By sharing some of the football cards from my collection, my goal is to put a spotlight on defensive backs who may have become underrated or have been forgotten by history.
Martin Mayhew, CB, Washington (Pro Set 1991)
Martin Mayhew won a Super Bowl and intercepted more than 20 passes and scored a couple of touchdowns in his eight-year NFL career, but his post-playing career has been equally, if not more, impressive.
Coming out of Florida State in 1988, where he and Deion Sanders were teammates, Mayhew was a 10th-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. As the 262nd overall pick, he wouldn’t have gotten drafted today in the seven-round draft era.
A wrist injury cost Mayhew the ’88 season, the Bills cut him, and he didn’t make his pro debut until ’89 with Washington. Continue reading
Jamel Cook, a senior at Miami (Fla.) Central High School, is ranked by Scout.com as the fifth-best safety in the national class of 2016 and the No. 88 player in the class overall. In February he verbally committed to Florida State, but is reportedly still considering Auburn, Miami and West Virginia before putting pen to paper.
Standing 6-foot-4 and knocking on 200 pounds, Cook is already bigger than some NFL safeties. But he’s no lumbering linebacker in disguise; he’s been clocked as fast as 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash. On paper and on film, he looks like a good bet — should he stay committed to the Seminoles — to add to the lineage of FSU defensive backs in the NFL that includes Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley, LeRoy Butler, Ronald Darby, Samari Rolle, Bryant McFadden, Martin Mayhew, Dexter Jackson and Antonio Cromartie. 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