Breaking down 2012 DB prospects

Speed not the only important trait for elite defensive back prospects

Originally Published: February 23, 2012
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

When evaluating defensive backs, it is important to consider all aspects of their games, including instincts, coverage skills, ball skills and run support.

With the 2012 NFL scouting combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis, here's how we rank the top defensive backs by skill set (non-seniors noted with an asterisk) as well as our rankings of all prospects with a draftable grade, recent measurements and timing averages. We also evaluate Round 1 and 2 picks from 2011 and number of defensive backs taken in each round of the past three drafts.

[+] EnlargeMark Barron
Randy Litzinger/Icon SMIMark Barron is clearly the top safety on the board with his versatility and range.


Prepares well and takes advantage of opponent's tendencies. Reads keys, diagnoses information and reacts quickly. Shows above-average route-recognition skills and tracks the ball well. Has "selective amnesia" and does not allow negative play(s) to snowball into a negative series/quarter/game. Stays disciplined. Understands role and consistently executes assignment. Is rarely caught peeking into the backfield and stays home against play-action.