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ESPN DB Rankings


VTCrunkler
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no mention of grimes, stone, or other rookies. i think these rankings consider first day picks and how players performed in the past, and less about future potential..

1. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have an outstanding group of athletes in their secondary with Terence Newman, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin returning from last year. When you combine that group with the recent additions of Jones and rookie first-round draft pick Mike Jenkins, the Cowboys now have the type of depth that few other teams can match. They will have a tremendous amount of flexibility within their personnel packages to take advantage of each player's strengths while also being able to disguise coverages. Opposing quarterbacks will have to be smart and accurate to have success against this group. The talents of the secondary combined with the effective pass rush of the front seven will force opposing quarterbacks to make some quick decisions.

2. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have the best duo of starting cornerbacks in the league with Nnamdi Asomugha and Hall. Both are shutdown cornerbacks who can sustain tight coverage all day, and each has the size, speed and athletic ability to match up with the best receivers in the game. The Raiders also added instinctive FS Gibril Wilson from the Giants to start opposite former first-round draft pick Michael Huff on the back end. This combination of athletic, experienced defensive backs will provide defensive coordinator Rob Ryan a lot of flexibility. He now can be as aggressive as he wants up front knowing that the players he has on the back end are experienced and can create turnovers. If this unit stays healthy, it should get better with time. The players' average age is 25.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles added Samuel to an already-talented group that includes safeties Brian Dawkins and Quintin Mikell along with cornerbacks Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard. The Eagles have a solid group of playmakers who should thrive under the aggressive schemes of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Though Dawkins is aging, he still puts fear into opposing teams' quarterbacks with his instincts and aggressiveness. They will remain aggressive up front with their pressure designs, which will provide the defensive backs plenty of opportunities to get their hands on the ball and create turnovers. Samuel brings his ball skills and championship experience to an Eagles defense that now has the flexibility to disguise coverages and create confusion for opposing offenses.

4. Indianapolis Colts

Though this group may not have the big-name recognition of some of the other top secondaries in the league, it plays very well as a unit. SS Bob Sanders is the most dangerous player of this group and obviously is a difference-maker. His instincts and toughness are contagious, and he provides a lot of versatility with his playmaking ability in the box as well as in coverage. Joining him is Antoine Bethea at the free safety position. He brings very good speed to the table. The Colts' cornerbacks consist of Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson, who are good players for this scheme with their ability to recognize routes, maintain leverage on receivers and get into position to make plays on the ball. The Colts also have good depth with Tim Jennings and Dante Hughes. All of these players are tough and play with speed.

5. San Diego Chargers

This group could develop into one of the best in the coming years. Two-year CB Antonio Cromartie already is one of the premier cover men in the NFL, and he joins established veteran Quentin Jammer. This tandem gives the Chargers two of the better outside cover men. With first-round draft pick Antoine Cason figuring into the mix, the Chargers have three good cornerbacks who should match up well when they are facing multiple-receiver sets. Clinton Hart and Eric Weddle will provide a combination of youth and experience at the safety positions. Weddle is a good, young athlete who has range but lacks experience as a starter, while Hart provides experience and toughness.

6. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle made changes in its secondary last year to stabilize the free and strong safety positions. Bringing in experienced starters Deon Grant and Brian Russell through free agency gave the team the needed confidence on the back end to be much more aggressive up front. Both players have good instincts and are smart. Though Grant brings athletic ability and range, Russell is a sound overall player who is disciplined with his angles and assignments. On the outside, Marcus Trufant is a shut-down corner who went to the Pro Bowl last year. He can take away an opposing team's best receiver and hold coverage downfield. But the team isn't certain about its other side. Kelly Jennings is a former first-round draft pick who competes hard and has very good speed. But he will be pushed by backups Jordan Babineaux, Josh Wilson and Kevin Hobbs. Either way, the Seahawks have good depth, and the competition will only elevate the defense.

7. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have excellent talent in their secondary, but injuries last season raise some questions for the coming year. There is little doubt that Ed Reed and Chris McAlister are two of the better players at their positions. Because of the aggressiveness of this scheme, these players can challenge routes knowing that the front pressure will force the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly. SS Dawan Landry has been a very productive complement to Reed in his first two years. Though Reed has outstanding range, instincts and ball skills, Landry has good size, toughness and tackling ability. A big question mark will be the RCB position, because Samari Rolle had some medical issues last year and the Ravens were forced to rely on some inexperienced backups. They added depth, experience and competition in the offseason with the addition of Frank Walker and Fabian Washington. Corey Ivy is also a good, experienced backup who is effective covering the slot.

8. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have three returning starters in the secondary with LCB Chris Gamble, RCB Ken Lucas and SS Chris Harris. They also have quality depth with Richard Marshall as the No. 3 cornerback. Though Marshall easily could start for other teams, he is the nickel for now. There is some uncertainty as to who will be the starting free safety, but the competition will be good. Veteran Terrence Holt will compete with rookie third-round draft pick Charles Godfrey and second-year player Quinton Teal. Holt has the experience. Godfrey is known for his speed and tackling and can play cornerback. But Teal could make the decision tough before all is said and done. Either way, the Panthers have a good group of defensive backs who are versatile and well coached.

9. Denver Broncos

The Broncos' secondary features two outstanding corners in Champ Bailey and Dre Bly. Everyone knows Bailey has elite cover skills and playmaking ability. He can match up with any receiver in the league, and his side of the field is usually a dangerous area to attack. With Bly on the other side, quarterbacks need to make smart, accurate throws if they are to have success throwing to the outside. Veteran SS John Lynch is smart and tough. He can make adjustments quickly and is a very physical player. His range is descending, but his instincts allow him to be in good position. The Broncos have Hamza Abdullah at the free safety position and have added Marlon McCree for competition and depth. Overall, this is a solid group that should make more plays on the ball, especially if the pass rush is improved from last year.

10. Green Bay Packers

The Packers have two big, athletic corners who can play aggressive man coverage on the outside with Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Joining them on the back end are young emerging starters FS Nick Collins and SS Atari Bigby. This group proved last year it has the speed and athletic ability to match up well in coverage and still remain productive versus the run. Though an argument could be made for age becoming an issue on the outside, don't expect to see a quick drop-off from Harris and Woodson yet. The team also added youth and depth to the cornerback position with the addition of second-round draft pick Patrick Lee. Expect the Packers' secondary to build on the confidence it gained from last year's success.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs should remain strong on the back end again, after few offseason changes. CB Brian Kelly will not be back but Phillip Buchanon is ready to step in after starting 13 games in 2007. Fellow CB Ronde Barber provided veteran leadership and playmaking ability, and starters Tanard Jackson and Jermaine Phillips return at safety. This is a tough, aggressive group that understands route concepts and it uses good technique. Newcomers Eugene Wilson and rookie first-round pick Aqib Talib will provide competition and depth. Wilson is a versatile player who can contribute at either safety or corner and Talib brings youth and athletic ability. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his scheme, will continue to put players in position to succeed.

