Best Fits for the Top 10 Uncommitted DB Recruits in Class of 2014
Stocking talent in the secondary is crucial for defensive success, especially with many teams having more sophisticated passing attacks today. There is much talent to be had at the position, but the challenge for college coaches is to recruit the defensive backs who are the best fits for their schemes.
Many top defensive back prospects still remain uncommitted, including a cover man from Texas who compares to Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson. Alabama has its eyes set on a legacy recruit, and the big cornerback just so happens to be a potentially seamless fit into the Tide's defensive scheme.
Several safeties on this list are so versatile and skilled that they lack any scheme limitations.
10. Dravon Henry, CB
Henry is a 5'11", 181-pounder from Aliquippa High School in Pennsylvania. His high school is used to producing top-flight defensive backs, as it is where Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis prepped.
Henry has great versatility, as he can play both cornerback and safety. On the perimeter, he fits best when he can sit off a receiver, give his man cushion and let his instincts and closing ability make plays.
He is not the fastest defensive back, which is why safety could be his best long-term position. A good fit for Henry would be at Penn State, where his versatility and cover quickness would give a jolt to the Nittany Lions defense.
9. Nick Watkins, CB
A big cover man at 6'1", 185 pounds, Nick Watkins is a talented player who hails from Dallas. The Texan has a chance to develop into a star on the collegiate level.
Aside from having great size for his position, Watkins is a smooth athlete who makes instinctive plays on the field. He can play effective man coverage due to his ability to mirror receivers and drive quickly out of his backpedal.
Watkins would be a great fit in a scheme that puts an emphasis on man coverage. On the recruiting front, keep an eye on the program in South Bend.
8. Parrker Westphal, CB
At 6'0", 186 pounds, Westphal is the type of defender who has a knack for always being around the ball. He is coming off a season where he picked off three passes, broke up another three, forced three fumbles and made four tackles for loss from his CB position.
The top player at Bolingbrook High School in Illinois, Westphal shows classic traits of a cover-2 corner. He is a physical player who excels in zone coverage and has outstanding closing quickness.
He would fit in well at Stanford, Vanderbilt or Michigan.
7. Marshon Lattimore, DB
Marshon Lattimore plays at Glenville Academy in Cleveland, which is a pipeline program to Ohio State. So should he choose to not sign with the Buckeyes, a shock would be felt throughout the state of Ohio.
Although he is listed as a cornerback prospect on most lists, Lattimore's future may be at safety. He can play on the perimeter, but to take advantage of his range, instincts and ball skills, he should be played in the deep middle.
Lattimore playing offense is also a real possibility when he gets to college.
6. Jamal Adams, S
From Texas, Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties in the country. He is 6'0", 200 pounds and would be a great fit in any defensive scheme.
He is gifted on the back end, showing great play speed, awareness and athleticism.
Adams is also effective versus the pass due to his ability to read routes, quickly transition out of his backpedal and jump passing lanes.
He is not afraid to stick his nose in the box versus the run, displaying quick ball-location ability and a willingness to fill alleys. He stirs up memories of 2013 safety prospect and Ohio State signee Vonn Bell.
5. Laurence Jones, S
At 6'2", 208 pounds, Laurence Jones is big safety from Louisiana who can take on many responsibilities on the field. He fits best in schemes where he can be allowed to patrol deep halves or be the lone single-high safety.
Jones has remarkable range for such a large defensive back. He shoots out of transition in a flash and has a noticeable burst when attempting to get his hands on the football.
He is likely to sign with LSU.
4. Jalen Tabor, CB
Jalen Tabor is a 6'1", 188-pound press-corner who plays at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C. He is at his best when he rolls up tight on a receiver and jams his release at the line.
Tabor would ideally be a good boundary corner in college. In that role, his ability to explosively press a receiver in both tight-man or cover-2 coverage and defend the run would be weapons for a defense.
The experts at 247Sports say he'll either sign with Florida or Florida State.
3. Marlon Humphrey, CB
Marlon Humphrey has similar size to fellow top 2014 cornerback prospect Jalen Tabor, but there is a contrast in their skill sets. While the latter likes to press receivers, the former is more comfortable in off-man coverage.
The 6'1", 179-pound Humphrey is a great athlete with loose hips. His anticipation, awareness and instincts are among the best in the nation. The best fit for Humphrey is to go to a program that features more zone and off-man coverages on the back end.
Humphrey would be an excellent fit at Alabama.
2. Adoree' Jackson, CB
Adoree' Jackson is such a gifted athlete that the 5'11", 185-pounder can fit well into many various schemes. He has the hip flexibility, foot quickness, recovery speed and closing burst to play well in man coverage.
Jackson also has surprising strength and is a tough guy who will fight any receiver on any play. He has the instincts and natural feel to play in cushion schemes as an off-man or zone corner.
1. Tony Brown, CB
Tony Brown is blessed with great tools and is a 6'0", 188-pound defensive back from Texas. He is at his best when the strong cover corner can press receivers at the line.
He is most comfortable when he can quickly jam, steer and reroute pass-catchers into the sideline. Brown also has the skills to play in off-man and zone schemes, but due to his physicality, he fits best as a man/cover-2 corner.
Also, Brown will weigh more than 200 pounds in college and has great range, so he may become a safety in a few seasons. Should he sign with LSU and follow his sister to Baton Rouge, look for Les Miles to have Brown play a similar role to that of former cover man Patrick Peterson.
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 and Cleveland Browns.