Top 10 Defensive Back prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft.
This slideshow will profile a personal top 10 ranking for Defensive Backs in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft.
After I've ranked every position, I will compile all of my 'team projections' into a complete mock draft.
Would I pick Joe Haden inside the top 15? No
Is Joe Haden the best corner in the draft? Yes
Don't ask me why, but I'm always skeptical of defensive players coming out of UF. Like it or not, NCAA success for Florida players, hasn't translated to success in the NFL.
The list of former Gators currently playing on defense in the NFL is a little surprising, and not in a good way.
Reynaldo Hill, DB, Tennessee Titans
Mike Peterson, MLB, Atlanta Falcons
Reggie Nelson, FS, Jacksonville Jaguars
Derrick Harvey, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Andra Davis, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Channing Crowder, ILB, Miami Dolphins
Of those players, I would only consider Channing Crowder to be of Pro-Bowl caliber, with the rest battling to retain/become full-time starters.
I won't pass judgement on the Haden based on UF's alumni, but it definitely doesn't fill me with confidence. Urban Meyer's system has also been well proven in it's inability to produce next-level talent.
As Darrelle Revis' popularity exploded this past season, talk about "the next Darrelle Revis" shortly followed, and the natural progression was to Joe Haden.
These talks continued up until the NFL Combine, where Haden was overshadowed in all of the measurables, most notably in the 40-yard dash. Haden ran times of 4.60 and 4.57, much too slow to be considered a first round pick at DB.
Last week, at UF's pro day, Haden was able to improve upon those times, running somewhere in the 4.4's, however good, these may not be good enough for him to shake his combine numbers.
The jump from the NCAA to the NFL is a considerable one, which is why teams can only put a moderate amount of stock in a players NCAA success.
Corner is a position where this becomes even more apparent. The press-coverages and shear physicality at the NFL level is unlike anything an NCAA corner sees on a week to week basis.
That being said, Haden has the man-to-man coverage abilities to compete from day 1, his speed in pads has never been questioned, and his insticts are as good as anyone. Despite all the potential for a let-down, Haden is widely regarded as the best corner in this class.
Projected Round: 1st
Projected Team: Denver Broncos.
Even though I wouldn't pick him in the top 15, doesn't mean other teams won't. The Broncos need someone to play alongside Champ Bailey, and this would be a great situation for Haden.
Here's another player, who's play was questioned based on the dominance of his team. Playing on the Blue Turf in the WAC will raise question marks in the minds of even the most optimistic NFL GMs.
However, unlike Haden, when Wilson was asked to perform outside of his college program, he surpassed everyone's expectations.
At the Senior Bowl, Wilson was the best player on the field all week in practice, and impressed in the game as well.
Leading into the combine, Wilson tweaked a hamstring and thus didn't take part in any of the on-field events. He did, however, take part in the bench press drill, where he lifted 225lbs 25 times, 5 times more than the next best DB and leaps and bounds beyond the average for the field.
Wilson is widely regarded as the most physical corner in the draft, and his bench press numbers solidified that notion.
Wilson's Pro Day is scheduled for Friday. However, Wilson has already proven that he is the 2nd best DB in this draft. If Wilson can put up some impressive numbers, it's quite likely he'll find himself as the first DB taken off the board.
As an All-American caliber return man, Wilson's speed will not be an issue, and also gives him some value beyond his starting position.
Teams in the second half of the first round will be looking for secondary help, making Wilson a sure fire 1st round pick.
Projected Round: 1st
Projected Team: Atlanta Falcons.
Even with the acquisition of Dunta Robinson, the Falcons are still in need of more depth at corner. Playing the Saints twice a season, the Falcons need the best cover corners available. With Robinson and Wilson, they go from a pushover in 2009 to a force in 2010.
Playing in the relative obscurity of Piscataway, McCourty didn't receive the type of play that his statistics warranted.
McCourty's presence was felt on every possession in which he was on the field. A standout in pass coverage, tackling ability in against the run, and the instincts for pass rush, McCourty is one of the most dynamic players in the entire draft.