12. Washington Redskins

The Redskins have a good blend of youth and experience. Starting LCB Shawn Springs is the veteran of the group and still functions well for his age, but is starting to lose some speed and mirror skills. On the opposite side Carlos Rogers is coming off a torn ACL/MCL, and while he has very good quickness and athletic ability when healthy, it remains to be seen how quickly he will regain the burst and closing skills he showed last season. If Rogers is not ready to go, experienced backup in Fred Smoot will be ready. LaRon Landry is one of the better young safeties in the league and is complemented nicely by Reed Doughty, who showed signs of being a solid starter last season after the loss of Sean Taylor. This is a good group when healthy, but there are some question marks due to age and injury.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are loaded with potential and could emerge as one of the better overall groups by the end of the season. Starting LCB Rashean Mathis is a solid front-line player who makes plays week-in and week-out. He is joined by veteran newcomer Drayton Florence, who arrived from San Diego and brings starting experience. Second-year safety Reggie Nelson has rare range and playmaking ability and is capable of creating a lot of problems if he is consistent and plays up to his potential. Brian Williams and Gerald Sensabaugh return as well and make this one of the more intriguing groups in the league.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh ranked third in the NFL (176.5 ypg) in pass defense last season due to the players' overall understanding of the scheme and yet another outstanding coaching job by defensive coordinator **** LeBeau. The Steelers' secondary features one of the best safeties in the league in Troy Polamalu, but injuries have prevented him and fellow safety Ryan Clark from playing a full 16-game season during the last two years. When healthy, Polamalu must be accounted for on every snap and his presence has an immediate impact both in coverage and run support. If they get similar production from CBs Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend this season's unit will continue to improve.

15. Chicago Bears

Early reports out of Chicago are that S Mike Brown is healthy again after several injury issues in recent years, which is great news for the Bears. Despite playing in just 21 games over the past four seasons Brown has the ability to be a difference-maker and will make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy. Starting CBs Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman have very good instincts and awareness, and their experience in the Tampa 2 system allows them to make plays in zone coverage. Danieal Manning and Brandon McGowan both have starting experience and will create competition and provide quality depth at corner, while third CB Ricky Manning is undersized, but plays aggressively and does a good job as the nickel corner. If this group stays healthy it will rank higher by the end of the year, but stability at safety is an issue.

16. New York Giants

The defending Super Bowl champs lost starting FS Gibril Wilson to free agency, but should be excited about the addition of rookie Kenny Phillips, who has a lot of upside thanks to his size, instincts and athletic ability. The Giants also added veteran SS Sammy Knight and his blend of toughness, leadership and experience. Knight should work well with James Butler until Phillips is ready to take over. The battle for the starting CB spots will be competitive with returning starters Aaron Ross and Corey Webster, veterans Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters, the speedy Kevin Dockery and second-round pick Terrell Thomas giving the Giants a nice blend of youth and experience.

17. Minnesota Vikings

As good as the Vikings were against the run last year, the stats against the pass were just at bad. They finished dead last in pass defense (264.1 ypg) and were unable to take advantage of the fact that the best run defense in the league forced teams to throw the ball all day. Minnesota simply lacked consistent playmakers in the secondary last season, but the addition of rangy FS Madieu Williams -- not to mention the pass rush help DE Jared Allen will provide help. The combination of Williams and SS Darren Sharper will provide veteran leadership, solid instincts and improved range. They will also allow CBs Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin to continue playing tough and aggressive. The Vikings should see more consistent play and an increased number of interceptions in 2008.

18. Tennessee Titans

The Titans secondary has a lot of upside after the emergence of RCB Cortland Finnegan and FS Michael Griffin. SS Chris Hope is an accomplished, savvy veteran who will play smart and be in the right spots, which gives Griffin the confidence to play fast. While there is usually a steep learning curve for young safeties, Griffin will benefit from the 10 starts he made last season, and while he has the versatility to play corner, expect him to remain at safety. Finnegan is an undersized player, but is aggressive and feisty and shows very good speed. Nick Harper lines up on the other side and plays well in zone coverage, using his experience, awareness and route recognition.

19. New England Patriots

The Patriots secondary will feature some new faces this year after the losses of Asante Samuel and Eugene Wilson to free agency. Veteran Fernando Bryant and Jason Webster will step into the void, while Ellis Hobbs will continue to hold down the other corner spot. New England also added some youth to the group by drafting Terrence Wheatley in the second round. Veteran SS Rodney Harrison continues to make a difference despite his age, and James Sanders is back after starting 15 games last season. Second-year man Brandon Meriweather should be more of a safety, and if he can play with the same confidence he demonstrated in college Meriweather will be a good one.

