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2017 NFL Draft: Defensive Back Scouting Reports

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The LA Rams are in need of defensive back assistance. Luckily for them, this years group is the deepest it has been in at least 15 years.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s defensive back class is ridiculously loaded.

Picture this. There will be players - who stand 6’1” 215 lbs, with power on every hit and really good movement and coverage skills - whose college production is along the lines of 80 tackles, 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and runs in the 4.55 range, that will still be on the board come the fifth round. That doesn’t happen often. Maybe a guy every once in a while slips under the radar, but there will be multiple who fit the bill in this years draft. The best draft I can think of for comparison, was the 2003 NFL Draft. If you need DB help, the 2017 NFL Draft is begging you to address it.

Everything is graded on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being elite, and 1 being terrible (yes, I’ve actually had to grade someone terrible in an area: Johnny Manziel). I also give a grade for potential. I grade potential separate because more often than not, a player never reaches his full potential; so potential should not be a heavy factor in grading a player, but has to be included.. Therefore it is it's own separate entity. The highest grade for potential is an A+, which would mean you could be a Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson caliber player. The lowest grade for potential is a C which just means your ceiling is average.

SKILLS GRADING SYSTEM

Rating Scale

RTG Definition
RTG Definition
1 Terrible
2 Bad
3 Poor
4 Needs Attention
5 Below Average
6 Average
7 Above Average
8 Very Good
9 Game Changer
10 Elite

Rating Overall Scale

Overall Meaning
Overall Meaning
50-60 Career Backup/ST
61-70 Needs to Devvelop 1-3 yrs
71-79 Instant Starter/Yr One Contributer
80-89 Rookie of the Year
90-100 Rookie All-Pro

Potential Grading Scale

Grade Meaning
Grade Meaning
A+ Hall of Fame
A Perrenial All-Pro
A- Perrenial Pro Bowler
B+ Productive 10 Year Vet
B Pro Bowl
B- Fan Favorite
C+ Solid Contributor
C Average at Best

***ALL PLAYER COMPARISONS ARE BASED OFF OF SKILL SET AND BODY TYPES, NOT A PREDICTION OF CAREERS***

Lorenzo Jerome

Saint Francis, 5’10” 204 lbs

L. Jerome

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 10
Tackling 8
Recovery Speed 7
COD Skills 8
Athleticism 8
Hip Fluidity 7
Physicality 9
Man Coverage 7
Zone Coverage 9
Play-Making 9
OVERALL 82

POTENTIAL: A

Player Comparison: Troy Polamalu

Positives: Very instinctive player. Finds himself near the ball more than anyone else on the field. A natural born playmaker. Very aggressive int he box, and will bring the wood. Does a good job bring his feet and wrapping on tackles. Has a knack for forcing turnovers by way of both interception or forced fumble. Very good acceleration and burst. Can play deep middle, in the box, or cover the slot. Extremely comfortable playing near the LOS, for both the run and blitzing. Very quick twitch, and moves really well laterally. Really good athleticism as he returns punts, kicks, and even played offense. Those skills make him a threat to take it to the house during interception and fumble returns.

Negatives: Level competition. Played at a tiny division two school. Questions about top end speed. Relies on early acceleration to recover as opposed to natural speed. Tries to bait QB too often and has allowed receiver to get behind him putting himself in tough to recover situations.

Overview: Jerome is a player that I have been watching for a while now. He’s flown under the radar for quite some time but has slowly been building noise this off-season. It began with him showing that he can produce at a high level regardless of who his competition is by being the splash play machine he’s always been at the Senior Bowl. Against the nations top talent from the top division one schools, he managed two interceptions and a forced fumble, plus a tackle for loss. All done in typical Lorenzo Jerome fashion, as one interception came from him playing deep middle FS and sprinting from center field to the sideline to make the pick in the endzone. Another came in a soft under zone. And the forced fumble came with him playing around the LOS. He’s a natural football player that just makes plays all over the field.

