CFN 2017 NFL Draft Analysis & Rankings: Safeties

CFN 2017 NFL Draft Analysis & Rankings: Safeties

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CFN 2017 NFL Draft Analysis & Rankings: Safeties

CFN 2017 NFL Draft Analysis & Rankings: Safeties


From the college football perspective, who are the top safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft?


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Of course you take a safety top-10-overall early if you think one is going to be Pro Bowl special.

Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, Earl Thomas – it’s harder to find an amazing, game-changing safety than it is to find just about any other spot other than an elite quarterback. There might be one of those types of talents in this draft, with at least five who should be fantastic, and plenty more who’ll make a massive impact.

So what’s the college football analysis and take on the 2017 NFL Draft safety class? Who can play, and who can’t? It’s this simple – who are the ones who matter, and who are the ones who are just guys who’ll make it if someone gets lucky?

After seeing and covering these guys from recruiting until completion, from the college football perspective …

2017 NFL Draft: Safeties

1. Jamal Adams, LSU

Flip a coin on whether you want Adams or Hooker as the top safety – there’s no wrong answer. Lightning quick, strong, and known as the ultimate high-character defender – he’ll make the secondary his – there’s no real knock other than that Hooker has the bigger ceiling.

Adams is a mortal lock to be a ten-year pro and Pro Bowl talent, but if Hooker hits and stays healthy, he has all-timer upside. Considering both will go in the top ten, take the safe, sure-thing stand-up triple. Adams is the exact type of player every defensive coach dreams of.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: Top 10 Overall

2. Malik Hooker, Ohio State

Do you care that he got really banged up after his one year of work? Some – like Chicago after getting burned by Kevin White’s injury issues – might freak out that Hooker needed to fix a sports hernia and a hip problem.

If you’re not worried about any durability concerns, there’s special, all-timer ball-skills and instincts whenever anyone dares to throw his way. The best part about him is the limitless upside. Give him more time – again, he only started for one year – and he’ll be special.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: Top 10 Overall

3. Budda Baker, Washington

Do you care that he’s just not that big? Earl Thomas is 5-10 and 200 pounds – Baker is 5-10 and 195. No, no, no, Baker isn’t Thomas, but he’s lightning quick with deep speed, and he doesn’t shy away from a fight. Throw him out there and let him go attack the ball and make things happen, and you’ll get a superior effort on every play.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 2nd Round

4. Josh Jones, NC State

It’s all there. He might have the best combination of size – he’s 6-1, 220 pounds – speed, strength and explosiveness. His mistakes tend to come from trying too hard – he can be coached up to be more consistent.. Welcome to your tone-setter in the defensive backfield.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 2nd Round

5. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Ridiculously overhyped last year – there were at least five other Wolverines who had as much or more to do with the defensive success – there’s a lot to worry about as a possible first rounder. The issues with a positive diluted sample the combine didn’t help, to go along with the strange way he ended up missing the Orange Bowl – as legitimate as the leg injury reportedly was.

Throw in his lack of ball-skill production, his tweener position abilities, and questions about his hitting pop, and – despite the superior athleticism and upside – he’s a second round pick in a first round draft slot. Even so, don’t overthink this too much – he’ll be great no matter where he plays.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 1st Round

6. Marcus Maye, Florida

Welcome to your prototype safety in terms of look, leadership, and want-to. He’s just an okay tackler, though, and he was helped by being surrounded by NFL defensive backs in what was among the best secondaries in college football over the last few years. He’ll be taken after the first wave of safeties, but the coach that gets him is going to fall in love.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 2nd Round

7. Desmond King. Iowa

A smart, versatile player who can step in as a No. 2 corner or work as a dangerous free safety. There might not be a better pass-defending safety in the draft, even though he’s not necessarily a blazer. Coaches will love his football skills more than the raw tools.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 2nd Round

8. Marcus Williams, Utah

Yikes. He exploded out of the stadium at the combine with a special workout. Combine his athleticism with his 6-1, 200-pound frame and he’s what NFL coaches want in a playmaking free safety. Expect him to be a great value pick in the second round.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 2nd Round

NFL Draft: Dumb Luck If Any Of These Safeties Are NFL-Good Starters

9. Obi Melfonwu, Connecticut

In terms of tools, yeeeeeeesh. The 6-4, 225-pounder ran a 4.4 and cranked up a 44” vertical in Indy. He’ll be a hybrid who can work as a devastating extra linebacker if he doesn’t stick at safety, but he’s going to be a project. He’ll miss on too many opportunities, but players with his make-up are rare.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 3rd Round

10. Tedric Thompson, Colorado

There’s a lot not to like in terms of his NFL tools, but he’s a special playmaker when the ball is in the air. He’ll drop too far in the draft because he’s not a big tackler and doesn’t really look the part, but throw him on the field on passing downs and watch him go get the ball.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 5th Round

11. Justin Evans, Texas A&M

There’s a lot he’ll get dogged on in the scouting analysis because he’ll make a massive play, and then whiff on the next. He’s not going to be consistent, but he’s one of the best hitters in the draft and can move. Someone will fall in love with him, and others will be scared off by his inconsistency.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 3rd Round

12. John Johnson, Boston College

Super-quick and a strong enough tackler to get by, he’ll get all over the field and will always attack the ball. He can move – he’ll be a war room darling after the second round. He’s the type of prospect scouts will pound the table for teams needing a free safety.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 4th Round

13. Delano Hill, Michigan

Big and fast, the the 6-1, 216-pounder came up with an impressive 4.47 in Indy to boost up the stock. Combine the speed with the linebacker-like popping ability, and he’ll find a role in someone’s defense – as long as he doesn’t have to handle the quicker receivers.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 4th Round

NFL Draft: Draft Them. Don’t Draft Them. Whatever.

14. Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami

Very strong and very explosive, the 6-1, 215-pounder has tools to grow into a playmaker – but he was just okay for the Hurricanes. He was in on plenty of tackles in his career, and he could turn into an even better pro, but he’s not going to dominate at the next level.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 4th Round

15. Chuck Clark, Virginia Tech

Is he going to be a corner or a safety? He’s a true tweener who was terrific in college, but doesn’t really have it for the next level. Worth a look, though, as a jack-of-all-trades backup, he can fill a variety of roles – he just night not be anything amazing at one spot.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 6th Round

16. Jadar Johnson, Clemson

It’s going to take some time and some seasoning – he only saw significant starting action for a year – the upside is enormous. All the tools are there compared to the other top safeties in the class, but he needs to be a bigger hitter. Once he gets it, though, look out.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 5th Round

17. Eddie Jackson, Alabama

One of the more interesting safety prospects, he doesn’t really look the part, he can’t really pop, and he had to fight through injury issues. However, he should be able to stick because of his versatility as a key backup at corner or safety. He’ll be overdrafted because of his Alabama production.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 4th Round

18. Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech

Extremely quick with a great nose of the ball, he made a ton of big plays for a Bulldog secondary that got bombed on by teams trying to keep up the pace. He’s a better football player than a measurables guy – he’ll be an impossible cut for a coaching staff.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 5th Round

19. Montae Nicholson, Michigan State

The size – 6-2, 215 pounds – and 4.4 speed and explosion are too intriguing to blow off. He put up nice stats for the Spartans – he made plenty of tackles – but he never quite stood out as much as he should’ve.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 6th Round

20. Josh Harvey-Clemons, Louisville

Really, really, big, the 6-4, 217-pounder is an interesting prospect who transferred from Georgia to turn into an all-around playmaker for Louisville. While he doesn’t fit a role, he’ll be an interesting late flier.

Where He’ll Be Drafted: 6th Round

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