Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Grant Delpit, S, LSU (NCAA) — Of all the college football programs that give themselves the unofficial “DB U” moniker, LSU has as legitimate a claim as any.
The list of Bayou Bengals who have gone from Baton Rouge to the NFL is long and littered with defensive backs: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, LaRon Landry and Eric Reid are some of the more recent Pro Bowl DBs from LSU. (Crazy how a recent Pro Bowl safety like Reid couldn’t get a team to sign him in free agency this offseason. I wonder what that’s about?)
Two of the league’s fastest rising defensive stars are Jets safety Jamal Adams and Bills cornerback TreDavious White, both LSU products. Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills, also from the LSU lineage, was a starter on last season’s Super Bowl championship team. Continue reading
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
Earl Thomas (12) with the Longhorns
The thing with unofficial titles is that anybody can lay claim to them.
And in a competitive environment such as the big-time sports industry, where everybody is looking to own something that sets them apart from the pack, that means any attractive title you can imagine could have multiple entities claiming it as their own.
In college football, one such example is the unofficial moniker “Defensive Back University,” better known as “DBU.”
Generally defined as the football program that historically produces the best defensive backs and/or sends the most DBs to the pro level, “DBU” has been ascribed to no shortage of major-conference programs: LSU, Florida, Texas, Washington State, Miami, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State have all worn the mythical “DBU” crown in recent years. Continue reading
Derwin James is the best high school safety in the country, according to Scout.com. The senior from Haines City, Fla., is ranked No. 15 among all players in the Class of 2015 and No. 4 among DBs — behind cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield (Missouri City, Texas), Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif.) and Kevin Tolliver (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 215 pounds, James has enough room to grow into his frame that some talent evaluators predict he’ll eventually be a linebacker in college. He also plays wide receiver for Haines City High School, but for now James is committed to Florida State as a safety. And FSU fans shouldn’t worry much about James changing his mind; the kid already has the Seminoles logo tattooed on his left shoulder. Here is some of James’ best work from last season: Continue reading