When drafting Defensive Lineman, you pick your studs early, then look for some pass-rush specialists to complement them. When drafting Linebackers, you look for consistency in tackles above all, focusing on three-down backers. When drafting Defensive Backs? Anything goes.
Some owners will only take safeties, and pretty much just strong safeties at that, knowing that tackles are more predictable than any other DB stat. Others look for deflections, interceptions and tackles in coverage by focusing on DBs that play alongside a shutdown corner, or rookie corners in general. Still others will go for the gold, taking a return man who might win you a matchup all by himself by taking one to the house.
The best strategy for you will likely depend on your league’s scoring system (see disclaimer below), but I like to pair a tackle-heavy safety with a big-play threat, preferably a rookie or first-time starter. Pairing someone like Ryan Clark or LaRon Landry with a dynamic athlete like Patrick Peterson or Richard Sherman gives you consistency with a dose of excitement. With the unpredictable nature of the DB position, as well as the relatively large amount of DB-talent perpetually on the waiver wire, that’s all you can really ask for.
So while I have Morgan Burnett ranked #1 right now, these will be the most fluid of the IDP rankings. Depending on how training camp goes, the rankings of Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Vaccaro could all change drastically, same with the Seattle DBs. Opportunity is everything for a Defensive Back, and you miss 100% of the tackles you’re not on the field for. I think Ronnie Lott said that.
Disclaimer: For these and all of my rankings, I am assuming a balanced IDP scoring system with a 3:1 ratio of sacks/interceptions to solo tackles. If you have any questions regarding your league’s specific settings, please ask in the comments.