Pre-season 2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive Backs

The final part of my pre-season 2024 NFL draft rankings, defensive backs! I combine the corners and safeties here, since there is so much crossover, plus some college corners move to safety in the NFL and even some safeties end up at corner. I have included honorable mentions, as well.

This year looks to be a good group. The corners are not real strong at the top, but the class has a lot of depth. The safety class looks miles better than the 2023 group. It’s strong at the top and has a lot of depth.

As always, check out my draft database as well as all of my previous work, including the most recent part in this series on the linebackers.

Photo Credit: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2024 NFL Draft Defensive Backs: Top Five

  1. Kool-Aid McKinstry – CB – Alabama: McKinstry, had he been eligible, would have been a first round pick in 2023. He has been pretty much lock down since he stepped on campus. McKinstry is not a ball hawk, but more of a man cover specialist. He has just two interceptions in his career, but has 17 pass break ups. His play against the run needs to improve; he needs to play more physical. He is a very good tackler. The soon-to-be junior can also get a little grabby.
  2. Kalen King – CB – Penn State: King is almost the opposite of McKinstry. He is a bit smaller at 5’11, versus 6’1. He is also definitely a ball hawk with three interceptions and 9 pass breakups this past season. This also causes him to give up a bit more in coverage, but he still holds it down pretty well, giving up just 45.8% of targets. King is not exactly a burner, but his speed is more than adequate. He also has his struggles against the run.
  3. Kamren Kinchens – S – Miami (Fla.): Kinchens had a breakout season in 2022, after just a ho-hum one in 2021. He had six interceptions and four pass break ups. He can be undisciplined at times and give up receptions; he gave up two touchdowns this past season. Kinchens is a back-end free safety type with decent size at 5’11 202 pounds and 4.5 40-yard dash speed. His tackling also needs to be shored up.
  4. Calen Bullock – S – USC: Bullock is somewhat similar in play style to Kinchens. He is a little taller, and even had similar ball production. But, he has issues with his play against the run. Bullock is under-powered and could stand to add 10-15 pounds. While not a hitter, he is a solid tackler.
  5. Fentrell Cypress II – CB – FSU: Cypress didn’t become a starter until 2022. He is undersized at 6’0 184 pounds, but it doesn’t hinder him as a tackler. Cypress is a solid, but not flashy, type player who just goes out there and does his job. He still needs some technique work. If he gets there, he could be a very solid starter in the NFL.

2024 NFL Draft Defensive Backs: The Best Of The Rest

6. Cooper DeJean – CB/S – Iowa: DeJean is an interesting prospect in that he is on the bigger side for a corner. Add in the fact he has average speed and some teams might see him as a safety at the next level. He is 6’1 209 pounds, and runs in the sub-4.5 range. DeJean had a lot of ball production in 2022, with five interceptions and five pass break ups. He is also a good punt returner, averaging 16.5 yards a return. Like a lot of Iowa corners, he is better in zone.

7. Shyheim Battle – CB – NC State: Battle has been a starter since 2020. 2021 was his coming out party. He has four interceptions and 11 pass break ups the last two seasons. Even when he gives up a catch, he is very good at limiting YAC. He is a good tackler and plays physical. Battle is very quick and can even play in the slot. He can play a little high.

8. Nehemiah Pritchett – CB – Auburn: Pritchett has also been a starter since 2020. He has shown in his time that he can play, and excel, in either man or zone. He has a good size at 6’0 and 32″ arms, but is just 183 pounds and his frame is a little thin — and it shows in his hitting and tackling. Pritchett lacks ball production, with just two career interceptions, but he still stays in phase and is able to battle receivers for the ball.

9. LaMiles Brooks – S – Georgia Tech: Brooks barely played until this past season when he became a starter and played pretty much all over the secondary. Brooks really shined in coverage, where he had three interceptions and seven pass break ups. On film, he shows an ability to go up and get over thrown balls. His tackling needs to be cleared up; he missed too many tackles last season. He has shown he can lay the wood, though. He has the potential to really move up draft boards.

10. TJ Tampa – CB – Iowa State: Tampa has the idea corner size at 6’1 and almost 200 pounds, with a sub 4.45 40-yard dash time. He didn’t become a full-time starter until 2022. A strong, physical player who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He is already a good run defender and tackler. He plays better in man right now. Tampa has some eye discipline and technique issues that need to be ironed out.

Honorable Mentions (In no order):

DJ James – CB – Auburn, Cam Hart – CB – Notre Dame, Jahdae Barron – CB/S – Texas, Duce Chestnut – CB – LSU, Rod Moore – S – Michigan, James WIlliams – S- Miami (Fla.), Patrick McMorris, – S – Cal, Davonte Brown – CB – Miami (Fla.), Kamari Lassiter – CB – Georgia, Yam Banks – S – South Alabama, Dez Malone – S – San Diego State, Kris Abrams-Draine – CB – Missouri, Jabbar Muhammad – CB – Washington

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