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Thread: PFW Top 10 DB prospects

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    PFW Top 10 DB prospects

    1. FS-CB Eric Berry
    Tennessee junior
    Ht: 5-11 5/8 | Wt: 211 | Sp: 4.46 | Arm: 33 1/4 | Hand: 9 5/8


    Notes: Father, James, was a running back and captain for the Vols (1978-81). Eric was a Parade All-American, Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the consensus No. 1 cornerback prospect in the nation. Four-year high school safety-quarterback who also starred in track, winning the state 200-meter championship as a sophomore. In ’07, became the first freshman defensive player to open the season atop the depth chart during the Phillip Fulmer era (1992-200. Made an immediate impact, starting all 14 games at strong safety and amassing 86 tackles, four pass breakups and five interceptions (including a 96-yard touchdown against Florida) with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Was SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a Jim Thorpe Award finalist in ’08 after tying for the national interceptions lead. Started all 12 games at SS, logging 72-6-7 (two returned for scores) with 8 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks. Also rushed seven times for 37 yards (5.3-yard average), caught a pass for three yards and returned two kickoffs for 32 yards (16.0). Played most of the season with a torn left labrum that limited his versatility and required offseason arthroscopic surgery. Won the Thorpe Award in ’09 — playing in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s system in ’09, was deployed closer to the line of scrimmage and tallied 87-7-2 with a forced fumble in 13 starts. Three-year team captain. Finished his career just nine yards short of the NCAA record for INT return yards. Opted to forgo his senior season in part because both parents lost jobs and his father recently had heart surgery.

    Positives: Looks the part with very long arms and an athletic build. Leaves his fingerprints on games — active playmaker. Very instinctive, athletic and physical. Forceful, striking tackler — hits like a ton of bricks and will propel his body like a projectile to deliver a blow. Has natural twitch and burst — has feet like a cornerback to shadow receivers in man coverage. Is rangy and has exceptional ball skills, hands and production — has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Outstanding awareness — processes quickly and jumps routes. Intense and extremely competitive. Tough and will play hurt. Carries a swagger and played big in big games. Versatile — could line up as a nickel corner. Performed well at the Combine — clocked the second-fastest 40-yard dash among safeties, bench-pressed 225 pounds 19 times, vertical-jumped 43 inches and broad-jumped 10 feet, 10 inches.

    Negatives: Is a bit high-cut. Leads with his shoulders, seeking blow-up shots instead of wrapping up, and can do a better job of breaking down, coming to balance in space and securing tackles. Long-term durability could be an issue given his aggressive playing style. Double-caught the ball and slipped in drills at the Combine.

    Summary: One of the more gifted safeties to emerge from the college ranks in the last decade, Berry is an impact, ballhawking secondary leader with a special combination of athletic ability and instincts. Plays with a physical, old-school mentality but has superb coverage capabilities desired in the new generation of safeties. Can roam center field, bang in the box or line up in the slot and handle man and zone coverage. Bulked up prior to the Combine without detracting from his speed or agility, and outstanding workout solidified his standing as the top defensive back in the draft.

    NFL projection: Top-10 pick.

    2. FS-CB Earl Thomas
    Texas Sophomore
    Ht: 5-10 1/4 | Wt: 208 | Sp: 4.46 | Arm: 31 1/4 | Hand: 9 3/8

    Notes: Also lettered in basketball, baseball and track and field as a prep, in addition to playing DB, RB, WR and returning kicks on the football field. Redshirted in 2007. Started all 13 games at free safety in 2008, logging 72 tackles, 17 pass breakups (school freshman record) and two interceptions, with three tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and a blocked kick. A Thorpe Award finalist in ’09, started all 13 games and tallied 77-16-8 (two touchdowns) with five tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Also returned three punts for 54 yards (18.0-yard average). Chose not to perform shuttles or three-cone drill at Combine.

