Who are the safeties who’ll matter in the 2020 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?
2020 NFL Draft Safety Rankings
The draft is loaded with fascinating safeties. There’s a whole lot of thump, some fantastic leaders, and a more for the pros to work with than they’ve had at the position in a long time. There are some huge boom-or-bust picks that some will have to make calls on in the top 100, but for the most part this group will hit, and hit some more.
From the college perspective, here are the top safeties in your 2020 NFL Draft, starting with the ones who’ll be in the mix, and then diving into the five who’ll actually matter over the next ten years of the pro football world.
15. Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
Size: 5-10, 201
The Good: A fantastic tackler who seemed like he got in on every play, he thumped away for 244 tackles with three picks and 12 broken up passes. He’s a compact hitter with good enough quickness to be more than just a run stopper. Most of his negatives come from trying too hard – he has to reign in his aggressiveness at times.
The Not-So-Good: Just okay in pass coverage, he’ll make a few big plays when the ball is in the air, but he’s not going to be used as a free safety at the next level – he has be kept around the box as a hitter.
NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He started at Navy and turned into a big-time part of a strong Irish secondary. He might not be for everyone, and he’ll struggle to be a regular starter, but effort will never be a problem, he’ll hit everything, and he’ll find a home early on as a special teams killer.
Projected Round: Sixth
14. Shyheim Carter, Alabama
Size: 5-10, 194
The Good: It took a few years, but then he came on as a reliable factor for the Tide D with 43 tackles in each of his last two years with three picks and 17 broken up passes. He’s got the range to get all over the field and the experience to play in a variety of ways.
The Not-So-Good: While he can move, he doesn’t have the raw wheels to make up for his lack of thump. He’s more like a corner-sized defender playing safety. He won’t be a volume tackler at the next level.
NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He might not have a sure-thing set role right out of the gate, but put him in on pure passing downs and let him use his range and playmaking abilities to get around the ball.
Projected Round: Sixth
CFN in 60: 2020 1st Overall Draft Pick Odds
13. Jordan Fuller, Ohio State
Size: 6-2, 203
The Good: A terrific tackler who gets in on everything, he made 216 career tackles with five picks and ten broken up passes. He’s got the size to hold up as one of the draft’s more physical safeties.
The Not-So-Good: The coverage skills are just okay, he doesn’t have the big-time speed to be a dangerous playmaker at the next level when the ball is in the air, and he’ll have to live his life in the box – he’s not a free safety.
NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There might not be a whole lot of versatile traits, but his toughness and run stopping ability will find him a spot in someone’s secondary. Just surround him with speed, and he’ll handle everything between the hashmarks.
Projected Round: Fifth
12. Antoine Brooks, Maryland
Size: 5-11, 220
The Good: He cleaned up a whole lot of messes on a leaky Terp D, with 232 tackles in his last three seasons within broken up passes and four picks. He’s got the burst and ability to get behind the line – making 3.5 sacks with 27.5 tackles for loss – and he’s got just enough explosiveness to get to the ball with bat intentions.
The Not-So-Good: He doesn’t really have a right fit. He’s built to be more of a strong safety who gets to help against the run, but that’s not necessarily his game. While he plays fast, he doesn’t have the raw wheels to handle the speedy receivers.
NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s what you want in a safety attitude-wise. He’s a true leader who’ll take on everything by himself, he’ll hit everyone, and he’ll find a way to make something happen. If someone finds the right spot for him, he’ll be a steal.
Projected Round: Fifth
11. K’Von Wallace, Clemson
Size: 5-11, 206
The Good: In the seen-it-all category, he was a key thumper on the great Clemson defense over the last three seasons with 150 tackles during the span to go along with ten broken up passes in his final year. Athletic, he’s got the burst to crash any party as a giant-hitting force who can get a tone for a D.
The Not-So-Good: The coverage skills are just okay. While he can move, he doesn’t have the range and upside to be more than a pounder who mostly works in the box. However …
NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s a specific talent for a team needing a specific type of safety. If you have two solid corners and an athletic freelancing safety, then Wallace is the missing piece as the guy who’ll do all the tough and dirty work.
Projected Round: Fourth