Open Thread: Defensive Backs

Ahmad Black NFL Draft

Will this defensive back be the next Florida Gator to make his way up to New England?

While it certainly has been a hot debate around these parts whether the Patriots need to upgrade the safety and/or cornerback position, there is no debate that Coach Belichick will pick the player he feels will help his team the most in the long-term.

If that is a defensive back, then that is who Patriots fans will get. After many fans, media types (not me!) and others piled on Belichick for drafting Devin McCourty in 2010, I think he has earned a bit of leeway.

With that said, I’d like to see a debate over who the top three defensive backs are for the Patriots in the 2011 NFL Draft – regardless of position. Let’s take Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara off the board, as I can’t see the Patriots trading into the top ten for a defensive back. After that, everybody is fair game.

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

We are very high on this Colorado prospect, even though, as we mentioned on NEPD Radio, he is from the same school that Terrence Wheatley came from. That is about where the comparisons should end though, as Smith is a tough corner that presses well, getting the jams that the Patriots defense looks for each snap.

Ahmad Black, DB, Florida

Patriots fans will love this guy. He is the ultimate heart guy, giving 100% every down to help his team win. He is a bit small, but Black would compete for team as a 3rd safety immediately. He also would be an absolute demon on special teams, and whether fans like it or not, that is very important to the man in the hoodie.

Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

Similar to Black, Harris is a coaches dream. He has great intangibles and loves the game of football. He is solid in run support and plays well in zone coverage. Bigger receivers can be a problem at times for Harris (see Floyd, Michael) but we love what this Hurricane brings to the table.

What say you?

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43 Responses to “Open Thread: Defensive Backs”

  1. Jimmy Freeze says:

    DB definitely needs to be looked at by the Pats…The goal for this draft is to shore up the uncertainty in the OL, and improve the defense by whatever means.

    The way the game is played now, with 4/5 wide sets, you need to have at least 3-maybe 4 highly competent CBs. Last year, every time an opponent needed to make a play, they threw left at Arrington or Butler with a high success rate. Even with Bodden coming back, he would make 2 solid guys, but would still leave the slot vulnerable, and Bodden has been injury-prone.

    After the Wheatley/Wilhite experiment, McCourty’s selection tells me that BB has figured out that tier 2 corners can’t stay cover tier 1 receivers that are prevelant now in the league. The only place to find tier 1 CBs is in the 1st round. Note that last year, 6 top DBs were selected in the first 29 picks. CB has joined DL/OL as rnd 1 impact selections…with the exception of premier prospects, they have surpassed QB in the 1st round. I expect that to continue this year. If the Pats want to take the next step in the defensive backfield, they will need to invest one of their top 3 picks.

    Those clinging to the expectation that he will choose a rush linebacker will be disappointed…there’s no way BB will spend a high pick on a high risk player that will only play 1-2 downs. I expect them to use their 1st 3 picks on a true DE, OL-probably tackle, and a CB. They will use later picks on OLB, OL-guard,and RB

  2. Sean says:

    I don’t see why you take Amukamara out of the picture. He could easily still be there at 10 or 11 and it would not take much of an offer to get Washington to move down to 17 as they need more picks because they don’t have a 3rd or 4th rounder. Money isn’t an issue either because Bodden and McCourty have very friendly deals.

  3. Steve says:

    Ok…I’m sneaking in a comment on your draft:

    I’m just curious as to why you think Robert Quinn is going to slip to #16? Are you deliberately trying torture me having him go right in front of the Pats? Is this personal? ha-ha

    Seriously, is it because the kid took money/gift, or whatever, from an agent and was penalized a season. I contend that NFL teams don’t give a #$% about players taking money, or anything to do with the NCAA BS. And, not playing for a year is so over-blown…he’s well rested, that’s how I look at it. It’s not like he forgt how to run or tackle a QB, or whatever.

    He’s clearly a top 5 talent…top 5 athlete and top 5 football player; and I say he’s the best 3-4 OLB in this draft….Bowers being too big to cover, and Von Miller being too light to set the edge (the way the Pats like it played). I think he’s clearly a better player than Miller…all-round superior.

    So, how and why do 15 teams take other players and pass on a superior player? I’m really asking…not being a wise guy…I’m curious if I’m missing something here.