Jabrill Peppers

Michigan, 5’11” 213 lbs

J. Peppers

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 8
Tackling 8
Recovery Speed 9
COD Skills 9
Athleticism 10
Hip Fluidity 8
Physicality 9
Man Coverage 8
Zone Coverage 9
Play-Making 6
OVERALL 84

Potential: A+

Player Comparison: Charles Woodson

Positives: Very explosive player. Hands down the most versatile player in the draft. Played corner, safety, LB, RB, QB, and returned punts and kicks, all at a high level. Brings the wood on hits. Very good COD skills. Supreme level of leadership skills. Very fast player. Has the leaping ability to match up against and sized receiver or TE. Very underrated blitzer. Shows impressive strength when playing around the LOS.

Negatives: Not enough splash in his career. Had opportunities for interceptions and opted to swat the ball rather than take it back the other way. Due to amount of time playing all over, has very little experience at his most natural position of safety.

Overview: Peppers is one of the most intriguing players to come out in the last five years. The talent that he brings makes him a lump of clay that every coach is likely interested in getting their hands on. He brings leadership skills to the defense, and is often seen being very vocal on the field as well as the sidelines. His physical style of play often overshadows his ability to play with more finesse when the moment calls for it. Though he lacked splash plays on defense, much of it can be attributed to his usage. He was not often put in position to come away with a take away, however, when he was, he did not take advantage of those opportunities. To be a top 20 pick on the defensive back end, you have to cause turnovers.

Jamal Adams

LSU, 6’ 214 lbs

J. Adams

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 7
Tackling 8
Recovery Speed 7
COD Skills 7
Athleticism 8
Hip Fluidity 7
Physicality 9
Man Coverage 8
Zone Coverage 9
Play-Making 8
OVERALL 78

Potential: A-

Player Comparison: Brian Dawkins

Positives: Very physical. Makes receivers double think before entering his territory for the catch. Really good tackler. Has amazing form on tackles, but also brings a pop with every bit of contact. Very good in zone coverage. Plays with high awareness and eliminates routes. Plays the run as well as any defensive back in this draft. Underrated ball skills. Can probably play traditional strong safety, hybrid LB, and deep FS. Very vocal and emotional leader. Plays with a lot of emotion and is usually fired up from whistle to whistle for 60 min.

Negatives: Looks to lower the boom too often. Has resulted in one too many whiffs in the hole. Solid in man coverage, but seems to fall for the double move every time. Gets caught with eyes in the backfield each time. Top end speed is questionable.

Overview: Adams has the look of a player that will become his teams defensive leader and heart and soul. His passion is hard to match on a play to play basis. He’ll give his team his all and won’t leave until he has nothing left. It’s highly impressive to watch on film to see him gasping for air in between plays, but somehow manage to find it in himself to go full speed on the next snap. Adams is more of a natural fit at SS but has the ability to play multiple roles. He shoes excellent tackling skilss, but will still have the occasional whiff as he goes for the big blow.

Sidney Jones

Washington, 6’ 186 lbs

S. Jones

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 10
Tackling 7
Recovery Speed 8
COD Skills 9
Athleticism 8
Hip Fluidity 9
Physicality 7
Man Coverage 9
Zone Coverage 8
Play-Making 9
OVERALL 84

Potential: A

Player Comparison: Marcus Peters

Positives: Has the best footwork of any DB in the draft. Breaks on the ball with ease. His stop and go and ability is off the charts. He has the COD ability of a scat back and/or elite slot receiver. High points the ball extremely well. Displays excellent ball skills. Hips are very fluid as he turns and runs with ease. Fully understands coverage's and how use the sideline as an extra players. Never panics and recovers fairly easily.

Negatives: Shows a willingness to play physical, but needs to show it more often. Needs to get stronger, has the frame to add more muscle, but has remained relatively light throughout college. Has to do better with his jam at the LOS. Often allows the receiver to throw him off balance for a free release.

