NEWS

Combine star Troy Apke leads DBs on Day 3 of NFL Draft

Troy Apke

Sorry if I’m not so sorry about the plight of the football player who slides a few picks lower than expected in the NFL Draft.

While there are some truly unfortunate bigger-picture areas of concern — e.g., would Heisman-winning QB Lamar Jackson have been chosen much higher than 32nd overall if he weren’t Black? — for the most part, a guy who had top-10 dreams but winds up at the end of the first round or going in the second round is still in very good shape for his pro career moving forward.

My sympathy lies more with the players who are still waiting for that life-changing phone call on Day 3 of the draft. The ones who weren’t picked in the first three rounds, who go into the final day of the draft having to confront the possibility that they may not get selected. Continue reading

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Day 2 of 2018 NFL Draft features run on DBs

Josh Jackson

The NFL Draft is an opportunity for some teams to change the direction of their franchise with one superstar selection. Other teams who don’t need a savior can stay among the upper echelon by simply adding depth to a position that is already a strength. Other teams that are a few pieces away from contending can use the draft to give an entire position group a makeover.

On Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers used their second-round pick on Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson; that came after the Packers used their first-round pick on Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander.

For a team that finished 31st in the league last season in Passer Rating allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed and 23rd in passing yards allowed on its way to missing the playoffs, placing an emphasis on improving the secondary was a must. Continue reading

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Six DBs picked in 2018 NFL Draft first round

Denzel Ward

In the months leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward was widely considered the best cornerback in the pool. Cornerback also happens to be one of the most coveted positions in the NFL.

So why was it such a surprise — drawing a harmonized “Whoa!” from the NFL Network’s TV panel of experts — when Ward was the first defensive back chosen in Thursday’s first round?

Probably because in a vast majority of mock drafts, the first defensive back to come off the board was a safety: Either Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Florida State’s Derwin James. That Ward went No. 4 overall to the Cleveland Browns was also a surprise, as many prognosticators had the Browns taking NC State pass-rusher Bradley Chubb in that spot. Continue reading

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Defensive backs took over the 2018 NFL Combine

Derwin James

The final day of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine was the most busy in terms of action on the field, as a group of 70 defensive backs (43 cornerbacks, 27 safeties) performed drills and showcased their skills in preparation for this year’s NFL Draft.

There were more defensive backs at the Combine than players at any other position, and it was the largest group of DBs in the event’s history.

According to the majority of reviews and recaps I’ve read, and after watching most of the DBs do their thing on TV, the biggest fish in the big pond was Florida State safety Derwin James. Continue reading

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Brian Dawkins voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Brian Dawkins

Perhaps it should have been taken as a sign of things to come.

Before the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots met in Super Bowl LII this past Sunday, two men who are arguably the greatest defensive backs in each franchise’s respective histories were among the finalists up for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2018.

Ty Law, the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback who spent 10 seasons with the Patriots, didn’t make the cut. Brian Dawkins, the nine-time Pro Bowl safety who spent 13 seasons with the Eagles, was voted in on Saturday. The next day, the Eagles defeated the Patriots for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. Continue reading

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Lattimore wins NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

Marshon Lattimore

The NFL’s first Defensive Rookie of the Year award was given to a cornerback: Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions back in 1967. Since then, only seven other corners (and two safeties) have received the honor.

Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints joined the club at Saturday’s NFL Honors award show, winning a landslide vote over Buffalo Bills CB Tre’Davious White and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster.

Lattimore and Barney have another historical connection: With Saints running back Alvin Kamara winning the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Lattimore and Kamara became the second set of teammates to sweep the league’s ROTY awards. The first were Barney and Lions RB Mel Farr in 1967, exactly 50 years prior. Continue reading

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Woodson, Reed voted into College Football Hall of Fame

Ed Reed

If you were to put together an all-time dream team of a secondary for any level of football, no one would call you crazy for including Charles Woodson and Ed Reed.

Two of the greatest defensive backs the game has seen never did share a secondary outside of the NFL’s Pro Bowl, but they will share the stage when both are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2018 class. Continue reading

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Four DBs among finalists for 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class

Everson Walls

Terrell Owens and Randy Moss will be at the center of the two most heated debates when it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.

The statistics and impact of both wide receivers are undeniably Hall-worthy. But T.O. and Moss were also controversial figures who didn’t have great relationships with the media or great reputations with a lot of fans. And it’s no secret that politics and goodwill with the voting media play a role in one’s Hall of Fame chances.

This isn’t the first year on the ballot for Owens, who should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Moss is on the ballot for the first time. On Tuesday, they were announced as two of the 15 finalists for induction in the Hall’s 2018 class. Continue reading

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Fitzpatrick leads college football’s award-winning DBs

Minkah Fitzpatrick

As a collective unit, Alabama has had the best defensive backfield in college football for at least the last three seasons — which coincides with the rise junior Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Crimson Tide’s do-everything DB who has lined up at safety, cornerback, and any other uniquely-named hybrid position that coach Nick Saban wants to use that particular week.

Fitzpatrick has been one of college football’s best defensive players during his time in Tuscaloosa, and earlier this month he earned two of the highest honors that a Division-1 defensive back can receive — short of the Heisman Trophy — when he won both the 2017 Chuck Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe Award. Continue reading

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Jaguars cornerback tandem tabbed to start in Pro Bowl

A.J. Bouye, Jalen Ramsey

When free agent cornerback A.J. Bouye signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in March, penciled in to start opposite 2016 rookie sensation Jalen Ramsey, it gave the Jaguars arguably the NFL’s best pair of corners — on paper.

This week, that status was all but confirmed, as Bouye and Ramsey were selected as the starting cornerbacks for the AFC in the 2018 Pro Bowl. The NFL’s annual all-star game is scheduled for Jan. 28 in Orlando.

Bouye had six interceptions this season to go with 17 pass breakups and 49 tackles. Ramsey registered four interceptions, 17 pass breakups and 53 tackles. Continue reading

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