    Positives: Makes plays — has outstanding instincts and an advanced understanding of the game. Moves like a cornerback — very athletic, fluid and agile. Is quick-footed and loose-hipped to transition smoothly out of breaks with very little wasted movement. Plants, drives and accelerates to the ball. Great range and ball skills — outstanding production on the ball. Surprising strength — bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times at the Combine. Exceptional route recognition — will peel off his man and jump underneath routes (see Oklahoma State). Good balance and body control to break down and secure tackles in space. Is anticipatory and shows a sense of timing — syncs up hits and can separate receivers from the ball. Runs the alley and takes good pursuit angles. Confident and competitive. Versatile — can fit at corner. Huge upside.

    Negatives: Thin-framed and slightly built — lacks girth and needs to bulk up. Can stand to improve functional playing strength — catches some contact and bounces off tackles (see BCS championship vs. Alabama). Gambles at times trying to undercut routes (see ’08 Texas Tech game — game-winning Michael Crabtree(notes) catch). Long-term durability could be an issue.

    Summary: A young cover safety with the type of range and ball skills coveted in a pass-first league, Thomas showed up at the Combine approximately 10 pounds heavier than his playing weight without detracting from his speed and agility. Has a rare blend of instincts, savvy, athletic ability and playmaking ability. Is still growing into his body but has an advanced understanding of the game, offers versatility to play corner and has a world of upside.

    NFL projection: Top-20 pick.

    3. FS Taylor Mays
    USC senior
    Ht: 6-3 1/8 | Wt: 230 | Sp: 4.36 | Arm: 34 | Hand: 10 1/4

    Notes: Father, Stafford, was a defensive lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals (1980-86) and Minnesota Vikings (1987-8. Taylor was a Parade All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Washington in 2005. Also ran track as a prep, winning back-to-back state championships in the 100 and 200 meters. As a true freshman in ’06, started 12-of-13 games at free safety, recording 62 tackles, three pass breakups and three interceptions. Started all 13 games in ’07 and logged 65-6-1 with a forced fumble. Had arthroscopic ankle surgery prior to ’08 spring practice. In the fall, started all 13 games and tallied 53-9-0 with two tackles for loss. Sustained a bruised chest and was coughing up blood following a hit during the Oregon State contest. Was the Trojans’ leading tackler in ’09 after posting 96-3-1 in 12 starts at FS. Sprained his right knee against Ohio State and sat out a loss to Washington. Team captain wore No. 29 in 2006 before switching to No. 2 in ’07. Chose not to perform shuttles at the Combine.

    Positives: Looks like he was chiseled out of granite to break the mold. Has the frame of a linebacker with a rocked-up physique and very little body fat — treats his body like a temple. Has a large wingspan. Rare height-weight-speed ratio, freakish athletic ability and off-the-charts measurables — eclipsed every cornerback at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times and posted a 41-inch vertical leap. Imposing physical presence with an intimidation factor — knocked multiple players out of games with devastating hits. Has a knack for timing up hits — can separate receivers from the ball. Carries a swagger.

    Negatives: Average instincts and anticipation. Does not play to timed speed and is too often a step late getting over the top. Takes poor angles. Is tight in the hips and does not transition smoothly or change direction easily. Struggles to come to balance in space. Is not a face-up tackler, misses too many tackles and allows more yards after contact than he should. Suspect downfield ball skills with his back to the ball — runs to the man and does not show awareness or play the ball in the air, and looked rigid and awkward trying to adjust to it in the air at the Combine. Marginal career production on the ball — only had five career interceptions despite starting all four years.

    Summary: Throw out the stopwatch and eye-popping 40-time at the Combine — the tape of Mays playing to his speed does not exist. Can start readily in NFL like he did in college and get away with his lack of instincts in the pros because of his rare recovery speed, but lack of instincts, intelligence and toughness will always leave teams wanting more. Enamors with his measurables but disappoints with his play, and will need more than straight-line speed and a flash hit to become more than a serviceable starter in the pros. Will be overdrafted and underperform.

    NFL projection: First-round pick.

