2006 NFL Draft: Defensive Backs Part I

With the 30th ranked pass defense in the league and the departure of cornerback Eric Warfield, the Chiefs are in the market for help in their secondary. Although they already have a surplus of young players with Julian Battle, Lenny Walls, Alphonso Hodge, and Benny Sapp, the Chiefs will likely draft one or two more defensive backs to come in and compete with their veterans.

This is the first of a three part series exploring the top 15 defensive backs in the draft. Today we'll look at the top four players, all of whom I consider to be blue chip prospects.

FS Michael Huff

Texas

6'1" 205lbs

Michael Huff is the top rated defensive back this year's draft and the first of five players in his position group that have the potential to reach elite NFL status.

With his mixture of athleticism and toughness, Huff has the ability to play either corner or safety on the professional level. In run defense he consistently flies to the ball and rarely misses a tackle. He's also an intelligent player that puts in the necessary time in the film room, so he's usually two steps ahead of the offense and always in the proper position to make a stop.

In the passing game he's outstanding in coverage and can flip his hips and turn with most receivers. He has top level speed that allows him to run stride-for-stride with receivers and can also jump with big tight ends.

It has been a few years since a free safety of Huff's caliber has entered the draft. There aren't many holes in his game and the team that drafts him should expect him to make an immediate impact in their defense.

Comparable Player: Baltimore's Ed Reed

CB Jimmy Williams

Virginia Tech

6'3" 216lbs

As the biggest, fastest and strongest defensive back of this years draft class, Jimmy Williams is the top rated corner on most team's draft boards. He faced top tier talent in the ACC and was an All-American and 1st Team All-ACC selection as a senior.

Williams is very fluid and coordinated for a player of his size. Usually it is difficult for taller defensive backs to backpedal and change directions in short distances, but Williams makes it look effortless. He has the type of burst and quickness that is typically only seen in players under six feet tall.

Not only does Williams have the control and reflexes you look for in an elite corner, he also has the awareness and instincts. He does a nice job reading his receiver, locating the ball and positioning himself between the two. Even on the rare occasions where he's fooled, Williams has the athleticism to regroup and recover.

Due to Williams's height and leaping ability it is always a dangerous proposition to throw in his direction. It's not uncommon to see him elevate over the intended receiver and pull down an interception. He can be equally as dangerous on the short routes as well, as he's known to jump in front of hooks or quick outs.

Toughness will never be a question with Williams, as he's known as a big hitter and accomplished run stuffer. He played two years at safety before moving to corner, so it's always possible an NFL team might draft him to play safety once again. His physical nature will also make him a valuable commodity for teams that run the cover two.

Outside of his physical attributes, Williams also possesses the mental makeup he'll need on the next level. He is extremely confident and won't be intimidated by the competition. He also has the short term memory you look for when it comes to playing corner in the NFL.

Jimmy Williams grades as an elite top ten prospect and is the sixth-rated player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board.

Comparable Player: A taller version of Buffalo's Nate Clements

CB Tye Hill

Clemson

5'10" 180lbs

Tye Hill is without question the best man-to-man cornerback in this year's draft. Although he might be a little small for jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, he can turn and run downfield with anyone.

Hill's instincts and techniques are top notch. On film he looks like a four-year pro. His three years as a starter at Clemson are evident. When he backpedals and transitions to a sprint his movements are exceptionally smooth. He seems to be very familiar with the offensive passing tree because he shows great anticipation when shadowing receivers.

One of Hill's most impressive attributes is his body placement. He is consistent at maintaining proper position on receivers and forces the quarterback to make a perfect throw. Hill will often outmaneuver the wide receiver and steer him to an area of the field that forces an incompletion. It is rare to see a college corner with this level of expertise.

Athletically, Hill has all of the tools he needs for success in the NFL. Hill ran the fastest forty time at the combine with a 4.30 and could be the perfect type of player to match up against wide receivers like Steve Smith.

Hill is Warpaint Illustrated's 19th ranked player in the draft and carries a mid first-round grade. Comparable Player: Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall

FS Jason Allen

Tennessee

6'2" 202lbs

With so many big pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, safeties with Allen's muscular 6'2" frame are in high demand. Most safeties that match up with tight ends aren't fast enough to cover wide receivers on a regular basis. This isn't the case with Allen. His 4.42 forty is fast enough to run with most NFL wide outs.

Allen is a similar player to the above mentioned Michael Huff. Both are excellent safety prospects with enough athleticism to move to cornerback. If Allen were moved to corner he'd probably be a better fit in the cover two, where he could use his physicality to stuff the run and bully receivers back towards the inside.

When supporting the run from his safety position, Allen displays great instincts and is rarely caught out of position. When asked to play in the box, he'll usually stuff plays for short gains and he's fearless when attacking the line of scrimmage.

As a pass defender, Allen does a marvelous job of opening his hips and changing direction. He can run with most receivers and is very fluid in transition. Allen is also a smart player that can read offenses and keep everything in front of him. He'll use this skill in conjunction with his quick burst to explode on receivers and separate them from the ball.

Allen has battled numerous injuries over his career with a serious hip injury being the most recent. Because of this, he has some durability concerns, which has dropped his draft stock from the early first round to the late first round.

Jason Allen is the 20th ranked player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board and carries a mid second-round grade. Comparable Player: Baltimore's Ed Reed

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories