2012 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings, Def. Backs
Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks
Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks
Posted Aug 24, 2012

CFN 2012 Preview Unit Rankings from top to bottom - Defensive Backs

Preview 2012 - Unit Rankings

Defensive Backs

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2012 CFN Preseason Rankings 
1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50
51 to 60 | 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 124 

CFN 2012 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries | Special Teams  
- 2011 Unit Rankings | 2010 Unit Rankings

Note: This is based on talent, returning starters and skill. It's not necessarily based on what the final order will be.

1. Texas

The secondary lost three NFL defensive backs two years ago and still finished first in the Big 12 in pass defense. This year the defensive backfield is loaded up with more than enough athletes to stay with any receiving corps, and with the pass rush certain to be a big plus, expect huge things from the Texas defensive backs. The Texas secondary had a better 2011 season than it ever got credit for considering it had to face high-octane offense after high-octane offense. Oklahoma and Baylor were the only two teams to crank out more than 300 yards and only OU, BU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech came up with multiple touchdown passes. The Longhorns allowed 13 touchdown passes and gave up two picks.

2. Alabama

Expect more of the same after a dominant 2011. The secondary finished No. 1 in the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency defense, and while there weren't many teams on the schedule that could throw, the DBs were really that good. The secondary is a who's who of four and five-star recruits. Dee Milliner, Robert Lester, and eventually Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix should all play at an All-America level, while the JUCO transfers are good enough to start for just about anyone else. The Tide secondary really has become a factory.

3. Georgia

Give it a little time. The defensive front seven should be strong enough to make up for the problems in the secondary over the first month of the season, while there's enough versatility to make sure that four restaurant quality defensive backs are on the field at all times. Eventually the Georgia defensive backfield will be among the best in the nation, and like last year, it'll get a big break with few good passing teams on the slate. The rating is based on what the secondary will eventually be following a slew of suspensions.

4. Ohio State

The secondary should be the strength of an improving defense. All four starters are back and the second team could step in and start without too much of a drop off. It's a loaded group that's young enough to still be improving. There are plenty of options, lots of young talent, and plenty of speed and quickness across the board. The Buckeye secondary has the potential to be among the best in the country if the defensive front gets to the quarterback a little bit more.

5. Oklahoma

There always seems to be a key meltdown here and there by the OU secondary, but for the most part this group should be as rock-solid as any in America with Demontre Hurst, Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson all all-star talents. There's good depth, lots of experience and plenty of speed to make this the strength of the defense by far. The versatility is a plus if injuries strike, especially because of all the veteran talent across the board. Throwing Lynn into the mix, OU has five excellent defensive backs who all know what they're doing.

6. Florida State

After playing well in 2011, the Seminoles are aiming to significantly raise the bar in pass defense in 2012. And they have the players needed to meet the challenge. Lamarcus Joyner and Xavier Rhodes may get beat over the top from time to time, but they have as much ability as any trio of defensive backs in the FBS. The defensive backs figure to make a lot more noise than they did last fall, ranking among the ACC's leaders in batted balls and takeaways.

7. LSU

The Tiger defensive front started to get to the quarterback more and the results were tremendous for the secondary. The interceptions started coming and the safeties made play after play against the run. It's a thinner group this year with the backups needing time and seasoning, and with the loss of Tyrann Mathieu painful, but if everyone stays healthy, there in time this should be grow into a strength. Mathieu was an all-timer of a disruptive force no matter where he played, but Eric Reid is as rock solid as any safety in the nation. Tharold Simon will be terrific as he takes over a starting role, while, again, Craig Loston could be special if he's healthy.

8. Rutgers

Opposing quarterbacks will know to navigate the Rutgers secondary at their own risk this fall. The Scarlet Knights, bolstered by multiple next-level defenders, do a fantastic job of congesting the airways with well-skilled cornerbacks and safeties. Facing a schedule that has only one big-time quarterback on it—Arkansas' Tyler Wilson—the program will once again rank among the nation's best in pass defense. The Big East isn't the Big 12, but the Scarlet Knights still do a remarkable job of sticking to receivers, and batting away throws. Only two teams in the country—Alabama and LSU—allowed fewer touchdown passes, and just six gave up a lower completion percentage.

9. NC State

After struggling prior to 2011, this should be NC State's best pass defense in a very long time. It all starts with All-America corner David Amerson and an awful lot of talent surrounding him. The Pack will once again pick off a slew of passes, occasionally getting beat over the top. After being thrown on more than 400 times in 2011, it wouldn't be a surprise if that total was down by at least 10% this fall. Amerson is the headliner of the pick brigade, but he was hardly alone in the thievery last season. The Wolfpack intercepted 27 passes in 2011 to lead the country, getting help from throughout the defensive backfield. Even the safeties, Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop, have a penchant for acting like wide receivers when the ball is in the air.

10. Mississippi State

The secondary allowed just 12 touchdown passes and picked off 12 while allowing just 197 yards per game. However, that still made the Bulldogs 11th in the SEC in pass defense. The corners will be outstanding led by All-America candidate Johnthan Banks, while the safeties could be special if Nickoe Whitley is 100% and if Dee Arrington is as good as expected. Banks should be manning one side of the field for an NFL team, while Broomfield is strong enough to hold his own. Darius Slay might not technically be considered a starter, but he's more than good enough to get the call.
10 is high in the unit ranking number.

Oklahoma State Big 12 8.5
Florida SEC 8
Illinois Big Ten 8
Michigan Big Ten 8
Michigan State Big Ten 8
Missouri SEC  8
Nebraska Big Ten  8
USC Pac-12  8
Utah   Pac-12  8
Virginia Tech ACC 8
Wisconsin Big Ten 8
Boise State M-West 7.5
Boston College ACC 7.5
California Pac-12  7.5
Oregon Pac-12  7.5
Pitt Big East 7.5
South Carolina SEC 7.5
South Florida Big East 7.5
Arizona State Pac-12  7
Arkansas SEC 7
Auburn SEC 7
BYU Ind 7
Cincinnati Big East 7
Clemson ACC 7
Connecticut Big East 7
Georgia Tech ACC 7
Houston C-USA  7
Iowa Big Ten 7
Kansas State Big 12 7
Kent State MAC 7
Louisville  Big East 7
Miami   ACC   7
Minnesota Big Ten 7
North Carolina ACC   7
Ole Miss SEC 7
Oregon State Pac-12  7
Purdue Big Ten 7
TCU Big 12 7
Temple Big East 7
Tennessee SEC 7
UCLA  Pac-12  7
Wake Forest ACC 7
West Virginia Big 12 7
Kentucky SEC 6.5
Maryland  ACC 6.5
Northwestern Big Ten 6.5
Notre Dame Ind 6.5
Penn State Big Ten 6.5
Southern Miss C-USA  6.5
Stanford Pac-12  6.5
Tulsa C-USA  6.5
UCF C-USA  6.5
Virginia   ACC 6.5
Washington   Pac-12  6.5
Air Force M-West 6
Arizona Pac-12  6
Baylor Big 12 6
Colorado   Pac-12  6
FIU Sun Belt 6
Indiana  Big Ten 6
Iowa State Big 12 6
Ohio   MAC 6
Syracuse Big East 6
Texas A&M SEC  6
Texas Tech Big 12 6
Vanderbilt SEC 6
WKU Sun Belt 6
Wyoming M-West 6
Fresno State M-West 5.5
Kansas Big 12 5.5
Louisiana Tech WAC 5.5
Marshall C-USA  5.5
Nevada M-West 5.5
Northern Illinois MAC 5.5
San Diego State M-West 5.5
SMU C-USA  5.5
Utah State WAC 5.5
Washington State Pac-12  5.5
Western Michigan MAC 5.5
Akron MAC 5
Bowling Green MAC 5
Buffalo MAC 5
Central Michigan MAC 5
Colorado State M-West 5
Duke ACC   5
East Carolina C-USA  5
Eastern Michigan MAC 5
Florida Atlantic Sun Belt 5
Hawaii M-West 5
Miami Univ. MAC 5
Middle Tennessee Sun Belt 5
Navy Ind 5
New Mexico   M-West 5
San Jose State WAC 5
South Alabama Sun Belt 5
Texas State WAC 5
Toledo MAC 5
UL Lafayette Sun Belt 5
UL Monroe Sun Belt 5
Arkansas State Sun Belt 4.5
Army Ind 4.5
Idaho WAC 4.5
Massachusetts MAC 4.5
New Mexico State WAC 4.5
North Texas Sun Belt 4.5
Rice C-USA  4.5
Troy Sun Belt 4.5
Tulane C-USA  4.5
UNLV M-West 4.5
Ball State MAC 4
Memphis C-USA  4