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
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
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