    4. CB Joe Haden
    Florida junior
    Ht: 5-10 3/4 | Wt: 193 | Sp: 4.58 | Arm: 32 3/4 | Hand: 9 1/2

    Joe Haden

    (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

    Notes: Father, Joe, is a personal trainer and former body builder and track star; younger brother, Josh, is the starting running back at Boston College; brother, Jordan, will be a freshman for the Gators this fall. Joe was nicknamed “Rock Star” by teammates. Played primarily quarterback in high school and set the Maryland public school record with 7,371 career passing yards. Recruited as an athlete, Haden spent his first spring at receiver but was moved because the Gators were thin at cornerback. In ’07, became the first true freshman in UF history to start the season opener at CB, starting all 12 games played at the boundary corner and recording 63 tackles, 12 pass breakups and an interception with 31?2 tackles for loss. Sprained his right ankle against Florida Atlantic and did not play against Florida State. Endured the October death of his girlfriend, who died in a motorcycle accident with scout team QB Michael Guilford. Changed his jersey number from 12 to 5 in ’08 before starting all 14 games and logging 87-12-3 with half a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked field-goal attempt. Sprained his left ankle in the second quarter vs. Alabama. Was a Thorpe Award finalist in ’09 when he started all 14 games and racked up 68-10-4 with five tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. According to coaches, Haden was the team’s best-conditioned athlete, maintaining less than three percent body fat. Bench-pressed 225 pounds 18 times at the Combine.

    Positives: Has a chiseled, tight-skinned physique. Plays faster than he times and has natural man-cover skills — can mirror receivers downfield. Quick-footed and agile with natural twitch — very good short-area burst and acceleration. Pops out of breaks and drives on the ball. Outstanding ball skills and body control — competes in the air and plays the ball like a receiver. Aggressive and physical supporting the run. Exceptional stamina — best-conditioned athlete in a program full of athletes. Supremely confident and competitive — plays with a swagger. Shows consistent effort and intensity.

    Negatives: Average timed speed. Still relatively raw — route recognition and coverage technique are works in progress. Shows hesitation deciphering combination routes and too easily can be sucked up by underneath action — jumps routes prematurely and leaves voids in coverage behind him. Needs to become a more consistent tackler — struggles to break down and secure ballcarriers in space.

    Summary: Good-sized, physical, confident corner who stepped into an elite program and made an impact from Day One, going toe-to-toe with talented receivers and matching up very favorably. Should be able to compete for a job readily in the pros. Needs refinement and raised eyebrows with pedestrian 40-times at the Combine. Must still prove he is not the oversold product of a talented secondary, and spring workouts will go a long way toward determining his draft value.

    NFL projection: First-round pick.

    5. CB-RS Patrick Robinson
    Florida State senior
    Ht: 5-11 1/4 | Wt: 190 | Sp: 4.51 | Arm: 30 1/2 | Hand: 8 1/4

    Notes: Cornerback-receiver who also starred in track as a prep, placing in the Florida state track-and-field championships in the 100- and 200-meter sprints. Backed up at field corner in ’06, playing 12 games and recording 11 tackles without a pass breakup or interception. Returned a blocked PAT for two points against Duke. Started 5-of-12 games played in ’07 at the boundary corner position, managing 28-6-6 with a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Was suspended for the Music City Bowl and the first three games of the ’08 season for his involvement in an academic cheating scandal. On the season, started 8-of-9 games played at the boundary corner and logged 26-4-1 with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Hurt his lower back against Colorado and did not play against Miami. Started all 12 games played at right corner in ’09, tallying 52-11-0 with three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Also returned 11 kickoffs for 218 yards (19.8-yard average). Sprained his left ankle against Boston College and sat out against Georgia Tech.

    Positives: Very good size with well-defined musculature. Very good long speed to keep pace deep. Exceptional athletic ability with fluid movement skills and natural twitch. Has pure man-coverage ability with loose hips to mirror receivers. Quick-footed to plant and drive on the ball and shows burst to recover. Has a 39-inch vertical jump. Strong-handed to jam receivers and disrupt routes. Able to break down and tackle in space.