    • Ryan says:

      Teams definitely over look players every year, for stupid reasons. I think Dan Marino was an example where people thought he was doing drugs. Gronk was hurt and supposedly not going to be his orginal self. Hernandez had Marijuana problems which is why he slipped. Deadrick slipped for a gun accident too. None of these have anything to do with their ability. However, I will say this until after the combine a lot will remain a mystery. Even after the combine the public will not know everything, such as Sergio Kindle (broken leg) or history of drug problems. A few teams may not like the fact that he has not played in a full year and may not want to take that risk of a top five pick. His combine may not be as good as what everyone thinks it should be. He maybe “football” by that I mean mentally slow.

      But I hope he does fall the to the Patriots that would be awesome. He has good size, and supposedly good speed. Lets just hope all of the other peices fall into place.

    • NEPD says:

      A combination of things – maturity issues (agent problem), injury concerns, and lack of experience.

      Could go top 5, could go 20. Tough to tell. Dez Bryant fell because of similar reasons.

      • Bill says:

        The Pat’s had TWO opportunities to draft Dez Bryant.

        The Pat’s traded down to Denver and received the pick for Hernandez. Then the Pat’s should have taken Bryant instead of… (edited for content – let’s keep race out of this)

      • OOBEEDOO says:

        “Having four picks in the first two rounds certainly gives us the flexibility to move from where we’re at, if we feel that’s the right thing to do,” Belichick said. “Or I’m sure if we pick four players at those positions, we should get four good-quality guys. We’ll see how all that turns out. In the end, we’ll try to do our homework and be prepared for whatever the opportunities are and hope we make the best of them.”

        It’s same situation as last year except the CBA. Is there definitntely a larger pool of talent this year because of CBA?

      • Bruschi54 says:

        I agree, can see Quinn dropping to mid first round due to the things listed, happens in most drafts. The other thing that could hurt him is if teams high up in the draft get enamored with players who perform well at combine & pro days, shooting them up draft boards. Von Miller was slotted mid 1st to early 2nd six weeks ago, then played his ass off all week at Senior Bowl, now you can’t find a mock draft that has him out of the top 10 selections. If Aldon Smith shows up at 265lbs and runs 4.6 forty @ combine, watch where he moves to on draft boards. Same goes for Phil Taylor and Muhammed Wilkerson, I think they may both go higher than most of us are predicting. We may have decent shot staying put at #17 to land Quinn if BB likes him.

  4. mike says:

    What Ian said was the smartest comment ive heard in a long time. There are so many positions that can be upgraded. Aside from inside lb, safety and quarterback. Anything can be upgraded. It’s all about talent and value at this point. Belichick meets with these players and question them to test for intelligence.
    These are the factors in order of importance
    1. Work ethic/intelligence
    You cant possibly be good in belichick system for being a dumbass.
    2. Talent
    Ok, this one is obvious, but for teams like pats or packers, they have the luxury to pick by talent, because the “need” is really not that high.
    3. Big picture
    This is the trade factor. The trade could be up or down, really depends on belichicks assessment of the individuals. Trading up could be based on confidence to win next year. Trading down would be wise to build a good team for decades. Either way, patriot wins.

  5. chris says:

    Alot also depends on the CBA. If there is one done in time for a somewhat normal free agency period, I could see the Pats targeting Champ Bailey to be a combo corner/safety which would totally change their secondary.

  6. Ian says:

    I think the Pats will continue to add the best player available. I don’t see them targeting certain positions this year. The team went 14-2. We need to continue to add talent to this team whatever that position may be. I would love them to trade up this year and add more high impact players. Players that can help this team now and not two or three years from now. Prior to the 2010 season I believed BB was targeting the 2012 season as the pinnacle year for the franchise. Obviously they had a great regular season and may be closer than he thought. Enjoy the ride with Brady and BB because it will be a long time if ever before we see a player/coach tandem like them again.

  7. TD says:

    I can almost say with certainty that BB will trade one or two of the first three picks for either more picks this year or a one or two next year. He likes to trade those later first rounders for a teams number one next year plus another pick. He took a chance with trading a #1 for 49ers next years #1 and got Mayo. I’m sure he thought the mess in Oakland would continue when he traded Seymour.
    I think he can trade out some of those picks and still get some good players later, like say, Hudson the G out of FSU.

  8. TD says:

    If you can get a really good football player with a pick regardless of position, you have to take it. I remember a lot of bloggers ready to burn down Gillette because BB took McCourty. You can never have enough really good football players and if one of them is a DB when we pick in the first round, then I say we do it; Bodden was not a top CB before he got hurt, Arrington is OK, Butler is regressing, Wilhite is average and set to make $1.2mil. The reason for all the S’s at the end last year is because we had no CB’s that could cover other than McCourty and maybe Arrington. No way we want Chung at slot back, he makes too many plays at the safety position.

