2005 preview: Defensive backs
By Cris Carter, Yahoo Sports
August 24, 2005
With the crackdown on illegal contact, teams tried to load up on cornerbacks in the offseason. They were all looking for a second or third player at that position with shutdown ability – that is, if they could find one.
The Houston Texans traded for Phillip Buchanon and the Minnesota Vikings got Fred Smoot so they could make Brian Williams their nickel back. Even though they already have two great cornerbacks, the Baltimore Ravens re-signed Deion Sanders and added Dale Carter to back up Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle. The Ravens might be as deep at cornerback as any team in NFL history.
Here are the defensive backs to keep an eye on this season:
Best in the business: Ty Law and Ed Reed
No safety is better than Reed, who has great quickness and recognizes plays quickly. Sometimes when he's in a bad position he is able to read the play and use his speed to get back where he needs to be. And when he intercepts the ball, he's dangerous because he's always looking to score.
The Ravens' Pro Bowl free safety is also a special teams player. It's very rare to see a starter playing special teams and making the type of impact he makes.
Most underrated: Charles Tillman
Most overrated: Ronde Barber and Adam Archuleta
I think Adam Archuleta is the most overrated safety. He just hasn't gotten that much better since the St. Louis Rams drafted him in the first round in 2001. His small size, which I thought would be a problem when he got into the league, has really played a huge role in him constantly getting hurt.
Ready to break out: Fred Smoot and Nnamdi Asomugha
Asomugha, a first-round pick in 2003, has been having a great training camp with the Oakland Raiders. Moss has been really impressed with the cornerback's ability. The Raiders will need man-to-man coverage if they're to succeed in a 4-3 scheme by pushing up field and rushing the passer. With Asomugha playing opposite Charles Woodson, the Raiders believe they can get back to what they've been doing for so many years – press coverage.
Rookie to watch: Thomas Davis
Davis has great size (6-1, 231 pounds) and great speed, and he played in the SEC. He's ready for big-time football.
Biggest 2005 surprise: Revenge of the secondaries
Cris Carter is Yahoo! Sports' NFL analyst. Send Cris a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Wednesday, Aug 24, 2005 7:00 pm, EDT