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2022 NFL Draft: Defensive Back Big Board

(Mandatory Photo Credit: Kareem Elgazzar / The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Written by: Joseph Yun

Twitter: @2Yoon2ZeroBlitz

To combat all these high flying and high faluting receivers running around the field at full tilt, you need a great secondary that can hang. Fortunately, the secondary class is very talented and deep enough for a team looking for depth up and down the order. Is there a bonafide CB1? S1 was decided long ago, who will win the war for S2 in the class?

Note: All RAS are courtesy of @Mathbomb and all statistics are from sport-reference/cfb/

If you missed any of the previous big board articles, they can be found below:


Running Back

Wide Receiver

Tight End

Offensive Line

Defensive Line



1. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner 6’2 190 Cincinnati Junior

- The premier corner in the class. He has all the physical traits you want in a CB1 including height and length. Athleticism is top-notch. A willing and tough tackler who doesn’t back down to anyone. Has the lateral quickness and straight-line speed to keep up with any number of fleet-footed receivers on top of bigger X types. He’s a surefire top 15 selection and probably has had the CB1 spot locked down for months now. Physical and stylistic comparison is longtime Patriots turned Colts via Panthers cornerback.

Round Grade: Top 10


Player Comp: Stephon Gilmore

2. Andrew Booth, Jr 6’0 194 Clemson Junior

- Booth was a former five-star recruit who broke out as a sophomore and continued the good run of form as a junior. He posted 37 total tackles, three tackles for loss, three interceptions, and five passes defensed. The former Tigers cornerback has good size and adequate functional speed. A fundamentally sound defensive back who does all the little things well. He’s in contention for the CB2 title alongside the one below him. Profiles like a CB1 but can be a great CB2 right now. He’s certainly a first-round selection at this point. Physical and stylistic profile compares to former Utah corner Jaylon Johnson.

Round Grade: First Round


Player Comp: Jaylon Johnson

3. Derek Stingley, Jr 6’0 190 LSU Junior

- Stingley is one of the best corners in the class but has slipped a tiny bit due to injury and some battles with inconsistency. He was a former five-star recruit that delivered on his immense potential from the jump as a freshman. On a loaded to the gills secondary that won the title, he was the best defensive back. He has the athleticism to turn and run to go along with the raw technical ability. Also, a physical marvel with the length and speed to match really good ball skills. Willing tackler. Still, even with the injury history and inconsistency, the talent is undeniable and should be drafted very high, possibly in the top ten. Physical and play profile is that of former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who has had a decent if not stellar career. Stingley profiles as a true blue CB1 that can lead the line for a team at the next level.

Round Grade: Top 20


Player Comp: Dre Kirkpatrick

4. Roger McCreary 5’11 190 Auburn Senior

- McCreary has been on the radar for a couple of years now after emerging in his sophomore season. He has increased his productivity every year, culminating with 135 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six interceptions, and 30 passes defensed. The versatility is a plus as he is used as a safety, outside, and slot throughout. While the RAS is somewhat middling, he has displayed a lot more athletically on film. Great lateral agility and awareness to be right on the receiver. A willing tackler as well. Physical and stylistic profile is that of former Washington turned Arizona Cardinals asset, Byron Murphy.

Round Grade: Second

RAS: 5.48

Player Comp: Byron Murphy

5. Kaiir Elam 6’1 191 Florida Junior

- Elam is the just latest defensive back prospect from Florida, a lowkey hotbed for DBs. Like many of his former Gators compatriots, he’s a quick-twitch and fluid athlete who can turn and run. Great physical traits with height and length being his top attributes. You can tell that he has impressive bloodlines with his football IQ. Those bloodlines include former Florida legend uncle Matt Elam and his father was a league veteran. Once touted as a surefire first-round selection, he probably will secure a second-round status. Athletic and play profile resembles that of Carlton Davis, the rising star corner of Tampa Bay fame.

