2011 NFL Draft Preview: Top 10 Defensive Backs

Last Updated: April 26th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)

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Bankroll Sports is getting you all revved up with our 2011 Mock NFL Draft, going position by position, targeting the best players on the board at each position. Our NFL Draft Preview continues today with our look at the top linebackers available to come off of the board starting on Thursday.

1. Patrick Peterson CB (LSU) – Last year’s winner of the Thorpe Award (Best DB) and Bednarik Award (Best Defensive Player) is arguably the most talented player in the 2011 NFL Draft. Peterson established himself as a shutdown corner at LSU and had six pass break-ups and four interceptions during the 2010 NCAA football betting season. His 6’0 220 lb frame and 4.31 40 time highlight his physical gifts and his ability to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. In addition to his covering skills, Peterson was also one of the best punt returners in the nation (16.1 yards per return). He is a lock to be a Top 10 pick.

2. Prince Amukamara CB (Nebraska) – Unanimous All-American CB Prince Amukamara was one of the elite corners in all of college football last season. During his final season as a Cornhusker, quarterbacks showed their wariness in throwing to his side by only targeting him 53 times. Although he failed to pick off a pass last season, Amukamara led the team with 13 pass break-ups and consistently shut down some of the best receivers in the country. Amukamara is projected to be drafted in the top half of the first round.

3. Jimmy Smith CB (Colorado) – Smith’s size (6’2 210 lbs) and physical skills are extremely appealing to teams looking to improve their secondary in the draft but he has major red flags in the character department. While at Colorado, Smith failed four drug tests and ran into trouble with police from time to time. However, Smith also has great speed for his size (4.37 40), an impressive wingspan (77 inches), and unlike most college corners thrives in press coverage. This combination of talent and trouble has drawn many comparisons to Tampa Bay CB Aqib Talib. Smith can be a very good cornerback at the next level if he can stay out of trouble and is projected to be a first rounder.

4. Brandon Harris CB (Miami) – Miami should be renamed Defensive Back U with their proclivity of sending DBs to the NFL. In the past decade, the Hurricanes have had seven defensive backs drafted in the first round and Harris will look to be the eighth ‘Cane to earn this honor. Harris led a unit that was second in the nation in pass defense during the 2010 college football betting season. He lacks the size of some of the other corners in this draft and doesn’t have elite speed, but is a great man-to-man cover corner. Mock draft experts have Harris going in the late first or early second round.

5. Aaron Williams CB (Texas) – The Longhorns had their most disappointing seasons in years in 2010, but Williams was one of the few bright spots on the team. Williams is a 6’0 185 lb corner who has quick feet and is good at reading routes. He is somewhat slow for a cornerback (4.55 40) and may end up playing safety in the NFL, but his lack of physicality is something that would need to be overcome. Scouts project Williams to be a late first to early second round selection.

6. Rahim Moore FS (UCLA) – Our first non-cornerback on the list, Moore is a natural safety with great instincts. In 2009, Moore led the nation with 10 interceptions and was named a First Team All-American by the majority of publications bestowing postseason honors. Last season, Moore only picked off one pass, but still picked up First Team All Pac-10 honors as opposing quarterbacks refused to challenge him. Moore is seen as a second round pick in the upcoming draft.

7. Ras-I Dowling CB (Virginia) – Coming into the 2010 NCAA football betting season, Dowling was seen as a potential first round pick this year, but leg injuries ruined his senior year. Dowling battled a variety of injuries last season and suffered a fractured ankle that limited him to just five games. When he was healthy though, few were better in either the ACC or the country. Dowling is 6’2 200 lbs and ran a 4.4 40, and if he is able to stay healthy, he should be able to succeed at the next level. He is projected to be a second to third round pick in the draft.

8. Chimdi Chekwa CB (Ohio State) – Chekwa was a First Team All-Big 10 selection in 2010 and was a big part of why the Buckeyes defense was one of the best in the country. At the combine, Chekwa measured in at 6’0 190 lbs and ran a 4.38 40 to prove that he has the measureables needed to produce in the NFL. Aside from being one of the best cornerbacks in the nation, Chekwa also was a great sprinter and anchored the Buckeyes’ 4×100 relay team. He broke his right wrist in the team’s bowl game win over Arkansas but should be healthy in time for the season. Chekwa is seen as a second to third round pick.

9. Tyler Sash SS (Iowa) – Sash is seen by NFL scouts as the best strong safety prospect in the upcoming draft and was named First Team All-Big 10 in both 2009 and 2010. Although he struggles in covering receivers and lacks the speed teams would like to see, Sash is a hard hitter and does well in run support. He is projected to be a mid-round selection in the draft.

10. Davon House CB (New Mexico State) – At the Aggies’ pro day, House moved up the draft boards thanks to running a 4.35 40 and having a 6 foot frame. Although he didn’t play against top level competition, House’s size and speed make him an attractive option for NFL teams looking for a quality sleeper. Unlike other cornerbacks in this draft, House is a good tackler as well as a good cover corner and projects to be a mid-round selection.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 @ 10:32 am (EST)
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