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Best Defensife Backs 



 

Special to NFL.com

The University of Miami's top five defensive backs either exhausted their eligibility or declared early for the draft and all five might get drafted, including three in the first round. The Big XII will also be well-represented here. 
 

PHILLIP BUCHANON, MIAMI

Height: 5-11
Weight: 182
Birthdate: Sept. 19, 1980
ANALYSIS
Hurricanes coach Larry Coker has compared him to Shawn Springs of the Seattle Seahawks and Duane Starks of the Baltimore Ravens. People from Fort Myers, Fla., Buchanon's hometown, dare to compare him to another Fort Myers native -- Deion Sanders. How good of a cover corner is he? He did not allow a touchdown pass in his entire career at Miami. Even if he's not the best DB in the draft, he might be the first picked because he also is a game-breaking return man. In 2001, he ran back two punts for touchdowns and had two 60-yard kickoff returns. The team once clocked him at 4.2 in the 40. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "He reminds a lot of scouts of Bills corners Nate Clements and Antoine Winfield. They are both shorter corners who can cover but hit bigger than their size, too."
Pete Prisco, CBS SportsLine.com
"He's as good as anyone I've coached."
Larry Coker
"Buchanon could be the best pure man-on-man cover guy in the country He does have the great hips, feet and suddenness scouts look for in a corner."
Joel Buchsbaum, Pro Football Weekly
MOMENTUM
He's holding steady as an early- to mid-first-round pick, but with his lack of height, a subpar 40 time at the combine could adversely affect his status.

QUENTIN JAMMER, TEXAS

Height: 6-1
Weight: 200
Birthdate: June 19, 1979
ANALYSIS
He covers receivers like a cornerback, and hits them like a safety. He began his college career at safety but was moved to cornerback after a shoulder injury forced him to miss almost all of the 1999 season. He deflected 20 passes and intercepted three others in 2000. He decided to stay for his senior season and became a consensus first-team All-American. In 2001, he deflected 24 passes and did not allow a touchdown reception during the regular season. He helped the Longhorns defense allow only 236.2 yards per game and 4.77 yards per pass, both the lowest in Division I-A. Jammer is strong, and his experience at safety helped make him an aggressive physical corner. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "A bigger, more physical corner who reminds some of former Longhorn Bryant Westbrook, now with the Lions." 
Pete Prisco, CBS SportsLine.com
"If he gets his hands on you in bump-and-run coverage, he's almost impossible to beat."
Texas defensive coordinator Carl Reese
"There is not a cornerback in this nation who hits harder than Quentin Jammer."
HoustonProFootball.com
MOMENTUM
He is projected to go as high as No. 6 in the first round, according to the various mock drafts. Jammer could be the first cornerback taken in the draft, but which position he eventually will play in the NFL is not certain.

MICHAEL LEWIS, COLORADO

Height: 6-1
Weight: 215
Birthdate: April 29, 1980
ANALYSIS
An excellent run defender and a big hitter, Lewis finished the 2001 season with 112 tackles, 14 third-down stops and five interceptions, and made several All-American teams. He had 117 tackles and four forced fumbles in 2000. Has been compared to Philadelphia Eagles free safety Brian Dawkins. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Michael Lewis is an absolute mack of a player."
CollegeFootballNews.com
"He has good size, speed and range, and he can plant and drive on the ball. A good hitter and tackler, he will often play up in the box."
Joel Buchsbaum, Pro Football Weekly
"Lewis led the Buffs with (112) tackles while handcuffed in Gary Barnett's aggressive 3-4 scheme."
Tom Ward, Daily Illini
MOMENTUM
Coaches like his size and aggressiveness. But at the combine, Lewis may have to answer questions about how Oregon ripped the Colorado secondary in the Fiesta Bowl. 

EDWARD REED, MIAMI

Height: 6-0
Weight: 198
Birthdate: Sept. 11, 1978
ANALYSIS
Football News named Reed its National Defensive Player of the Year. He was twice a consensus All-American. He was considered the heart and soul of the Miami secondary. He was also the oldest member, thus his nickname "Papa Smurf." Made 17 interceptions in his final two seasons, and returned three for touchdowns in 2001. He also blocked four kicks in his college career, and was considered an excellent run-stopper. Reed has been compared to Brian Dawkins and future Hall of Famer Rod Woodson. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "A free safety prospect, Reed is better in coverage than run support. Packs a wallop for his size. Has athleticism and instincts."
Dan Pompei, The Sporting News
"The thing I like about Ed is that not only does he talk, he backs it up by making plays. Anybody can talk. I like to see action. Ed makes things happen."
Larry Coker
"You better know where Reed is when you are running your route. Then you better find him after you catch it, because when he comes to make that play or make a tackle, he'll cut you in half."
Virginia Tech WR coach Tony Ball
MOMENTUM
Most likely a first-round pick. There may be more impressive physical specimens available at DB, but Reed seems to have the maturity and instincts to be a successful pro right away. 

