ARLINGTON- There is a lot of discussion about the offensive talent in the 2018 NFL Draft. There is also some very good defensive talent in the draft. Defensive backs like Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ohio State corner back Denzel Ward and Florida State safety Derwin James are the top defensive backs in this draft.
With the first round coming this Thursday, it’s time to rank these three top prospects and generate some fun debate about it. Fitzpatrick is unanimously regarded as the best defensive back in this draft and the depth for secondary players means there will be a lot of early selections this time. Ward and James are also great for pass defense. If you’re a defensive back in this draft, be ready to get the call on Thursday and Friday.
Fitzpatrick has great man coverage. He plays against the pass very well. He should have tallied more interceptions last season. He only picked off one pass but that’s shocking considering he has solid pass coverage skills. He is also a hammer and will hit hard. Fitzpatrick needs to improve his agility, especially if he wants to switch to being a corner back. He should remain a safety and will likely make big plays in crucial moments starting in the season opener.
Ward has good speed and does a great job positioning himself for interceptions. However, is 5-11, 183 pounds according to NFL.com. He needs to seriously bulk up if he is to play tight man to man coverage and press receivers. He doesn’t have the strength to deal with big receivers. Lack of size will be a serious issue and Ward needs to add some muscle if he wants to be drafted in the ten. He is a first rounder but probably will be selected mid to late first round.
James, like Fitzpatrick, is a big hitter. Receivers better secure the ball if they want a reception against this safety. He has the speed, athleticism , and strength to take on NFL defenders. The game film shows a lot of big hits and he is really good in man to man coverage. According to NFL.com, he is a locker room leader and puts in extra hours on game film sessions. The team that selects James will get a great personality with no off the field issues. He is a work horse in the gym and in the film room. He has the size to start in the NFL right away as he is 6-2, 215 pounds. He will need to work making faster reads and initiating contact according to NFL.com. He has limited playing experience with only 26 games under his belt. He also suffered a torn ACL which could be a concern to scouts.
Ranking these three defensive backs
After watching game film and reading scouting reports, this is likely the order these three defensive backs will be ranked on big boards of all the NFL teams:
- Minkah Fitzpartick – Should be selected as a top eight pick
- Derwin James- Looks to be the 10th or 11th overall pick
- Denzel Ward- Lack of strength is a big concern but should be selected between the 18th and 20th overall pick.