BASN NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Backs

By Tony McClean
Updated: April 26, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — For the fourth consecutive season, BASN will use the services of Shannon Kneeland, the president of “Diamonds In The Rough”, the nation’s only scouting service that yearly evaluates the best black college football talent available for the NFL Draft.
Over the previous five days, we’ve taken take a look the best HBCU players using Kneeland and the staff of DITR’s individual player evaluations. Today, we look at the best available defensive backs.
Cletis Gordon, Jackson State
Gordon comes into the draft as the quintessential triple threat. The 6-2, 195-pound native of Louisiana doubled as a defensive back and wide receiver while also returning kicks for JSU. In 2005, he caught nine passes for 91 yards and a touchdown on offense while adding four interceptions on defense. He also had 16 kick returns for 451 yards (28.1 avg.). He’s an athletic kid who can help a team on either side of the ball. A two-time All-SWAC selection, Gordon’s stock grew after grabbing an interception in the Cactus Bowl in January.
Antoine Bethea, Howard
As previous mentioned in BASN, the Bison standout may be one of the first HBCU players to chosen in this year’s draft. A three-time All-MEAC performer, Bethea recorded 49 solo tackles, 34 assisted tackles, 3 tackles for losses and a career-best 5 interceptions in 2005. The 6-1, 200-pounder plays bigger than his listed size. That in-between size will put him at either safety or cornerback. Very aggressive in tackling technique.
Marcus Wright, Kentucky State
A two-time All-SIAC performer, Wright led the conference with eight interceptions in 2005. Overall, the 5-foot-9 Wright had 59 total tackles, 13 breakups, a sack, and two forced fumbles. He also added 33 kick returns for 816 yards (24.7 avg) and 26 punt returns for 525 yards (20.1 avg). Was a productive defensive back, however he lacks the strength for bump coverage and can get out positioned by bigger receivers. Stock was raised after registering four tackles and returning three kicks in the Cactus Bowl.
Jamar Landrom, Tennessee State
The 6-foot-3, 215 pound Michigan native is coming off a banner season at TSU. An All-Ohio Valley and SBN Black College All-American, Landrom led the Tigers’ defense in tackles last season with 91 tackles, 12 were for losses, and four sacks. He also added an interception and forced five fumbles. Regarded as a hard hitter who’s not afraid of contact. Spent time at both strong safety and outside linebacker. His versatility will help him in the pros.
Ralph “Ricky” Williams, Bethune Cookman
The 5-foot-9 dynamo is probably known more for his kick return skills than as a defensive back. Williams led all Division I-AA players in kickoff return average with a 31.3 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. Despite his size, Williams has shown a great ability as a defensive back. While his kick return skills will be a plus, clubs may shy away because of his height.
TOMMORROW: Best of the rest.