MIKE RUMPH, MIAMI

Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
Birthdate: Nov. 8, 1979
ANALYSIS
Rumph and Buchanon on opposite corners? No wonder the Hurricanes went 12-0. Rumph is the tallest of the elite cornerbacks in this draft, but he's probably best known for his left knee, which last November got in the way of a Boston College pass that turned into a Miami interception return for a touchdown when the Eagles were trying to upset the Hurricanes late in the game. He had no interceptions in 2001 but broke up eight passes. He broke up 10 in 2000 and had four interceptions in 1999. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "He's overlooked because he takes receivers out of the game. People think he's not out there making plays, but he's kind of like a Charles Woodson quarterbacks just don't want to throw Mike's way."
Former teammate James Lewis
"Mike Rumph is a tall, speedy corner with long arms, tremendous cover skills and a burning desire to get better. To put it more succinctly, he's a coach's dream."
HoustonProFootball.com
MOMENTUM
Rumph is all over the place in the mock drafts, from the top half of the first round all the way down into Round 2. Rumph was terrific when the best secondary in college football was surrounding him, but he will have to show the scouts something more at the combine. 

LITO SHEPPARD, FLORIDA

Height: 5-10
Weight: 194
Birthdate: April 8, 1981
ANALYSIS
Like Buchanon, Sheppard is a strong cover corner who excelled on punt returns. But Sheppard is even shorter than Buchanon. His penchant for making big plays (six interceptions, two punt returns for touchdowns) helped make him an All-American as a sophomore but his numbers dipped in 2001 (two interceptions) when opposing quarterbacks stopped throwing his way. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Big plays at critical times. He changed the momentum of games. He's as good as I've coached in his ability to make plays."
Former Florida defensive coordinator Jon Hoke
"Lito Sheppard has Deion Sanders' abilities, with less glitter. Not so much motor in the young mouth. Lito's flair for memorable, game-busting moments, it triggers flashbacks to when ol' Neon was so special at Florida State."
Hubert Mizell, St. Petersburg Times
MOMENTUM
Sheppard is coming out early, so he might have more upside. For the most part, he is pegged to go in the second round, but he a team looking for a return man might take a gamble on him in Round 1.

LAMONT THOMPSON, WASHINGTON STATE

Height: 6-2
Weight: 213
Birthdate: July 30, 1978
ANALYSIS
Ended a great career at WSU by snatching a career-high 10 interceptions, tops in Division I-A. He also led the Cougars with 93 tackles and 13 pass breakups. He was selected to the Associated Press All-American first team, was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and was the Sun Bowl's most valuable player. During his college career, also saw action at CB and returned a few punts. His 26 career INTs is a Pac-10 record. He started only four games as a freshman but had six interceptions. Missed the 2000 season with a neck injury, but bounced back strongly. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "He runs like a corner and hits like a linebacker."
CollegeFootballNews.com
"Don't throw where No. 19 is. You have to be aware of where (Thompson) is. He has license to read eyes, and takes advantage when the ball is in the air."
Washington coach Rick Neuheisel
"Thompson is a big, athletic safety who can really run. At times, he seems to have the hands and ball skills of a wide receiver."
Joel Buchsbaum, Pro Football Weekly
MOMENTUM
It's hard to get attention in Pullman, Wash., especially when you miss a season. But Thompson turned heads when he intercepted four UCLA passes in one game. An impressive combine performance could propel him into the middle of the first round. 

ROY WILLIAMS, OKLAHOMA

Height: 6-0
Weight: 220
Birthdate: Aug. 14, 1980
ANALYSIS
Came out early after winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the top collegiate defensive player and the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the best defensive back. In his three-year career with the Sooners, he had nine interceptions, seven sacks and 29 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. In 2001, he set career highs with 101 tackles, five interceptions and a school-record 22 passes broken up. Oklahoma associate head coach Mike Stoops called him "bad-bodied" and "pear-shaped" when Williams joined the Sooners, but he worked himself into becoming an All-American.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Normally a safety wouldn't be rated this high, but this one is special. He is big, fast and some teams even think he can play nickel linebacker in passing situations."
Pete Prisco, CBS SportsLine.com
"Big enough to possibly play LB, and certainly tough enough, Williams is a ferocious hitter who reads the run well and actively participates in stopping it."
HoustonProFootball.com
"Williams is part outside linebacker, part strong safety, part free safety and part cornerback, not to mention a total pain in the neck to offenses. He's a deadly concoction whose versatile skills allow him to play in any down-and-distance situation."
Tom Dienhart, The Sporting News
MOMENTUM
Coaches will love his versatility, especially when they want to use a nickel or dime package.
 
