2023 NFL Draft odds: How many defensive backs will be drafted in the first round?

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Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez headline the defensive back mock drafts

Each draft class is different in terms of positional strengths and weaknesses. The 2023 class is no different, but it does appear that this is one of the better defensive back groups that we’ve seen in a few years. DraftKings Sportsbook lists odds of Over/Under 5.5 defensive backs taken in the first round and some are even starting to leak into being possible top-10 selections.

 

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Usually these over/under bets come down to one swing player that is being included a first-round pick in some mock drafts, but not in others. This position group seems to have a few.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook as of April 27, 10:30 a.m. PT

Devon Witherspoon scouting report

Over/Under Draft Position: 6.5 (+180/-230)

Witherspoon is a little bit of a polarizing corner because his speed and burst are lacking, but his aggressiveness and ball skills will make defensive coordinators salivate. The instincts are there, but whether or not his body moves fast enough at the NFL level to be a top-10 pick will be something that scouting staffs and coaches spend a lot of time evaluating. Witherspoon is said to be a better fit for a zone coverage scheme rather than man coverage. He’s -300 to be the first CB selected.

Witherspoon is -210 to go No. 6 overall per DraftKings Sportsbook.

Christian Gonzalez scouting report

Gonzalez seems to be the best athlete of the cornerbacks expected to go high. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at 6-foot-1 and he’s a big, physical kid at almost 200 pounds. Witherspoon’s instincts and aggressiveness may be preferred by some evaluators, but Gonzalez leveled up with his combine performance and the testing numbers may push him into the top five, and certainly the top 10. Scouts may see a player that they can mold and shape with technique and scheme while letting the physical traits shine.

While Witherspoon might be a more instinctive player, Gonzalez is taller and had the better combine numbers. Gonzalez is the +250 favorite to go No. 7.

Joey Porter Jr. scouting report

Over/Under Draft Position 19.5 (-220/+175)

As if we need daily reminders of how old we’re all getting, yes, this is the son of Steelers standout Joey Porter. The Penn State product looks like a surefire first-rounder, especially with the bloodline and the namesake, but he is also a big kid at over 6-foot-2 and still has good speed with a 4.46 40-yard dash. He’s a physical corner, which some defensive coordinators and scouting staffs are going to prioritize.

Whether or not he goes 16th or higher may simply depend on the draft day trade movement.

Brian Branch scouting report

Branch isn’t a lock to go in the first round, but he’s a smart, versatile player who could be anything from a nickel corner to maybe a safety. “Safe” is a word used a lot with Branch as a heady defender who doesn’t have any major weaknesses to his game. When job preservation is a big part of the equation in the first round for scouts and GMs, there’s nothing wrong with taking a player you know can be a contributor right from the jump. Branch is also one of the better run-stoppers of this year’s defensive back class and that may get him taken higher than people expect out of Alabama.

DJ Turner II scouting report

Turner is a burner who ran a 4.26 40-yard dash and that speed allows him to play anywhere on the field and in any sort of scheme. At 5-foot-11 and just 178 pounds, he’s not as physical as some of the other players with potential first-round grades, but quickness will always be a high priority in NFL circles. He is a little limited in that he could struggle matching up with big wide receivers, but that makes him an ideal slot corner to be able to take out possession receivers and maybe even jump on a few badly thrown balls.

Deonte Banks scouting report

Over/Under Draft Position: 20.5 (-110/-120)

The Maryland product shined at the combine with some big testing scores and he may be a player who shot up draft boards enough to be taken as a first-round pick. The 6-foot, 197-pound redshirt junior ran a 4.35 40-yard dash and had one of the highest broad jumps of any player. He doesn’t have as much film after missing most of the 2021 season, but he has the upside and potential that scouts and evaluators look for in a player taken in the first 32 picks. Banks is also one of the purest sideline corners in this year’s class, while others may be used more in the slot.

Other contenders

Cam Smith – South Carolina’s Smith is making the rounds with pre-draft interviews, but he may not be a future No. 1, shutdown CB like other boundary corners. He did grade really well at the combine and his testing numbers may have been enough to turn him into a first-round pick and maybe the swing guy as to whether or not this bet cashes.

Kelee Ringo – Ringo was inconsistent in coverage, but he’s a 6-foot-2, two-time National Champion with Georgia and many of the Bulldogs taken in recent drafts have done just fine in the NFL. He was a state championship runner in high school and may be a gamble based on his upside.

Antonio Johnson – This draft is pretty thin on safeties, but Johnson seems like the best of the bunch. The Texas A&M Aggie did not perform well at the combine with speed or strength, but he has good size at 6-foot-2 and might be a good matchup against tight ends, who continue to get more and more touches in today’s NFL.

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