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Seahawks 2022 NFL Draft Primer: Defensive Backs

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SMU v Cincinnati Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

This is the final installment in my Draft Primer series. The other Primers can be found here: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DT, EDGE, LB.

As there are 2 overlapping position groups (cornerbacks and safeties) and a bunch of players to cover today, I’m going to skip the usual preamble and dive right in.

Here are the 18 defensive backs that PFF has listed in the 2nd version of their 2022 NFL Draft Guide:

Cornerbacks:

  • Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson)
  • Coby Bryant (Cincinnati)
  • Kaiir Elam (Florida)
  • Martin Emerson (Mississippi State)
  • Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)
  • Kyler Gordan (Washington)
  • Marcus Jones (Houston)
  • Derion Kendrick (Georgia)
  • Roger McCreary (Auburn)
  • Trent McDuffie (Washington)
  • Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU)

Safeties:

  • Jaquan Brisker (Penn State)
  • Lewis Cine (Georgia)
  • Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame)
  • Daxton Hill (Michigan)
  • Kerby Joseph (Illinois)
  • Verone McKinley III (Oregon)
  • Jalen Pitre (Baylor)

Note: The players are grouped according to how PFF classified them in the Draft Guide; whether they end up in those positions in the NFL is a question that I can’t answer.

Alright, here we go ... in alphabetical order (with listed position in brackets).


Andrew Booth Jr. (CB)

Position Ranking: 5 | Overall Ranking: 21 | Projection: First Round | Comp: Vontae Davis

2021 Stat Line: 30 of 49 for 329 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, passer rating of 69.2

Height, Weight: 6-0, 195

PFF’s take:

“Booth wins with some of the best feet in the class. He’s capable of firing out of his pedal at the drop of a hat in any direction. That suddenness serves him well, no matter the technique he’s playing.”

“Booth has a skill set that can run any coverage. He’s as scheme-diverse a corner as exists in this draft class, meaning everyone will have him on their board.”

FTR’s take: Booth is immensely talented, but ... (a) he doesn’t have a ton of experience (979 snaps over the past 3 seasons, only 553 of them in coverage), and (b) he is gonna need to spend a fair amount of time working on his tackling.

For context on that last part, with the exception of Derek Stingley Jr. (who missed most of the season), Booth had more missed tackles (11) on fewer total snaps (578) than any other cornerback we’re looking at today. And, in all but one case (Roger McCreary, 9 whiffs on 830 defensive snaps), it wasn’t even close.

Oh, and Booth also allowed the highest completion percentage (61.2%) of any of the cornerbacks in this Draft Primer.

That said, I doubt he’s available when Seattle goes on the clock because he checks a lot of boxes and, as PFF noted, he will be on everyone’s draft board.


Jaquan Brisker (S)

Position Ranking: 4 | Overall Ranking: 38 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Vonn Bell

2021 Stat Line: 12 of 21 for 105 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, passer rating of 46.8 | 47 tackles

Height, Weight: 6-1, 200

PFF’s take:

“Brisker is a tone-setter at the safety position. He’s going to take on blocks, rip through ball carriers and attack the catch point. He has the kind of explosiveness to continue that in the NFL.”

FTR’s take: Brisker played both Free Safety and Strong Safety at Penn State. And Slot Corner as well. So he’s versatile. He’s also pretty darn good, having allowed a total of two first downs in 2021. He’s going to have a long and productive career in the NFL.

From a Seattle-centric perspective, if Quandre Diggs leaves in free agency, I could see the Seahawks taking a long look at Jaquan Brisker in the days and weeks leading up to the draft.


Coby Bryant (CB)

Position Ranking: 10 | Overall Ranking: 98 | Projection: Fifth Round | Comp: Jalen Mills

2021 Stat Line: 33 of 75 for 460 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, passer rating of 61.0

Height, Weight: 6-1, 198

PFF’s take:

“Tracks the ball in the air like a wide receiver. Can go toe-to-toe at the catch point.”

“Great feel for zone coverage and maintaining spacing between routes.“

“Bryant is at his best in off-zone coverage and would fit in best with the two-high defenses proliferating the NFL.”

FTR’s take: Cincinatti’s defensive scheme makes it tough to get a feel for how Coby Bryant is going to do in the NFL, but the guy had almost half as many pass-breakups (15) as receptions allowed (33) so he can clearly ball. If he’s available in the 5th round, and Seattle has already addressed other needs ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Lewis Cine (S)

Position Ranking: 2 | Overall Ranking: 27 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Adrian Amos

2021 Stat Line: 38 of 60 for 397 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, passer rating of 81.0 | 64 tackles

Height, Weight: 6-1, 200

PFF’s take:

“So darn good at reading route stems and anticipating breaks.”

