NFL Draft 2013: Breaking Down Best Defensive Backs Available

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2013

November 3, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Matt Elam (22) during the first quarter against the Missouri Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most underrated positions in football is defensive back, be it corner or safety, and this year's draft pool has some good ones available. From those sure to make an impact from the get-go to project players, teams looking for help at this position should have plenty of options to choose from.

The fact is that though defensive back may not carry as much glory as quarterback, wide receiver or even linebacker, it's still a vitally important position. The men who play either cornerback or safety are those who shut down the opposing offense's passing game and also provide tremendous athleticism as a whole.

A number of teams are looking for help in that area in this year's draft, and should any of these men be available when their turn comes, the GM should not think twice when it comes to selecting them.


Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Speed is the name of the game in the NFL, and Milliner has plenty of it. The star corner of the reigning champion Alabama Crimson Tide ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at this year's NFL Scouting Combine, and he has good size for his position at 6'1", 197 pounds.

Milliner is sure to be taken quite early in the first round, but there is one red flag in his file: He has a torn labrum in his shoulder. Though he only expects to be in recovery for two months, that's still something that could be a concern.

Shoulder injuries are no joke in any sport, so teams should make sure that they have every bit of information on Milliner's shoulder well before the draft. The last thing any squad wants is a player who will spend more time on the trainer's table than on the field.


Matt Elam, S, Florida

Elam is small for safety at just 5'10", 202 pounds, but he has field vision that allows him to get involved quickly and read offenses quite well. Keep in mind that in three years with the Gators, he registered 176 total tackles with six interceptions.

Elam also proved to be a viable safety on the blitz, registering five sacks for Florida.

Granted, Elam probably won't be selected until late in the first round, and given how full of surprises drafts tend to be, there's every chance he won't be picked until Round 2. Just the same, whichever team lands him is going to have a special type of defensive back, one that plays harder and with more determination than most conventional safeties.


Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

If a team wants a corner with size, Rhodes is the man for that team at 6'2", 217 pounds. In three seasons with the Seminoles, he registered 140 total tackles and eight interceptions.

The fact is that Rhodes is a solid, old-school corner who's going to show up to work every day ready to play and, more importantly, to learn. His skill set is highly respectable, and while he may not be in the same league as Milliner, it'd be shocking to see him selected anywhere but the first round.