Round Grade: Second

RAS: 8.63

Player Comp: Carlton Davis

6. Trent McDuffie 5’10 193 Washington Junior

- McDuffie is part of a pair of Washington corners getting some shine and he’s arguably the better one. The size and length are a bit concerning as he measured just a shade under 30” arms, limiting his versatility potential. He actively seeks out contact and is a hard hitter who makes frequent contact. Junior season was relatively good for the position as he posted 35 tackles, four tackles for loss, and one sack to go with seven passes defensed. Plus ball skills. Above-average spatial awareness and lateral quickness to work around the size issue. Explosive verticality. Probably best suited for an inside role due to size and good lateral ability but can hang on the perimeter against bigger and faster receivers. He will likely slip to Day 2 but wouldn’t surprise me if he sneaks into the first round. Athletic profile is that of former Bengals stalwart Leon Hall.

Round Grade: Second

RAS: 9.49

Player Comp: Leon Hall

7. Coby Bryant 6’1 193 Cincinnati Senior

- Bryant was the other half of the dynamic duo in Cincinnati. He’s a functional athlete as indicated by the RAS and is a tough competitor willing to stick his nose in there. A four-year starter who had an extremely productive career with 170 tackles, five tackles for loss, nine interceptions, and 35 passes defensed. Of course, anyone opposite talents like Sauce would get a ton of work thrown at him and Bryant delivered the goods more often than not. Great ball skills. He’s trending towards a possible Day 2 sneak entrant but will likely settle into the early Day 3 range. Physical comparison is that of former Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette.

Round Grade: Third to Fourth

RAS: 5.59

Player Comp: Damon Arnette

8. Tariq Woolen 6’4 205 UTSA Redshirt Senior

- A-T-H-L-E-T-E ATHLETE. Buddy is a freaky one at that. He converted to cornerback from wide receiver just two years ago so the fundamentals need some expected fine-tuning. Good ball skills as expected. If you had to create a player with the ideal height, weight, and athleticism, Woolen is that dude. He has length and speed for days due to a track background. He’s had an impressive offseason that launched him into the top ten cornerbacks and could go even higher than expected. While he won’t be a day one starter right away, if in the right system to utilize his skill set, he can become CB2 at the very least. Right now, he’s trending to becoming a late Day 2 selection. Athletic profile compares to Ifeatu Melifonwu.

Round Grade: Third

RAS: 9.70

Player Comp: Ifeatu Melifonwu

9. Kyler Gordon 5’11 194 Washington Redshirt Junior

- Gordon isn’t overtly fast but is sufficient in that regard, running a 4.52 40 during the offseason process. Where he gets the most love is his explosion in the lateral agility areas. Great ball skills didn’t amount to production but he closes to the ball in a hurry and with mean intentions. He played a ton of reps as a redshirt freshman and sophomore but 2020 was a mixed bag due to the pandemic. As a redshirt sophomore, he had 45 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, and seven passes defensed. Great tackler in space but has moments of hesitation against bigger offensive assets. Spatial awareness is top-notch and the length is good enough to hang on the perimeter. He would be best suited for a nickel role in a primary zone scheme using his lateral quickness and willingness to hit. The former Huskies corner should be no lower than a third-round selection. The athletic and stylistic profile resembles that of former Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield.

Round Grade: Third

RAS: 9.69

Player Comp: Kendall Sheffield

10. Josh Jobe 5’11 184 Alabama Senior

- Jobe is an extremely physical corner who loves contact but is somewhat limited athletically. He isn’t the greatest lateral athlete out there and the hips are a bit tight. The transitions are clunky and takes time to make his hips turn like a robot. He’s always in the picture, however, covering receivers at the line and within the box plus marker like white on rice. Which can be a blessing and a curse in today’s league. Still, the physical and mental traits exist enough to merit a mid-Day 3 selection for him. Production was better as a junior, however with really only his senior season as “that guy”. He compares physically to former Michigan defensive back Jourdan Lewis. Could a move to safety better his chances of being exposed too much as a limited athlete?

