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Position-by-position NFL Draft Outlook: Defensive Backs

Posted: May 1, 2014 - 8:07pm  |  Updated: May 1, 2014 - 8:26pm
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In these photos provided by the NFL, taken at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in April  2014, NFL Draft prospects are shown. Top row from left are Kony Ealy, Missouri; Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Mike Evans, Texas A&M; Dee Ford, Auburn; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech and Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State . Bottom from left are: Ra'Shese Hageman, Minnesota; Timmy Jernigan, Florida State; Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama; Jarvis Landry, LSU; Marquise Lee, USC, and Taylor Lewan, Michigan.  AP
AP
In these photos provided by the NFL, taken at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in April 2014, NFL Draft prospects are shown. Top row from left are Kony Ealy, Missouri; Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Mike Evans, Texas A&M; Dee Ford, Auburn; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech and Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State . Bottom from left are: Ra'Shese Hageman, Minnesota; Timmy Jernigan, Florida State; Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama; Jarvis Landry, LSU; Marquise Lee, USC, and Taylor Lewan, Michigan.

For the cornerbacks: Experience in press coverage or schooled in zone principles. Tall, but not as fast, or a little shorter with speed.

For the safeties: Able to function downfield and close to the line of scrimmage. Or strictly a free or strong safety.

Among the several positions that have become more scheme specific in recent years, cornerback and safety are at the top of the list.

And it will impact how the draft plays out.

 

JAGUARS OUTLOOK

THE TOP 5

1. JUSTIN GILBERT, OKLAHOMA STATE

CB 6-0, 202: The consensus top cover cornerback in the draft. … Fourth-year senior who had 182 tackles and 12 interceptions in 51 games. … Seven interceptions last year were tied for second in nation. … Can also return kicks (six career touchdowns). … Led all defensive backs at Combine with 4.37-second 40-yard dash. … Moves well when he needs to change direction. … Good on-the-ball skills.

2. DARQUEZE DENNARD, MICHIGAN STATE

CB 5-11, 199: Won Thorpe Award for best defensive back last year and was unanimous All-American. … In 44 games, had 167 tackles, 10 interceptions and 30 pass breakups. … Broke up 24 passes in last two seasons. … Experienced in press coverage but played very little zone. … Needs to get better setting edge in running game. … Injured knee as freshman and later had double hernia surgery.

3. CALVIN PRYOR, LOUISVILLE

FS 5-11, 207: The biggest hitter of the group — he takes good angles and has good instincts before dropping hammer. … Can occasionally be over-eager so he’ll need to play more under control. … Had 62 tackles and three interceptions in 656 snaps last year. … Missed only six tackles in 2013. … Third-year junior who turns 22 in July. … Has range to play center field. … Started 32 of 38 games and had 218 tackles and seven picks.

4. HA-HA CLINTON-DIX, ALABAMA

FS 6-1, 208: Orlando native played 38 games for Crimson Tide and had 100 tackles and seven interceptions. … Third-year junior. … Last year, had 47 tackles and two interceptions in 616 snaps. … Suspended two games last year after accepting $500 loan from assistant coach. … Injured knee against Auburn but played in Sugar Bowl after surgery. … Strictly a free safety; not comfortable in the box. … Verdict is split on coverage skills.

5. JASON VERRETT, TCU

CB 5-9, 189: Played one year at Santa Rosa (Calif.) JC and then three for the Horned Frogs. … Allowed three touchdown passes in TCU debut and nearly quit team. … In 37 games, had 160 tackles and nine interceptions. … Second-team All-America as senior. … Durability is a concern — has had surgeries on left knee (spring 2012), right knee (January 2013) and shoulder (March 2014). … Ran 4.38 in 40 at Combine (second-best among CBs).

THE NEXT FIVE

-- Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State, 5-11, 194

-- Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 190

-- Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois, 5-11, 193

-- Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State, 5-8, 184

-- Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska, 6-3, 218

 

Ryan O’Halloran The Times-Union

On the roster: Cornerbacks — Alan Ball, Dwayne Gratz, Will Blackmon, Mike Harris, Demetrius McCray, Jeremy Harris and Jamell Fleming. Safeties — Johnathan Cyprien, Winston Guy, Josh Evans, Chris Prosinski, Sherrod Martin and Joe Young.

Draft history: The Jaguars have used three first-round picks on defensive backs (safeties Donovin Darius and Reggie Nelson and cornerback Fernando Bryant). Last year, they used five picks to rebuild the secondary and all remain on the roster.

Need scale (1-5): 1.

The Jaguars will probably take a cornerback in the later rounds, but they’re counting on their young players already on the roster to take a leap in their development.

Player Pos. School Ht. Wt.

Bradley Roby CB Ohio State 5-11 194

Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech 6-0 190

Jimmie Ward SS Northern Illinois 5-11 193

Lamarcus Joyner CB Florida State 5-8 184

Stanley Jean-Baptiste CB Nebraska 6-3 218

Saturday: Tight ends/special teams.