“Cine sees the game at a high level and is quick to key on what the offense is doing. Once he does, he’s as good as it gets in the class at taking proper angles to secure ball carriers”

FTR’s take: Cine is good, but he’s not the second-coming of ET3 (aka Earl Thomas III) because his speed and his range are lacking - comparatively. PFF gave Cine a 9/10 for Awareness though, and 8/10s for Frame and Physicality. While Cine should be available when the Seahawks go on the clock, I don’t think he’s a viable option in Round 2 and I doubt he’ll slide enough for Seattle to grab him in Round 3.


Kaiir Elam (CB)

Position Ranking: 4 | Overall Ranking: 18 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Eric Rowe

2021 Stat Line: 19 of 36 for 191 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, passer rating of 75.1

Height, Weight: 6-2, 196

PFF’s take:

“Long, sturdy frame that everyone wants at the corner position.”

“Elam wins with his physicality. Whether it’s at the line of scrimmage or at the catch point, you’ll have to pack your hard hat and lunch pail to beat him.”

FTR’s take: Elam is a bit grabby and tends to draw flags as a result. But if he cleans that up, he’s (probably) going to make the team that drafts him very happy. That team will not be the Seahawks.


Martin Emerson (CB)

Position Ranking: 8 | Overall Ranking: 69 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Tre Flowers

2021 Stat Line: 29 of 50 for 358 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, passer rating of 100.25

Height, Weight: 6-2, 200

PFF’s take:

“Emerson wins with his length. He’s a unique size for the corner position and has had an in-built physicality advantage against almost everyone he went up against.”

“Emerson is a press-zone corner. He can stonewall guys at the line, but he’s not going to be able to guard a full route tree in the NFL.”

FTR’s take: PFF gave Emerson three 8/10s - for Frame, Physicality, and Awareness. Unfortunately, they gave him a 4/10 for Change of Direction and a 3/10 for Speed. Which sort of helps explain why PFF doesn’t think he will be able to guard a full route tree in the NFL. To Emerson’s credit, he could teach a clinic on how to “mug” a receiver without drawing a flag.


Ahmad Gardner (CB)

Position Ranking: 2 | Overall Ranking: 8 | Projection: First Round | Comp: Jimmy Smith

2021 Stat Line: 20 of 40 for 131 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, passer rating of 26.2

Height, Weight: 6-3, 200

PFF’s take:

“Pterodactyl build. Massive wingspan for a corner.”

“Built in a lab to play press with ton of experience — 851 press-coverage snaps in career.”

“Gardner wins with his unique frame, physical playstyle and oftentimes flawless technique. His 2021 season was teaching tape on how to impose your will on opposing receivers without committing penalties.”

FTR’s take: John and Pete have never taken a cornerback higher than #90 overall (Shaquill Griffen, 2016). I am all sorts of curious if that statement would have survived the 2022 NFL Draft if the Seahawks still had the #10 pick and Gardner were on the board when they went on the clock.


Kyler Gordon (CB)

Position Ranking: 7 | Overall Ranking: 53 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Byron Jones

2021 Stat Line: 21 of 41 for 243 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, passer rating of 49.1

Height, Weight: 6-0, 200

PFF’s take (per their Draft Guide):

“Gordon has some of the best initial burst in the class and wins with that explosiveness in a number of ways. You see it in his play at the catch point and making up ground after route breaks.”

PFF’s take (per their NFL Draft Simulator):

“Gordon is a two-time Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List member and played like one this season. He has played both outside corner and slot this season, earning an 89.6 coverage grade.”

FTR’s take: Gordon is a Huskie and one of Feldman’s “Freaks”; what’s not to love?


Kyle Hamilton (S)

Position Ranking: 1 | Overall Ranking: 3 | Projection: Top-5 | Comp: Longer Derwin James

2021 Stat Line: 14 of 28 for 176 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, passer rating of 42.3 | 21 tackles

Height, Weight: 6-4, 220

PFF’s take:

“Unheard of frame for a safety at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. Made to erase tight ends.”

“High-level range on the back-end. Sideline to sideline.”

“Hamilton not only has the obvious range in terms of how he’s built, but he can cover some serious ground. His 21 miles per hour top speed, per Bruce Feldman, is exactly what teams want on the back end.”

FTR’s take: My money is on Hamilton getting selected by the New York Jets at #4, but the Jacksonville Jaguars might surprise everyone and take him with the first pick. If he slips past both of them (plus the Detroit Lions, the Houston Texans, and the New York Giants), he’ll become a “value” pick starting with the Carolina Panthers at #6.

That’s my way of saying that Hamilton will be just as GONE as Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux by the time the Seahawks get to make their first selection. And that would have almost certainly been true even if Seattle still had their first round pick (#10 overall).


Daxton Hill (S)

Position Ranking: 3 | Overall Ranking: 33 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Terrence Brooks

2021 Stat Line: Unclear / incomplete (PFF error)

Height, Weight: 6-0, 192

PFF’s take:

“Elite speed, and he can accelerate in a hurry.”

“Hill played in the slot in 2021, but his range on the backend is impressive. He can make up for a lot of other’s mistakes as a free safety.”

FTR’s take: PFF gave Hill a 10/10 for Speed and a 3/10 for Frame with scores of 6/10 for everything else (Change of Direction, Physicality, and Awareness). Having watched a few Michigan games, I am more familiar with Hill than I am with a lot of the other DBs on this list. That said, I would have listed him as a cornerback (which is what PFF does in their Mock Draft Simulator) and, if I were a taking a cornerback with the 41st pick, it wouldn’t be a slot corner, not even one as good as Hill.


Marcus Jones (CB)

Position Ranking: 9 | Overall Ranking: 76 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Darius Phillips

2021 Stat Line: 38 of 78 for 591 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs, passer rating of 60.4

Height, Weight: 6-0, 180

PFF’s take:

“It’s impossible to talk about Jones without waxing on the value he could bring as a returner. He averaged 14.4 yards per punt return and 34.2 yards per kick return this past season as the highest-graded returner in the country.”

“Relishes the chance to get involved as a tackler in the run game. Hard-nosed dude.”

FTR’s take: Mookie recently wrote about Seattle’s Special Teams play and correctly noted that the return game is the one area the team has struggled in under Larry Izzo. Jones may be just what the Seahawks need in that regard.

  • Change of Direction = 9/10
  • Speed = 8/10
  • Physicality = 7/10
  • Awareness = 7/10

The knock on Jones is his size (6-0, 180) but I think he might be considered an upgrade over Ugo Amadi (5-9, 201) in the slot. And I wouldn’t be opposed to drafting him just for his return skills/ability.


Kerby Joseph (S)

Position Ranking: 6 | Overall Ranking: 71 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Taylor Rapp

2021 Stat Line: 9 of 19 for 134 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs, passer rating of 66.5 | 46 tackles

Height, Weight: 6-1, 200

PFF’s take:

“Joseph is such an easy mover. He’s not particularly explosive, but he can change directions on the fly with minimal effort — the perfect skill for a quarters safety.”

“Fantastic tackler and thrives as a gunner on special teams.”

FTR’s take: Kerby Joseph has good coverage skills and can change directions with the best of them, but he’s slow (PFF scored him 4/10) and he doesn’t have the necessary range for a Seahawks safety (under the current regime). He should also be considered something of a “project” seeing as he didn’t get a starting role at Illinois until his senior year.


Derion Kendrick (CB)

Position Ranking: 11 | Overall Ranking: 99 | Projection: Fourth Round | Comp: Quinten Rollins

2021 Stat Line: 25 of 54 for 373 yards, 0 TDs, 4 INTs, passer rating of 38.6

Height, Weight: 6-0, 190

PFF’s take:

“Kendrick wins with his receiver background. His ability to track and play the ball in the air will be even more of a value add when he’s tested more downfield in the league.”

FTR’s take: Kendrick is not going to win any races and sometimes struggles to keep up with receivers. But he’s got great ball skills and that counts for something. I don’t see him as a viable option for the Seahawks though.


Roger McCreary (CB)

Position Ranking: 6 | Overall Ranking: 25 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Patrick Robinson

2021 Stat Line: 34 of 75 for 442 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, passer rating of 57.8

Height, Weight: 6-0, 190

PFF’s take:

“McCreary has cut his teeth at Auburn in press-man coverage but doesn’t have near the ideal physical skill set to hold up there on the outside in the NFL. If he goes to a man-heavy team, McCreary would be an ideal fit in the slot.”

FTR’s take: McCreary is a bit undersized (6-0, 190) and reportedly has “very short arms for a corner.” That said, McCreary’s ball skills make him a high-floor corner and there are a lot of teams that could use him. Seattle isn’t going to use a Day 2 pick on him though, especially not their 2nd-rounder.


Trent McDuffie (CB)

Position Ranking: 3 | Overall Ranking: 15 | Projection: First Round | Comp: Jaire Alexander

2021 Stat Line: 16 of 36 for 111 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, passer rating of 52.0

Height, Weight: 5-11, 195

PFF’s take:

“Accelerates like a Tesla. Can get moving in a hurry.”

