th Round.
Bierria is a raw prospect that declared after his junior year. He definitely could have used another season of college ball to improve. Right now he plays basically on athletic ability alone. He has a long way to go to develop, but has a ton of potential.
Ranking: No. 105, 4th Round.
We see Brown as the sleeper of this class. He's one of the most fundamentally sound cover men in the group. The only knock on him is his height, which he makes up for in leaping ability.
Ranking: No. 107, 4th Round.
Jefferson was a dominant player in Division I-AA. He has ideal size and speed along with excellent cover skills. The only real question is whether he can step up and play in the NFL. Overall he's a marginal prospect due to the level of competition he faced.
Ranking: No. 116, 4th Round.
Hope is a solid, yet unspectacular, free safety prospect. He seems to get by on positioning himself and reading the play. He doesn't look like an NFL caliber safety, but could be a solid backup and play special teams.
Ranking: No. 125, 4th Round.
Manuel is a strong safety, lacking the overall game to start anytime soon in the NFL. He needs to bulk up, but this may affect his coverage ability in a negative way. Right now he looks like a special teams player with potential to develop as a safety.
Ranking: No. 128, 4th Round.
Thomas is an elite cover corner that lacks the size and speed needed at the next level. He was very productive in college, seemingly getting by mostly on his knowledge of the game. He has potential if he can continue to make up for limitations.
Ranking: No. 133, 5th Round.
Lott is one of those players that everybody thought would be an elite player, but never quite developed. He has played safety and was moved back to corner this past season. Lott has the ability to start in the NFL if he can develop the mental part of his game.
Ranking: No. 137, 5th Round.
We see Fitzgerald as a potential draft day steal. He never started in college, but did see a lot of action. Consider he was backing up two potential first round corners (Rumph and Buchanon), and it brings us to assume he probably would've been starting about anywhere else. His size should attract a lot of attention on draft day.
Ranking: No. 140, 5th Round.
Anderson is a smaller run-stuffing safety. His coverage skills aren't currently good enough to warrant a move to free safety. He has talent, but needs time to develop in coverage. He also had some off the field issues that caused a suspension early in his college career.
Ranking: No. 145, 5th Round.
Smith is a big corner who is thought to be to slow to play the position in the NFL. We see him as a possible late round surprise. He may have to move to safety, but corner is where he belongs. He seems to be one of those players who's not as gifted as some but still gets it done. We feel he can be an above average corner at the next level.
Ranking: No. 148, 5th Round.
Green has good size and speed and is also very experienced. The problem is he never stood out. He was always solid, but never spectacular. He doesn't look to be more than a backup prospect.
Ranking: No. 151, 5th Round.
Bauman is one of the better cover corners in this class, yet is the smallest of the group. He also has a history of knee problems, which will greatly hinder his draft day stock. Overall he's too small to be more than a situational player, and his knee problems will cause a lot of teams to shy away.
Ranking: No. 155, 5th Round.
Israel is a very marginal prospect. He has good physical tools, but seems somewhat lost on the field. He'll have to make his way on special teams, and may develop as a safety down the road.
Ranking: No. 174, 6th Round.
Lowe played both corner and safety in college. He was a very good college corner, but may not end up there in the NFL. He should have a decent shot at developing into an above average player at either position.
Ranking: No. 176, 6th Round.
Richard is a nice physical specimen, with very limited experience. At one time he was thought of as a great prospect, but injuries kept him from playing almost his entire college career. He has a lot of potential if he can stay healthy.
Ranking: No. 185, 6th Round.
Sams lacks size, but is very fast. He has excellent coverage skills. He projects, at best, to be a possible nickel back.
Ranking: No. 193, 7th Round.
Young is a versatile prospect. He played corner this past season, playing safety before that. He's athletic enough to play either position but he's a developmental prospect at this point.
Ranking: No. 205, 7th Round.
Offord is a big hitter with very limited coverage skills. He'll have to make a place for himself as a special teams player, and try to develop his strong safety skills in order to ever see playing time.
Ranking: No. 213, 7th Round.
Williams is a tweener. He played cornerback most of his college career, but never showed great coverage skills. He may be moved to free safety. He's a project with good upside.
Ranking: No. 216, 7th Round.
Sherrod is a free safety that lacks the coverage skills to play the position at the next level. His knack for hitting should help him earn a special teams job.
Ranking: No. 220, 7th Round.
Williams was a very good college safety that lacks the size to play safety in the NFL. He has potential as a situational backup and special teams player.
Ranking: No. 222, 7th Round.