One of the most impressive statistics of any candidate for the upcoming draft, McCourty blocked a jaw-dropping 7 kicks in his career at Rutgers.
For me, the intangibles are what distinguishes the average draft picks from the elite draft picks. McCourty's presence, motor and ability to find the ball make him a likely candidate for a first round selection.
What distinguishes McCourty from Haden and Wilson is his ability and willingness to play special teams. If he struggles to pick up the defensive system in his rookie season, he could easily transition to special teams, where he would likely be one of the most talented players from day one.
Projected Round: 1st
Projected Team: Baltimore Ravens.
With Samari Rolle's career in doubt, Ladarius Webb coming off an ACL injury, and Ed Reed contemplating retirement, the Ravens will be looking for depth in the secondary. McCourty fits the mold of a Baltimore Raven, savvy enough not to make mistakes, reckless enough to intimidate the offense.
Widely regarded as having the 'best feet' of any DB in the 2010 draft class, Patrick Robinson could be a dark horse at this position. From what I've read, most teams have him targeted as a 2nd round prospect, although it's not outside the realm of possibility that Robinson is taken of the board by the end of Thursday evening.
As previously mentioned, secondary will be given extra emphasis among the elite teams this offseason, making Robinson, among others, hot commodities for this draft.
Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Baltimore, Arizona, San Diego, New York Jets, Minnesota and Indianapolis, among others, all have holes to fill at corner. At the very least, these teams will all be discussing the selection of a corner in the War Room on April 22nd.
What distinguishes Robinson from his competition at corner?
Robinson ranked among the top of the participants in the combine in every event. Notably, 39" vertical jump, 4.46 40 time, and 15 reps on the bench press.
Among the top candidates at DB, size is ironically uniform. None of the top 5 CBs are taller than 5'11", none shorter than 5"10. None of them are lighter that 185lbs, none heavier than 195.
The freakish sized DBs will be found in the later rounds, as for the top prospects, they can only be distinguished by their game tape and some minor differences in the measurables. These realities make Robinson a candidate to fall anywhere from the mid first round to the late 2nd round, depending on the preference and needs of the teams on the board.
Projected Round: 1st
Projected Team: Green Bay Packers.
With Al Harris' season in doubt, the Packers need another cover corner. If they don't select a corner in the first two rounds, Charles Woodson might need to cover the slot and the outside WRs
Syd'Quan Thompson has one glaring knock against him, his height. At 5'9" it will be difficult for him to see time anywhere besides the nickel and dime coverages.
That being said, Thompson was notably the most physical DB in practice for the Senior Bowl and was capable of matching up against much bigger wide receivers.
Taking a 5'9", 180lbs corner would be a gamble. However, taking a 5'9" corner/kick return specialist would be a calculated risk.
Although there's a high potential for him to be physically overmatched at the next level, I think teams will take a chance on Thompson's instincts and quickness.
Projected Round: 3rd
Projected Team: San Fransisco 49ers.
Being a Bay Area native, Thompson could address issue with both depth at CB and be a kick return specialist from day one.
Chris Cook is another player who has gained more in steam in the offseason than he did in the 11 regular season games in 2009.
Physically, Cook is the best CB prospect in this draft. He's 6'2", 212lbs. He posted a combine best 11' broad jump, he ran a 4.45 40 yard dash, and has a vertical leap of 38".
However, on field, Cook doesn't exactly display the same aesthetics as the others at this position. He has the frame, but he has yet to display the next level talent and instincts displayed by the players I've listed before him. Statistically, Cook is also overshadowed by his competition.
In other words, at the NFL level, Chris Cook is more of a project. He has an enormous upside, but it's unlikely he'll see very many snaps in his rookie season.
In Virginia's Pro Day, it was reported that Cook had shown up out of shape, and that he had been winded during several of the defensive drills. As expected, this sent out red flags throughout the league.
As reported today, Cook was, instead, battling a virus, and thus competed at less than 100%.
How does this effect his draft status? Not much.
I believe, with Cook, teams know what they will be getting and thus any further information is unlikely to make or break the UVA DB.
Projected Round: 2nd
Projected Team: New England.