OTHER CORNERBACKS
NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT
DaShawn Abram Wyoming 6-3 203
Bennie Alexander Florida 5-9 180
Rashad Bauman Oregon 5-8 185
Tony Beckham Wisconsin-Stout 6-3 190 
Jykine Bradley Middle Tennessee State 5-10 182 
Bruce Branch Penn State 5-11 190 
Sheldon Brown South Carolina 5-10 190 
Richard Bryant West Virginia 6-0 170 
Chris Cash USC 5-11 170 
Jermaine Chatman Arizona 5-11 177 
Crance Clemons UTEP 5-10 165 
Dante Coles Temple 6-2 207 
Keyou Craver Nebraska 5-10 190 
Adrian Duncan Wake Forest 6-1 185 
Mike Echols Wisconsin 5-10 170 
Travis Fisher U. Central Florida 5-10 175 
Markese Fitzgerald Miami 5-11 180 
Willie Ford Syracuse 6-2 195 
Teddy Gaines Tennessee 6-0 165 
LaVar Glover Cincinnati 5-10 178 
Andre Goodman South Carolina 5-10 180 
Orlando Green Arkansas 5-11 200 
Cedric Henry Michigan State 5-10 182 
Errol Hood North Carolina 5-11 195 
Todd Howard  Michigan  5-10  180 
Joseph Jefferson  Western Kentucky  6-0  195 
Andre Lott  Tennessee  5-11  185 
Omare Lowe  Washington  6-0  200 
Melvin Mitchell  Western Kentucky  6-1  205 
Tony Okanlawon  Maryland  5-11  193 
Kris Richard  USC  6-0  180 
Derek Ross  Ohio State  6-1  197 
Tierre Sams  Fresno State  5-9  170 
Antuan Simmons  USC  5-9  172 
Eric Sims  Eastern Kentucky  5-11  180
Steve Smith  Oregon  6-1  190 
Calvin Spears  Grambling  6-0  190 
Bo Springfield  Texas Christian  5-11  185 
Erwin Swiney  Nebraska  6-0  185 
Kevin Thomas  UNLV  5-11  180 
Tim Wansley  Georgia  5-8  180 
Dante Wesley  Arkansas-Pine Bluff  6-3  212 
Roosevelt Williams  Tuskegee  6-1  205 
Ashante Woodyard  Purdue  6-2  205 

 
OTHER SAFETIES
NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT
Muhammad Abdullah Illinois  6-1  195 
Marques Anderson  UCLA  6-0  205
Terreal Bierria  Georgia  6-2  208 
Dion Booker  Nebraska  6-1  205
Sam Brandon  UNLV  6-3  200 
Jack Brewer  Minnesota  6-1  185
Ryan Clark  LSU  5-11  185 
Nate Coggins  West Georgia  6-1  201
Kevin Curtis  Texas Tech  6-3  215 
Dan Dawson  Rice  6-2  200 
Bobby Gray  Louisiana Tech  6-1  209
Billy Dee Greenwood  North Carolina  6-2  185 
Corey Harris  Arkansas  5-10  200 
Quentin Harris  Syracuse  6-0  205
Chris Hope  Florida State  6-1  195
Ralph Hunter  Virginia Union  6-2  200
Bobby Jackson  Illinois  6-1  210 
Tony Jackson  Maryland  6-1  210
Stephon Kelly  Winston-Salem State  6-2  205
Chonn Lacey  Temple  6-2  217
Marquand Manuel  Florida  6-0  205 
Kevin McCadam  Virginia Tech  6-1  208
Jon McGraw  Kansas State  6-3  200
Brandon Nash  Arizona  6-1  215
Billy Newman  Washington State  5-10  197 
Willie Offord  South Carolina  6-1  207 
Jermaine Phillips  Georgia  6-1  205 
Pig Prather  Mississippi State  6-3  195
Jamonte Robinson  Missouri  6-2  207 
Jeremy Robinson  Massachusetts  6-2  195 
Rick Sherrod  West Virginia  6-3  195 
Bobby Sippio  Western Kentucky 6-3  215 
Jason Stephens  UCLA  6-2  192 
Frank Strong  USC  6-1  220 
Glenn Sumter  Memphis  6-1  200
Syniker Taylor Mississippi 6-0 195
Lenny Walls  Boston College  6-4  191
Ramon Walker  Pittsburgh  6-0  195
Brian Williams  North Carolina State  6-0  200
Chad Williams  Southern Mississippi  5-11  200
Tank Williams  Stanford  6-3  210
Coy Wire  Stanford  6-1  215
Chris Young  Georgia Tech  6-0  200
....