1. FS LaRon Landry - LSU – 6-foot-1, 213 - 4.35
Landry is by far the scariest safety to enter the draft since Washington's Sean Taylor. It is rare to see a safety that is such a complete package. Either they are too physical and they lack strong coverage skills, or they are too finesse and lack the ability to head hunt in the middle of the field.
Landry is one safety that you never have to question from a physicality standpoint. He's a very explosive hitter and an absolute monster on the blitz. He can strike as hard as anyone playing in the league today and he consistently wraps up well.
When it comes to reading the quarterback and playing in coverage, Landry rarely disappoints. His awareness and range puts him in an "elite" status for a player. It's rare that you'll ever run across a safety of his size that can come down from "up top" and blanket an NFL receiver in man coverage. He's going to give a lot of offensive coordinators bad days in the very near future.
2. CB Chris Houston - Arkansas – 5-foot-10, 185 - 4.32
Chris Houston is without question this year's top "shutdown"/"man-to-man" corner. He has the fluid footwork and hips that you typically only find in the most elite of prospects. Frustrating his opponents to no end, he can turn and transition through breaks like a wide receiver and stick to their hip on every turn.
At first glance, Houston's chiseled frame makes him look like a safety. If you wonder why receivers can't escape from his jam, maybe it has something to do with his 450-pound bench press. He also has a 32-inch reach which allows him to play taller than a 5-foot-10 player.
Oddly enough, Houston looks to be a little out of sorts in zone coverage, but this can be easily corrected by an NFL coaching staff.
3. CB Leon Hall - Michigan – 5-foot-11, 193 - 4.39
Nicknamed "Lockdown" Leon by his teammates, Hall was the best cornerback the Big 10 had to offer in 2006. As a sound technician with good speed and burst he's more than ready to take his game to the NFL and start.
Hall's best attribute as a corner is that he's a tough and instinctive player. He won't get out played from a physical standpoint, and in run support you can easily mistake him for a safety. He's always more than eager to stick his nose in the middle of contact, but still maintains his composure and doesn't bite on fakes.
While he's adept at either man or zone coverage he'll probably be much more successful in a Cover 2 scheme. I say this because of his physical skill set, his style of play, and his high intelligence. He's everything personnel departments look for when scouring the pool for a Cover 2 corner.
4. FS Brandon Meriweather - Miami – 5-foot-11, 195 - 4.47
Brandon Meriweather is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker that comes full force on every play. While he catches flack from scouts for not being bulky and thick enough, someone forgot to tell him. He's typically a reliable open-field tackler that enjoys playing the run. He might have the best instincts of all the safeties in this year's draft.
Meriweather is also far better than average when in coverage. He can backpedal and close or even run in stride with receivers. He also has the range to make any deep ball a dangerous proposition, because he'll come out of nowhere to break on the ball.
5. FS Reggie Nelson - Florida – 6-foot-0, 198 - 4.48
Like Meriweather before him, Nelson is an unusually rangy athlete with great explosion and awareness. His instincts and closing speed make him a dangerous player out of the zone as he'll play the role of ballhawk and jump routes quicker than quarterbacks expect him to.
Nelson will remind you a little of Baltimore's Ed Reed because he conditionally seems to come up with the big play. Like Reed, he also has a lot of the same abilities as a cornerback, so in a pinch he could even fill in on the edge.
6. CB Jonathan Wade - Tennessee – 5-foot-10, 195 - 4.36
Jonathan Wade is only two years removed from being a receiver-turned-cornerback. As expected he's still learning how to play the position, but in his final year at Tennessee he showed some amazing progress in his development (he led the SEC in passes broken up).
Wade's 52 tackles and four interceptions in 2006 gave clear evidence that he's finally transformed himself into a true defensive back. As a four-time All-American track star he can run down the sideline with almost anyone, but he's recently become much more versed in the things that are required of him in the shallow/underneath areas.
7. SS Michael Griffin - Texas – 6-0, 205 - 4.45
Michael Griffin is an extraordinary athlete that brings cornerback and free safety ball skills to the strong safety position. While he's still a solid open field tackler and a force in run support, Griffin has outstanding backpedal, hip movement, and instincts.
8, 9, 10 - CB Darrelle Revis, CB Aaron Ross, CB David Irons
I'm going to take our eighth, ninth and 10th ranked defensive backs and lump them together. I am doing this primarily because there isn't much separation in each of their talent levels and all three happen to be Cover 2 corners. Each has the talent to become starters in the proper system, but unless they land in Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota, or Indianapolis, they'll have an immense amount of trouble adjusting to the NFL.
Other notable players in this group - CB Marcus McCauley, FS Josh Gattis, CB Josh Wilson, SS Eric Weddle, SS Aaron Rouse, FS Tanard Jackson, CB Eric Wright.
2007 NFL Draft Value Board - DBs
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