Round Grade: Fourth to Fifth


Player Comp: Jourdan Lewis

11. Alontae Taylor 6’0 199 Tennessee Senior

- Taylor did have consistently steady production for the Volunteers for three years before exploding onto the scene as a senior. He posted 60 tackles, two interceptions (one pick-six), and six passes defended in 2021. The prospect has played only four years of competitive football at cornerback after converting from wide receiver during his freshman season. The receiver's roots cannot be denied as his ball skills are like one. He’s a plus athlete as the RAS indicates and is seemingly all arms and legs at this point. He has risen up the boards during the process and will likely be taken in the fourth round. Physical comparison is that of Darius Slay, the outstanding veteran corner for the Eagles.

Round Grade: Fourth

RAS: 9.06

Player Comp: Darius Slay

12. Zyon McCollum 6’2 199 Sam Houston State Senior

- This guy had an outstanding offseason process that resulted in an all-time perfect 10 score on the RAS system, which only one other corner in league history has hit (Byron Jones). He’s a terrific athlete with great ball skills. The physical traits really pop here with long arms, speed, and verticality. He’s a big hitter to boot but can miss swinging for the fences. Ideal height, weight, and speed to play in any scheme as an outside corner. Laterally impressive when factoring in his height. Great spatial recognition. The former Bearkats corner did have to face receiver Jacques Ezzard in practice every day so he got a ton of reps against the kinds of smallish slot receivers. All about potential upside with this guy and those you take a swing on in the middle of Day 3. He profiles similarly to Packers defensive back Kevin King, who has a pretty decent career going.

Round Grade: Fifth

RAS: 10.00

Player Comp: Kevin King

13. Cam Taylor-Britt 5’10 196 Nebraska Senior

- CTB has really blown up this past season with 51 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and 11 passes defended (which matches three years of output). He’s a tackling machine that doesn’t miss. Fundamentally sound in both man and zone but is more zone adept. He has the athleticism to flip and run as well indicated by the RAS. Taylor-Britt was used all over the field including down in the box some as an additional threat there. He’s more than likely an outside corner at the next level but can play slot when called upon. A big hitter that hits home runs on the regular. Three years of solid and consistent production is a big plus. He merits a look in the early stages of Day 3. Athletic profile resembles Dexter McDougle and play style is that of former Ohio State standout Bradley Roby who has parlayed a nice career thus far.

Round Grade: Fifth

RAS: 8.33

Player Comp: Dexter McDougle / Bradley Roby

14. Chase Lucas 5’11 188 Arizona State Redshirt Senior

- Lucas was essentially a five-year starter (four if we’re not counting 2020 as a pandemic shelled year). He’s undersized by a little bit but not by much. A physical corner whose statistical peak may have been his sophomore season (62 total tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, and three interceptions). The former Sun Devil defensive back is very experienced thus instincts are a big plus. A great athlete who can turn and run on a dime. Plus ball skills as he runs like a receiver with YAC for days. Closes out very well and plays bigger than his frame. Pretty much the only ASU defender who didn’t regress one iota during the struggles of their program. He can be a solid CB2 after essentially serving as a nickel type during his rookie season. A Day 3 selection awaits for him, most likely. Physical profile resembles that of former Miami cornerback Herb Waters.

Round Grade: Fifth to Sixth

RAS: 8.89

Player Comp: Herb Waters

15. Tariq Castro-Fields 6’0 197 Penn State Redshirt Senior

- He isn’t the most explosive nor fastest athlete as the RAS would indicate but is above average enough at it. It seems like he has been at Penn State for a lengthy time, playing big snaps all five years. A willing competitor who will take on all comers regardless of size, which is a valued trait in some ways. He just isn’t quick enough to challenge slot receiver types both laterally and vertically. Physical traits are ideal for a 6-foot corner with long arms. Tenacious in run defense and will stick his nose in the wash to get things done. A versatile athlete that has lined up almost anywhere a corner can go. Perhaps a move to safety to better utilize his athleticism and instincts would be ideal for him. As it stands, he’s a good athlete at corner but could be even better at safety. TCF probably won’t challenge for starter’s reps but can be a good fit as a nickel defender in due course. He’s a Day 3 projection for now. Athletic and play profile hints toward former UCLA defensive back Fabian Moreau.

