Note: These are ordered in regards to general overall rating. This is not necessarily a reflection of predictive draft order as other variables such as scheme, coaching, etc. will alter each team’s rating of each prospect.
- Jamal Adams, LSU – Jamal Adams is in a great position for this draft, as NFL teams are all trying to find that game-changing safety that can not only cover the deep part of the secondary, but also provide superb run support, and versatility. Open field predators like Adams are at a premium right now, and Jamal Adams rare skill combinations combining the range of a center fielder with the diagnosing and tackling ability will cause his stock to sore.
- Malik Hooker, Ohio State – Raw, but a big, strong, and fast safety that could intrigue teams with his potential to fit into the new breed of versatile, play-making safeties.
- Jabrill Peppers, Michigan – The sooner Jabrill Peppers settles into his eventual role in the NFL the better he will be able to begin his journey into a probably stellar NFL career. Used all over the field for Michigan, Peppers has been key to the resurgence of the Wolverines. However, NFL teams would most likely prefer he settle into a more specific role. Perhaps the best athlete in the draft, Peppers is just starting to grasp the safety position, and possesses both the ability to cover in the deep field, and to tackle in space and provide run support. Teams won’t care about his varied roles in college, as his potential as one of the new breed, super-versatile safeties, will make him a prime commodity in the draft.
- Budda Baker, Washington – Not the biggest defensive back, and could be a liability in run support, but a fluid and agile coverage safety. Sees the field exceptionally well, and has the ability to lock down the deep part of the field. A true free safety that can shut down his part of the field.
- Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut – One of the most rangy and versatile defensive backs in the draft in terms of coverage. Outstanding ability to cover large parts of the field, and to be able to cover different types of receivers. Greatly increased in draft status during the Senior Bowl.
- Josh Jones, NC State – A tackling machine, Jones has played strong safety at NC State, and is an intriguing prospect that might be able to be positioned at different places in the secondary and near the line of scrimmage.
- Marcus Williams, Utah – Covers a lot of space in the secondary, and has the range and agility to quickly move on the ball. Often baits quarterbacks into thinking receivers are open only to close quickly on the ball. Understands routes and is able to break down plays before they happen, allowing him to get into position and to make interceptions (11 Total Career INT’s).
- Eddie Jackson, Alabama – A converted cornerback, he has settled into a role as a safety, and seems to be more comfortable there. Very good in coverage, and has excellent awareness of the position and can coordinate a secondary. Limited in run support, but can still put on strength. Has gotten lost among all of the superstars in the Alabama defense, but could be a late round steal.
- John Johnson, Boston College – One of the more intriguing prospects in the draft, Johnson is going through the draft process as both a corner and a safety. With the changing dynamic of defenses, teams are looking for defensive backs that can play many positions in the secondary, and to be able to help stop the run and blitz from in the box. Johnson is being considered as one of those type players.
- Justin Evans, Texas A&M – Matches the profile of what NFL teams are looking for in a strong safety – devasting tackler that can cover. Very good to excellent diagnosis skills, and a smart defender. Not a liability in either run game or pass game, and can cover centerfield.
Comments: The NFL safety position is changing (please read our article on Safeties). The top of this group features three elite prospects that can play all over the field. Beyond those three prospects are a number of excellent players that would be at the top of the safety board in other years.