Overview: Pound for pound the best corner in this draft. Looks like he was born specifically to line up on an island. His coverage can take away half of the field. He has his own island. Jones is a very smart corner, does a great job making quarterbacks uncomfortable with throwing in his direction. He stacks receivers as good as any corner to come out in the last five drafts. Often times, he runs the route for the receiver. He has very good play recognition skills, and diagnoses the play very quickly.

Marlon Humphrey

Alabama, 6’ 197 lbs

M. Humphrey

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 9
Tackling 9
Recovery Speed 7
COD Skills 8
Athleticism 9
Hip Fluidity 8
Physicality 8
Man Coverage 7
Zone Coverage 9
Play-Making 8
OVERALL 82

POTENTIAL: A-

Player Comparison: Xavier Rhodes

Positives: Very good length. Has great instincts. Has the best back pedal in the draft. Very smooth and can plant and go with ease. Breaks on the ball with no problem and displays very good ball skills. Is comfortable playing either man or zone. A good tackler, who shows good form and technique in the open field. Often shows good pre-snap recognition and might be the best in the draft at identifying plays early. Very vocal pre-snap in communicating what he sees.

Negatives: Not as good when asked to press. Struggles with bigger receivers. His size would suggest he can play big man ball with tall receivers. Does show a lot of strength. Not the most aggressive corner in the draft. Lack of aggressiveness causing struggles when trying to stack receiver often resulting in grabbing.

Overview: Humphrey is arguably the most natural corner in the draft. His footwork comes with ease. The ability to backpedaling and change direction and go looks like second nature for him. He's a good bet to become one of the better corners in a few years in the right scheme. One that plays to his strengths that allows off coverage a d some freedom to read and react. His instincts should not be held back but instead allowed to be a strength, sort of how the Cardinals are with Patrick Peterson.

Teez Tabor

Florida, 6’ 199 lbs

J. Tabor

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 10
Tackling 8
Recovery Speed 7
COD Skills 8
Athleticism 9
Hip Fluidity 8
Physicality 9
Man Coverage 8
Zone Coverage 8
Play-Making 9
OVERALL 84

POTENTIAL: A

Player Comparison: Aqib Talib

Positives: Great ball skills. Very good jam of the line. He does as good a job as anyone in the draft rerouting receivers and throwing off their timing. Very physical and aggressive coverage making receivers uncomfortable and taking them out their game. Similar to aqib talib. A good athlete with exceptionally quick feet. Diagnoses plays quickly. Shows great instincts. Can read and react quickly showing immense trust in his eyes. He's usually right. Has very good hands.

Negatives: Can be a bit of a risk taker. Will look to jump double moves often. Guessed right more times than not in college but NFL coaches and receiver are sure to look to take advantage of this. Aggressive style of play is good at the line but has to tone it down when down the field at the next level. It's a minor adjustment that young aggressive corners struggle with early on.

Overview: Tabor has great size and athleticism for the position and he plays like he knows this. He really uses his strength to his advantage. Receivers rarely can get a free release when he's pressing. His ability to stack receivers will come in handy in today's NFL, as the willingness to pass is at an all time high. Stacking has become a corners best friend to slow down the more advanced route concepts. This is and area where he's fully expected to excel.

Malik Hooker

Ohio State, 6’1” 206 lbs

M. Hooker

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 10
Tackling 8
Recovery Speed 8
COD Skills 9
Athleticism 10
Hip Fluidity 8
Physicality 8
Man Coverage 7
Zone Coverage 9
Play-Making 10
OVERALL 87

POTENTIAL: A+

Player Comparison: Ed Reed

Positives: Ball skills are off the charts. Is easily the best center fielder I've seen since Ed Reed. Can drop extremely deep or move in close to the line. Maybe the most instinctive player in the draft. Displays a natural feel for positioning himself to force turnovers. Has good speed. Is good in run support. Can play both zone and man. Hips are loose and can turn and run with ease. A threat to take it back every time he touches the ball. Very explosive player and can jump with anyone. Has ideal size for the position.

