Rookie Defensive Backs


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Rookie Defensive Backs

This draft is heavily stocked with solid wide receivers, but do not sleep on the defensive backs coming into the NFL. The league is becoming more and more pass oriented and teams are playing five and six defensive backs with more frequency. There are plenty of NFL teams running out three safeties on any given play and nickel CBs are taking as many snaps as a starting CB2 and even CB1. This crop of DBs has some studs in it, even if DBs are a dime a dozen in fantasy football.

Defensive Backs

Jeffrey Okudah — Okudah is the top CB in this draft and will likely be taken within the first top 5 picks. He is the complete blue-chip package. Okudah has size, length, and foot quickness. These are all physical traits NFL general managers thirst for. He plays a physical man-to-man style, but has shown weakness with instincts in zone coverage. Okudah is not afraid to stick his nose in there on run support as he proved to be an aggressive tackler.

Fantasy Points: Okudah has the physical traits and closing speed burst to become an elite shutdown corner at the next level. NFL QBs will test him early and often in his rookie season, but beware. Successful shutdown CBs in the NFL do not translate well into fantasy football over an extended period of time. This is especially true after being tested and successful early in their careers.

Xavier McKinney — McKinney has a high IQ and he plays with a downhill toughness. McKinney has immediate burst and can close quickly while hitting his opponent with force. He has been known to blitz from the slot corner. While he does have ball hawking skills, he should have had more interceptions than he had in his senior year at Alabama. McKinney is not a flashy player, but is consistently aggressive and an excellent tackler.

Fantasy Points: McKinney is capable of playing in the slot, at safety, or even in the box. This makes him very versatile and coveted by NFL teams. His type of versatility will help a defensive coordinator diversify their game plans. His hard-nosed style can create turnovers and that is something all NFL teams desire. McKinney embraces the speed and physicality of the NFL and will be an opening day starter in his rookie season.

Trevon Diggs — Diggs is the younger brother of WR Stefon Diggs. Like his older brother, Diggs started out as a WR. Thus, he has ball skills to tandem with his solid size and excellent athleticism. Diggs has the strength and burst to do well in short area routes, but tends to lose his positioning when tracking down deep throws. He struggles with double moves and combo routes, but excels at knocking receivers of any size off their routes. Diggs is one of the most physical corners coming out in the draft.

Fantasy Points: Diggs could be considered the second best corner in the draft. He has a high level of competitiveness and athleticism that will help him transition to the next level. Diggs is best suited to cover short area zones. If a team can protect him from having to cover deep patterns frequently, then he can thrive in the NFL. Starting in his rookie season is a big question, but his potential and competitive nature should land him a starting job on the right team. Diggs is a special team returner and that adds to his value for NFL teams.

Grant Delpit — Delpit is an aggressive and fearless run defender. Still, he lacked the big flashy splash type of plays in his senior year and that could lower his draft stock. Poor angles and techniques led to tackle inconsistencies at LSU and that is not an easy thing to teach. Delpit was relied upon in blitz packages at LSU coming from the outside and inside. He had somewhat of a down year in 2019 compared to 2018, but this may have been due to an ankle sprain that he played through last season.

Fantasy Points: Delpit is best suited to be a nickel safety early on in his rookie season, but could find a starting job on a team desperate for safety help. He has no problem sticking his grill in any ball carrier’s chest, but can miss tackles often. If he can remain healthy, Delpit could improve on his tackling and become a feared hitter in the NFL. While he did show elite athleticism at times in college, Delpit could be successful at the next level with consistency.

C.J. Henderson — Henderson has good size and solid athleticism. He excels at reading QB eyes and anticipating passes. He can play either zone or man-to-man coverage. Henderson has excellent closing speed and has the ability to jump routes. These traits lead to ball hawking skills which are coveted at the next level. Henderson flashed aggressiveness and is willing to attack downhill against the run.

Fantasy Points: Henderson can play in multiple defensive schemes and that helps defensive coordinators be diverse with their game plans. Henderson should be a day one starter in the NFL, even if it is as a nickel CB on a team that has two starting CBs. With his multitude of high end traits, we expect him to have a high snap count in his rookie season.

Jeff Gladney — Gladney played for Gary Patterson, who is known for developing high quality DBs at TCU. Gladney is a ball hawk who possesses excellent hand usage, especially when engaging receivers. He has closing burst ability and can thrive as a blitzer as well. Gladney is not afraid to stick his nose in a runner and has solid tackling skills.

Fantasy Points: Gladney is capable of playing in man or zone coverage. His smaller size (only 5’10”) could force teams to shy away from lining him up on the outside. Even so, his coverage skills will draw interest from NFL general managers. There are players his size starting as an outside CB in the NFL, so it is not out of the question. It may take some time, but Gladney could turn into a three-down IDP option for the right NFL team whether it be an outside or slot CB.

Jeremy Chinn — Chinn is a big safety with an NFL frame at 6’3” and 221 lbs. With over a 32” arm length, Chinn can be a ball hawk at the next level. He displayed awareness along the sidelines and made show flashy feet-inbounds interceptions. The biggest key to Chinn is his versatility and flexibility to play multiple positions. He can be used in blitz packages as well as coverage and run defending schemes. Chinn has excellent burst to play inside the box and controlled athleticism to close on receivers quickly.

Fantasy Points: Chinn has solid coverage skills plus he is a willing and able tackler. He is considered a tweener in that he does not have a particular traditional position he can play. Do not let that fool you as he can play numerous spots. He can cover a TE or slot WR, play deep coverage, and man the hybrid S/LB position against the run. His versatility will allow him to see the field more often than not as coaches fit him into their multiple schemes.

