This class of defensive backs in 2014 has big shoes to fill. The 2013 crop of back-end defenders was one of the best classes ever. Players like Vernon Hargreaves III, Eli Apple, Su'a Cravens, Antonio Conner, Vonn Bell and Max Redfield all were elite prospects in 2013.
Though it's early for the 2014 group, I'm not sure if it will compare to the 2013 class. But enough about recruits gone by—it is time we rank the top-10 secondary players of 2014. Cover safeties, drop-ends, field corners and more can be had with this national defensive back class.
Here are the 10 best of the bunch right now.
Players are getting bigger and bigger every year in the defensive backfield, especially at the cornerback position. Denson will do nothing to stop that trend as the Arizona native is a 6'1", 170-pounder.
Long and athletic, Denson can run with big wide receivers with ease. He shows quick feet, pressing ability and also may be a prospect as a WR.
He's committed to Arizona.
Another big CB, Watkins is a 6'1", 180-pounder who plays in Texas. He has a very good short burst to close on the ball, and he will attack it with his hands.
Watkins plays with good technique, dares QBs to challenge him and can make them pay. He has a knack for being around the ball all the time, evidenced by his five interceptions, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries as a sophomore alone.
Alabama, Michigan, LSU and Georgia are just a few offers, per 247Sports.com
Tabor is out of the D.C. area and has safety size at 6'1" but plays on the perimeter at CB. He's about 182 pounds right now and could be 195-200 starting his freshman year in college.
Tabor can play the boundary side at the CB position, as he will help in run support. He obviously has the length to press and can leap with big WRs with ease.
Notre Dame strikes me as a school where Tabor could end up.
Paris is one of the better safety prospects in the country for 2014—but don't sleep on him as a CB. He can cover and has good range.
I do like him as a free safety, but CB could be an option for the 6'1", 190-pounder from Texas. Paris sees the field well, can get off the hashes with transition quickness and has good ball skills.
He's wanted by many of the heavyweights.
Jones has the size of a LB at 6'2" and 200-210 pounds. He plays with smooth athleticism, good speed and range.
His skill set has the makeup of a FS, but Jones' size and ability to track the run could see him play a rover/SS/drop-end role too. His versatility and solid instincts have him on track to being a solid starting safety in college.
I think he'll stay in the South, perhaps at LSU or Alabama.
Jackson is a 5'10', 172-pound CB from Los Angeles with quick-twitch athleticism and explosiveness; he can be electric with the ball in his hands.
He shows quick feet in his back-pedal, stays balanced and has great transition quickness. Jackson doesn't back down from bigger opponents, and if he picks a ball off, he usually is a threat to return it for six.
LSU and USC may be two schools to watch.
Just because Brown is No. 4 on this list doesn't mean he's not a 5-star caliber prospect, because he certainly is. From Texas, Brown is a big 6'0", 180-pounder who loves to press receivers at the line.
He's very smart, has a good feel for routes even when he's in trail position and plays with great confidence. Brown will also get some looks as a safety; he reminds me a tad of Aaron Ross.
He's got offers from just about everywhere you can name.
From Alabama, Humphrey has outstanding instincts for a young CB. He's aware of what's going on, can play on the field or boundary and has a high ceiling.
Humphrey stands 6'1", weighs about 175 pounds and looks a lot like Maurice Smith as a prospect. Interestingly enough, Humphrey could join Smith at Alabama.
Wahoos247 is reporting that Blanding will make his college decision in a week. From Virginia, I think he will end up a Cavalier.
Blanding would be a huge win for Mike London, as he would be landing a player whom I expect to be a multi-year team captain. Blanding is a 6'2', 200-pound safety that I've termed a more physical version of Max Redfield.
His instincts, athletic ability, speed and range along with his size likely will get him on the field early in college.
Peppers is the top DB on my board, but he could easily be classified as an ATH. He's 6'1", 205 pounds and listed as a CB, but safety probably is where he will play in college.
If he doesn't become a good RB or dynamic WR, that is. Even OLB is not out of the question.
See, Peppers is a great all-around player who can do just about anything. He's smart, instinctive, has outstanding athleticism, speed and quickness. I compare him to Su'a Cravens.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.