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Underclassmen Watch: Defensive Backs

By: Roshan Bhagat | Updated: 1/15

Declared

Asher Allen, CB, Georgia - In what he calls a family decision, Bulldogs’ corner Asher Allen has decided to go pro along with teammates Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno. Allen is a 5’10, 198 pound corner who is expected to go in the middle rounds. He plays a very good game and is difficult to beat on the outside. Allen isn’t afraid to get into the framework of receivers and is very athletic as well. Still, he lacks the polish that he could have gained by returning, but he’s still a solid early selection. Projected Round: 2nd-3rd.

Jairus Byrd, CB, Oregon - After struggling with the decision, Byrd has decided to enter the draft, for now. He isn’t a standout athlete that many highly touted corners are, but Byrd plays with the physicality that most cornerbacks lack. He’s aggressive at the line of scrimmage and also knows how to compete for the football in the air. Byrd should be drafted high, but not in the first round because of his average speed. Projected Round: 2nd-3rd.

Emanuel Cook, S, South Carolina – South Carolina’s hard-hitting strong safety declared a while ago when he decided to not keep up with his academic responsibilities. He was forced to sit out the team’s bowl game which all but guaranteed that he had played his final collegiate game. Cook’s had off-field problems which in addition to his academic ineligibility may create a cause for concern when teams look in his direction. Projected Round: 3rd

Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois - Davis has quickly entered his name into the NFL Draft. He says, “It has been a goal of mine for a long time to have the opportunity to play in the NFL.” After spending three years at Illinois, he’ll follow the footsteps of his brother, TE Vernon Davis of the 49ers, to the NFL. Davis is an incredible athlete known as an aggressive playmaking corner with the ability to shut down receivers in zone coverage. He should be one of the first corners taken within the first 15 selections in the Draft. Projected Round: Top 15 Selection

D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt – After his team defeated Boston College in the Music City Bowl, Moore announced in a post-game interview that he had just finished playing his last game for Vanderbilt. He said he’d reached the decision midway through the season, but kept it to himself to prevent it from becoming a distraction. Moore is one of the better corners in the draft and has added value as a kick returner. He’ll look to go in the 1st round this coming April. Projected Round: 1st-2nd

Captain Munnerlyn, CB, South Carolina – After receiving a 1st to 3rd round grade from the Draft Advisory Committee, Munnerlyn has decided to declare early. While his season failed to reach preseason expectations with a couple of sloppy games, Munnerlyn is still a good mid-round value. He said that his decision laid heavily upon his mother who was unable to work this past year because of a blood condition and it was time for him to move on. Projected Round: 2nd-3rd

Jerraud Powers, CB, Auburn - 5’9, 191 pound cornerback Jerraud Powers could hear his name among the media as a sleeper pick. While he lacks the ideal height and is entering a class deep at cornerback, Powers has plenty of upside. He was hampered by injuries this season and wasn’t a shutdown cornerback at Auburn. It may have not been the best decision by Powers to leave early this year when he could have fought for a first day selection next year. Projected Round: 4th-5th.

Sean Smith, CB, Utah - Smith will be the most intriguing prospect coming out this season. At cornerback, he’s a giant at 6’3, 210. What’s more intriguing is that he’s reportedly running a 4.3 or 4.4 40. At his height, short area quickness will become an immediate question, but should he not test well there, he’ll be an easy transition to safety. Smith has the on-field ability to equal his combination of size and speed and is a projected first round selection. Projected Round: 1st.

Donald Washington, CB, Ohio State - Redshirt Junior, Donald Washington, announced Thursday that he will be going pro, the third Buckeye to make the announcement this month. Suspended for the first two games, Washington’s season never got off on the right foot. He said that he was looking forward to pursuing his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. Washington will graduate in June. Projected Round: 7th-Undrafted.

James Williams, CB, Southern Connecticut - Junior James Williams has recently announced that he will declare for the NFL Draft. We’ve seen a number of small school defensive backs receive opportunities in the NFL, so the same opportunity could open itself up for Williams. He looks fluid with great ball skills so it will be interesting to see where and how he works out on his Pro Day. Projected Round: Undrafted


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