    • Steve says:

      Yes, you can’t listen to fan reaction on picks…we have very little idea of their big board and wish list of players. Also, there’s the money factor and that’s not known either. I think that last year’s reaction, from fans and media, was laughable. They trade back and draft a cornerback, who Mayock called a great special teams player, then every idiot started freaking out (like Tom E Curren and others) saying they drafted a special teams player.
      No, he’s a corner back, and you kind of need several in a passing league. They are extremely important and hard to find. They saw talent and took the kid and were not let down, obviously.
      They need another corner…if they feel Bodden can stay on the field it still doesn’t mean they don’t need some more talent there.

  9. Ryan says:

    The DB position isn’t that healthy. Page and McGowen’s contracts are up on there? Sanders is off and on. Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett, aren’t All-Stars by any means. If we don’t sign Page or McGowen we will definitely need a veteran. This draft isn’t nearly as deep at the DB position as last years draft was. Id rather waste a pick on a position this draft is stronger at DL, OLB, etc.

  10. Erik Frenz says:

    Jimmy Smith? I think the Patriots should go after Jalil Brown. Just me though.

  11. CC says:

    Why bother with a DB until later on?
    Neal was out all year from injury/he’s retiring after this one and he’s gone! He isn’t worth but 6 games maybe, who know’s? Mankin’s is out the door one way or the other? Kazur, like neal was out all year, and as was said by another…..it’s not the type of injury that “just goes away”, so how reliable is and will he be? Can he really be counted on many much more games that Neal?
    UH’ , That’s three pick’s right there being 2 guard’s ad an offensive tackle!
    Still needing badly a Seymore replacement at DE and a OLB….that’s FIVE(5) major position’s we need filled bad!
    Unless the CBA is dealt with a.s.a.p., and we can talk trade and Free agency to fill spot’s( and personally i’d grab DE Jason Babin off of the Titan’s, and RB DeAngelo William’s from the Panther’s), I don’t see how a pick should be used on a DB?

    We do need one, IMO McCourty is the only real good one and if he was ever too get hurt, we’d be screwed!

    But not until after the rest is locked up somehow.

    I’d settle for any type of lower round pick on a DB/CB, but it’s not a priority by comparison…..

    • JMC says:

      I sort of agree- I think two DL and one OL (a guard) or a DL a OLB and an OL would be a good draft for the Patriots in 2011. I think a RB, CB and maybe another OL can be found in lower rounds or in free agency. Richard Marshall (Carolina) might be a good FA pick-up-

  12. John says:

    I’m really hoping that Butler can make the team since the Pats invested a 2nd round pick on him. He was absolutely horrible as a starter and I hope he can overcome that. Other teams were picking on him all day. I think he should have showed us a little more than what he did last year. Just remember, he was a second rounder. Also, I would like to hear pat fans comments on Jermaine Cunningham who was another second round pick. I’m more hopeful on him because he played well although he was injured a good portion of the year. Which outside linebacker in the draft would look good as the other ‘bookend “with Cunningham?

    • Bruschi54 says:

      I am still undecided on Cunningham right now. He seems to have the size/agility combo that is desired at OLB, but he does not strike me as a real impact player. It takes a while to excel in BB scheme, but I am not sure that he has the skills to be a double digit sack producer on a regular basis. I know there is much more to the position than just pressuring the QB, but we still need to have at least one player that can get that done consistently. Hopefully there is one or two on the horizon.

      • TD says:

        I think Cunningham is trying to quickly learn the 2 hardest parts of BB’s requirements for OLB’s – playing the run and pass coverage. Once he gets those down, I think we will see him getting better at rushing the QB.

    • Steve says:

      He will be fighting for a job no matter where they drafted him…it happens to every team; and it may help make the team in the first few years, but after that you have to contribute or go.

      I want Robert Quinn to play OLB on the other side from Cunningham…I want a trade with Buffalo, and hope he’s still there. Buffalo is rebuilding…need picks, as is Denver. I think two picks for one will do it, maybe need to throw in a 4th or 5th also, but just do it and take the freak and live happily ever after.

  13. Steve says:

    Trades are not common, and NOBODY is giving us an all star corner for Brandon Merriweather.
    The help at corner will come from a healthy Bodden, the draft, or free agency.
    I wrote (above) that I’m hoping someone like Champ Bailey wants to finish his career here, but the Pats did invest in Bodden and have McCourty so they go for another free agent.

