1. PHILLIP BUCHANON
Miami (Fla.) (5-11, 182; 4.34)
Strengths: Makes the plays only the blue-chippers can make. Provides tight coverage even against the quick routes (slants, quick ins). Good concentration and can catch the tipped ball. Recovery speed and anticipation of the pass are as good as any CB's in the nation — can actually make the receiver look open until the pass is thrown. Superb body control, excellent hands and great timing. Super punt-returner. Big-play guy who, when he gets his hands on the ball, looks end zone every time.
Weaknesses: Sits on the route a little too much — especially when he's expecting an out pattern. Could use a little more weight, is not real physical or great in run support.
Bottom Line: It's a coin toss between Buchanon and Jammer as the top CB in this draft, as each has special ability. But from our point of view, when looking at the best shut-down coverage CB available, it's Buchanon.
2. QUENTIN JAMMER
Texas (6-1, 200; 4.50)
Strengths: Very physical — especially on smallish WRs. No stranger to press coverage and was as good as any CB in the country the past two years at it. Can run with almost any WR and almost never allows much separation. Excellent hips to go with super size, possessing all the tools of the modern CB. Closes well on the ball without making contact and has the ability to shut off the quick passes even after allowing some cushion. Quick feet on the slant enable him to get into great position to stop the pass. Closes very well on the fade routes and has the makeup you look for to perform in a pressure-cooker.
Weaknesses: Average straight-line speed for the position and plays a little too upright when he recognizes run. While he often makes plays on the ball, he usually doesn't come down with it, possessing just average hands.
Bottom Line: Consummate pro who knows the nuances of playing CB and FS. Could star at either position.
3. MIKE RUMPH
Miami (Fla.) (6-2, 190; 4.48)
Strengths: Tremendous size for the position and smarts — knows his assignment and where he can expect help. Gets a good bump off the line and makes the WR feel it. Plays man almost strictly and has plenty of experience in press coverage.
Weaknesses: Allows receivers a little too much separation, even when he's got help to the middle. Doesn't possess the special kind of athleticism that separates the very good ones from the great ones.
Bottom Line: Excellent prospect, but doesn't have the body control or blinding speed of Phillip Buchanon.
4. LITO SHEPPARD
Florida (5-10, 194; 4.35)
Strengths: Can run with any receiver on the deep route, where he puts his great speed to good use. Knows when to change from covering the WR to going for the ball. Almost limitless athletic ability.
Weaknesses: Tends to lose his feet when he has to look for the ball on the run and makes contact with the receiver. Questionable concentration at times. Prefers to go for the ankles rather than taking on the ball carrier and tackling him with good form. Tends to use his hands too much to keep handle on receiver's location.
Bottom Line: Better punt-returner than pure CB at this time, but clearly has the ability to be a very good NFL coverman.
5. ANDRE GOODMAN
South Carolina (6-1, 200; 4.37)
Strengths: Great burst when WRs attempt to come back to the ball. Technically very sound and QB throws really have to be on the money to beat him. Really plays the ball in the air well and is able to adjust on the fly with good body control. Excellent closing speed. Very effective in man coverage yet knows how to use his inside help to maximum effectiveness.
Weaknesses: Needs to get more physical on passes downfield so he doesn't give up positioning on the streak. When open-field tackling, needs to break down. Pure speed receivers can give him trouble on deep routes at times.
Bottom Line: The skills are there, and we believe he could be the most underrated CB in this draft.
6. KEYUO CRAVER
Nebraska (5-10, 190; 4.50)
Strengths: Very good football speed and makes the INTs he's supposed to make. Isn't ashamed to do the blue-collar things (plays special teams with aplomb). Very effective within 5 yards of the line, is very knowledgeable of the position and plays as if he was very well coached. Doesn't make stupid mistakes or gamble foolishly.
Weaknesses: Not the kind of CB who can come off his assignment when he recognizes where the play is going, adjust, and make the play on another receiver. Not a physical player and doesn't have the top recovery speed you look for in premiere prospects. Doesn't play as sharp against substandard competition.
Bottom Line: A very solid, safe, no-frills choice.
1. ROY WILLIAMS
Oklahoma (6-0, 215; 4.51)
Strengths: If there was a better defensive player in college football in 2001, we don't know who it was. In nearly every game, Williams made at least one impact, game-changing type of play and usually more than one. Prototype size, loves to play the game and has a great mix of toughness and athleticism. Solidly built and gets into good position to make tackles. Good cover skills in man-to-man and understands when to go for the strip when the WR least expects it.
Weaknesses: Average straight-line speed and isn't good at stopping on a dime and changing directions.
Bottom Line: The consummate safety —may be the best prospect at his position in a decade.
2. EDWARD REED
Miami (Fla.) (6-0, 198; 4.48)
Strengths: Reacts well and has great field-vision combined with the awareness you look for in FS prospects. Very productive and experienced, takes advantage of opponents' mistakes, plays smart and always keeps himself in position to cover his assignment. Great ball skills and will bait QBs into unwise throws, then pounce on them
Weaknesses: Isn't a physical presence and is far from a lights-out hitter. Tends to gamble on the INT at times and isn't a great man-up defensive player. Recovery speed is only average.
Bottom Line: First-round talent who is a big-time playmaker with excellent athleticism.
3. LAMONT THOMPSON
Washington St. (6-2, 220; 4.50)
Strengths: Comes up well in run support and really offers a good run/pass mix. Recognizes where the ball is going early on and can turn and run and get to the play quickly. Has the power to play SS and the speed and ball-skills to play FS
Weaknesses: Any kind of neck or back injury is a serious red flag, and Thompson missed the 2000 season with a major neck injury. Before the injury, looked like a future first-rounder. Average speed at best.
Bottom Line: Under-publicized, big-play guy who ranks just a smidge behind Reed.
4. PIG PRATHER
Mississippi St. (6-2, 194; 4.47)
Strengths: Very comfortable playing at the line in run support and is probably 60 percent LB. Very nimble player who can run and jump. Difficult to block and can play ferociously on the blitz (really tears the QB apart) and can chase the passer out of the pocket and pull him down by his fingertips.
Weaknesses: Thin and needs to be more watchful of blockers going after his legs. May not have the instincts and size to handle TEs and FBs on downfield routes.
Bottom Line: Fierce warrior coming off a down season. Definitely starting potential here.
5. TONY JACKSON
Maryland (6-1, 205; 4.54)
Strengths: Very active — is always around the ball, whether helping in coverage or putting a knock on the receiver. Physical and dependable player who comes up big in crunch time. Really sits on the route and keys on the opponent's tendencies.
Weaknesses: Tends to bite on play-action and often thinks run first. Once he figures out another team's tendencies, will over-commit to his instincts. Still hasn't matured in his coverage skills.
Bottom Line: Underrated talent with some learning to do, but there's a lot of football ahead of him.