The Pats just gave big money to Leigh Bodden, so it's unlikely they'll opt for a DB in round 1. However, they should still seek out depth at corner and Cook is just the type of project that Belichick would be willing to take a chance on. Last year, they grabbed SS Patrick Chung in the 2nd round. I see them sticking to the same script this season.
The situation with Arenas is the exact opposite of Chris Cook.
Arenas built his reputation through strong play throughout the season and into the National Championship game. However, since then, his measurables have been subpar and his draft stock has fallen accordingly.
Arenas is the 2nd corner on my list with a height of 5'9", and again, it's unlikely he'll ever make it as a starting CB, however, his talent is hard to deny.
Arenas tweaked his hamstring on his first attempt at the 40-yard dash, registering an official time of 4.60, much slower than anyone would have expected.
However, his 6 career punt return TDs beg to differ.
Originally considered to be a punt return specialist, in recent years, Arenas has proven his worth on the defensive side of the ball, showing the ability to cover much larger receivers and the quickness and awareness to break of routes and defend passes.
His height is a real hinderance, but his success is a testament to how talented he truly is.
Projected Round: 3rd
Projected Team: New York Giants.
A player of his stature won't be selected by the teams drafting at the top of the board, simply because he's too much of a gamble at this stage. The Giants should be comfortable enough with their secondary to take a chance on this guy as a lightning quick return man, with the potential to play slot corner.
Although some say he could have benefited from another year at Alabama, it's likely that Kareem Jackson won't be on the draft board come Saturday(April 24th).
He has the skill, he has the size, he has the pedigree. The only question is, does he have the experience?
Had he stayed in school for 2010, it's likely we'd be considering Jackson as a 1st round pick and possibly the best corner of the class.
Does this affect his draft status? Probably not.
At this stage in the game, he has the potential to be as good as Wilson/Haden/McCourty, but despite starting all but one of his collegiate games, he doesn't quite have the awareness and understanding for the pro level.
Some flaws in his game could be hidden based on the fact that he played on the nation's best defense in his 3 years in college. It's widely regarded that Jackson has all the tools and a good comprehension of coverage. However, it's still a risk taking the junior any higher than the 2nd round.
His measurables were good, but not off the charts. His statistics are good, but won't catapult him into the first round.
Projected Round: 2nd
Projected Team: Detroit Lions.
Someone will take a chance on this kid and they'll probably take it early. If he's on the board for pick 34, the Lions will take him, and he will likely be the best corner on their roster to open up training camp.
Perrish Cox's draft stock has fell victim to the dreadful 'Off Field Issues'. He was suspended from the 2009/2010 Cotton Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules.
This turned into a double edged sword, when Cox posted some below average scores at the combine, as he was unable to attend the OSU Pro Day because of his previous suspension.
The suspension alone probably didn't affect his draft stock, but the combination is likely to see him fall down a lot of draft boards.
Much like 90% of the draft candidates, Perrish Cox has potential. Probably more potential than most of the players listed ahead of him on my list. However, he hasn't instilled enough confidence amongst NFL franchises to take a chance on him any higher than the 2nd round.
Projected Round: 3rd
Projected Team: Kansas City.
This secondary needs a major lift, and Cox could provide that. If he's on the board for their 3rd selection, it would be wise to take a chance with him.
Known primarily as a zone-cover corner, Dominique Franks has the size and the ability to make it in the NFL.
Much like his fellow underclassmen, Kareem Jackson, Franks could have benefited from another year in College, and it seems as though, Franks is the only person who believes he's truly ready to compete at the next level.
The NFL college advisory commitee gave Franks a 3rd round projection, which was seemingly good enough for him.
Posting middle of the road combine number hasn't helped his draft stock and despite having an opertunity to return kicks, Franks hasn't been nearly as successful as some of his counter-parts.
Had it not been for the demand for corners for this upcoming offseason, I'd have Franks as a late round selection, however, if the DBs listed above start flying off the board, Franks could be selected out of desperation.
Projected Round: 4th
Projected Team: Houston Texans.
It's likely that the Texans would have selected a DB prior to this, however, I anticipate they will select more than 1 player for their secondary in the 2010 draft.
More position rankings: