The 2017 NFL Draft features the deepest group of cornerbacks and safeties that I've seen since I began scouting 14 years ago. I have 17 secondary players in my top 50 (10 cornerbacks and seven safeties), and I could make a case for a handful of other players to crack the list. However, this class doesn't just offer depth -- it has star power as well. There are some premier players at both cornerback and safety. I reached out to five personnel executives and asked them a simple question: Who is the best defensive back in this draft class? Here are their answers.
Executive 1: Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore
"I know he has some injuries in his past, but based on the tape, Lattimore is the best defensive back in this draft class. He's an elite cover cornerback."
Executive 2: LSU safety Jamal Adams
"He can play high or low, depending on what you want him to do in your defense. His range and angles are phenomenal. He can cover wide receivers and tight ends. However, the one thing that really sets him apart is his leadership. Players, coaches and support staff at LSU love the kid and then you get to finally meet him at the combine and you go, 'Holy crap, he's even better than they said.' You can really feel his presence. He's a program-changing leader. Whatever he's selling, I'll take two."
Executive 3: Adams
"As much as I love the upside and athletic talent of some of the other guys, I'll take Jamal Adams. He has size, smarts, toughness. Good athlete and a great leader. He can be a tone setter for a defense."
Executive 4: Ohio State safety Malik Hooker
"This draft is stocked with great DBs, but you better not pass on Ed Reed. Hooker is a ball magnet."
Executive 5: Hooker
"I know he's only a one-year starter, but Hooker is a special player. Everyone talks about his instincts and ball skills, but he has the tools to play cornerback, too. He is so smooth and fluid and he can really run. I love Adams, too, but I think Hooker will have a bigger impact."
Summary: That's two votes apiece for Adams and Hooker and one for Lattimore.
Conclusion: I wasn't surprised to see these players mentioned. I believe these are the top three defensive backs in the draft and they are potential all-pros at the next level. Hooker is a playmaking machine from the deep middle, and Adams is a tone setter both on and off the field. If Lattimore didn't have durability issues, I'd have him as the No. 2 player in the draft. It's going to be fun to follow these players over the next decade.