    One thing you can count on next training camp, excluding any CBA interference, there will be more competition at CB. Butler & Arrington will be playing for spots on the team, and Arrington will have the edge because he is so great on special teams. If Butler doesn’t show the improvement in camp he will be gone, as in cut.

    I hope he makes the jump…I’m pulling for him…he’s great athlete and seems like a good kid.

  14. John says:

    The Pats have too many safetys on their roster currently. Is it possible to make a trade to get a CB that’s better than Butler or Arrington? Since Merriweather made the pro bowl maybe someone would trade us an all star CB for him. If the pats don’t make a trade, what free agents are out there? We are all playing a guessing game right now because depending on which players are resigned and which free agents are signed can change the strategy for the draft.
    The draft stategy for RB’s would be to pass on Ingram at #17 but grab him at #28 if he’s there. I know the odds of this happening are slim at best. They could also trade up a few spots with their 28th pick if it makes sense. So what I’m basically saying is unless Ingram falls to #24 or later, take a pass on him. I also like Mikel LeShoure but I wouldn’t use any of our first 3 picks on him because the second round pick #33 is too high and valuable to use for him. I also believe that he’ll be long gone by pick #60. If he’s still around in the late 30’s or early 40’s I would like them to do a Rob Gronkowski move to snatch him up. The odds of this happening is also slim at best because some team will pick him too early, probably very late in the first round.
    BJGE and Woodhead is a decent base for RB”s, but they need a guy like LeShoure or Ingram also. If BJGE got injured this year, the pats would have been “screwed”. None of the other RB’s that are currently on the roster now are worth much. They are either too old or injury prone. It almost seems like their best strategy might be to get a decent RB through free agency instead of drafting one too early. The 2011 running back class is definitely on the weak side this year which means that RB’s will be drafted earlier in the draft for what they’re worth.

    • Steve says:

      I agree on LeShoure…I love him, maybe more than Ingram, but Ingram is a better fit…LeShoure is like a larger, more explosive, BJGE. I just don’t see them taking either with the first 2, maybe they do with #33.
      I know the position can be filled later and is short-lived, but talent is talent and we do need another back…it is a position on the field, and they can score touchdowns. Meaning, we (I’m included) can devalue the position all day, but good backs create problems for defenses, and adding another would be nice.
      What’s in our favor is the other teams only have the one pick, so they are the ones that have to really think long & hard about using theirs on a RB; especially if both of those backs run 4.55, or something. That will help the Pats out. Both run very well in pads, but neither is a burner, and this will make it very difficult for a team to pull the trigger on a back with their one and only first rounder who just timed slow, and there are other, faster, backs to be had in mid rounds…this also helps the Pats, these teams may pass on both those guys for that reason, and address other needs.

      You have to figure Ingram has the edge playing at Alabama, being the son of a former pro, being a good kid, playing in the SEC, and being so much like a larger, every-down, Faulk. I just love Leshoure though…I see him having the tools to really do some damage, even if he’s alot like BJGE…he has that explosion, and can catch the football also.

  15. Bill says:

    I agree with some other posters that the Pat’s shouldn’t use their early picks on a CB. Bodden will play next year and a couple of mid-round CB picks can compete for a starting job by mid-season.

    During the ’93 draft, the 49ers offered all of their picks in the ’94 draft to the Pat’s in exchange for the first pick in the draft. The Pat’s should offer to trade McCourty to the Jets for all of their picks in the 2012 draft. Rex Ryan will not be able to separate his emotions from his coaching calculations if offered such a trade. All he will think about is having Revis and McCourty as his CB’s.

    The Jets have serious salary cap problems and therefore will have a high turnover of players from last years team. They cannot afford to trade away draft picks and remain a playoff contender. Which is why the Pat’s should make the Jets a trade offer that Ryan cannot refuse.

    • Steve says:

      Are you kidding or do you really believe either team would ever consider doing such a thing?

      • Bill says:

        I’m serious. The Pat’s have developed a Boston Bruins mentality. Like the Bruins, Belichick believes they need only enough player talent to make the playoffs. And then BB and Brady will carry the team to another SB victory. That strategy hasn’t worked in several years.

        The Pat’s don’t need one great CB, the Pat’s need a few very good CB’s. Trading McCourty to the Jets to drain them of draft picks is the best offseason move the Pat’s can make this year.

        Here are my thoughts. The Pat’s should combined #17 and next years first round pick to move up into the top ten and draft JJ Watt. Then the Pat’s should combine #28 and #74? from Minnesota to move above the Colts in the first round and draft Castonzo.