20. Detroit Lions

Recently acquired safeties Dwight Smith and Kalvin Pearson are experienced in the Tampa 2 system that head coach Rod Marinelli and defensive coordinator Joe Barry employ, and they should be able to help the entire group with their knowledge of the system. SS Daniel Bullocks started seven games last year and should continue to be an asset with physical run defense. CB Travis Fisher will be joined by recent additions Brian Kelly and Leigh Bodden, giving the Lions three veteran starters who should be able to match up well against multiple-receiver sets. The corners are capable of playing well when healthy, but injuries have been an issue for Kelly recently. The Lions also brought back restricted free agent Stanley Wilson and added Ronyell Whitaker from the Vikings for depth.

21. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals know what they have in SS Adrian Wilson: a very physical and aggressive player who can elevate the play of others around him with his exceptional instincts and playmaking ability. Antrel Rolle is switching to free safety with the hope that he can regain the confidence and technique he lost last season when playing corner. Arizona has Roderick Hood and Eric Green back again this season along with first-round pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, whose additions should push the competition opposite Hood and providing better flexibility when matching up in sub groupings.

22. San Francisco 49ers

CB Nate Clements gave this group an immediate boost last season, matching up with the opponent's best receiver and showing that he is a solid cover man who can be left on an island. On the other side, veteran Walt Harris can be a solid player, but has started all 16 games just once in his 12 years in the league, meaning the 49ers will need depth behind him. Shawntae Spencer provides that quality depth with his ability to play outside in sub personnel when Harris moves inside to the slot. SS Michael Lewis is a good player near the line of scrimmage and is smart and physical. FS Mark Roman is coming off shoulder surgery and will be pushed by Dashon Goldson for the starting job.

23. Miami Dolphins

Jason Allen has the physical tools to excel as a starting free safety, but has started just nine games in his first two seasons and he will have former Atlanta starter Chris Crocker behind him if he falters. SS Yeremiah Bell can make a lot of plays with his toughness and instincts, but he also faces health questions after playing in just one game last season. Will Allen has been a solid and durable fixture at RCB, while LCB Michael Lehan needs to recover quickly from an injured ankle. The Dolphins have good depth at safety with Keith Davis and Crocker as the backups. Davis and Crocker will quickly upgrade the special teams units if they are not starting, and Andre Goodman, Nathan Jones and Travis Daniels provide quality depth at corner.

24. St. Louis Rams

The Rams return all four starters from last season. Safeties Cory Chavous and Oshiomogho Atogwe provide range and experience. Chavous is a versatile and a instinctive player, who reacts quickly and is very effective near the line of scrimmage, while Atogwe is better-suited to playing deep and is developing confidence in his ability to read quarterbacks and make good breaks on the ball. Tye Hill starts at LCB and has very good speed and recovery skills, and he excels in man coverage along with starting RCB Fakhir Brown. Johnathan Wade and Ron Bartell provide good depth with Wade possibly pushing for starting playtime during training camp.

25. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were smart to pick up CB Brandon Flowers in the second round and he should start immediately opposite veteran Patrick Surtain. While Surtain is 32 years old, he has been durable and productive as a starter. The Chiefs are betting he can stay that healthy long enough to hold down the fort. SS Bernard Pollard and FS Jarrad Page are an underrated duo and are quickly gaining confidence. Each does a good job with technique and discipline on the back end while also flashing the physical style that Kansas City safeties have been known for over the years.

26. New York Jets

The Jets should feel good about their future at corner as RCB Darrelle Revis showed good technique and cover skills while starting every game last season as a rookie. Revis should only get better with experience, and Kerry Rhodes is an above-average starter at safety who will provide consistent production. The other safety spot is a bit of a question mark as Abram Elam will look to improve after starting eight games last season. If New York gets LCB Justin Miller back at full strength this year it will be a bonus as the Jets were forced to adjust to his absence early last season. This is another group that could finish much higher in the rankings by the end of the year if some concerns are addressed.

