While the group of defensive backs in this year's draft class hasn't received much hype relative to other positions on the same side of the ball, there are a select few players with first-round ability and a bevy of scheme-dependent prospects with solid mid-round value.
Greedy Williams, Deandre Baker, and Byron Murphy headline the cornerback group, and Deionte Thompson, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Nasir Adderley are the best of the safety bunch.
This is the ninth and final installment in a position-by-position breakdown of the rankings of prospects you need to know in the 2019 NFL Draft.
*Important note: These rankings are subject to change somewhat after the combine.
No. 1 cornerbacks / valuable No. 2s
1. Greedy Williams, LSU
2. Deandre Baker, Georgia
3. Byron Murphy, Washington
4. Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
5. Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky
6. Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
7. Julian Love, Notre Dame
Success at this position, more so than any other, is dependent on scheme and general responsibilities at the NFL level. Some of these cornerbacks are much better in man than zone and vice versa. Important to remember.
Williams is everything you want from a No. 1 cornerback. He's long, fluid in his hips, has lightning quick feet and knows what to do when the ball arrives. A little more weight wouldn't hurt him.
Baker reminds me of Tre'Davious White. Not someone who'll wow you with his physical stature, twitch, or length. But his vast experience (and productivity) in the SEC has led to him being a mirroring magician. He stays glued to receivers and has awesome awareness.
Murphy is tiny but has the most explosive movement skills of any corner in this class. He can man up with slot receivers if you need him to, but you want the Washington star sitting in zone then attacking when he reads the quarterback's eyes. Dynamic player.
Oruwariye and Johnson are similar, tall, long, and physical types with good versatility and plus athletic traits. I won't be surprised when Johnson outperforms Oruwariye at the combine. They both have nice click-and-close skills for their size and suffocate receivers with their length.
Much of the same can be written about Williams. He's someone I want in off man or zone although his overly physical nature worked well at Vanderbilt. His game against Ole Miss was ridiculously good. He has natural ball skills, smooth hips, and plenty of length to play on the outside.
Love is a lot like Baker in that he's not an upper-level athlete with great size. However, he reacts amazingly fast to receivers' breaks and is a technical master when it comes to getting his hands inside to break up passes. I'd love him in off man and zone too.
Adequate No. 2s / strong backups
8. Kris Boyd, Texas
9. Justin Layne, Michigan State
10. Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
11. Trayvon Mullen, Clemson
12. Blace Brown, Troy
Before I start here; from No. 8 on down ... plenty of super-close grades at this point of the pre-draft process. Boyd had a rough Senior Bowl week. He starred for the past two years at Texas with tenacious battling and playing the ball in the air well against bigger receivers. His overall athleticism and speed will be stretched at the next level. Layne is a sleeper with above-average length and click-and-close ability. A big combine and he could be looking at the second round. Ya-Sin is similar, and I'd like him most in press man coverage. He's long and aggressive with good ball skills.
Mullen has high-end flashes just not much consistency. He's a linearly explosive player with relatively stiff hips. He's probably best in off man at the next level.
Brown is a good-sized outside corner with electric twitch, and the requisite awareness to make plenty of plays on the football at the NFL level but unreliable play against the run on the outside. He showcased good punch at the line and definitely has the hips to recover. Brown would be best as a play-making corner in zone.
No. 3s with flashes of starter potential
13. Iman Lewis-Marshall, USC
14. Ryan Pulley, Arkansas
15. David Long, Michigan
16. Hamp Cheevers, Boston College
17. Saivion Smith, Alabama
18. Jimmy Morleand, James Madison
19. Jordan Brown, South Dakota State
Lewis-Marshall was a big recruit who had a solid albeit unspectacular career at USC. At good height with good length, he understands the nuances of playing the corner spot on the outside and will make quality plays on the football relatively often. He's a little more stiff than you'd expect for a former top recruit.
Pulley is a thicker, springy cornerback I'd love to see on the inside at the pro level but has the size to play on the perimeter as well. He's scheme-versatile. Long is a man-to-man corner without elite athleticism but outstanding mirroring skills and boom-or-bust effectiveness in press.
Cheevers is a zone cornerback with plus length, good bounce in his step, and an aggressive ball-hawk mentality. Smith isn't limited much as an athlete, but his route recognition skills and ability to make plays on the football are lacking.
Get Moreland on the field as your nickel corner. He's an assertive, twitchy play-maker who seemingly always finds the football in the air. Loose hips and quick feet. Brown is a bigger, sleek outside cornerback who can really run but plays relaxed a bit too often.
