2006 NFL Draft: Defensive Backs Part II

This is the second half of our two part series exploring the top 15 defensive backs in the draft. Today we'll look at the remaining 11 players beneath the elite blue chip prospects.

With the 30th ranked pass defense in the league and the departure of cornerback Eric Warfield, the Chiefs are in the market for help at defensive back. 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.

FS Donte Whitner

Ohio St.

5'11" 205lbs

Teams that are looking for a safety with big play ability need look no further than Donte Whitner. Whitner has been one of the top play making defensive backs in the Big 10 over the past two seasons and has the potential become even more dangerous in the NFL.

Whitner is a versatile and well-blanced player that can cover as well as he tackles. He has the elite speed that is needed to run with most NFL receivers and the physical prowess to play in the box and stuff the run.

With Whitner's explosion and instincts he is especially lethal on the line of scrimmage. He rarely misses a tackle and thrives on contact. He's also the typical head-hunting safety that will de-cleat receivers trying to catch passes over the middle.

In coverage, Whitner can open his hips and turn like a cornerback. He has good ball awareness and has shown the ability to play with his back to the line of scrimmage. Due to his coverage skills and physical nature he is a strong candidate to play corner in a cover two defense. At the same time he's equally desirable as a cover two safety. He has the range to play from the hash to the sideline. Because cover two safeties play from the inside out they can often be beaten down the sidelines. A player with Whitner's speed is much more capable of recovering and defending the deep sideline routes.

Whitner's versatility also makes him a prime candidate to play nickel back. He has the level of toughness that a nickel back needs to play inside and the coverage ability to line up and cover the slot receiver. It is very difficult to find players with both of those attributes.

Whitner is rated as the 28th player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board and carries a mid first round grade.

Comparable Player: Philadelphia's Brian Dawkins

CB/FS Antonio Cromartie

Florida St.

6'3" 210lbs

Antonio Cromartie is the biggest risk in the first two rounds of this year's draft. Although he's an amazing athlete, his durability and lack of experience should be cause for concern.

Pound-for-pound, Cromartie is one of the top athletes in the 2006 draft. His size, strength and speed ratio are almost off the charts. He ran a poor forty time at the combine, but redeemed himself with a 4.38 at Florida State's pro day.

In coverage, Cromartie displays quick feet, but he doesn't always transition well from his back pedal to sprint. He also needs to have better recognition of routes. This should come with more experience.

He has the size and physical attributes to move to safety and might be a better player facing the line of scrimmage. His height, weight and speed ratio would make him an interesting player match up against the premier tight ends in the league.

Cromartie tore his ACL prior to the 2005 season and this was a major contributor to his lack of experience. Had he remained healthy he would have been the number one corner at Florida State.

Cromartie is the 41st player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board and carries an early second round Grade. If he's drafted early it will purely be based on his "potential."

Comparable Player: Has the physical ability to reach the same level as Denver's Champ Bailey

FS Ko Simpson

South Carolina

6'1" 201lbs

Over the past two years Ko Simpson has been the star of South Carolina's defense and one of the top defensive backs in the SEC. If he had stayed in School for one more season Simpson would have been the top-rated safety in next years draft.

Simpson is a well-rounded safety that shares many similarities to Ohio State's Donte Whitner. Although Simpson lacks Whitner's level of experience, his athleticism and tenacity is on the same plane.

As a run stopper, Simpson is fearless and ferocious. He excels in playing close to the line of scrimmage and can explode downhill like a linebacker. Known as a big hitter, Simpson takes a lot of pride in leveling his opponents. He has the type of attitude and toughness you typically see in elite players. He is already a powerful player and still has room to add more muscle to his frame.

With 4.4 speed, Simpson has the range to play in any style of defense. Like most safeties he cannot be asked to cover wide receivers for an extended period of time. He is a pure safety and not a safety/corner "tweener." He must play facing the line of scrimmage.

Simpson's instincts are also apparent in the passing game, as he has a knack for reading the quarterback and jumping routes for the interception. His instincts also aid him in separating receivers from the ball as they attempt to make the catch. Any receiver that crosses the middle while Simpson is on the field should have their heads on a swivel.

