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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Jul 16 - 02:01 AM | Thu Jul 18 - 09:25 AM Draft Board: Defensive Backs

It seems like the Patriots are always looking for quality defensive backs and this year is no different. In a deep draft for corners and safeties, here is how we rank the defensive backs, including one player in particular the Patriots may be targeting early in the draft.

1. Michael Huff (S), Texas – By far the best defensive back in this draft. Has the total package. Can hit and play the run like a safety and cover like a corner. Has the speed and instincts to make him a future Pro Bowler at either position. Shouldn't get out of the top ten.

2. Tye Hill (CB), Clemson – The best cover corner in the draft in my opinion. Isn't the biggest guy (5-9, 190) but his ability to locate the ball in the air and make a play on it is the best of any corner in the draft. Has great leaping ability that helps him defend taller receivers. Extremely quick and that allows him to break on the ball well. Is a good blitzer and surprisingly physical against the run for his size. Could be the next great NFL cornerback and a player I think the Patriots are intrigued with.

3. Antonio Cromartie (CB), Florida State – Like Hill, does a good job of turning around and locating the ball in the air. Has the size (6-2, 215) that NFL teams like. Is always around the ball and made a lot of big plays in college. Is very fluid in coverage and has the speed to run with receivers down the field. Injury problems and lack of experience (He only started one game at Florida State) are a concern but his physical skills and upside should land him in the first round.

4. Donte Whitner (S), Ohio State – Very similar to Huff in many ways. Tremendous speed allows him to cover a lot of ground and he's a very good blitzer from the safety position. Can be used in many different ways and made a lot of tackles in the backfield at Ohio State. Breaks on the ball like a corner but hits like a safety. A good all-around player whose draft stock is on the rise.

5. Jimmy Williams (CB), Virginia Tech – Very physical cornerback who can also play safety. Has a knack for blocking kicks. Some NFL teams talked to him about moving to safety but he wasn't responsive to the idea. Poor attitude and interviews have pushed him down the draft board. Is a versatile player who can do a lot of different things on the football field but character concerns have some teams shying away from him. Still, a solid first round prospect.

6. Richard Marshall (CB), Fresno State – A tough corner who led Fresno State in tackles last year with 78. Also provides a lot of big plays. Returned three interceptions for touchdowns during his college career. Is very physical at the line of scrimmage and shows the ability to shut down bigger receivers. Big hitter who is very good in run support. His ability to return kicks enhances his value. Should be a late first/early second round selection.

7. Daniel Bullocks (S), Nebraska – Another complete safety who can come in and contribute as a rookie. Tough player who causes a lot of havoc when he's lined up close to the line of scrimmage. A great blitzer who lives in the opponent's backfield. Doesn't have the coverage skills that Huff and Whitner posses but got a lot of interceptions on tipped balls, which means he's always near the play. A physical player who is also an asset on special teams. Should be a steal for some team in the second or third round.

8. Johnathan Joseph (CB), South Carolina – May be the fastest player in the draft at any position. Blazing speed allows his to break on the ball and recover quickly if he gets beat off the line. Not as polished as some of the other corners in this draft but has tremendous upside because of his speed and quickness. Needs to be more physical at the line of scrimmage and against the run but an athletic player with a lot of ability. Some are projecting him to go in Round 1 but that would mean a team is drafting him on his potential.

9. Jason Allen (S), Tennessee – With all the talk about Jay Cutler being overrated, Allen is slipping through the cracks. He's a good, versatile defensive back but in no way should he be selected in the top 20. He's recovering from a hip injury and actually failed his physical with some teams. When healthy, he has the speed to cover a lot of ground and is a very good blitzer. Plays a little stiff at times and isn't as good in coverage as some are saying. A good prospect but a little overrated.

10. Bernard Pollard (S), Purdue - At 6-2, 225 pounds, he has good size and unlike a Darnell Bing - who misses a lot of tackles - Pollard is a big hitter who also tackles very well. When he hits someone, they go backwards. Pollard also excels at blocking punts. He doesn't get a lot of publicity but after breaking him down on tape, Pollard appears to be the kind of safety that would interest the Patriots. He could be a possibility in the third or fourth round.

Possible Patriots

Hill – Quite simply: Hill is my choice to be the Patriots first round draft pick. They will probably need to trade up to get him but with his cover skills, he's well worth it. For all the people that think there are no more shutdown corners in the NFL, I think Champ Bailey and DeAngelo Hall would disagree. Hill has the skills to be that kind of player.

Marshall – The former Bulldog is a tough corner who also displays excellent coverage skills. He's a guy the Patriots have reportedly liked since the Combine. If Hill is off the board and they still decide to go corner, Marshall could be the pick.

Bullocks – Safeties tend to slip in the draft so if the Patriots can nab a quality player like Bullocks in the third round, that would be one heck of a selection. Bullocks is a physical, big-play safety similar to the guy who would be mentoring him: Rodney Harrison.

Pollard– He's been moving up the charts recently and has a lot of the qualities the Patriots like in a player. An aggressive safety who can also contribute on special teams, Pollard could be an option if the team doesn't address its defensive backfield early in the draft.

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