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 2016 Defensive Backfield Draft Prospects

In a year that is dominated by defensive front seven and offensive line talent teams will still be able to find good value in the defensive backfield. No fewer than 8 prospects offer immediate starting potential and could find themselves selected in the first two rounds.


  1. Jalen Ramsey, FSU; Ramsey is one of the top players in this draft class and is likely to be off the board by the 5th pick. While his long term position might be free safety his size and athleticism suggest he could develop into a premiere cornerback, the position at which he will most likely start his NFL career.

  2. Mackenzie Alexander, Clemson;  A lot of scouts are sleeping on Alexander whis I do not see on film. The only knock against Alexander is is size and frame. Still, his skillset is excellent and he should develop into a good starter quickly. Top 15 pick

  3. Eli Apple, Ohio State;  Apple offers the best size of any of the pure corners in this year’s class. In addition to his size and length he has a rare combination of physical play, top notch speed, and fluid hips. He doesn’t always play as instinctively as one would like and he gets a little “handsy” downfield so penalties could be an issue. Top 25 pick.

  4. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech; Like his older brother Kyle, Kendall Fuller is a quick athlete that is better suited to off man or cover two defensive systems. He has good speed but maybe not enough to stay with receivers in press coverage. He has some medical issues but if everything checks out there he should be a top 40 pick.

Honorable Mention: Artie Burns, Miami; William Jackson III, Houston; Burns is a former track star that needs a little more seasoning in order to truly get the most out of his athletic skills.  Jackson is a tall physical prospect, with good length, that might have trouble matching up with smaller shiftier receivers in the NFL. Both should be off the board by the 60th pick, though Burns could easily go in the top 50.

Sleeper: Jonathan Jones, Auburn; Jones had a good week at the Senior Bowl and is among the fastest players in the draft. He held up well against SEC competition during his career. SOmeone will take a flyer on him late (last 75 picks of the draft) and hope that his skills develop enough to match his speed.


  1. Su’a Cravens, USC; Cravens is considered a linebacker by some scouts. He’s going to be among the best run defending strong safeties in the game immediately and also offers good athleticism and instincts in pass defense. Top 20 pick.

  2. Vonn Bell, Ohio State; Bell is a natural strong safety that also has the skills to help in the running game. He’s both a natural playmaker and a consistent leader in the backfield. Top 40 pick.

  3. Darrian Thompson, Boise State Thompson is a quality free safety prospect with big play ability. His coverage technique needs some work, as he is prone to giving up big plays due to false steps or slow reactions, but his ability to make big plays of his own might make up for it. Top 60 pick

Honorable Mention:Jalen Mills, LSU; Mills is an exciting athlete that just needs some more consistency. He should be selected late in the second day unless a team falls in love with him. Top 75 pick.

Sleeper: Jayron Kearse, Clemson; Kearse has the athletic genes to be successful. He also has incredible size for the position at 6’4”. Based on his athleticism alone he should go in the top 100 picks.

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