    Negatives: Questionable mental and physical toughness. Suspect man-off cover skills. Zone instincts and awareness are lacking. Undisciplined — gets lax with his technique, and mental lapses are too prevalent. Is too often on his own agenda in coverage. Could have a difficult time earning the trust of coaches. Is a selective tackler and is not quick to support the run. Suspect ball skills and very marginal production — one interception the last two seasons.

    Summary: A supremely athletic, gifted corner with the speed and agility to function on an island, Robinson ran slower than expected at the Combine but is considered the most explosive athlete to come out of FSU since Antonio Cromartie(notes). Skill set could interest teams such as the Raiders, Jets and Packers, but lack of discipline and minimal on-the-ball production are reasons for pause.

    NFL projection: Top-40 pick.

    6. CB-KR Devin McCourty
    Rutgers senior
    Ht: 5-10 3/4 | Wt: 196 | Sp: 4.42 | Arm: 32 | Hand: 9

    Devin McCourty

    (Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

    Notes: Twin brother, Jason, was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round in 2009 and immediately made an impact on special teams. Devin also played basketball as a prep. Redshirted in 2005. Appeared in all 13 games in ’06, recording 38 tackles (including a team-high 14 on special teams), three pass breakups and two interceptions with 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a sack. Started all 13 games in ’07, tallying 63-7-2 with 1 1/2 tackles for loss, one-half sack, a forced fumble and three blocked kicks. Started all 13 contests in ’08 and logged 57-7-1 with 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a blocked kick. Was the team’s defensive MVP in ’09 when he started all 13 games and produced 80-10-1 with 7 1/2 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and three blocked kicks. Also returned 14 kickoffs for 356 yards (25.4-yard average), including a 98-yard score against Connecticut, and two punts for 21 yards (10.5). Left the bowl game against South Florida with an eye injury. Team captain.

    Positives: Looks the part with nice length and sinewy musculature. Excellent speed and fluidity of movement. Loose-hipped with good burst, acceleration and long speed to stride with receivers down the field. Performed well in the short shuttle (4.07) and three-cone drill (6.70). Smart and aware — good route recognition. Outstanding special-teams production and determination — has seven career blocked kicks and stood out as a gunner and “jammer.” Will stick his nose in run support. Has NFL bloodlines. Vocal on-field leader. Durable and consistent. Good character.

    Negatives: Has a thin frame and small ankles. Is not overly physical and can learn to use his hands better to re-route receivers at the line. Loses sight of the ball at times. Drag-down tackler. Average ball skills and marginal hands — picked off just five passes in four years. Did not make an abundance of defensive splash plays.

    Summary: Lean, athletic, quick-footed cornerback with legit speed, movement skills and explosion to match up at the next level. Ordinary ball skills limit his ceiling, but should be able to contribute readily as a core special-teams player and nickel defender. Low-risk selection with starter potential.

    NFL projection: Top-40 pick.

    7. FS Nate Allen
    South Florida senior
    Ht: 6-0 1/2 | Wt: 207 | Sp: 4.5e | Arm: 31 | Hand: 9 3/8

    Notes: High school quarterback who also lettered in basketball and track. As a true freshman in 2006, saw limited action in nine games and was credited with two tackles, zero pass breakups and zero interceptions. Missed four games due to a quadriceps injury. Started all 12 games at free safety in ’07, recording 84-8-4 with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Recovered a fumble on a kickoff against Louisville, returning it three yards for a touchdown and returned an interception 37 yards for a score against Pittsburgh. In ’08, started all 13 games at FS and logged 53-0-1 with two tackles for loss and a sack. Started all 13 games at FS in ’09 and recorded 85-4-4 with a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Also returned a blocked field-goal attempt 75 yards for a score against Charleston Southern. Team captain. Did not work out at the Combine while nursing a pulled left quad.

