Top Picks: Safety Rankings

2013 Safety Rankings 

1.Kenny Vaccaro S 6’0″  214 Texas While I am not quite as enamored with the consensus top safety as most, still it’s clear how versatile and well-coached he is.  What most find so interesting is his combination of size, and quickness, he’s fluid with a solid frame, he plays faster than his 4.63 official combine 40 time and his 4.06 short-shuttle confirmed what most thought of his change of direction skills. Despite the fact that he played closer to the line this season he was still productive with 92 tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defended. As a junior he was outstanding and was first-team All-Big 12 in 2011 (67 tackles, 6.5 for loss, two interceptions, seven pass breakups).

Still Vaccaro is not flawless; he is not quite quick or agile enough to likely be able to thrive in man coverage against top level slot receivers in the NFL. He will take some poor angles and times and he lacks pure recovery speed to run himself out of a mistake.

Vaccaro’s strengths do outweigh his weaknesses and his experience in deep ½, deep 1/3 and deep middle coverage, as well as in the box and having some man coverage skills will make him an attractive middle 1st round prospect, since he can play on either side in just about any scheme. The NFL safety I am most reminded of when I watch him is Thomas DeCoud.

2.Matt Elam S 5’9⅞” 208 Florida – While the stocky Gator safety has been compared to both Polamalu and Sanders he is not the elite level athlete that they were, however he is a very good athlete. He was timed at 4.54 and in a class of hard hitters: Thomas. Swearinger, Reid, among them Elam takes a backseat to nobody. In his Career: 176 total tackles, 124 unassisted, 52 assisted, 23.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 13 passes defended, 6 interceptions. For 2012: 76 total tackles, 58 unassisted, 18 assisted 11 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defended, and 4 interceptions. He was the heart and soul of a very good defense. Elam can attack the line and the ball carrier with the best of them. He takes on blocks head on and can slip them in confined spaces as well. He shows good timing as a blitzer, but [and this well become a theme] he should have 4 or 5 more career sacks because he so rarely wraps up.

Truthfully it’s only his lack of proper tackling technique and lack of experience in deep ½, deep 1/3 and deep middle coverage that places him behind Vaccaro in my estimation. Elam is a hitter, but a poor to below average tackler.  If that gets fixed he could be a multiple pro bowl type of player. Elam is solid in short and underneath coverage, he is too often ½ a step slow in man to man coverage. As a durable, quick and explosive player there is much to like but unless he fixes his tackling issues he’ll never be great. Elam reminds me of Donte Whitner.

3. John Cyprien S 6’0¼” 217 Florida International – Cyprien is the fastest rising of all the safety prospects in this class. However as teams drill down in ever greater detail there are truly some things to love as well as some, flags that are not red, perhaps more yellow cautionary in nature.  There’s a reason that the consensus is now that Cyprien will be an NFL starter, sooner rather than later.

He’s very like Reid in terms of physical ability and he started three years at Florida International after making seven starts as a freshman in 2009; his 45 starts at safety, is the third-most of any position at FIU. Cyprien was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference First-Team as a senior, All-Sun Belt Conference Second-Team as a sophomore and junior. He racked up seven interceptions, 22 pass breakups during his college career and served as team captain as a senior. That season Cyprien posted 93 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss. He added five pass breakups and four interceptions, along with one forced fumble.

Timed at 4.56-4.64 at his pro day, he posted a 38½” vertical at the combine, 4.44s in the short shuttle and a 7.01s in the 3-cone drill, along with a 9’11” broad jump and 18 reps of 225lbs. on the bench press at his pro day. