At least one defensive back has gone in the top 10 in each of the last five draft classes, but that hasn’t necessarily translated to NFL success. In fact, the top corner taken in each of the last three classes could be categorized as a bust, including 2014 No. 8 overall pick Justin Gilbert.
The transition from simple collegiate defensive schemes to complex NFL systems certainly plays a role in the slow development of defensive backs. But a number of other factors—size, speed, ball skills and intelligence—also come into play.
That said, a number of high-profile defensive backs have been selected on Day 1 in the last five years, with Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden ranking amongst the best at their position. Let’s take a look at the first-round defensive backs from the last five years.