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2018 NFL Combine: DBs to Watch

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NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Florida State
Derwin James. Do want.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Combine week! As usual, I’ll be breaking down prospects by the order in which their position group goes first for on field workouts. Today’s defensive backs group is the last to go on the field in Indianapolis.

CB

1. Carlton Davis 6’1 203 Junior Auburn

- Davis is the best corner on the team. NFL teams will love his size. Has had bouts of inconsistency throughout his junior campaign. Gifted athlete that can keep up with nearly every receiver. It will be interesting to see his drills.

2. Tavarus McFadden 6’2 198 Junior Florida State

- Elite ball skills and athleticism. Fundamentally sound as a tackler. Regressed severely as a junior likely due to focus on the draft. Production box is checked with 8 career interceptions as a sophomore. Teams will fall in love with his measureables. He will need to test and interview well to recover from a disastrous junior season.

3. Denzel Ward 5’10 191 Junior Ohio State

- Ward is the next man up in a long line of Buckeyes CBs to stand out before going pro. He’s one of the better corners in the country. A track star with a purported sub 4.4 40 speed. A physical player with good ball skills. He is a legitimate contender to have the fastest 40 this year. The speed is mesmerizing.

4. Duke Dawson 5’10 208 Senior Alabama

- Dawson is new defensive general for the Gators after waiting his turn behind NFL talent. Really needs the draft process to go well for him as medicals have been a concern throughout the 2017 season for him. Production is relatively decent for a guy who has started really for one year. Instincts are a plus.

5. Josh Jackson 6’1 192 RS Junior Iowa

- Jackson is one of the premier cornerbacks in the entire nation. A big time playmaker with seven interceptions and three that came via Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. He is, simply put, a feared ball hawk in the infamously stingy Hawkeyes secondary. It will be interesting to see how he fares in testing.

6. DJ Reed 5’9 188 Junior Kansas State

- Reed has been a productive member of the traditionally tough Wildcats defense. He has tallied 121 tackles and seven picks in just 22 games over two years. A quick twitch athlete that can stay with any receiver step for step. Frame questions will be heavily scrutinized by teams in the offseason but he’s a fierce competitor regardless.

7. Mike Hughes 5’11 191 Junior UCF

- Hughes transferred to UCF from North Carolina due to off field issues. He sat out last year due to the transfer rules. One of the more intriguing corners to watch as he doesn’t have as much experience as others. The Golden Knights’ best defender at times. He posted 20 reps on the bench press.

8. Isaiah Oliver 6’1 190 Junior Colorado

- The leader of the Buffs defense now that three former secondary mates are in the NFL. Oliver also is a capable return man when called upon. He’s a top ten cornerback prospect. NFL teams will surely love his size and speed. Moonlights as a track star for Colorado in the spring. He should test well.

9. Quenton Meeks 6’2 205 Junior Stanford

- Meeks is the unquestioned leader of the Cardinal secondary and is CB1 material for the lucky NFL team that drafts him. He’s an interesting prospect for a lot of teams looking to replicate the Legion of Boom given his reported measurements and physical traits. Deep speed is something to look for. Can also play safety in a pinch. It will be fun to see which position he sticks at.

10. Christian Campbell 6’1 194 Penn State

- Campbell was a revelation for the PSU defense in 2017 during his one year of starting. He’s an excellent sound tackler in run defense. Ball skills are a plus. Has the size at corner most scouts look for. Doesn’t get beat deep often. He dominated the Senior Bowl by all accounts and was the best cornerback in Mobile. Senior Bowl was kind of a homecoming for him as he is a Phenix City, AL native.

11. Levi Wallace 6’0 183 RS Senior Alabama

- Wallace is a breakout star that barely got any press due to the star power of his secondary mates. Teams targeted him a bunch and he went blow for blow with receivers without drop off. Shut down corner that tackles very well for his position. It could be argued that he was the best Tide secondary player.

S

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick 6’1 201 Junior Alabama

- The nation’s best cornerback / safety prospect and it isn’t particularly close, either. Impact day one starter even as a freshman. Elite athlete. Position versatile. Possibly the most talented of the Bama corners of recent lore. He’s in the conversation for the top 5 overall prospect in the entire draft.

2. Marcus Allen 6’2 202 Senior Penn State

- Allen is one of the more underrated safety prospects in the class. He’s the leader of the Penn State defense. A sound tackler. Tackling machine with 313 total tackles so far. A great athlete with plus instincts. Ball skills are above average. Reports are that he had a pretty solid Senior Bowl. Production is very good as he posted 320 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 interception. Will need to test well to prove that he isn’t just a in the box safety.

3. Quin Blanding 6’2 215 Senior Virginia

- Blanding has been quietly one of the better safety prospects for a number of years now. He has pretty good coverage ability and ball skills. Primarily a free safety for the Hoos but could be better at strong safety. Run defense and tackling ability are pluses. Holds the school record for tackles with a whopping 476 to go along with ten interceptions. A rare five star recruit that signed with Virginia instead other power schools recruiting that region. Senior Bowl participant.

4. Derwin James 6’3 215 RS Sophomore Florida State

- The best freak athlete at the safety position in the country. He’s an elite athlete with great instincts. The engine that makes the Noles defense hum. A physical force tackling opponents. Had an inconsistent 2017 season like most of the Seminoles. Outstanding in run defense and is an above average blitzer off the edge. He should dominate the Combine.

5. Kameron Kelly 6’2 200 Senior San Diego State

- Kelly is the latest defensive back from the Aztecs that could blow up in Mobile. He’s a big physical corner that converted from safety for his senior season. He’s a tremendous athlete very good ball skills. Was a receiver during his freshman season. Production is a plus as he put up 164 tackles in just three years to go along with nine picks One of the more underrated defensive backs in the country.