    Positives: Looks the part with a ripped physique. Outstanding athlete. Good top-end speed. Has quick feet and moves fluidly. Good body control. Reads and reacts quickly and anticipates plays unfolding. Outstanding range. Good ball skills — has burst and acceleration to get over the top and competes with receivers for the ball in the air. Very good man-coverage skills — pedals smoothly, flips his hips and runs with receivers. Smart — good zone awareness and route recognition. Can tackle in space. Works hard and has been durable.

    Negatives: Needs to get stronger and does not intimidate physically. Not a physical or blow-up tackler. Inconsistent supporting the run — arrives late too often. Does not play with a sense of urgency. Average production on the ball.

    Summary: Chiseled, rangy, finesse center fielder with fluid movement skills, desirable explosion and cover skills. May fit better as a cornerback than safety in the pros given his lack of physicality.

    NFL projection: Top-50 pick.

    8. CB-PR Kyle Wilson
    Boise State senior
    Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 194 | Sp: 4.43 | Arm: 30 1/2 | Hand: 9 1/8

    Notes: Also competed in track as a prep. On the football field, starred as a receiver, safety and return man, winning three consecutive New Jersey state championships (MVP in two title games). Redshirted in 2005, then was suspended for the first three games in ’06 (violation of team rules). Played in 10 games, starting the final four, and recorded 37 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception with one-half tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Started all 13 games in ’07 and notched 41-8-2 with two tackles for loss, a sack and a blocked PAT. Also returned five punts for 70 yards (14.0-yard average). In ’08, started all 13 games and tallied 35-10-5 with three tackles for loss. Returned punts 33-470 (14.2), including three touchdowns (most in the nation). Started all 13 games played in ’09 when he totaled 43-4-3 (27-yard TD against San Jose State, 71-yard TD against Idaho) with 4 1/2 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Was held out of the UC Davis contest to rest a strained shoulder injury. Team captain who led summer practices in the absence of coaches. Wore jersey No. 22 as a freshman. Did not work out at the Combine (right hamstring).

    Positives: Very strong for his size — bench-pressed 225 pounds 25 times at the Combine. Very good top-end speed. Instinctive. Has natural cover skills to shadow and mirror receivers. Quick-twitch mover with great feet. Pops out of breaks and shows recovery quickness. Aggressive in run support. Good hands. Times up blitzes. Tough and competitive — plays with a chip on his shoulder. Has experience as a gunner and shows short-area burst and agility to make tacklers miss as a punt returner. Durable three-year starter. Good work ethic.

    Negatives: Not overly physical — needs to increase functional football strength. Shows some tightness in his hips. Clutches and grabs too much. Needs to do a better job getting off blocks. Does not attack throws in the air — ball skills are not great. Does not have extensive experience matching up with NFL-caliber receivers.

    Summary: Quick, fast, competitive, playmaking corner who will have to prove himself on a more consistent basis against bigger, faster receivers but could develop into a No. 2 corner with versatility to play the slot in nickel packages and also return punts.

    NFL projection: Top-50 pick.

    9. CB-FS Jerome Murphy
    South Florida senior
    Ht: 6-0 1/4 | Wt: 196 | Sp: 4.54 | Arm: 32 1/4 | Hand: 9

    Notes: Also played basketball and ran track, in addition to playing defensive back and receiver, as a prep in New Jersey. Redshirted in 2005 with a broken leg. Despite breaking his left hand in mid-September ’06, appeared in all 13 games and recorded 20 tackles, zero pass breakups and zero interceptions with a tackle for loss. Played in all 13 games in ’07 (started as the nickel back against West Virginia) and tallied 38-5-2 with two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick while waiting his turn behind Cowboys ’08 first-rounder Mike Jenkins(notes). Also returned 23 kickoffs for 560 yards (24.3-yard average). Manned the field cornerback position in ’08, started 11-of-13 games and logged 67-5-2 with 3 1?2 tackles for loss and half a sack. Did not start against Louisville, or in the St. Petersburg Bowl vs. Memphis when he was suspended for the first half (violation of team rules). In ’09, started all 13 games — 10 at right corner, two (Western Kentucky, Charleston Southern) at strong safety and one (season opener vs. Wofford) at nickel — and totaled 77-8-4 with half a tackle for loss and two forced fumbles. Returned two kickoffs for 30 yards (15.0). Was benched in the second half against Pittsburgh and Louisville (committed three penalties and dropped a pair of potential interceptions). Maintains less than four percent body fat.

