UCLA Football: Projecting the 2017 depth chart-defensive backs

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26: Jaleel Wadood
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26: Jaleel Wadood /
1 of 2

To wrap up the defensive side of the our “Projecting the depth chart “series we now turn to the UCLA Football secondary.

Despite losing plenty of talent of talent in the back end of their defense to both graduation and the NFL draft this UCLA Football program still has a bevy of talent in the secondary. There will be new faces and while spots are technically open it seems like the much of the depth has settled.

While Jim Mora doesn’t typically provide depth charts to the public, we here at GJB believe in giving the people what they want.

The Bruins employ a traditional four man defensive backfield with two corners and two safeties. They do however spend a great deal of time in the nickel package. That has become essentially the norm in college football as teams deploy more and more receivers on the field in order to stress defenses. The response? Get more defensive backs onto the field.

RELATED: UCLA Football Projected Depth Charts-Quarterbacks, Runningbacks, Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebackers

Thus the nickel back position has become a starting position and isn’t just designated to your third CB. It takes a special skillset to play that position and fortunately the Bruins have more than few guys on the team who can do it led by freshman Darnay Holmes.

As I said before the Bruins will have plenty of talent on the field on the field in 2017 but there will be some inexperience on the field as well.

Cornerback Depth Chart

The Bruins don’t typically label their corners as a left or right corner so we won’t either. But we will designate the first group and then look at the second group.

1st Corner Group

  1. Nate Meadors, #22, 5’11”, 195lbs., Jr.
  2. Darnay Holmes, #1, 5’10”, 190lbs., Fr.
  3. Colin Samuel, #10, 6’3″, 205lbs., R-So.

Since seeing the field as a freshman in 2015 Nate Meadors has only gotten better and better. He’s a physical corner in the same mold as former UCLA Football CB Fabian Moreau. He will beat you up at the line and carry receivers downfield with above average speed. He isn’t a blazer but demonstrates solid technique. He will lapse occasionally in his technique and that can lead to some blunders but they are few and far between. I fully expect for him to take another leap in 2017.

More from Go Joe Bruin

Already receiving plenty of hype and backing it up in practice reports, Darnay Holmes might just be the defensive back answer to outstanding DE freshman Jaelan Phillips. He’s quick enough to slide into the slot but has the physical nature to stick on the outside. His versatility will allow him to see the field early and often.

Colin Samuel is another guy with tons of versatility. He’s a long, lanky corner who thrives when he’s able to use his length. When forced to play off Samuel can have trouble with quick twitch receivers who can use their speed to get free releases. He’s bouncing between safety and corner this Fall but I think he can make a bigger impact at corner. Holmes might be the first corner off the bench but Samuel, IMO should be the next man up if the Bruins are in the nickel.

2nd Corner Depth

  1. Denzel Fisher, #25, 6’1″, 175lbs., R-Jr.
  2. Keyon Riley, #28, 6’0″, 200lbs., R-Fr.
  3. Mo Osling III, #7, 6’2″, 185lbs., Fr.

Denzel Fisher has waited his turn behind talented corners and spent his time as a reserve but this season is his to own. He’s long but thin and despite more than a few years in the strength and conditioning program he’s struggled to put on much weight. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a good player though. His strength is in his ability to turn and run with receivers and then challenge at the point of the catch. While he can play off and in zone, his best work comes when he can press opponents at the line.

Keyon Riley is a guy who also brings versatility to the position but he is a thicker player. His versatility at both safety and corner make him a valuable reserve but expect to see him more on special teams and late in games where the Bruins have a big lead. He’s physical but doesn’t have the speed of a traditional corner.

Mo Osling is the second true freshman on our list but has plenty of upside. He’s another long corner, (sense a theme?) who can play in a zone or man to man defense. His greatest strength is, like many of the UCLA Football DBs, his length. While I’m sure the Bruins would love to be able to red-shirt him, they may be forced to burn it if any injuries occur in the secondary.