2015 NFL Draft: Top Ten Safeties

    From the college perspective, breaking down the top safeties

    April 25, 2015

    It’s the NFL Draft from the college perspective with a simple mindset: can the guy play at the next level or not? What are his chances to succeed, and is he worth the time and effort? What’s his value?

    The class is … mediocre. Landon Collins is okay, and there are several interesting options to throw into a secondary, but there aren’t a slew of sure-thing superstars. Teams needs safeties, though, and the value will be there after the first round.
    The most overrated prospect: FS Gerod Holliman, Louisville
    The top underrated prospect: FS Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
    The deep, deep sleeper: FS Dean Marlowe, James Madison
    The best value prospect: FS Adrian Amos, Penn State

    1. SS Landon Collins, Alabama 6-0, 228
    – A terrific hitter and Alabama’s top tackler last season, Collins can hit like a mini-linebacker, but he can also run. He’s a true strong safety, but he proved throughout the offseason workouts that the raw speed is there, too. He can close in on a ball-carrier in a hurry, and he can bring the big pop when he gets there.
    – While he’s not an elite playmaker when the ball is in the air, that’s not really his game. He’s a thumper who works best on first down and against the run, but he might need to be in a secondary full of ball hawks. Don’t expect big interception numbers, even though he came up with three last season and was fine in pass coverage.
    Yes or No?: There won’t be anything flashy about what he does at the next level, but he should be able to hang around for a long time as a leader and star for someone’s secondary. He’s the best safety prospect in the draft, and it might not even be close.
    Round Value: First Round

    2. FS Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss 6-2, 208
    – All of a sudden, after his pro day he might be even more athletic than originally considered tearing off a 4.46 – he ran a 4.6 at the combine – to go along with his quickness and explosion. He has the raw skills, and he’s a terrific all-around football player who always knows where he’s supposed to be.
    – There’s a chance he could be a special player who goes beyond the tools. He knows how to play with tough tackling ability and nice ball skills. He’ll make quarterbacks play in a big way when they get sloppy or make mistakes.
    Yes or No?: Absolutely. He’s the type of player who hangs around in the secondary and becomes a star and a leader. Take him, plug him in, get production.
    Round Value: Second Round

    3. FS Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State 6-1, 208
    – Already bringing good size, he’s also an explosive athlete who makes himself bigger with his leaping ability. Not only does he look the part, he plays it, too, as a functional tackler who has a knack for always being around the ball.
    – While he’s a talent, he was also helped out in a big way by being surrounded by some of the best defensive backs in college football. He didn’t need to come up with the thump, and he didn’t. He’ll make the play, but he’s not an intimidating force.
    Yes or No?: Teams probably won’t like him as much as they should because the tape doesn’t always match the stats, but he’ll hold his own if given space to roam free and make things happen.
    Round Value: Third Round

    4. SS Anthony Harris, Virginia 6-1, 183
    – Some guys just know how to attack the ball and win battles, and that’s Harris. While he’s not a blazer, he’s always a half-step ahead – he’s around the ball and is great at coming up with the really big play.
    – He makes plays against the pass like a corner, but he’s also built a bit like one. He won’t shy away from contact, but he’s not going to push anyone around. He’s not going to be as physical as some teams might like, but he’ll save the D’s bacon his share of times.
    Yes or No?: He’s not going to be for everyone. His future will be as a whale of a nickel or dime defender on certain packages, but you want him roaming free and patrolling your secondary.
    Round Value: Third Round

    5. FS Damarious Randall, Arizona State 5-11, 196
    – Exceptionally athletic, Randall showed off what he could do at the combine tearing off a 4.46 in the 40 and looking explosive and fast – that’s how he plays on the field, too. Throw in his fight against the run and his ability to come up with the big tackle and tough play, and he has almost everything you’re looking for in a free safety.
    – While he’s not the ideal size and he’s a little bit underpowered when it comes beating up ball carriers, he makes up for it with his aggressiveness. He’s a bit more of an athlete and prospect than a polished free safety, but there’s a lot there to like.
    Yes or No?: Yes as a safety, not really as a corner. His versatility makes him a good draft pick, but he’ll shine once he figures out what he’s doing at free safety.
    Round Value: Third Round

