A ball-hawking defensive back strikes fear into a quarterback. This defender
usually forces the quarterback to throw to the opposite side of the field and
bypass the threatening defender at all costs. Having a defensive player who can
create turnovers gives a team a momentum boost that's unparalleled.
Over the years, finding a playmaking defensive back in the later rounds has
been a surprisingly common theme. Some of the defensive backs that have been
selected on Day Two include Nathan Vasher (4th round in 2004), Asante Samuel
(4th round in 2003), Ike Taylor (4th round in 2003), Dexter Jackson (4th round
in 1999), and Tanard Jackson (4th round in 2007).
The 2008 NFL Draft has some potentially dangerous defensive backs who'll be
drafted on Day One. A lot depends on the premier ball-hawking underclassmen who
may decide to forego their senior seasons. Juniors Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State),
Aqib Talib (Kansas) and Justin King (Penn State), along with seniors Mike Jenkins (South Florida), Antoine Cason (Arizona), and DeJuan Tribble (Boston College) will be first-day selections.
But what about the ball-hawks who will be available on Day Two? Here are five
to keep an eye on.
Jamie Silva (Sr.), Boston College
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 210
Silva is a tough, physical player with great instincts and awareness. He has
quietly been an interception machine the last two seasons, collecting four
interceptions in 2006 and five interceptions this season. He has great
size, good speed, and excellent hands. He's a very productive player who excels
at being a centerfielder type of defender who can read and react and make plays on
the ball. He takes good angles in coverage and positions himself well to make a
play. Silva's stock is on the rise and will only emerge during the offseason
when he tests at the NFL Scouting Combine. He will ultimately be a late third- round
Dwight Lowery (Sr.), San Jose State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 185
Lowery is a very good cover corner who possesses excellent speed and ball
skills. He had a breakout junior season in 2006 where he had nine interceptions
for San Jose State after spending his first two collegiate seasons at Cabrillo
College (JUCO). Lowery hasn't been as productive this season compared to last
year, but he currently has three interceptions and has shown signs of breaking
through. He plays aggressively at the line of scrimmage and is physical in
coverage. He has smooth hips, transitions well in coverage and positions
himself offensively on defense. Lowery's drop in production has hurt his draft
stock a bit, as he was once considered a first-day selection. But he'll be a
third-round pick with a lot of potential.
Terrence Wheatley intercepts a pass against Oklahoma in 2004.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Terrence Wheatley (Sr.), Colorado
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 180
Wheatley is a consistent corner who has big play ability. He's been one of
Colorado's most productive defenders the last two seasons, collecting
five interceptions in 2006 and five interceptions this season through 10
games. He's an instinctive player with shutdown ability and plays the game with
a lot of aggression and finesse. He backpedals nicely off the line, defends the
opponent out of their breaks and has a great burst to the ball. He has good
hands and is always around the action. He makes great adjustments to the ball
and competes for turnovers. Wheatley is an underrated corner who doesn't receive
a lot of attention nationally. He has very good skills and is an early second-day selection.
Jack Williams (Sr.), Kent State
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 181
Williams is a small, speedy corner who's always looking to cause a turnover.
For a player who lacks size, Williams plays physically at the line of scrimmage
and isn't afraid of contact. He'll challenge receivers throughout their route
and shadow their every move. This season, Williams leads Kent State in tackles
with 83 and has recorded two interceptions. In his four seasons at Kent State,
Williams has 12 career interceptions. His size hurts his chances at being a Day
One pick, but his skills are intriguing and make him a mid-round selection.
Charles Godfrey (Sr.), Iowa
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 208
Godfrey has great size, good cover skills and playmaking ability that makes
him a promising prospect at the next level. He doesn't possess elite speed, but
he plays physically and matches up well against big receivers. He plays well in
coverage and has a good burst to the ball. He defends the run very well and is
always looking to get a turnover through the air or on the ground. Godfrey
collected just two interceptions last season, but has more than doubled that
total this season with five. He may have a future at safety rather than corner
at the next level. His aggressive style of play and ability to be in the right
place at the right time will benefit his professional future. Godfrey is a fifth-
to sixth-round selection.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.