|Defensive Linemen | Linebackers | Defensive Backs
These defensive backs were at or near the cream of the crop in this draft class and were drafted into solid situations. They should be the first DBs off the board in rookie dynasty drafts and could be solid picks in redraft leagues to boot.
Eric Berry (KCC): If it weren’t for the Lions’ Ndamukong Suh, Berry would have probably been the best defender in this draft. He has natural instincts, can make tackles in space, and is a sure-fire day-one starter for the Chiefs. He draws comparisons to Ed Reed in terms of his ball-hawking skills and ability to take turnovers to the house. He’ll be a solid fantasy pick in redraft leagues this summer and should be the first DB off the board in dynasty drafts.
Earl Thomas (SEA): Thomas shot up the draft board and landed with Seattle, which should use him in a starting role to begin the season. There are minor concerns with his size, potentially shifting him over to corner, but I think he’s a solid NFL free safety. He doesn’t have the instant impact potential of Eric Berry but he’ll be a contributor this season and is himself a great dynasty pick.
Perhaps this Year
These defensive backs were likely ranked pretty high pre-draft and were drafted into decent situations and could emerge at some point this season, especially if a key starter goes down with injury. Redrafters may snag them very, very late in large leagues, but it’s really only the dynasty owner that needs to know these names right now.
Joe Haden (CLE): Haden will have a chance to start, but will certainly play an important role for the Browns. Rookie corners are typically tested early on, and Haden has all the skills to handle the tests. With Sheldon Brown and a host of decent younger CBs on the roster, Haden will have to impress early to really matter in redraft leagues this year. In terms of dynasty formats, though, Haden is the best corner of this draft class.
Nate Allen (PHI): The Eagles’ free safety position can offer decent fantasy output, and the somewhat unheralded Allen will have a chance at starting there to begin the season. He’s worth a shot in dynasty leagues, and perhaps larger redraft leagues.
Taylor Mays (SFO): Something doesn’t sit right with me with Mays. He has “Roy Williams” written all over him. Big, athletic, huge hitter, but with limited technical pass coverage skills. Would he project better as a linebacker? Perhaps, but the Niners think he can fit into their defensive scheme as a strong safety. With Michael Lewis firmly entrenched as the starter there, Mays will have to learn the position under the veteran and perhaps help out in spot duty.
T.J. Ward (CLE): There’s a big grouping of these “Perhaps this Year” defensive backs in this class. Ward is a nice sleeper in this group, having only to beat out Mike Adams for the starting FS spot for the Browns. If he gets the starting spot, he could put up solid numbers.
Morgan Burnett (GBP): Atari Bigby has shown flashes of near brilliance for the Packers, but has had a couple of rough seasons. Burnett is flying under the radar a bit but don’t let him slip past you in dynasty formats. Redrafters should pay close attention to camp and snatch him up if it appears he will start.
Kareem Jackson (HOU): With Dunta Robinson gone, Jackson steps into a pretty solid situation and could be a starter for the improving Texan defense. Again, rookie corners are typically tested by opposing QBs, and Jackson appears to have the skill set to make plays.
Major Wright (CHI): Wright could potentially move up into the next tier if he’s able to separate himself from the other FS talent that Chicago has. With the hard-hitting Chris Harris entrenched as the strong safety and just the up-and-down Danieal Manning and Al Afalava ahead of Wright, we could be looking at a Major sleeper here.
Darrell Stuckey (SDC): Stuckey has a great chance to start at SS for the Chargers. This traditionally hasn’t been a fantasy producing spot, but Stuckey is talented and will make big plays for the Charger defense.
Amari Spievey (DET): Detroit doesn’t really have much pure talent at CB (minus Chris Houston, perhaps), so there will be a virtual open competition at CB for the Lions, whose pass defense will be challenged.
Patrick Robinson (NOS): Not the greatest situation to be drafted into, with the Saints CBs being good, young talents. But Robinson himself is a talented kid that will get some playing time for the Super Bowl champs.
Best of the Rest
These DBs are solid talents, but were drafted into not-so-great situations, or were drafted as projects. They’re certainly worth drafting in dynasty leagues.
Kyle Wilson (NYJ): Wilson is highly talented and will be a good CB in this league, I’m just not sure how well his game translates into the fantasy realm. He’s going to be buried behind Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to start the season, and will see time in spot duty. Draft him in dynasty leagues and hope that he takes the #2 CB spot eventually.
Chad Jones (NYG): The ex LSU Tiger will be buried on the depth chart behind some good young talent, but is worth a shot in dynasty formats.
Devin McCourty (NEP): It’s often difficult for a Pat CB to produce fantasy points, but McCourty is talented and will be given an opportunity. Just don’t expect The Hooded One to let him make many rookie mistakes.
Reshad Jones (MIA): With Gibril Wilson gone, Jones at least has an opportunity at getting some playing time as a rookie. Don’t expect much, though.
Myron Lewis (TBB): The Tampa Cover-2 always makes for good fantasy CBs, but Lewis will need to really produce to outperform the young Aqib Talib and veteran Ronde Barber. In dynasty formats, Barber and Talib owners should grab Lewis in the later rounds just as insurance.
Myron Rolle (TEN): Had to make mention of the incredibly intelligent Rolle, who obviously has the family pedigree and will have a chance to produce in Tennessee if there’s an injury in the Titan backfield. Dynasty owners take note.
These guys should only be looked at in deep dynasty formats.
Akawasi Owusu-Ansah (DAL),
Jerome Murphy (STL),
Larry Asante (CLE),
Kam Chancellor (SEA),
Chris Cook (PHI),
Dominique Franks (ATL),
Javier Arenas (KCC),
Kurt Coleman (PHI),
Kendrick Lewis (KCC),
Shann Schillenger (ATL)