Negatives: Shows physicality but not often enough. Has goes for the shoe lace tackle to often and has resulted in some mixed tackles. Doesn’t always do a good job breaking down and running his feet on tackles in the open field.

Overview: Hooked is simply the best to do it. There's no if and's or but's about it. When he initially said he'd return to school — even as a sophomore — I was a bit shocked. Between his physical abilities and the production it made little to no sense to go back and risk scouting finding a reason to drop him down draft boards. As it stands now, he's likely a lock to go in the top five. Hooked has immense potential, and his instincts aline should mean a very good early return on the investment.

Budda Baker

Washington, 5’10” 195en

B. Baker

Skill Rating
Skill Rating
Ball Skills 9
Tackling 8
Recovery Speed 8
COD Skills 9
Athleticism 9
Hip Fluidity 7
Physicality 8
Man Coverage 7
Zone Coverage 8
Play-Making 10
OVERALL 83

POTENTIAL: A

Player Comparison: Earl Thomas

Positives: Very tough player. Not afraid to get physical. Has good speed and. Good balk skills. Can line up all over the secondary and perform at a high level. Shows great burst and and does not stop his feet upon contact. Knows how to really play the ball in the air. Is a good blitzer. Has no problem covering bigger targets. Very feisty competitor. Shows a unique understand of the zone coverage schemes. Very relaxed player in the face of adversity. Creates splash plays often.

Negatives: Could stand to get stronger. Does always show the same instincts in man as he does in zone. Not very good when down in coverage and asked to press. Has shown a few time a lack of focus pre-snap and has been caught off guard. Can be very flat footed in his back pedal effecting his breaks on the ball sometimes.

Overview: Baker might have stolen the identity of Earl Thomas. The similarities coming out of college are ridiculous. Baker has good explosiveness and can really locate the ball and go. He has the ability to play 20 yards off the LOS pre-snap and still make the tackle on the RB for a three yard stop. It's hard not to love his feisty competitiveness on the field. He shows a fearless attitude and will take on anyone on the field. He can cover a lot of ground in space and make plays on the back you never seen coming before the throw.

Below are my rankings of the top ten receivers of the 2017 NFL draft. Included are both the round I think they are deserving of being drafted in (represented by the first number), as well as the round I think they will ultimately be drafted in (represented by the second number)...

******FOR THE FIRST TIME I AM LISTING MORE THAN THE TOP 10 AS THIS YEARS CROP OF DBS IS SO DEEP THERE ARE A LOT OF GUYS WITH THE SAME OVERALL SKILLS RATING AND ARE SIMILAR IN DRAFT RANGE******

Top 15 DB Ranking

Rank Player Position School HT/WT Porjected Rd
Rank Player Position School HT/WT Porjected Rd
1 Malik Hooker FS Ohio St. 6'1" 206 lbs Top 5/Top 5
2 Sidney Jones CB Washington 6' 186 lbs Top 10/Top 15
3 Jabrill Peppers SS Michigan 5'11" 213 lbs Top 10/Top 20
4 Teez Tabor CB Florida 6' 199 lbs Top 10/Top 15
5 Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama 6' 197 lbs Top 15/Top 15
6 Budda Baker FS Washington 5'10" 195 lbs Top 20/Rd 1
7 Lorenzo Jerome FS Saint Francis 5'10" 204 lbs Top 20/Rd 2
8 Jamal Adams SS LSU 6' 214 lbs Rd 1/Rd 1
9 Desmond King CB/FS Iowa 5'10" 201 Rd 1/Rd 2
10 Quincy Wilson CB Florida 6'1" 211 lbs Rd 2/Rd 2
11 Kevin King CB Washington 6'3" 200 lbs Rd 2/Early rd 3
12 Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio St. 6' 193 lbs Rd 2/ Rd 2
13 Damontae Kazee CB San Diego St. 5'10" 184 lbs Rd 2/Rd 3
14 Tre'Davious White CB LSU 5'11" 192 lbs Rd 2/Rd 2
15 Marcus Williams FS Utah 6'1" 202 Late Rd 2/ Rd 3