Round Grade: Sixth

RAS: 9.74

Player Comp: Fabian Moreau

16. Jalyn Armour-Davis 6’0 197 Alabama Redshirt Junior

- JAD had to sit behind a litany of great corners so really only got one year’s worth of starters’ reps full time. He’s a bit behind developmentally as a result but you can see the athleticism. Like most Alabama secondary members, the teachings of Nick Saban are there. He’s a really good athlete at his size and plays tall. Can hang with the smaller and quicker offensive assets. Solid tackler in open space. Numbers jumped with increased playing time as a result. Teams will check out the medical file as he suffered a knee injury as a freshman. Instinctive athlete with the physical measurables you want in a corner. The Yellowhammer State native was a track star in high school and it shows on film. While he won’t burn up the field with scorch marks, he ran an impressive 4.39 40 at the Combine. Teams would be smart to get on him in the middle of Day 3 and unmask his seemingly limitless potential coming from the Saban Secondary School. Laterally fluid for a “bigger” corner. His athletic and play profile compares to former Georgia turned Jaguars corner, Tyson Campbell.

Round Grade: Sixth to Seventh

RAS: 7.18

Player Comp: Tyson Campbell


1. Kyle Hamilton 6’4 220 Notre Dame Junior

- Hamilton is the best safety on the board by a country mile. In fact, he presents a compelling case for being the best pound-for-pound prospect in the class, regardless of position. FREAK ATHLETE. He presents the total package in terms of athleticism, IQ, and versatility for modern-day safeties. He has the size and speed to run with literally anyone, including the faster receivers we see in today’s game. Lateral agility is elite. The injury he suffered during the USC game might ding him a little but not much. The floor of his draft range is 20 and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets selected in the top 10. Athletically, he matches up to Jeremy Chinn who is coming off a pretty good season for the Panthers. Style-wise, he’s the new Derwin James. It will be interesting to watch where defensive coordinators use him.

Round Grade: Top 20

RAS: 9.33

Player Comp: Jeremy Chinn / Derwin James

2. Nick Cross 6’0 212 Maryland Junior

- Arguably, the fastest riser up the boards among the litany of talented defensive backs coming from a rebounding Maryland program. A three-year starter who upped his production every year. The RAS matches up to the play speed on film. He’s a pretty good athlete who has some development left despite all the experience. A home run hitter with a good hit rate but can miss at times. Cross’ physical traits are ideal, especially the length given his size, and his athleticism is way above par. Versatile athlete who can cover anyone from smaller receivers up to big tight ends. He’s the S2 in the class based on the traits that are very translatable to the next level. The former Terrapin should be a second-round selection. He compares favorably to Juan Thornhill, who starred at Virginia before becoming a key cog in the Chiefs secondary.

Round Grade: Second

RAS: 9.87

Player Comp: Juan Thornhill

3. Jaquan Brisker 6’1 199 Penn State Senior

- Exceptional athlete who transferred to Penn State for three years of great production that improved every year. He has all the physical traits you want in a safety like speed, length, and height. Played a variety of roles for the Nittany Lions defense, including some nickel corner and in the box. A terror for opposing offenses to try to scheme against due to his athleticism and versatility. A freaky athlete who will likely go on Day 2. His comparison both physically and stylistically is Marquise Blair, who made his bones in the excellent Utah defensive development program.

Round Grade: Second to Third

RAS: 9.14

Player Comp: Marquise Blair

4. Dax Hill 6’0 191 Michigan Junior

- Three-year starter who was an efficient producer every season and yet saved his best for last. He posted 69 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and eight passes defensed. Great athlete who can and has played a variety of roles for the reigning Big Ten champions. He was seen playing free safety, cornerback, and even linebacker at times. A great lateral athlete who can also fly. Toughness isn’t a question. Versatility and athleticism will get him drafted on Day 2. Athletic profile matches up to longtime Patriots safety Devin McCourty.

