Some programs’ claim to the title is a single star or a bunch of solid players, but Louisiana State University has many reasons why they should be known as the top school for cornerbacks and safeties.
What College is Defensive Back University?
Other schools like Alabama, Florida, Miami, Ohio State and Florida State sent loads of talent t0 the NFL and could enter the conversation as DBU, but they don’t have nearly the same resume as LSU.
The Tigers wouldn’t have much of a claim if it were for just one or two reasons. But in reality, there are quite a few reasons why they have the best.
Before I list the five reasons LSU is the real DBU, here’s one argument against why DBU isn’t each one of the schools listed above.
- Alabama: Who is the star? Landon Collins and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the best in recent memory. The Crimson Tide do produce an insane amount of players all over the field, but rarely do defensive backs develop into stars.
- Florida: Keanu Neal and Joe Haden are both really good players, but the Gators produced quite a few disappointments and a lot of players who have just been really average.
- Miami: In the early 2000’s, they could have probably held this title. But it’s been a while since they have produced a solid defensive back in the NFL. Ed Reed and the late Sean Taylor are two of the best safeties in NFL history, but those are the last two good Hurricane defensive backs. The only reason I even mention them in this list is because they had two of the best and produced an insane number of defensive backs for a decade.
- Ohio State: OSU may have the best claim, but other than Malcolm Jenkins, they are still early on in the list of players they have produced. In a few years, we may revisit this and say the Buckeyes have overtaken the Tigers though with players like Denzel Ward and Jeffrey Okudah in the league.
- Florida State: With Jalen Ramsey and Derwin James as two of the top players at their position, the Seminoles are set up well in the NFL. They also have a few others like Xavier Rhodes and Ronald Darby that have been extremely good players, so they are not far behind LSU.
Some other schools who have had some talent that may want a claim of the title are USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Clemson, and Georgia, but they don’t have near the talent of the top schools and and are a few years away from even having a chance of being in the conversation.
Today, the NFL and college football is dominated by only one DBU: Louisiana State University.
1. Top Picks
LSU sent more than a few star talents in the NFL Draft over the last 15 years. They produced four defensive backs taken inside the top six picks of the draft since 2007. LaRon Landry was taken with the sixth pick of that draft by the Washington Redskins. Patrick Peterson was taken with the fifth pick in the 2011 draft, then Morris Claiborne was taken at No. 6 the following year. Jamal Adams went sixth overall in 2017.
Though they may not have all turned into the All-Pro players for where they went in the draft, LSU has been producing top-tier picks for defensive backs faster than the rest of the country. Compared to those four Tigers since 2007, there have been just three other defensive backs drafted that high, each from a different school. Ohio State’s Denzel Ward (4th in 2018), Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey (5th in 2016), and Tennessee’s Eric Berry (5th in 2010).
2. Volume of Players
Not only are they producing top talent, but LSU sends a ton of players on to be NFL Draft picks. Since 2010, they have had 14 LSU defensive backs drafted. Five of those players were first-round picks and 10 of them were taken in the first three rounds.
Many of those players have become solid contributors to their pro teams, even if they weren’t taken early.
3. Best At Their Position
Not only have they had players dominate while in college with 15 All-American selections since 2000, some of those being multiple selections for one player, but they have continued to do so in the NFL.
Once they have made it to the NFL, some of these players have been at the top of their position for a long period of time. Patrick Peterson has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since being drafted, making the Pro Bowl in eight professional seasons and being named First-Team All-Pro three times.
Tyrann Mathieu hasn’t been as consistently dominant as Peterson, but he has been one of the best safeties in the NFL since entering the league in 2013. He made a Pro Bowl in 2015 and was First-Team All Pro in 2015 and 2019 with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansa City Chiefs.
Jamal Adams is only finished his third year in the league in 2019, but has already shown he is as good as the sixth overall pick should be. After three seasons with the New York Jets, Adams was selected to the Pro Bowl twice.
Even Eric Reid, who was the 18th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, made an immediate impact as a rookie, making the Pro Bowl at free safety.
LSU has consistently put out talented defensive backs, having at least one cornerback or safety be drafted in eight of the last nine drafts. They aren’t a school that struggles to get defensive backs draft year in and year out. If a player goes to LSU and earns playing time, there is a really good chance they will be selected come draft day.
5. Bright Past and Brighter Future
The last 10 or 15 years have been really good for the Tigers with Peterson, Mathieu, and many others. But LSU is still pumping out talent with the next group of Adams, Tre’Davious White, Greedy Williams, Donte Jackson, Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr.
Not only has their run of top-level talent on the back end of their defense gone on for well over a decade, but it could easily continue for another decade. Because they have been branded one of the top destinations for defensive backs, and they have one of the best talent pools for high school recruits right in their back yard, expect them to continue flooding the NFL with top prospects at corner and safety for years to come.
This post was originally published July 9, 2019.