Here is my initial list of the top defensive backs for the 2022 NFL Draft.
The number in parentheses represents the ranking for the top overall players in the draft.
Click here to check out that list…ORDER 66
Click here to check out our QB list…QUARTERBACKS
Click here to check out our RB list…RUNNINGBACKS
Click here to check out our WR list…WIDERECEIVERS
Click here to check out our TE list…TIGHTENDS
Click here to check out our OL list…OFFENSIVELINEMEN
Click here to check out our DL list…DEFENSIVELINE
Click here to check out our LB list…LINEBACKERS
This list will be updated following all-star week performances from the East/West Shrine Bowl (1/28 – 2/3) and the Senior Bowl (2/1 – 2/5) as well as individual player pro days and the NFL Combine (3/1 – 3/7).
1 (5) Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, Cincinnati (Jr.) Excellent size at 6-3, 200; 2020 and 2021 1st-team All-American and 2021 AAC DPOY; 9 career INTs and returning two for scores; an exclusive outside shut down corner who can be left on an island to take one side of the field away; has been a top talent since his freshman season; physical tackler and a good run defender.
2 (7) Derek Stingley Jr., LSU (3rd-year So.) 6-1, 195; 5-Star recruit who was considered the best player in his class; 2nd-team AA as a true freshman with 15 PBs and 6 INTs while starting 15 games for a national championship team; after his stellar freshman campaign, Stingley Jr. would end up with just five more PBs and no interceptions while playing in just 25 games over his career due to two separate foot injuries; his lack of production can definitely be attributed to teams staying away from his side of the field; Stingley Jr. is a smart, ball hawk with elite cover skills and has as much cover talent than any corner to come into the league in years, but I rank him behind Gardner due to his injury history, limited experience and belief that Gardner is a better all-around defender; Stingley Jr. has excellent bloodlines; his father played in the Arena league and was signed by the Jets practice squad while his grandfather Daryl played five seasons with the Patriots as a first-round draft pick before having his career cut short following a tragic football injury to his neck that left him paralyzed due to a hit by Jack Tatum.
3 (37) Trent McDuffie, Washington (3-year So.) Not very big at 5-11, 195; 2nd-team Pac 12 in 2020 and 1st-team Pac 12 in 2021; 2021 3rd-Team All American; a top contributor for the Huskies defense since his first season; plays mostly outside; good athlete with a very good vertical; uses good strength to tackle in the run game for a man his size; an elite zone corner; film junkie; punt return experience; ran sprint and long jump in high school.
4 (40) Coby Bryant, Cincinnati (Sr.) 6-1, 198; 1st-team AAC in 2020 and 2021; 2021 2nd-Team All American and 2021 Jim Thorpe Award winner (nation’s top defensive back) with 45 tackles, 14 PDs, 3 INTs (TD) and 3 FFs; 10 career INTs; an exclusive outside corner who is also a good run defender; always has his hands around the ball for INTs, PBs and will even use his hands after a catch to punch the ball out.
5 (42) Roger McCreary, Auburn (Sr.) 6-0, 190; became an elite shut down corner in 2021; 2021 1st-team SEC making 49 tackles, 16 PDs and 2 INTs (TD); six career interceptions; lines up exclusively outside; smart and fast; always in tight coverage; will not offer much in the run game; needs more weight room strength.
6 (44) Marcus Jones, Houston (Sr.) On the small side at 5-8, 185; Sun Belt Freshman POY in 2017 at Troy with three kick return touchdowns (four total KR TDs in two seasons with the Trojans); left Troy after 2018 and played the last two seasons with the Cougars as a high-level cornerback and outstanding kick returner; 2021 1st-Team All American (DB) and 2021 AAC STPOY with four return scores (2 KR/2 PR); played outside corner a majority of the time but also played the slot and just about anywhere the staff required; can also defend the run pretty well for a player his size; great athlete who can play offense (slot), defense and special teams; excellent production in 2021 with 48 tackles, 18 PDs (3rd nationally), 5 INTs and a forced-fumble on defense + one touchdown on offense and four kick return scores; a double bonus player who had six career kick return touchdowns and three career punt return touchdowns; his size is the only reason why he is not considered a first-round talent, but will still get selected high if he runs a good forty.
7 (60) Montaric “Buster” Brown, Arkansas (RS Sr.) 6-0, 190; 4-Star recruit; 1st-team SEC in 2021 with 11 PDs and 5 INTs; 132 career tackles and 7 INTs; determined; elite confidence; smart; physical with lock down traits; leader; one of my sleepers who I believe will end up as a better pro than most think.
8 (62) Kaiir Elam, Florida (Jr.) Very good size at 6-2, 195; first-round NFL talent with six career interceptions; a long and physical press corner; penalty prone in 2021 which will need to be cleaned up in the pros.
9 (64) Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson (Jr.) 6-0, 195; 5-Star recruit; 2nd-team ACC in 2020 and 1st-team ACC in 2021; outside corner; good tackler; gave up a bit too many receptions in 2021, which was also his first full season as a starter; does not produce as much as you would like from a player who receives a ton of outside praise; he could still move up my draft board by time we get to April but for now I need a bit more quality data.
1 (8) Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame (Jr.) Incredible size at 6-4, 220; 2021 2nd-Team All American; led the Irish in tackles in 2020 with 63; knee injury relegated him to just seven games in 2021; good speed for his size; Hamilton can cover, tackle and make plays; his best asset is his coverage ability; has eight career interceptions with a score; lined up in the slot half of the time and also played free safety; in this day and age of hybrid defenders who can give you a major chess piece to defend, Hamilton should be a sought after draft pick and rightly so.
2 (38) Daxton Hill, Michigan (Jr.) 6-0, 192; 5-Star recruit; 2021 1st-team Big 10 with 69 tackles, 11 PDs and 2 INTs; a free safety who also played slot corner in 2021; athletic; fast; good tackler and blitzer; Hill will have a more impactful NFL career than he did in college.
3 (50) Jaquan Brisker, Penn State (Sr.) 6-1, 200; 2021 2nd-Team All American and 2021 1st-team Big 10 with 64 tackles, 6 TFL and 2 INTs; former JUCO who has been a steady performer all three seasons with the Lions; his main asset is his elite cover skills for a strong safety; lines up in the box half the time and splits the rest of his time playing free safety and in the slot; breaks well on the ball; physical wrap up tackler; smart.
4 (56) Jalen Pitre, Baylor (Sr.) 6-0, 197; 1st-team Big 12 in 2020 while leading the team in tackles (60) and returned both interceptions for scores playing the slot; 2021 1st-team All-American and 2021 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year; led the Bears in TFL last season with 18 ½; an explosive tackler with elite run defensive ability; played linebacker in high school as well as over his first three seasons in college until making the switch to hybrid safety in 2021; the position switch was able to highlight his propensity to blitz, set the edge and cover; career numbers = 195 tackles, 38 TFL, 8 sacks and 3 FFs; Pitre is another hybrid defender who will be favored by many coordinators on draft day.
By Greg DePalma
The Draft Apprentice and Executive Producer of the Ourlads’ Football Network at Ourlads.com.