“The best tackling corner in the class. Comes in with uncoachable ferocity.”

“McDuffie can play outside, he can play slot, and he could even play safety if you want. He’s got a versatile skill set that can handle any coverage role.”

FTR’s take: McDuffie is the higher-rated of the 2 Husky cornerbacks in this year’s draft and should come off the board a round earlier than Kyler Gordon. Which means that the Seahawks have no shot at landing him. C’est la vie.


Verone McKinley III (S)

Position Ranking: 7 | Overall Ranking: 104 | Projection: Fourth Round | Comp: Juju Hughes

2021 Stat Line: 18 of 30 for 220 yards, 2 TDs, 6 INTs, passer rating of 65.3 | 59 tackles

Height, Weight: 5-11, 194

PFF’s take:

“Elite ball production — 10 interceptions and nine pass-breakups in last two full seasons.”

“McKinley’s never going to be a good enough tackler to play consistently around the football. You want his natural playmaking ability on the backend.”

FTR’s take: Even with the cost being an R4, I would pass on McKinley - and, no, it’s not because he’s a Duck (although that doesn’t help his cause).

The main reason that I would pass on McKinley is that he isn’t a good tackler - he had 17 missed tackles in 2021. If the Seahawks see something on tape that they think they can fix, great - but, to me, McKinley seems like a liability.


Jalen Pitre (S)

Position Ranking: 5 | Overall Ranking: 57 | Projection: 1st-2nd Round | Comp: Jimmie Ward

2021 Stat Line: 35 of 58 for 321 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, passer rating of 61.1 | 75 tackles

Height, Weight: 6-0, 197

PFF’s take:

“Pitre’s motor doesn’t stop until he’s arrived to the football. He acts like anyone in his way is insulting him.”

“Agile coverage defender. His short-area quickness is top notch.”

“Pitre plays the game in a way you can’t help but love. He’s going to be around the ball at whatever level he plays.”

FTR’s take: PFF graded Pitre at 8/10 for Physicality, Awareness, and Speed. And those were his 2nd-highest score; his Change of Direction is 9/10. His Frame is only 4/10, but he’s 6-foot tall and almost 200 pounds so it’s not like he’s a small guy.

Note: For comparison, Quandre Diggs is the same weight as Pitre but is only 5-9.

As with Daxton Hill, PFF lists Pitre as a cornerback in the Mock Draft Simulator - but, unlike Hill, I can easily see Pitre playing safety in the NFL. If the Seahawks don’t re-sign Q.D., Pitre might be a name to watch come Draft Day.


Derek Stingley Jr. (CB)

Position Ranking: 1 | Overall Ranking: 4 | Projection: Top-10 | Comp: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

2021 Stat Line: 3 of 5 for 47 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, passer rating of 130.8

Height, Weight: 6-0, 195

Note: Stingley injured his foot over the summer, played in 3 games, then re-injured his foot and was sidelined for the rest of the season. Hence, the paltry stats.

PFF’s take:

“First-class speed. No fear of getting beaten deep.”

“Uber athleticism, acceleration, agility, speed, change of direction — you name it, he has it. That’s the skill set you want to play man coverage in the NFL.”

“Put Stingley in press-man on the outside and worry about the rest of your defense. He can be that island corner that doesn’t require safety help to go toe-to-toe with the game’s best.”

FTR’s take: Stingley has played less than 300 coverage snaps over the past two seasons - 76 in 2021 (due to injury) and 213 in 2020. And yet he’s still expected to be a Top-10 pick and could conceivably come off the board in the Top-3. Yes, the “tape” on him is limited the past 2 seasons, but he’s got the athleticism and the skillset that makes defensive coordinators drool.



Bonus Coverage

With 11 cornerbacks and 7 safeties, there is a lot of bonus coverage today. Have fun!

Statistical Comparisons - Cornerbacks

Size and (approximate) age:

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Rankings and projections:

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PFF Grades, 2019-2021:

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Standard Stats:

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Additional statistics:

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PFF subjectiveness:

Statistical Comparisons - Safeties

Size and (approximate) age:

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Rankings and projections:

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PFF Grades, 2019-2021:

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Standard Stats:

__________

Additional statistics:

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PFF subjectiveness:


Highlights - Cornerbacks

Andrew Booth Jr.

Coby Bryant

Kaiir Elam

Martin Emerson

Ahmad Gardner

Kyler Gordan

Marcus Jones

Derion Kendrick

Roger McCreary

Trent McDuffie

Derek Stingley Jr.

Highlights - Safeties

Jaquan Brisker

Lewis Cine

Kyle Hamilton

Daxton Hill

Kerby Joseph

Verone McKinley III

Jalen Pitre