27. Buffalo Bills

They will be improved this year with SS Donte Whitner and FS Ko Simpson both entering their third season. Simpson missed the majority of the 2007 season with a dislocated ankle, but should be ready to return as the starter, and the duo gives the Bills two young playmakers with good instincts who can make plays in traffic or in space. Buffalo returns starters Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer back at corner, and while McGee lacks ideal size he does have good quickness and ball skills. Greer has better size to match up with receivers and is very competitive. The addition of CB Leodis McKelvin through the draft will provide depth and competition, and McKelvin should be at least the nickel corner when the season begins.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Young CBs Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall look to be entrenched for years to come, while veteran Deltha O'Neal will provide depth as a backup and compete with David Jones for the nickel spot. The Bengals have numbers at safety, but also have question marks when it comes to finding starters. Outside of Dexter Jackson, there is not a lot of starting experience. Jackson is a 10-year veteran who provides veteran leadership and toughness but his age and durability are concerns. Marvin White and Chinedum Ndukwe could be the future at safety, but how they handle the responsibility and competition remains to be seen.

29. New Orleans Saints

The Saints have questions at corner, but should be comfortable with the return of starting safeties Roman Harper and Josh Bullocks. With CB Mike McKenzie suffering a serious knee injury late last season there is obvious concern about whether their best corner will be able to solidify the left side. Opposite McKenzie, Jason David struggled in his first season in New Orleans and could be moved into a sub role this season after management signed Randall Gay away from New England and drafted Tracy Porter in the second round.

30. Cleveland Browns

The Browns have depth issues at corner after trading Leigh Bodden to Detroit and losing Gary Baxter to injury. The position was further depleted when Daven Holly suffered a knee injury during spring workouts. Brandon McDonald must step up if he is going to be the starting RCB opposite Eric Wright, and Terry Cousin will provide some help with his veteran experience and ability to play the nickel. The good news is that both starting safeties are back. SS Sean Jones and FS Brodney Pool are young players, but are also very confident after starting all 16 games last season.

31. Houston Texans

The Texans hope to be healthy this year after a multitude of injuries in 2007. The biggest injury occurred when CB Dunta Robinson, their best overall defensive back, tore his ACL and hamstring. If they can get Robinson back he will give the entire group a boost with his playmaking skills and ability to match up with the opponent's best receivers. The addition of Jacque Reeves in free agency should solidify the right corner spot as Reeves has good upside with his speed and should only get better with improved technique. Will Demps joined the team last season after being released by the Giants and still ended up starting the final seven games at free safety. Demps and SS C.C. Brown have good instincts but lack ideal top-end speed in deep-zone coverage.

32. Atlanta Falcons

There are several big changes in Atlanta after the losses of DeAngelo Hall, Chris Crocker and Jimmy Williams. Experience is lacking heading into the season and the Falcons will rely heavily on the communication skills of veteran SS Lawyer Milloy and newcomer Erik Coleman on the back end. Milloy is still a physical, aggressive player who can be a big help near the line of scrimmage and Coleman is an experienced starter whose instincts help compensate for a lack of speed. It will be interesting to see how well Chris Houston, Von Hutchins and David Irons respond to the opportunities created by the changes.

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what makes you think houston's given up?

ballin in atl (7/16/2008)
that ranking is not a surprise at all. we have nobody, houston is very talented but needs a better work ethic, i think had deangelo never left he would be more serious. It seems as if he has given up sort of.
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VTCrunkler (7/16/2008)
what makes you think houston's given up?
ballin in atl (7/16/2008)
that ranking is not a surprise at all. we have nobody, houston is very talented but needs a better work ethic, i think had deangelo never left he would be more serious. It seems as if he has given up sort of.

i think that i read somewhere that the coaches werent impressed with his ethic or lack of effort or something

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Dang the is there some type of record ESPN's trying to give the Falcons lol

We've been ranked 32 in 3 postions now I think.. D-Line, TE and now DB's.

