Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - DBs

Previously: QBs, RBs, FBs, WRs, TEs, OTs, OGs, OCs, DTs, DEs, LBs

The defensive backs go under the microscope today. Unfortunately, much like the LBs, there is no distinguishing corner backs form safeties (and certainly no FS/SS categorization) so this is going to be a large group.

The DBs are half the component in the argument of what's more important to stopping an aerial attack: lock down men in the secondary or a pass rush disrupting the timing of the offense and getting to the QB? Regardless of where you stand on that debate, there's no doubt that you at least need ample bodies in the secondary.

Corner backs are usually believed to be failed wide receivers; basically these players are fast and agile but couldn't catch a cold. That generalization is true in some aspects but one of the big underlying reasons for becoming a CB is to hit people. Some players would rather light up a WR on a crossing pattern than catch a TD. Fine by me!

Safeties are generally bigger and stronger than CBs but a tad slower. They are responsible for anything deep, providing help "over the top", and charging into the pack in run support. Again, both CBs and all safeties have been combined into the generic defensive back (DB) category for this analysis.

Below are the statistics for DBs during the past 10 drafts. As you can see this is a big group.

Draft trends for DBs (1999-2008).

Over the last 10 drafts there have been 485 defensive backs (corner backs plus safeties) selected, an average of almost 49 per year. Wow. That is definitely the highest of any position. However, while the position is very important, it isn't one that needs to be filled early. As in the top 5. Only three players from the DB position (CB or S) have been selected in the Top 5 since 1999 (Quentin Jammer, San Diego, 2002; Terence Newman, Dallas, 2003; Sean Taylor, Washington, 2004) and all of them were the 5th pick. Eleven more players made their way into the Top 10. There have been 56 total DBs taken throughout round one since 1999, meaning 42 players at the position were selected outside the Top 10. The position is important and the best players are almost always found in the first two rounds but rarely is their talent overwhelming enough to be taken in the Top 10. If you need a CB or S, picking between picks 15 and 55 will probably yield you the best value.

The minimum amount of DBs taken in any of the last 10 drafts is 45 in 2001. Using my highly scientific categories, a reasonable person will say the we can expect at least that many selected come the end of the day on April 26. So 45 DBs will be drafted. The positional average is 49 which sets the bar for my "should be picked category", adding an additional four players. The 10 year maximum was 52 which adds three players to the "borderline" classification. After that it's anyone's guess, but luck isn't on your side. Of course you only need one team to fall in love with you, not all 32.

Using The Football Expert's CB and safety rankings (supplemented by the folks at NFL Draft Scout, who rank CBs, FSs, and SSs) I've come up with a list of the DBs that fit into my four categories. Like what I did for the linebackers, I spliced the CB and S prospects together into one to form the DB list.

Will Be Picked

Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State

Vontae Davis, Illinois

Darius Butler, Connecticut

Sean Smith, Utah

Louis Delmas, Western Michigan

D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt

Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest

Jairus Byrd, Oregon

Coye Francies, San Jose State

Rashad Johnson, Alabama

Patrick Chung, Oregon

Mike Mickens, Cincinnati

Victor Harris, Virginia Tech

Kevin Barnes, Maryland

Sherrod Martin, Troy

William Moore, Missouri

Keenan Lewis, Oregon State

Asher Allen, Georgia

Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina

Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest

Chris Clemons, Clemson

Michael Hamlin, Clemson

Bradley Fletcher, Iowa

Jerraud Powers, Auburn

David Bruton, Notre Dame

Darcel McBath, Texas Tech

DeAngelo Smith, Cincinnati

Derek Pegues, Mississippi State

Cary Harris, USC

Emmanuel Cook, South Carolina

Brandon Underwood, Cincinnati

Lardarius Webb, Nicholls State

Courtney Greene, Rutgers

Christopher Owens, San Jose State

C.J. Spillman, Marshall

Domonique Johnson, Jackson State

Donald Washington, Ohio State

Morgan Trent, Michigan

Bruce Johnson, Miami (FL)

Otis Wiley, Michigan State

Curtis Taylor, LSU

Londen Fryar, Western Michigan

Trimane Goddard, North Carolina

Mark Parson, Ohio

Greg Toler, St. Pauls

Joe Burnett, Central Florida

Should Be Picked

Brice McCain, Utah

DeAngelo Willingham, Tennessee

Al Afalava, Oregon State


Tony Carter, Florida State

Glover Quin, New Mexico

Jamaraca Sanford, Mississippi


Jacob Lacey, Oklahoma State

Ellis Lankster, West Virginia

Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma

Keith Fitzhugh, Mississippi State

MY PREDICTION: I think we have a bit of a down year in terms of DBs for the 2009 draft. There are no players with enough talent to go in the Top 10, as usual, but there are plenty worthy of being selected from the middle of the first to the end of the second. This draft is deep with solid players capable of becoming good starters. Unfortunately it falls off a bit leading me to believe we'll see just below the averag of 49 selected. I'll say 48 DBs in 2009.

UP NEXT: Later today I'll finish the averages feature with a look at both the kickers and punters. I know this is the one you have all been waiting for!

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