    6. FS Derron Smith, Fresno State 5-10, 200
    – A playmaker, he’s able to sniff out big plays and he’s great at coming up with gamechanging picks. A fantastic tackler, too, he’ll be strong in run support, but his worth comes through when the ball is in the air making seven picks two years ago and doing everything he could to make things happen last year.
    – There’s a chance he could blossom in the NFL once he’s around other good players. Fresno State’s defense was – to be kind – lacking over the last few seasons, and if he doesn’t have to do everything and can focus just on doing his job, he could tun out to be fantastic.
    Yes or No?: He should be a steal outside of the top 50. Able to fill a variety of roles, he might not be the perfect safety prospect, and there will be times when he whiffs and whiffs big, but the stats should be tremendous.
    Round Value: Third Round

    7. SS Jaquiski Tartt, Samford 6-1, 221
    – An interesting athlete, the raw tools are way too amazing to ignore. Everyone wondered if he could bring it when working out side-by-side next to the big boys at the combine, and he ripped off a 4.53 40 and exploded through the jumps – he’s not going to be pigeon-holed as just a strong safety now.
    – Just okay in pass coverage, he’s going to make his money as a big, aggressive run stopper who’ll turn into an intimidating force. He’s not a dirty player, but he’ll have to dish out his share of fines considering his big-time hitting style.
    Yes or No?: Absolutely. There are limitations on what he’ll do when the ball is in the air, but he’ll be a fan favorite as a tough guy stat sheet filler against the run.
    Round Value: Third Round

    8. FS Adrian Amos, Penn State 6-0, 218
    – Really, really quick, he’s smooth and efficient in short spaces and took his speed to another level at his pro day. Take it for what it’s worth, but he went from a 4.56 at the combine to a 4.37 when he ran for the scouts. No matter what, he’s fast and athletic.
    – While he’s a willing tackler, he’s not a great one and will give up yards after the catch. He’s more like a corner playing safety than any sort of a thumper. However, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he’ll be sound for what he does. He won’t get beaten, but he might not make a lot of big plays. That steadiness is a solid.
    Yes or No?: While he won’t be the flashiest free safety around – even with his athleticism – there’s no real downside. He’ll be a very good, very sound defender for a long time.
    Round Value: Fourth Round

    9. FS Gerod Holliman, Louisville 6-0, 211
    – Amazing when he’s around the ball making 14 interceptions last season, he knows how to attack the ball and he knows how to come up with big plays. He answered the call almost every time he was tested, taking his game to another level when he got his chances.
    – While he made lots of tackles, he’s not a hitter. Not a strong safety, he’s a centerfielder who’s a true free safety. Don’t expect him to do much against the run – he could be all about trying to make the big play when the ball is in the air.
    Yes or No?: Yeah, as long as you know what you’re getting. He’s a finesse safety who’ll be great on third downs, but don’t expect anything big against the power running teams.
    Round Value: Fourth Round

    10. FS Eric Rowe, Utah 6-1 205
    – Is he a corner or a safety? Either way, he’ll find a spot in someone’s secondary with the right look, the right size and the right athleticism. He lit up the combine doing everything right across the board looking fast, athletic, and explosive. Versatile, he could be a tall, big corner on the other side of a No. 1 coverman, or he could be a whale of a centerfielding free safety.
    – He’s not going to be a big hitter and he’s not going to do much against the run. He’s a true tweener who’ll be a starter somewhere, somehow, but someone is going to have to try to find a fit for him.
    Yes or No?: Yes, but he has to find the right team. There’s too much athleticism and too many tools not to find him a job. He’ll be a tremendous mid-to-late round value pick – you’ll get a starter outside of the third round.
    Round Value: Fourth Round

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