With the NFL Scouting Combine coming up next weekend and the Redskins in desperate need for secondary help; I brought in Mocking The Draft's Dan Kadar to help give us an idea of how this years defensive back class is shaping out.
UK: Dan, we know the Redskins secondary was just horrible last season. Clearly their biggest need is at defensive back. On the face of it, it looks a strong class, which is huge for the Redskins who are without their first round pick after the Griffin trade. But with such a strong class, it'd be great if you could narrow down the list of possible targets. Who are the guys that clearly aren't going to fall to the Redskins second round pick?
Dan: The first 50 picks of the draft usually has about five to seven cornerbacks taken. So if that's true this year, players like Dee Milliner (Alabama), Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), Logan Ryan (Rutgers), Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State), Jordan Poyer (Oregon State) and Desmond Trufant (Washington) could all be gone. Those are my top six cornerbacks, and I think the quality drops quite far after them.
For the safeties, it's often three to five gone in the first 50 picks. Lets split that and go with four. Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) and Matt Elam (Florida) are most likely gone. D.J. Swearinger of South Carolina is a player I think will go that high. Then one out of Shawn Williams (Georgia), Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International) or Eric Reid (LSU). I'll say it's Cyprien, because I think he's going to have a big Combine next week. So lets go with Vaccaro, Elam, Swearinger and Cyprien being gone.
UK: With those guys ruled out, who are the top guys who could be available when the Redskins are on the clock?
Dan: Corners could be Will Davis (Utah State), Leon McFadden (San Diego State), Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut) and David Amerson (NC State). Safeties would be Williams, Reid, Bacarri Rambo (Georgia) and Phillip Thomas (Fresno State).
UK: Which position is the deepest in your opinion, cornerback or safety?
Dan: For the second round, cornerback is probably a better spot. Davis and McFadden are probably solid No. 2 corners. Wreh-Wilson has the better upside of them all. Amerson may be a safety convert. Rambo and Thomas could probably be had in the third round. Williams and Reid are a solid all-around player, but not really stars.
UK: Small school corners Robert Alford and B.W. Webb really impressed me at the Senior Bowl a few weeks ago. Are these small school guys on the rise, or could they be mid to late round steals?
Dan: They're both on the rise, but small schoolers are hard to peg at this point. We'll know more about their draft placement as the offseason process rolls along. For instance, in 2009, I don't recall a lot of people having Derek Cox in the third round at this point of the year. In February of last year, no media people knew at all who Christian Thompson was, and Baltimore took him in the fourth round. But we thought Josh Norman of Coastal Carolina would go higher than the fifth round. It's a crap shoot with small school defensive backs.
UK: The NFL combine is next weekend, which DB has the most to gain and which has the most to lose there?
Dan: Cyprien and Swearinger will be heavily scrutinized next week. Are they really top 40 players or top 64 players? We'll know next week, I bet. TJ McDonald of USC and Robert Lester of Alabama could make some money. They had down years but should test out really well. Same for a guy like Tharold Simon of LSU. Great size at 6-foot-3, but he didn't develop like some thought in 2012. If he has good numbers, teams will be after him.
UK: Finally, we can't talk about DBs without talking about Tyrann Mathieu. Everyone seems to have an opinion on him. What's your take on the whole situation, is he worth the risk?
Dan: Mathieu isn't worth a pick before the fourth round. The picks in the first three are just too valuable to use on a guy who seemed more interested in off-field nonsense than being a star at LSU. He's a guy who had everything he wanted on the college football field and messed it up. If he's on the straight and narrow, he's a good nickel corner that can play safety. I'm just not sure he'll ever drop the bad rep that surrounds him.
Massive thanks to Dan for his time. You can check him out on twitter (@MockingTheDraft) or over at Mocking The Draft. Be sure to read his latest mock draft that he and Matthew Fairburn put together, which you can read here.