There are going to be at least 5 players drafted at the safety position on days 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft that will be immediate contributors to NFL teams. Who? And where will they be drafted? I’ll touch on 8 of them that I believe are going to be really good NFL players, and won’t require a 1st round selection.
Baker is a borderline 1st round type of player, that will likely go somewhere in the 2nd. He’s a smaller guy that is reminiscent of the Honey Badger at LSU. He’s a rangy athlete that possesses the free range and playmaking ability to make plays from all over the field. He often times lines up as a slot corner and will take slot receivers out of the game with his cover ability. He will immediately step in and play a role for an NFL team in sub packages, namely nickel, and dime. He can potentially also be the starting FS for a team on Day 1.
Woods is a name that is building in NFL circles as a surefire Day 2 selection. Woods is a jack of all trades that battles his butt off on every snap. His coaches rave about his work ethic and leadership abilities. He shows comfort in being able to play the ball in the air, perfectly mirroring receivers downfield and making a play on the ball. He will be an immediate contributor on special teams as well, showing the toughness and speed required to play a role. He’s worth a serious consideration on Day 2.
Hill is one of my favorite players in the entire draft. Not getting a lot of publicity or attention, Hill is a guy that can do a little bit of everything. He plays often times as a single high, but will also come in the box. He has a similar type of body as Obi Melifonwu, but he is a better all-around football player at this point in his career. I genuinely believe Hill will be an outstanding starting SS at the next level. He’s tough, can cover and shows consistency on every snap.
A converted CB, King is a tough kid that is one of the best tackling CB’s in the entire draft. King will likely transition to more of a free safety at the next level because of his lack of long speed and length. He played mostly as an off-coverage zone corner at Iowa. It highlighted his ability to tackle in the open field and make plays on the ball. He has a knack for finding and locating the ball with 14 interceptions and 3 return TDs. He can be an ideal FS that can use his instincts and play making ability to find the football.
Jones is a player that some are much higher on than others. It seems apparent that Jones will be a Day 2 selection at this point. Possessing the ideal height, toughness, and weight, Jones will likely be more of an SS at the next level. He’s a downhill player that explodes out of his stance, always looking to strike and deliver the big blow. Jones will likely play as an SS for a team and have an immediate role on special teams. I don’t believe he is ready to start yet for an NFL defense.
Evans is an explosive safety that possesses outstanding athleticism and straight line speed for a safety. He plays mostly as a single high FS that is responsible for covering a ton of ground in the open field. There is certainly a lot of athleticism and upside to work with when it comes to Evans. The major concern for Evans is his lack of consistently being able to bring the ball carrier down. Missed tackles are the norm for Evans until he cleans that up he is likely a special teams player early on.
Johnson is an attractive candidate in today’s NFL being able to play both as an FS or a slot corner. He has moved and played both throughout his years at Boston College, and teams will love his toughness and reliability. He’s likely a day 3 selection at this point, but I genuinely believe Johnson will play a valuable piece to any team’s defense early in his career.
Maye is a tough, decisive SS that isn’t afraid to lay the wood on. His overall athleticism and quick twitch ability aren’t ideal, but his ability to read and react make him an attractive early Day 3 consideration. Moreover, teams love Maye’s toughness, instincts and ability to possess leadership qualities. In short, I think Maye is an eventual starting SS for a team at the next level.
Safety is an exciting and depth filled position in the 2017 NFL Draft this year. No need to rush early, there’s plenty of value on Day 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft.