The year of the defensive backs

Expect great picks at this year's NFL draft

Juan Ponce, Sports columnist

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With eight defensive backs predicted to go first round in this year’s draft, the case can  be easily be made that this is the year of the DBs. Strong picks such as Jamal Adams from LSU, along with Malik Hooker from OSU, are expected to be selected in the first round.

Top Dogs

With all this stiff competition, what separates these guys? First on the list is Adams. Standing at 6 feet flat and weighing in at 214 pounds, he is easily a first-round pick. If a team is looking for a dual-purpose effective safety, then Adams is the guy. He has a nose for the ball and can blow up the screen pass, knock running backs down, or break up a pass. He’s a highly intensive football player that flies around the field every play. He is also a strong, selfless leader on and off the field, and is more than happy to dedicate himself to both the program and to making his fellow players better.

The next look is Hooker, a safety from Ohio State. At 6-foot-1 inches and 206 pounds and running a 4.4 40-yard dash, Hooker is like having a missile in the secondary. He is a gifted athlete with amazing body control and outstanding speed who can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. He can sense the ball anywhere on the field at any time, and carries the unique ability to anticipate a pass or route. He also is able to make big, momentum-shifting hits that significantly affect the game. Some of his weaknesses are that he has poor pursuit angles and has sloppy mechanics, but with less football experience than the others, and only one year of collegiate starts, he’s a young player with a lot to learn.

The “Other Guys”

Even though this is the year of the defensive back, they still have to watch out for the “Other Guys,” meaning the competition on the offensive side of the ball.

Leonard Fournette is a 6-feet tall, 240-pound running back from LSU. His strengths are that he’s a full-grown man straight out of college, which is needed at the running back spot when these kids have to compete against the more experienced players  in the NFL. He has big legs, but can move them at a speedy rate, so he’s not easy to bring down. Bad news for defenders; he can shake and run over both linebackers and secondary guys. He has good enough hands to complement the passing game. On the other hand, his weaknesses consist of open-field playmaking ability, his aggressive play style, lack of patience, and the need to work on his pass protection and route running. These are all things that can be worked on with time, but can also lead to him being picked up later rather than sooner.

The Rest

We can’t forget about the rest of the guys in this year’s draft, particularly guys like  Myles Garrett, John Ross, Christian McCaffrey, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes who have tons of talent. Every NFL team will be armed with some studs this year. This year’s draft will not disappoint; it’s easily one of the more talented crops of players we’ve seen in awhile.

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