Simpson's stock has slightly fluctuated on Warpaint Illustrated's value board, but he has constantly carried an early second round grade.

Comparable Player: Philadelphia's Brian Dawkins

CB Jonathan Joseph

South Carolina

5'11" 187lbs

Even by NFL standards, Jonathan Joseph has elite speed. His 4.31 forty time at the Combine turned more than a few heads.

Due to his world class speed, Joseph has been drawing comparisons to Clemson's Tye Hill. Joseph isn't nearly as polished as Hill and will take longer to develop while Hill has the ability to start right away. With that being said. Joseph still has a tremendous upside. His pure athletic ability should push him into the early second or even late first round.

Although Joseph is still learning to play the position there are numerous things that he does particularly well. His footwork and coordination are outstanding. He can glide across the field and make it look effortless. He can swivel and open his hips with ease, and has all of the natural gifts you need to become an elite man-to-man corner.

Joseph won't shy away from contact in the run game and loves to lower the boom on running backs. He's usually tough against the run, although he sometimes goes for the big hit instead of wrapping up, rolling his hips, and driving through the ball carrier.

Personality-wise, Joseph is a hard worker with strong character. He's also coachable and intelligent so it shouldn't take him any longer than one year to move in to the starting lineup. Jonathan Joseph is the 53rd ranked player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board and carries an early second round grade.

Comparable Player: Dunta Robinson of the Houston Texans.

CB/FS Cedric Griffin

Texas

6'2" 193lbs

Cedric Griffin is the top cover-two corner in this years draft and he also projects as a cover-two safety.

Griffin is a physical player with marvelous instincts that had dual roles with the Longhorns defense at both corner and safety. He is a great text book tackler that intimidates with toughness.

Although he ran a slow forty time at the Combine, Griffin plays much faster than his timed speed. A team like the Chiefs or Colts could scoop him up in the mid second round and he might even drop all the way to the third.

He isn't as fluid as the man-to-man corners rated ahead of him, but he's a much more physical player at the same time. He's definitely not what you would call a shut-down corner and will only succeed in the proper scheme.

Cedric Griffin carries a late first round grade on Warpaint Illustrated's value board. This is primarily because he'll fit with the Chiefs new defensive scheme so well.

Comparable Player: His physical nature is remnant of Ty Law, though he lacks Law's speed.

THE OTHER PROSPECTS



CB Kelly Jennings

Miami

6'0" 177lbs

Jennings is a fluid player who's strong point will initially be in man coverage. Jennings has good instincts and is a natural that can make coverage look easy at times. Right now he's skinny, but he has the frame to add more weight and become a more physical player.

SS/OLB Darnell Bing

U.S.C.

6'2" 220lbs

Bing is the biggest hitter in this years crop of defensive backs. He has Rodney Harrison type attributes. Bing is not the best cover man, but he can blow things up in the running game when stacked as the eighth man in the box.

SS Daniel Bullocks

Nebraska

6'2" 210lbs

Bullocks is a big thumper that excels at stopping the run. He lacks top instincts in the passing game and doesn't always play up to his measurables. He's still worth a mid second round grade because of his athleticism. Bullocks has a lot of potential and possesses the physical talent to become a pro-bowler.

CB Richard Marshall

Fresno St

5'11" 190lbs

Marshall is another fluid and instinctive player that could very well wind up being the steal of the second round. He has a good height, weight and speed combination but didn't face top competition at Fresno State.

CB Ashton Youboty

Ohio St.

6'1" 188lbs

Youboty has recently fallen down Warpaint's value board for various reasons. While he isn't necessarily a bad player (still has a late second round grade) he lacks the high-end instincts and fluid movements you look for in a first round prospect. He also needs to gain weight. This is part of the reason why he isn't very physical.

FS Pat Watkins

Florida St.

6'4" 211lbs

Watkins rounds out the defensive backs slated for the second round. Watkins height makes him a very desirable prospect for teams that have to match up with one of the NFL's top tier tight ends. Defending the fade route against players like Antonio Gates is nearly impossible.

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