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Latest 2022 NFL Draft big board: Defensive Backs | Top Ten Tuesday

View the Top 10 NFL Draft prospect rankings based on position

Top-10-Tuesday--db

As your New Orleans Saints prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft, we take a look at the top 10 ranked players at various positions. The 2022 NFL Draft big board rankings are reflective of Bucky Brooks' top five 2022 NFL Draft prospects by position 1.0 and ESPN's NFL Draft "Best Available" list. Players listed as 1-5 are the top 5 projected cornerbacks, and numbers 6-10 are the 5 best safety prospects.

Here are the top 10 ranked draft prospects at defensive back:

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #1 Sauce Gardner | Cincinnati

Rank
1
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Sauce Gardner | Cincinnati
2021 Season Stats: 28 Solo Tackles | 1 Forced Fumble | 3 INT | 4 Passes Defended

Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner is the highest rated cornerback prospect on both ESPN and NFL.com. Last season, he allowed just 6.6 yards per reception. he has sticky hands and the confidence to go up for interceptions, leading to two career pick-sixes. He does have inconsistent balance and below-par footwork At the Combine, he only participated in the 40-yard dash, and he was able to finish it in 4.41 seconds. He has a chance to be one of the first two cornerbacks taken in this year's draft.

Height: 6 feet 3 inches

Weight: 190 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.72

NFL.com Overview: "Long, lean and linear, Gardner's physical and football growth are on full display when comparing his 2019 tape to 2021. He's highly competitive with a confidence level that will be labeled as cocky by some evaluators. "Sauce" uses length and hand activity to impose his will on the release and stall the route on the tarmac. Staying connected to the route is a priority, which leads to grabbing when he feels it slipping away but that can be corrected by improving his footwork and trusting his technique...Gardner has the traits and demeanor to become a highly effective CB1 within his first couple of seasons."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #2 Andrew Booth | Clemson

Rank
2
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Andrew Booth | Clemson
2021 Season Stats: 26 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 3 INT | 5 Passes Defended

Andrew Booth has five-star traits and measurables, and he is smooth as silk in his backpedal. He has great awareness and can keep up with most receivers step-for step. Sometimes, he can use his hands too much which may lead to penalties, and his tackle needs more control. He is ranked as the 2nd best cornerback prospect on NFL.com and the 4th best on ESPN. Booth did not participate in the NFL Combine, so he will rely on his current film and any meetings with teams to make his case.

Height: 6 feet 0 inches

Weight: 194 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.38

NFL.com Overview: "...He has the strength, balance and foot agility to press and slow the release. He has limited starting experience, though. He will need more development to prevent route specialists from manipulating his feet and hips. Booth has the ball-tracking and play strength to find and maintain top-dog positioning through catch tries. He's more effective in off coverage underneath than tight man. He needs to play more football, but his ball-hawking instincts, burst to close and toughness in run support will be very appealing for zone teams looking for an upgrade at cornerback."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #3 Derek Stingley Jr. | LSU

Rank
3
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Derek Stingley Jr. | LSU
2021 Season Stats: 6 Solo Tackles | 1 Forced Fumble | 0 INT | 0 Passes Defended

LSU prospect Derek Stingley Jr. has only played 10 games in the last two seasons, but he has shown that he has incredible skills in that time. NFL.com even goes so far as to call him "one of the best athletes in the draft class". He has the size and frame to make an impact on plays, whether it be swaying 50/50 balls in his favor or tracking down a runner. His biggest knock seems to be morale-based. He will sometimes "fall asleep" on the field and act lackadaisical and slow in coverage, even seeming to lack competitiveness at times. He is recovering from a foot injury, so he did not compete in drills at the NFL Combine, but he was a full go at LSU's pro day and had an impressive showing.

