NFL draft: the best defensive backs

As the NFL draft approaches, We Sport offers you five players per position who should liven up the nights of April 29 to May 1. After quarterbacks, receivers, runners, offensive and defensive linemen then linebackers, make way for defensive backs!

Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama – Junior)

Patrick Surtain II, the best cornerback of the vintage? (Photo credit: Getty Images)

He proved himself worthy of his name. Son of a former NFL All-Pro cornerback in 2002, Patrick Surtain II is also an excellent defender. He dissuaded quarterbacks from throwing in his direction by allowing just 46.1% receptions and four touchdowns in three seasons at Alabama. His reading of the game makes him one of the most anticipated players in his position, if not the most promising.

«  He’s good at covering, he’s got great footwork, and he’s smart. He understands what the opposing attack is trying to do. […] I think he will have a great career », Assured his trainer Nick Saban at a press conference. Very effective in press corner, Patrick Surtain also demonstrated his versatility by playing “star”, a hybrid position between defensive back and linebacker. If his lack of liveliness and speed could fail him in the NFL, he should be among the top fifteen names called in the draft.

His statistics in 2020 (13 games): 37 tackles including 3.5 for loss, 9 defended passes and 1 interception

His NCAA stats (40 games): 116 tackles including 6 for loss, 24 defended passes and 4 interceptions

His achievements: national champion (2020), first team All-American (2020)

Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina – Junior)

Athletic beast Jaycee Horn could get in the way of more than one NFL wide receiver. (Photo credit: Kim Klement – USA Today Sports)

Cornerbacks’ 2021 vintage seems to be a matter of heritage. Also the son of a former NFL player and quadruple Pro Bowler as receiver, Jaycee Horn has opted for the other end of the field. With brio. In NCAA, he particularly impressed with his athleticism, on the ground and in the air. The South Carolina Pro Day was also an opportunity for him to flaunt it, with a 40-yard sprint timed at 4.39 seconds and a dry trigger measured at 1.05 m.

But beyond his physical dimension, Jaycee Horn is also a great competitor. Will Muschamp, the former Gamecocks coach, assured him that he wanted  » face the opposing best receiver every weeke ”. However, his mentality sometimes pushes him to make mistakes. In just seven games in 2020, the cornerback has been penalized five times. Despite this flaw, he still claims a selection in the top 20.

His statistics in 2020 (7 games): 16 tackles including 1 for loss, 6 defended passes and 2 interceptions

His NCAA stats (30 games): 101 tackles including 7 for loss, 23 defended passes and 2 interceptions

Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech – Junior)

Cornerback for only three years, Caleb Farley is however eagerly awaited. (Photo credit: Lynne Sladky – AP)

Little experience but a lot of talent. Caleb Farley comes to the draft with just two years as a cornerback in his legs. Initially recruited as a receiver by Virginia Tech, he then gave up playing the 2020 season. But his qualities exhibited in 2018 and 2019 give him a glimpse of a bright future in the big league. Its size (1.88 m) and its reading of opposing patterns make it particularly formidable in aerial duels.

 » He’s a fast-paced athlete, Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente told NFL Now. I think he can only improve if he continues to work in this position. While his low game tally and cruciate ligament rupture in 2017 may chill some franchises, Caleb Farley could be picked late in the first round.

His statistics in 2019 (10 matches – opt out in 2020): 20 tackles, 12 defended passes and 4 interceptions

His NCAA stats (23 games): 56 tackles including 1 for loss, 19 defended passes and 6 interceptions

Asante Samuel Jr. (CB, Florida State – Junior)

Will Asante Samuel Jr. have the same success as his father? (Photo credit: Don Juan Moore – Getty Images)

Another talented cornerback offspring. While Asante Samuel Sr. has won three Super Bowls in the colors of the Patriots, it is now his son who knocks on the door of the NFL. And it is accompanied by solid arguments to make its own name. Particularly at home in man-to-man blanket coverage, Asante Samuel Jr. shone at Florida State with his liveliness and good use of his hands. In his last 20 university games, he has defended 24 passes and allowed only two touchdowns.

Mike Norvell, his trainer at FSU, described him as «  huge competitor. It’s a pleasure to train him « . While his relative small size (1.78m) will eliminate him from plans for some franchises, Asante Samuel Jr. can hope to be selected in the second round.

His statistics in 2020 (8 games): 30 tackles including 1 for loss, 6 defended passes and 3 interceptions

His NCAA stats (31 games): 97 tackles including 3 for loss, 29 defended passes and 4 interceptions

Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU – Junior)

According to Todd McShay, Trevon Moehrig is “the only safety who could be chosen in the first round”. (Photo credit: Brandon Wade – Associated Press)

Perhaps the best safety of the cuvée. Under the colors of Texas Christian University, Trevon Moehrig illustrated his vision of the game and his sense of anticipation. His past as a cornerback and receiver in high school allows him to shine in aerial cover, as well by his placement as by his sure hands. His leadership is also notable, evidenced by his captain status at TCU.

 » He is the only safety who could be chosen in the first round, and one of the best defensive players in the entire draft. “Said Todd McShay, consultant for ESPN. Trevon Moehrig won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2020, recognizing the best university defensive player. Even if he can still progress in his tackles and lacks pure speed, the junior applies for a selection at the start of the second round.

His statistics in 2020 (10 games): 47 tackles including 2 for loss, 9 defended passes and 2 interceptions

His NCAA stats (33 games): 124 tackles including 4.5 for loss, 21 defended passes and 7 interceptions

His achievements: Jim Thorpe Award (2020)

Image on top credit: The Tuscaloosa News – USA Today Sports

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