Project-y types with impressive natural talent
20. Isaiah Johnson, Houston
21. Jamel Dean, Auburn
22. Mark Fields, Clemson
23. Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State
24. Derrick Baity, Kentucky
25. Brian Peavy, Iowa State
26. Michael Jackson, Miami
Johnson is raw but will enter the NFL as a freaky size/speed/athleticism defensive back. Dean looks like a safety or even a linebacker on the field. His length, physicality, and linear explosiveness could allow him to blossom in the correct scheme. He very well could get exposed by quickness from nimble pro receivers.
Fields was a part-time player at Clemson yet made the most of his limited opportunities. Speedy feet, great awareness, and awesome technique when attacking the football as it reaches its intended target make him a dark horse prospect.
Sheffield transferred to Ohio State from Alabama yet failed to meet expectations. He has a reputation as a super-fast player but was beaten deep somewhat often in 2018, and his overall game is very inconsistent. Sheffield can even be a tick late reacting to the football at times. In other occasions, he gets there in a flash.
Peavy was an incredibly reliable player at Iowa State for four seasons but lacks the size, twitchiness, or sustained speed to be an instant starter at the NFL level. He can be an adequate producer in any type of coverage you ask of him.
For teams that want to maul receivers at the line, Jackson should be a mid-to-late round target. He's huge at well over 6-foot-0 and 200 pounds with 32-plus inch arms. His press technique is solid too. His fluidity and feet are below starter standards.
Solid starters / high-end No. 2s
1. Deionte Thompson, Alabama
2. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
3. Nasir Adderley, Delaware
4. Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
5. Juan Thornhill, Virgina
6. Taylor Rapp, Washington
7. Amani Hooker, Iowa
8. Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Thompson didn't have the production at Alabama you want from a top safety prospect. His length, explosiveness in any direction, range, and willingness to lower the boom against the run are what make him my No. 1 safety.
Gardner-Johnson is a modern-day safety extremely comfortable coming down to match up with slot receivers. He also has high-end range to make plays deep when he has the run across the field to get his hands on the football.
Adderley heads into the combine with the most buzz among safety prospects as someone with legit Power 5 conference talent who starred at Delaware. He can be out of control at times when ranging from the deep middle toward running backs, which leads to missed tackles. But his elite athletic traits and plus ball skills will certainly translate quickly when he's playing on Sundays.
Abram is an enforcer who will limit the opposition's outside run game. He can be an awesome safety/linebacker hybrid at the next level, and he showcased moments of stellar range at Mississippi State.
Thornhill is another super-active safety with some tackling reliability issues yet amazing range down the field. Rapp lacks size but can take over games with his play-recognition skill and explosiveness combination. He has enough fluidity to play man.
Hooker isn't going to turn heads with his athleticism. He's as savvy as they come at the position in this class reading route combinations and the quarterback's eyes, and he's an efficient freelancer in zone, which leads to him getting his hands on the football often. Edwards is more of a big nickel coverage safety than a ranging center fielder, and he's outstanding against the run. There may be some concerns about his twitch and lack of sustained long speed.
Reliable No. 2s / high-quality depth
9. Jaquan Johnson, Miami
10. Evan Worthington, Colorado
11. Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
12. Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
13. Mike Bell, Fresno State
14. Darnell Savage, Maryland
15. Malik Gant, Marshall
Like Rapp, Johnson is slight of frame, but he's everywhere. I like him more as a ranging run-support player than a coverage defensive back. Worthington got the benefit of the doubt from me when grading him because despite a handful of tackling misses and strange lack of "finishes" in coverage, he's tall, long, super-smooth athletically, and has impeccable range.
Redwine is a former cornerback, and skills he took from that position are obvious on film. He's explosive in a straight line and has plus ball skills. There's some stiffness when moving laterally, and he takes extra time to recognize route concepts. Wingard has big nickel safety written all over him. His vast experience has made him a quarterback of the secondary. He's rarely out of position and short-area burst allows him to close on the football in a hurry against the run and at the intermediate portions of the field. Stellar tackler too.
Savage is the classic "missile" from the back end of the defense who will stop ball-carriers in their tracks on outside runs. Good ball skills too. More linear explosiveness and zone ability than twitch and man coverage skills to his game. Gant is very similar. No hesitation to his game whatsoever, which can lead to some misses but also results in huge hits and splash plays close to the line. The combine will be big for him.
Talent developmental niche types
16. Marvell Tell, USC
17. Marquise Blair, Utah
18. Saquan Hampton, Rutgers
19. Mark McLaurin, Mississippi State
20. Ugo Amadi, Oregon
Four of the final five safeties -- Tell, Blair, Hampton, and McLaurin -- are size/athleticism specimens who too often take false steps and were inconsistent in coverage at the collegiate level. Tell is the most impressive athletically but needs coverage refinement at the next level. Amadi is looks like a small slot corner, and he has that type of twitch to his game.