Height: 6 feet 0 inches

Weight: 190 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.50

NFL.com Overview: "Uniquely gifted cornerback with rare blend of size, speed and explosiveness that will have teams willing to judge his upside off of tape from two seasons ago. Stingley played in just 10 games over the last two years, offering flashes of his upside rather than sustained play. Regardless of season, he's long, loose and extremely athletic. Elite speed and ball skills give him a chance to thrive as a bump-and-run corner capable of shadowing top talent around the field. He allows some separation from off-man but bursts to close distance instantly..."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #4 Trent McDuffie | Washington

Rank
4
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Trent McDuffie | Washington
2021 Season Stats: 25 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 0 INT | 6 Passes Defended

Trent McDuffie is a fearless competitor with significant upside. He is great in run support, but his size could cause him issues in the passing game. He has great route recognition but he may be targeted if he is lined up on a larger receiver. His anticipation could use some coaching-up, but he still shows great ability and has the traits to be a starter in his first year. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, and has climbed to 3rd in ESPN's Best Available.

Height: 5 feet 11 inches

Weight: 193 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.70

NFL.com Overview: "Three-year starter whose average size is overshadowed by skillful ruggedness, allowing him to contest throws from a variety of coverages. He's an elite competitor with a route-hugging mentality fueled by body control, foot agility, aggression and burst. He's a pesky press-man defender with the tools to excel in zone. He's willing to fly downhill and hit anybody near the football. He keeps his eyes on the prize and has an itchy, twitchy trigger to close throwing windows and make plays on the ball..."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #5 Roger McCreary | Auburn

Rank
5
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Roger McCreary | Auburn
2021 Season Stats: 41 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 2 INT | 14 Passes Defended

Roger McCreary is a disruptive defender that has the ability to agitate receivers and stop them from producing in a game. He is tough and tackles through running backs and receivers. However, he is shorter in size, which means taller receivers can give him issues, and his tackling length is a negative. He has the skills to be a starter, but his level of production remains to be seen. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, but that was the only drill that he participated in. ESPN is not as high on McCreary as NFL.com, having him as the 7th best prospect among cornerbacks.

Height: 5 feet 11 inches

Weight: 190 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.24

NFL.com Overview: "Press-man cornerback with physical limitations that could create occasional roller-coaster matchups on Sundays. McCreary is aggressive, with the play strength to bully the release and alter route timing. He lacks fluidity in lateral transitions from off-man and lacks make-up burst to stay connected to cross-country routes..."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #6 Kyle Hamilton | Notre Dame

Rank
6
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Kyle Hamilton | Notre Dame
2021 Season Stats: 19 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 3 INT | 4 Passes Defended

Kyle Hamilton is an intimating safety with a competitive drive and great football smarts. He worked on his tackling in the offseason between 2020 and 2021, and it showed on the field leading to 19 solo tackles on the season. He needs to put in some work in the weight room, and his tackling form needs a little more help, but he has the capability to flourish in all of those under the right coach. He can be a year-one starter on a team that does not have a lot of depth at the safety position. At the NFL Combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, had a vertical jump of 38, and posted a broad jump of 131. ESPN has Hamilton listed as the best available safety, just like NFL.com, so experts seem to agree that his raw talent is enough to take him early.

Height: 6 feet 4 inches

Weight: 220 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.88

NFL.com Overview: "High-impact safety with unique blend of traits and characteristics that make him a bit of a unicorn at the position. Hamilton has the eyes and speed to play over the top, the strength and toughness to play near the line, and coverage length to guard elite pass-catching tight ends who often mismatch opposing defenses. It's rare to find such a ferocious striker and intimidator who has the football intelligence and athletic prowess to go make plays in the passing game.."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #7 Dax Hill | Michigan

Rank
7
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Dax Hill | Michigan
2021 Season Stats: 42 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 2 INT | 8 Passes Defended

Daxton "Dax" Hill has a speed and explosiveness that can be hard to find in a safety straight out of college. He has the versatility to cover a variety of routes, and he can see routes as they develop. He does have a tendency to play too fast, so he can work on slowing the game down and letting the game come to him in order to improve his game. Some scouts even believe he could be moved to full-time cornerback due to his speed and route-reading ability. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, had a broad jump of 121, and jumped a vertical of 33.5 inches. ESPN has Hill listed as the 2nd best safety prospect too, so experts are in agreement that he will likely be taken behind Hamilton, but still relatively early.