Can't say I can disagree. These guys are huge unknowns and Erik Coleman, being a Jets fan and seeing him play live as well as on television I'm not that excited about him..

That's why we play the game, show and prove.

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sivik_outkast (7/16/2008)
I know Lawyer Milloy is old and all, but one would think that just having him on the roster would get you out of the 32 spot. Do they really think the rest of our guys are that bad? I agree we aren't top 10. But shouldn't be dead last. Maybe a 24 or 25?

Who are we better than?

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FalconMama (7/16/2008)
Dang the is there some type of record ESPN's trying to give the Falcons lol

We've been ranked 32 in 3 postions now I think.. D-Line, TE and now DB's.

Can't say I can disagree. These guys are huge unknowns and Erik Coleman, being a Jets fan and seeing him play live as well as on television I'm not that excited about him..

That's why we play the game, show and prove.

I believe we were ranked 30th on D line, in front of the Broncos and someone else.

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Considering the Falcons have used a high first, two second and two third round picks on the CB position alone the last five seasons, this ranking is a true dissapointment.  True Hall was traded away for a high second round pick (that we did not use on his replacement), but still...

And now to see that Brent Grimes, a smallish player the team signed as an FA, might be considered starter material?  Good thing there are only 32 teams, because this secondary is either too old, or not experienced enough. 

How good are the young guys?  We are going to find out the hard way.

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FalconMama (7/16/2008)
Dang the is there some type of record ESPN's trying to give the Falcons lol

We've been ranked 32 in 3 postions now I think.. D-Line, TE and now DB's.

Can't say I can disagree. These guys are huge unknowns and Erik Coleman, being a Jets fan and seeing him play live as well as on television I'm not that excited about him..

That's why we play the game, show and prove.

Most here knew/know how these units are gonna be big question marks. No where to go but up.

PS watch the sequel 2 girls 1 cup 2 toothbrushes,2 bottles of Listerine,1000 hours of therapy :D

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LADBABY (7/16/2008)
We have attempted to address this area in the draft

and free agency. We may have to be rated last at this

point but the important thing is that we don't wind up

there when the season is over.

We've finished at or a few spots from the bottom before with more talent, experience, and potential, so it's hardly a stretch to think we'll be dead last at the end of this season. Face it, our secondary will blow big time this year.
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On almost all of these rankings, we've been listed near the bottom. And honestly, I can see why.

Most of our starters are either inexperienced or have been prone to injury. On defense, outside of Milloy (old), Abraham (hurt) and Brooking (expectations), who have sports writers heard of?

However, I'm not worried about it. I think we need more talent, but we've got a lot of people on the up-and-coming list. And we know this is a team sport. This is where I think our new coaching staff is going to make this a better team. No longer a bunch of pieces, but a machine that works in cohesion.

We'll see in a few months.

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This is Falconsland

:)

FalconMama (7/16/2008)
Dang the is there some type of record ESPN's trying to give the Falcons lol

We've been ranked 32 in 3 postions now I think.. D-Line, TE and now DB's.

Can't say I can disagree. These guys are huge unknowns and Erik Coleman, being a Jets fan and seeing him play live as well as on television I'm not that excited about him..

That's why we play the game, show and prove.

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ballin in atl (7/16/2008)
that ranking is not a surprise at all. we have nobody, houston is very talented but needs a better work ethic, i think had deangelo never left he would be more serious. It seems as if he has given up sort of.

Houston give up? you must be smokin something and you should be nice and pass it around. Houston has a good work ethic and is really excited about being a leader this year for the corners. check AF.com under the videos and there is one where Michael Moore interviews Houston right after Hall left. you can see it in his eyes that he's ready.

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