Having covered the top IDP defensive linemen and the top IDP linebackers in Fantasy Football from this year’s NFL Draft class, lets take a look at the top 10 defensive backs who will make big contributions in many secondaries this year. This list is comprised of both the safety and the cornerback position.
1. Mark Barron (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – How can you not love Mark Barron? He is easily the most complete S and probably the most complete DB in this class. He can play in the box to stuff the run and he can cover backs and TEs fairly easily. He makes good plays on the ball and takes good angles in pursuit. He is the real deal. He steps in as an immediate starter in TB and could play either FS or SS. He should easily be the top DB in this class and could approach 80-90 tackles and even upwards of 10 passes defended as a rookie.
2. Harrison Smith (Minnesota Vikings) – Who does Minnesota have at S? No seriously, really who do they have? This team is desperate for playmakers in the secondary and they play in a division with high-flying passing offenses in Green Bay and Detroit. When you factor in that Chicago has added Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as well, the Vikings will be facing some tough passing offenses. He has a legitimate chance to start from day one and accumulate 80+ tackles in that defense. While I think he is overrated, he has a great opportunity to excel here.
3. Brandon Taylor (San Diego Chargers) – As of right now the options for the starting SS spot in San Diego are Darrel Stuckey and Atari Bigby. The Chargers traded up in the draft to select Taylor and he should put some serious heat on the two incumbents to start at SS. If he does, he could rack up some tackle numbers. Eric Weddle has the center field position held down, so this enables the SS to help with playing in the box when need be and separating the ball carrier from the ball over the middle of the field when not playing in the box. Both of those duties are Taylor-made (pardon the pun) for the rookie 3rd round pick. He could be a nice player flying under the radar fantasy-wise this year.
4. Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys) – Claiborne has elite ball skills and will have every chance to showcase them now in Big D. He is an immediate starter and a player that eventually could follow the other team’s best WR all over the field. Initially he will get targeted often as a rookie. He has 6 games against Vick, Eli and RGIII and should see a ton of opportunities for tackles, interceptions and passes defended as he guards players like DeSean Jackson, Maclin, Nicks, Cruz, Garcon and Santana Moss. Practicing against Dez Bryant and Miles Austin can’t hurt his development either.
5. Dre Kirkpatrick (Cincinnati Bengals) – The Bengals will be counting on Dre picking up the slack that their other CBs never picked up last season when they lost Jonathan Joseph to the Texans. Kirkpatrick is not as good as Joseph, but he is better than what the Bengals were trotting out last year. With Leon Hall coming off a down year and some injuries of his own, Dre will be a key piece to that D. He will likely get targeted often as he adjusts to the NFL game, but his physical play could result in a bunch of tackles from the CB position.
6. Josh Robinson (Minnesota Vikings) – Robinson has a similar outlook to Smith in that he will be relied upon to contribute to that terrible Minnesota secondary early and often. He may already be their second best CB on day one. Robinson will get targeted often and he will almost certainly play in 3-WR sets. Since GB and DET run those sets all the time and Chicago could be doing so a lot more with Marshall, Jeffery and Hester, Robinson should see the field a lot and tally around 50-60 tackles and maybe 2-4 interceptions.
7. Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills) – Gilmore is already being expected to contribute immediately and could enter the year as a starter. The Bills are already touting his ability to successfully cover TEs and that could be big news in the AFC East. He could see a lot of Gronkowski, Hernandez, Fasano, Egnew, and Keller as a result. I am not entirely sold on Gilmore’s meteoric rise in the NFL Draft, but he will certainly be given every opportunity to be on the field to help compile stats.
8. Omar Bolden (Denver Broncos) – If Bolden can somehow manage to stay healthy he is an absolute steal for the Broncos. He has above average NFL coverage skills, ball skills, burst and recognition. And he is not bad in run support either. He could very easily be starting across from Champ Bailey next year and he could easily break the nickel set with Bailey and Tracy Porter this year.
9. George Iloka (Cincinnati Bengals) – I really like Iloka and he comes to a Cincinnati team with a clear need at Safety. However, Iloka is best suited in coverage and will shine most in covering big possession WRs or TEs. That isn’t a bad skill set to have in today’s NFL, but he will never be a huge tackler to really justify a starting position in IDP leagues.
10. Tavon Wilson (New England Patriots) – Let me be the first to say I know very little about Tavon Wilson. Many scouts had a 3rd day grade on him and some had him as an undrafted free agent, yet the Pats took him in the second round. Word has it they love his versatility and his ability to play CB or S. The Pats did not take him so high to have him sit and collect dust. He will see the field and will probably line up all over in the secondary. That versatility and ability to earn playing time alone makes him a draftable commodity amongst this rookie class.