Round Grade: Second to Third

RAS: 9.06

Player Comp: Devin McCourty

5. Lewis Cine 6’2 199 Georgia Junior

- An outstanding athlete and defensive prospect from Georgia? Say no more, fam. Cine has been in Athens seemingly forever even as a junior. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore but really came on this past season. A 73 tackle, one interception, and nine passes defensed last campaign for the reigning national titleholders. Not the greatest athlete in pass coverage but is a menace in the run game. A tackler with mean intentions. He has the physical traits to play a strong safety/part-time linebacker role at the next level. Needs to improve on ball skills. Projects as a late Day 2 / early Day 3 pick. Physical profile is that of Troy Apke.

Round Grade: Third to Fourth

RAS: 9.92

Player Comp: Troy Apke

6. Juanyeh Thomas 6’0 213 Georgia Tech Senior

- A three-year run of impressive results from Thomas, including a senior season that ended with 76 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, five passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. He’s an above-average athlete with good instincts and fundamental tackling. Explosive in a straight line and above-average laterally. Short area burst is good. The former Yellow Jacket was used in a variety of roles in Downtown Atlanta. Ball skills are above average as well. Special teams impact came in his freshman year with two kick return touchdowns and one pick-six. He merits a Day 3 selection based on athletic traits. Profiles to a similar style of Mark Barron.

Round Grade: Fifth

RAS: 8.48

Player Comp: Mark Barron

7. Damarri Mathis 5’11 196 Pittsburgh Redshirt Senior

- Mathis played cornerback for Pittsburgh but he can be an outstanding safety at the pro level. He had a great junior season in 2019 but was, unfortunately, injured in 2020. Fortunately, he had a redshirt season available on top of the free COVID year. Returned in 2021 to put up better numbers as a second-year starter. The athleticism is really good and matches the RAS to the tape. Insane 43.5” vertical and a 4.39 40 during the offseason process. He’s a willing tackler to likes to get nose to nose. Like most Pat Narduzzi pupils, he’s well-schooled in the fundamentals. A Day 3 selection that could develop into a hybrid big nickel in time after a year of development. He compares well to Packers safety Darnell Savage, Jr, and emerging star 49ers corner Ambry Thomas.

Round Grade: Sixth

RAS: 9.29 (as a S)

Player Comp: Ambry Thomas / Darnell Savage, Jr

8. Jalen Pitre 5’10 198 Baylor Redshirt Senior

- Another athletic star from the Baylor program and probably their most versatile. He played everywhere but defensive line it seems. The last two seasons were very good and his senior campaign was an improvement. He produced 75 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, and seven passes defensed. A fluid sideline to sideline athlete who can cover literally any position with aplomb. A chess piece that could finally settle into a strong safety/dime linebacker role in the pros after moving around so much in college. He could go a lot higher than the middle of Day 3. Profile could be seen as Xavier Woods the former Louisiana Tech defensive back.

Round Grade: Fifth to Sixth

RAS: 8.47

Player Comp: Xavier Woods

9. Bryan Cook 6’0 206 Cincinnati Senior

- Yet another star in the Bearcats secondary. Cook was the unheralded glue guy who did a bit of everything for Cincy. He manned the slot as a big nickel type, in the box, and played some free safety as well. A plus run defender who gets to the carrier with great fundamental tackling that doesn’t miss often. One year starter so the potential is there waiting to be unearthed. He could be a hidden gem on Day 3. Profile is similar to former Alabama defensive back Xavier McKinney.

Round Grade: Sixth


Player Comp: Xavier McKinney

10. Yusuf Corker 6’0 203 Kentucky Redshirt Senior

- Corker played significant reps as a three-year starter for the Wildcats, increasing his numbers every season. He’s a middling athlete given the RAS and tape but isn’t that bad of one to the point that he’s not starting material. Primarily a strong safety by trade, he does have reps going down into the box as an additional linebacker so the versatility is there. A veteran safety who’s seen some things and isn’t easily fooled by the offense. While he doesn’t have the athleticism to step in at free safety, he does have traits. To wit, he can be an ideal backup safety/dime linebacker / third safety for a year or two before starting. There’s late-round value in what he can do so expect a later Day 3 selection from the Peach State native. Physical and style comparison is former Oregon safety, Brady Breeze.

Round Grade: Sixth to Seventh

RAS: 6.45

Player Comp: Brady Breeze

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