Comparing top 2020 DBs to recent college stars
Rivals.com's two-week series comparing the top five 2020 players at each position with current college players or those who were selected in the 2019 NFL Draft continues today with defensive backs.
1. Elias Ricks
Comparison: Trayvon Mullen
Overview: There really isn’t a great comparison out of high school because Ricks is so physically developed at the same stage and he has such incredibly long arms. No one in college football or in this year’s NFL Draft really looks or plays like him. Mullen is probably the closest thing because of his ability to take receivers out of the game even if he’s two inches shorter. Quincy Wilson is a decent comparison and Greedy Williams is a good one, too, but Ricks is far more physically advanced at the same stage since Williams weighed 159 pounds in high school. With six pick sixes last season, Ricks has superstar potential.
Farrell’s take: This is a tough comparison and Wilson is the best recent one I can think of, but when it comes to guys in the draft or currently in college, I like the Mullen comparison. He was fairly filled out coming out of high school, he had long arms and he was physical. Ricks is taller and more filled out but he has similar instincts. However, his ceiling is much higher.
2. Kelee Ringo
Comparison: Lonnie Johnson
Overview: Ringo is another difficult comparison because he’s so rare and special as a high school junior and there aren’t many players with his frame and athletic ability. The winner of the Fastest on the Field at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas last summer, Ringo is physical at the line of scrimmage, can turn and run with anybody, and then he can make a play on any pass downfield. In his high school season, the five-star rarely gets any balls thrown his way because teams don’t want to test him. He’s big and physical and so is Johnson, a second-round pick in April’s draft.
Farrell’s take: I am a big fan of what Johnson has become and think he can be a very good, physical cornerback in the NFL. Ringo projects that way. Ringo is much more developed at the same stage and faster, but Johnson worked hard to get where he is and is now filled out and sneaky quick.
3. Fred Davis
Comparison: Trevon Diggs
Overview: Diggs shined on special teams and offense early in his Alabama career and then switched over to defensive back where he’s become one of the best in college football. Davis, a Clemson commit, relies on his phenomenal athleticism more than his technique to make plays at cornerback and he does a great job of doing it. The five-star needs better footwork, but he’s such a long and rangy prospect that he can dominate on this level. He and Diggs are both tremendous athletes.
Farrell’s take: Diggs is talented and athletic but a bit raw and sometimes unorthodox and that’s how Davis gets the job done. The five-star Clemson commit is long and fast but his technique is very raw and often leaves you scratching your head. But he gets the job done as Diggs does and each has a chance to be elite.
4. RJ Mickens
Comparison: Darnell Savage
Overview: Savage was not the biggest and most imposing safety out there – he checked in at 5-foot-11, 198 pounds at the NFL Combine – but he was an athletic playmaker who had a great sense of timing and then going after the football. That’s exactly like Mickens, who is listed at 6-foot, 187. The four-star safety has a nose for the football, he can make dynamic plays on the back end and because he’s such a great athlete, the Clemson commit is also very useful as a receiver.
Farrell’s take: Mickens has very good ball skills, the same as Savage, and he’s physical when coming up to support the run. Both are very good athletes and track the ball well. Savage could be one of the steals of the draft. Mickens could be that guy down the road.
5. Jordan Toles
Comparison: Isaiah Simmons
Overview: On one television broadcast last season, Simmons was described as a “predator who swoops across the field,” and that fits Toles as well. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, the football and basketball standout is long and rangy. He covers ground so well and then he has long arms to reach out and poke deep passes away. In the secondary, Toles is a playmaker who makes this happen. He does have to gain some weight to get to Simmons’ range of 225 pounds, but he has the frame to do it.
Farrell’s take: Simmons was a big kid coming out of high school who we thought could turn into a linebacker with his frame and room to grow. Instead he has become a big, physical safety who closes on the ball well. We can see Toles doing the same thing in college and beyond once he fills out even more.