    Positives: Excellent body length, quick feet and loose hips. Pedals smoothly, accelerates and has long speed to run vertically with speedy receivers. Good quick-twitch reactions — broad-jumped 10 feet, 7 inches and registered one of the fastest short shuttles at the Combine (4.05 seconds). Can play press or off-man. Very, very tough and more than willing to initiate contact. Outstanding in run support — fills quickly, sets the edge and chops down ballcarriers. Physical tackler. Competes and plays hard. Has special-teams experience.

    Negatives: Has not been a model of consistency — benched during senior season. Too undisciplined — gambles too much and loses. Inconsistent downfield ball skills. Struggled matching up with Pittsburgh sophomore WR Jonathan Baldwin. Immature. Character needs to be evaluated. Has a quick temper and could require a patient positional coach.

    Summary: A big, physical, competitive, multidimensional press corner, Murphy has natural cover skills and does not hesitate to assert himself in the run game. Is rough around the edges but competes, hits like a safety and has what it takes to compete with NFL receivers. Skill set allows for scheme versatility.

    NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.

    10. CB-FS Chris Cook
    Virginia senior
    Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 212 | Sp: 4.49 | Arm: 32 1/2 | Hand: 9 1/4

    Notes: Cousin, Vic Hall, played cornerback for the Cavaliers (2006-09). Played five games as a true freshman in ’05, recording six tackles, two pass breakups and an interception (30-yard touchdown against Maryland) before suffering a season-ending broken right leg in his first start (at CB) against Boston College. Played in all 12 games in ’06, starting the last 11 at CB, and tallied 58-5-1 with four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. In ’07, started 7-of-9 games played and notched 39-6-1 with a tackle for loss (also returned a fumble 44 yards for a score against Miami). Sprained his left knee against Middle Tennessee and missed two games, then was ineligible for the Gator Bowl and suspended for ’08 due to academics. Returned to start all 12 games in ’09, logging 40-6-4 (including a 58-yard TD against BC) with a tackle for loss. Added five kickoff returns for 101 yards (20.2-yard average). Team captain.

    Positives: Has excellent size and length with long arms. Surprising athletic ability and ease of movement — good timed speed and nice hip swivel for his size. Good short-area burst — broad-jumped 11 feet at the Combine. Confident.

    Negatives: Average instincts. Lacks elite top-end speed to run vertically with burners. Lacks ideal foot quickness to mirror receivers in man coverage. Tends to rise in his pedal and does not pop out of breaks — allows too much separation. Playing temperament is too passive and is not physical — has been steamrolled by bigger backs. Does not have great hands or ball skills. Bench-pressed 225 pounds only seven times at the Combine.

    Summary: Lanky, long-levered corner who fared well at the Senior Bowl and showed some explosion in drills at the Combine. Has safety size but is not aggressive or physical, so best chance in the pros will come at cornerback. His rare size in a league where receivers keep getting bigger will drive up his value.

    NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.
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  2. #2
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    Re: PFW Top 10 DB prospects

    Taylor Mays before Joe Haden?

    Devin McCourty is also overrated, I believe.

    Good info though. Thanks, for posting!
    Even if Bill Belichick was getting an atomic wedgie, his face would look exactly the same.

  3. #3

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    Re: PFW Top 10 DB prospects

    Quote Originally Posted by steelblood
    Taylor Mays before Joe Haden?

    Devin McCourty is also overrated, I believe.

    Good info though. Thanks, for posting!
    Yeah, that was kinda out of left field. I also question having Patrick Robinson ahead of, say, Kyle Wilson.


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