        The Pat’s should draft Wisniewski at #33 and Moffitt at #92.

        Then the Pat’s can start drafting CB’s and RB’s. I don’t buy into the belief that the Pat’s need a pass rusher. They just need a solid draft and improvement from their current young players.

      • Bruschi54 says:

        If the Pats want JJ Watt they can stay where they are at and probably get he and Costanzo at 28, trading up for Watt would be crazy. If there pass rush does not get better, they need to clone McCourty not trade him.

    • Dexter says:

      might be the dumbest thing Ive ever read

    • TD says:

      This is Bill Belichick, I want Bill to run a lap right now for his lack of good judgement. Devin McCourty is the best value in the NFL right now. I would rather trade Mankins to the Jets.

  16. mike says:

    Harris is a first rounder. There are many pressing needs that patriots must address, so unless he slips to second, it’ll be doubtful patriots will take a shot.
    Safeties is the most complete defensive position right now both in talent and depth. However, contracts are due very soon, still, it can wait for another year. Might I also add this is one of the worst safety classes in decades?
    The DB from colorado however is a good one though. A hidden gem if you will, like mccourty, coming out of small name college, without too much hype and attention. He is a patriot type of cornerback for sure, physical, classy (being classy usually comes with good work ethic and or intelligence).
    He can be aquired from late second to early third, well worth the price , adds depth and talent onto a mediocre position.

    Black from florida should not be considered until after dl, olb, ol qnd cb are already addressed due to reasons i stated above about safety position for the pats.

  17. otis says:

    i would stay away from corner and safety in the first two rounds. Let’s resign the guys we have and focus on D-line and OLB. You want to improve the secondary than put pressure on the QB!!

    • Jeff says:

      I love your thinking. I actually think the Pats have enough youth in the secondary I thinks its time to bring in a solid vet in at saftey. I like the way the CBs look for next year with Bodden coming back…but the DBs need help and how they will get that help is with a PASS RUSH!!!.

      IM not sure Bill sees it the way we do….most fans have been complaining about a pass rush for three years and the Pats still havent addressed that OBVIOUS need. I dont get it.

  18. Bruschi54 says:

    Williams from Texas, Dowling from Virginia, Burton from Utah, Patrick from Lousiville and Jarrett from Temple are all physical DB’s that may be available at #60, depending on if there is a run on DB’s in the draft. House is also a player that the “experts” say BB is intrigued by, but I think the circle of people that know what BB is interested in consist’s of BB and his dog. I agree that a good, consistent pass rush would fix a lot of the coverage problems in the secondary. I like Harris if he is around at #33, but hope they stay away from DB in round 1 unless they swing something for Peterson. Does not seem like a big difference between the # 4-8 rated guys opposed to the guys they say are 3-4 rounders.

  19. Ryan says:

    Here is my opinion for what its worth. The type of CB or DB we draft will solely depend on whether we get a pass rusher or not. If we fail to draft a pass rusher, I want a CB who is going to be good in coverage and good at identifying routes. If we do draft a pass rusher, I would prefer a player who can jam and defend against the run. All these players, need to be smart, hard working, love the game and love the team more than himself. If any of these players exhibit those qualities nothing will happen. Those many not agree with me, but some decisions will need to be made about the type of defense that patriots are going to play. I’m all for smash mouth football.

  20. Ian says:

    Lets be honest Chung was not good in coverage. I love the guy but I think quaterbacks completion rate was around 66% on him. I know he is young and I think he is our best safety going forward with that said he needs to get better at that spot. Bodden coming back will help obviously but I still think another good solid corner with some size or saftey in this draft would help.

  21. Steve says:

    I think we need the corner…if Bodden comes back it will be great, I’m counting on him playing well next year, but drafting one with the first 4 picks would be nice.
    Butler and Arrington will have to fight to make the team because I’m positive a few free agents will be in there battling for a spot.

    I would love to see Champ Bailey come in here for a couple of seasons and finish his career…it just makes too much sense. Broncos will be rebuilding, and he must want to win a bowl…he’s done everything else…going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

  22. Steve says:

    That’s a tough position these days…they ask a lot of the safety. He’s pretty small…I’m not too sure, but he seems like a player. I’m just not sure if he’s worth using even a mid pick on.
    Chung was tough (not so great) in coverage this year…hoping he fills in that part of his game because he could be special if he does.

  23. Sciz says:

    I love Black as a mid-round guy. He seems to have some slot CB ability, meaning we could relieve Chung of that duty after he had some big problems at times last season.

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