The Most-Interesting Rookie DB

The Footballguys staff discusses the top rookie defensive backs

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Each year, the incoming group of rookies offers hope for the new season. We asked our staff to offer up the rookie defensive back they are most interested in.

Here are the names who were mentioned.

And here are all of the reasons.

Jason Wood

I'll go with Jaycee Horn, the first defensive back off the board (8th overall) to the Carolina Panthers. Horn rose up draft boards in the final few months and overtook the odds-on favorite -- Patrick Surtain II -- as the top corner. While I can appreciate Horn's upside, I think the pick could be disastrous. Surtain's tape is unimpeachable. He's smooth in and out of breaks, can handle press and man coverage equally well, and seems to have an innate ability to read the situation and alternate between breaking on the ball for a turnover or just playing the man so as not to give up a big play. Horn can do many of those things, too, but I fear he's going to be a pass interference machine in the early going given his hands-on play. A lot of the South Carolina tape looks like it would've been PI at the NFL level, and that's a very hard thing for defensive backs to adjust to. In fact, if you look at the busts at the cornerback position, it seems that one of the best predictors is whether a corner is too physical in college and got away with technique he couldn't in the pros.

Jeff Haseley

Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II are the top corners in this draft, but often that doesn't translate to desired IDP production due to opposing offenses shying away from talented cover corners. The rookie corner rule comes into play and this year's rookie corner who could see the most action that results in increased tackles is Packers rookie cornerback, Eric Stokes. Stokes may wind up seeing increased action ahead of Kevin King, which would occupy the role opposite the Packers' best cornerback, Jaire Alexander. As a result, Stokes could be targeted often because quarterbacks will try to find a weakness in the secondary and exploit it. As long as Alexander is on the field, the corner opposite him will see action. Another cornerback who could see high volume as a rookie is Caleb Farley of Tennessee.

A safety who has my attention as a rookie in IDP leagues is Falcons free safety, Richie Grant. He'll see plenty of action against the top wide receivers of the NFC South and his snap count should be high due to his place among the top of the depth chart. Not only is he decent in coverage, but he also likes to hit. A versatile free safety who can be a ballhawk and rack up tackles is difficult to find. Grant has that potential.

Sigmund Bloom

Caleb Farley is the most interesting rookie defensive back if only because how his back reacts to recent surgery and his first NFL season after a litany of problems will determine whether this is a second straight wasted first-round pick by the Titans or a brilliant gamble that will give them possibly the best corner in the draft at a discount from Horn and Surtain.

I really like Asante Samuel Jr in the Chargers secondary. He should get on the field in sub-packages right away and has the best mentor imaginable for his "size of the fight in the dog" game in Chris Harris Jr.

The top three safeties this year are all likely to either play deep in coverage (Trevon Moehrig-LV and Richie Grant-ATL) or double as a man coverage helper in nickel packages (Jevon Holland-MIA) which isn't great for IDP fantasy numbers but could be important for improving these pass defenses. Andre Cisco was taken in the early third by Jacksonville and he could start if he comes all the way back from a freak ACL injury last year. He's a natural playmaker but also creates big plays for the other team. He could plug a hole in the secondary or become a hole.


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