Cameron Dantzler — Dantzler excels in press coverage whether it is mirror or physical. He has experience in man and zone coverage. Dantzler is a physical player who displayed competitiveness. He is also aggressive against the run. Dantzler is long and athletic at 6’2” and 188 lbs, but tends to be more deliberate and systematic in his movement.

Fantasy Points: Dantzler saw plenty of snaps as a boundary, or shorter side of the field cornerback. He also blitzed off the short side as well. Dantzler had his ups and downs against top collegian WRs like Ja’Marr Chase of LUS (up) and Jerry Jeudy of Alabama (down). He should develop into a solid outside corner, but it may take some time to do so. Unless a team is absolutely desperate at CB, Dantzler may take a year or two to develop into that solid outside CB.

Kristian Fulton — Fulton has good size and plenty of press man coverage experience. He played with an aggressive and competitive mindset with a physical approach to his press coverage. Fulton did get back on his heels at times, thus hindering his body control and balance. He is not a sudden or explosive mover, but he has the speed to cover the deep ball.

Fantasy Points: Fulton has to overcome his balance and body control issues. In college, he could recover from these issues and make plays. That will not be so easy at the next level and coaches are very unforgiving when issues like this pop up. Fulton is extremely experienced with press coverage, both physical and mirror press. Still, he could have problems with quicker wideouts in the NFL. He has the potential to be a solid outside CB, but has to develop and work on his technique to achieve that goal.

Noah Igbinoghene — Igbinoghene is pronounced “ig-bah-NOG-ah-knee”. He played both man and zone coverage while at Auburn. Igbinoghene transitioned from WR to CB, so he has solid ball skills. He is a physical and aggressive athlete with a good closing burst. Igbinoghene can also defend the run. Having played just two seasons at Auburn makes him raw in the eyes of NFL scouts.

Fantasy Points: Igbinoghene will make his mark early on playing special teams. His ability to play both man and zone coverage while also supplying run support will help him lock down an NFL roster spot. Igbinoghene plays with all power and no finesse, and that makes him more of a work-in-progress. Still, he has the potential to be a starting outside boundary CB in a few years.

Antoine Winfield, Jr. — Winfield is the son of former All-Pro CB Antoine Winfield, Sr. Some teams are leery of him only being 5’9” and has just over a 30” arm length. Still, Winfield has excellent body control and balance. He ranked fourth in the nation last year with seven interceptions. Winfield has no problem being physical with tight ends or selling out against the run in the box. He is a thumper who plays through the ball.

Fantasy Points: Winfield will not likely be a Jamal Adams type star in the NFL. His size could be a detriment for NFL teams on draft day. Still, Winfield proved he has a nose for the ball. His toughness and intelligence will help him secure a starting job by year two of his NFL career.

Jaylon Johnson — Johnson excels in press coverage. His size and length allow him to be very physical in press coverage. Even when tight coverage creates balance and positioning issues, Johnson uses his agility and quickness to offset these problems. His route recognition is top flight and will help him transition into the NFL.

Fantasy Points: Johnson is likely a first day draft pick that could be an opening day starter at the next level. Again, he is best suited for press or man-to-man defensive schemes. He can play in zone coverage as long as he has the ability to jam at the line of scrimmage. He specializes in reading route and can be a ball hawk.

Bryce Hall — Hall was a receiver in high school. That helps with his ball skills. He can be beaten over the top by exceptional route runners and speedsters at the next level. Still, he has solid recognition of short routes and can press with the best WRs out there. While he does have excellent ball hawking skills, Diggs can rack up a high number of passes defended (PDs) too.

Fantasy Points: Hall is best suited to play outside corner as his long arms and solid foot work assist him in closing and breaking up passes. His ball skills and quickness are best suited for zone coverage. His vulnerability over the top means he needs protection in deep coverage. It would not surprise us to see him play free safety early in his career should he land on an NFL team that is loaded at CB.

Ashtyn Davis — Davis got a late start with football as he earned a track scholarship to the University of California. He was a walk-on to the football team as a redshirt freshman in college. Davis played cornerback at first for the Golden Bears before switching to safety in his sophomore season. A high-motored aggressive hitter, Davis was used in a multitude of assignments after his switch to safety. He can play deep, nickel man-to-man, or even nickel linebacker if needed.

Fantasy Points: Davis is a boom or bust prospect. What he does have in his favor is the ability to play safety or corner and that could lead to interest on day one or two of the draft. Scouts love his high-character and that is enticing to general managers. Davis reads plays well and this combined with his mobility makes him a potential candidate to thrive in Cover-2.

A.J. Terrell — Terrell has solid size and speed (as evidence in his 4.42 40-yard dash). He is an above average athlete. Something that stands out when watching his highlights, Terrell has a nose for the ball. He can be a ball hawk and can also lay the lumber on opponents. Terrell has quick burst to close in on a receiver. He did not fare well against LSU in last year’s NCAA championship game. That performance alone could hurt his draft value.

Fantasy Points: Even though he has good size and speed with ball hawk skills, Terrell is likely not a starter in his rookie season. In fact, he may struggle to see the field as a nickel corner. Much will depend on his landing spot in the NFL. If he is drafted by a team that has serious CB needs, he could see the field plenty. Monitor his draft location closely as a crowded secondary landing spot could mean less playing time in year one.

Justin has been holding down the IDP fort for John Hansen and the crew since 2015. In addition to projections and articles, he also hosts an all-IDP podcast called “The IDP Corner,” where he is joined by his fellow FantasyPoints IDP contributor Thomas Simons, along with other special guests.