Breaking Down Each 2015 5-Star DB
With the way teams are throwing the football today, defensive back figures to remain a premium position. Whether it be cornerback or safety, a defense can never have enough talent and depth in the secondary.
The 2015 247Sports composite rankings feature several 5-star defensive backs right now. A pair of cornerbacks have terrific size for their position, while another cover man has exceptional speed and quickness.
A physical safety is also on this list, plus there is a 5-star defensive back that can play anywhere in the secondary.
At 6'3" and 198 pounds, many people will mistake 5-star defensive back Tarvarus McFadden for an outside linebacker. However, after watching him move around for a play or two, they'll quickly realize he belongs in the secondary.
McFadden uses his size and strength to bully defensive backs at the line in press-man coverage. He has quick feet and the agility to mirror, plus he shows above-average speed to carry his man through the third level.
The Ft. Lauderdale native refuses to get out-muscled for balls underneath, and he has solid instincts and anticipation skills. McFadden's vision and ball skills are two reasons why he could be moved to free safety in college.
He'll need to keep working on getting quicker at recognizing routes and different combinations, but McFadden is certainly the most intriguing player on this list.
Florida State and LSU are among his top schools, says 247Sports.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is a 5-star cornerback who has good, but not elite, speed. However, his hips are awfully loose, which is why he is rarely sticky or late coming out of transition.
Fitzpatrick is not going to intimidate receivers with a hard punch in press-man coverage. However, he can sit in off-man coverage and mirror their movements all day long. He has great instincts in coverage, evidenced by his ability to drive hard out of his backpedal to close before his man is completely out of his break.
He has the vision and range to excel in zone coverage, as he can peel off and attach himself to another receiver with athleticism and quickness. The New Jersey native will fight to stay stacked on a receiver when running deep, and he'll help out in run support when he can.
Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State have the best chance to land him, per 247Sports.
If he continues working on his game, there's no reason why 5-star safety Derwin James will not become an All-ACC defensive back at Florida State.
At 6'2" and 201 pounds, James is one of the most physical defensive backs in recent memory. He can quickly read runs and squeeze the line of scrimmage to help in the box. James doesn't lose track of the ball, and he can sift through trash to meet a running back with a big thump at the point of attack.
Versus the pass, he can backpedal off his mark patiently while reading a quarterback's shoulders. The Florida native shoots out of transition to hawk balls like a falcon. He'll need to work on his man coverage skills, as well as get better at lining people up while at free safety, but James is a good one.
Chad Simmons of Scout.com wrote on March 20:
The Florida State commitment is not shy about showing his love for the Noles. He has an FSU tattoo and he makes it clear that the only school he thinks about is the one that won the national championship in 2014.
Most big corners rely on their size so much that they lack a killer instinct. That doesn't seem to be the case with 5-star cornerback Iman Marshall, as he turns into a pit bull when the ball is snapped.
Marshall, who is from California, is 6'1" and 190 pounds. He can effectively play all three general coverage alignments. In press coverage, Marshall uses his big frame to powerfully press receivers at the line and delay their release.
He has natural instincts in coverage, which allows him to cause problems on the perimeter in off-man coverage. The Golden State cover man has a tight and quick backpedal, and he comes out of transition nicely when closing on balls.
Marshall's anticipation and awareness help him in zone coverage, as he seems to always know where his help is. USC is the favorite to land him, according to 247Sports.
Hailing from Texas, 5-star cornerback Kendall Sheffield is an exceptional athlete. The 5'11", 180-pounder uses his quickness to stay tight on receivers all over the field.
Sheffield is light on his feet, and he shuffles freely and easily when backpedaling. He is best in off-man coverage, as he gets out of transition in a hurry to close on balls. He possesses good instincts and awareness in coverage, evidenced by him knowing how to carry a receiver downfield into a safety.
Sheffield is not without weaknesses, however, as he needs to add more strength and mass to his frame. He struggles at jamming and re-routing receivers at the line, plus he leaks yards as a tackler in run support.
Texas and Texas A&M are his top schools, says 247Sports.
Kevin Toliver II
Kevin Toliver II is a 5-star cornerback who is committed to LSU. He plays for Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, where he is feared by many receivers in Florida.
Toliver, who is 6'2" and 185 pounds, can play press-man and off-man coverage at a high level. He uses his length and deceptive strength to sharply punch receivers in the chest, and he'll pin them to sideline when he's the boundary corner.
Toliver is a great athlete who has loose hips in space. He mirrors and anticipates well, and he'll drive hard to close in a flash on balls underneath. He needs to add bulk to his frame and become more reliable in run support, but he has the cover skills to play as a true freshman in Baton Rouge.
All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports.
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.