Height: 6 feet 0 inches

Weight: 191 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.33

NFL.com Overview: "Hybrid safety/nickel with an outstanding blend of speed, explosiveness and coverage versatility. Hill is a smooth, twitchy athlete who is unencumbered in his coverage movements. He's rangy playing over the top, has the eyes and burst to play zone, and the oily hips and length to shade bigger slots in man coverage. He can trigger quickly downhill to cut off angles in run support but his play demeanor is more run-and-cover than run-and-hit near the line..."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #8 Jaquan Brisker | Penn State

Rank
8
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Jaquan Brisker | Penn State
2021 Season Stats: 38 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 2 INT | 5 Passes Defended

Jaquan Brisker is tough, playing through pain for multiple games in 2021. He has huge hands and the footwork to make plays for interceptions. In his looking for interceptions, though, he can sometimes be caught staring down the quarterback and leaving his receiver open. He plays with confidence and trusts his football instincts. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, had a vertical jump of 34.5, and put up a broad jump of 124. ESPN has him as the 6th best safety in the draft this season, whereas NFL.com has him as their 3rd best.

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Weight: 199 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.38

NFL.com Overview: "Athletic safety prospect whose versatility and toughness will endear him to coaches during the evaluation process. Brisker continued to pick up elements of the defensive scheme and his play has steadily transformed from hesitant in 2019 to downright instinctive in 2021. He has the versatility to become a moving chess piece in a variety of coverages and has the size and talent to match up with both "Y" and "F" tight ends..."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #9 Lewis Cine | Georgia

Rank
9
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Lewis Cine | Georgia
2021 Season Stats: 43 Solo Tackles | 0 Forced Fumbles | 1 INT | 9 Passes Defended

Lewis Cine has been said to have the mindset of an NFL player already, which should aid him when it comes to fitting into an NFL locker room. He is a big hitter, which can lead to some memorable plays but also can cause him to miss tackles due to him coming in too wildly. He could be a great asset on special teams, but his coverage is adequate, not great. In coverage, his feet and hips are not always on the same page, meaning he can lose receivers in coverage at times. He ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash, had a vertical jump of 36.5, and jumped a broad jump of 133. ESPN has Cine listed as the 4th best defensive back in this year's draft class, and NFL.com has him as the 4th best.

Height: 6 feet 2 inches

Weight: 199 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.23

NFL.com Overview: "Cine plays with a willing aggressiveness that fit right in with Georgia's talented stop unit. He plays with an urgent, downhill approach, which leads to memorable collisions but he's not always under control in getting there. He doesn't have desired mass and stopping power for his style of play, but the work gets done. Cine lacks range and instincts to play over the top and is better suited to split safety and down safety alignments..."

2022 NFL Draft prospects - Defensive Back | #10 Verone McKinley III | Oregon

Rank
10
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Verone McKinley III | Oregon
2021 Season Stats: 44 Solo Tackles | 1 Forced Fumble | 6 INT | 6 Passes Defended

According to those close to him, Verone McKinley III is a great communicator with a professional attitude. He has 11 career interceptions, including 6 last year. His size and length are a bit on the smaller side, though, and that leaves him to be overpowered in coverage by larger receivers. He loves to go after interceptions, and sometimes that can lead him to be out of position on coverages. He did not run the 40-yard dash, but he benched 16 reps on the bench press, had a vertical jump of 35, and put up a broad jump of 120. ESPN has him listed as the 11th best safety, so there is still work to do for the young prospect.

Height: 5 feet 10 inches

Weight: 198 pounds

NFL.com Draft Grade: 6.13

NFL.com Overview: "Productive safety who will create a classic matchup pitting the traits versus the tape. In one corner we have an undersized, short-armed safety with average speed. In the other corner we have game tape highlighting McKinley's instincts, short-area quickness, aggressive demeanor and nose for making plays on the football. He's going to give way to some of the bigger bodies he'll encounter in the NFL, but he's a natural football player with an above-average feel for timing and angles.."

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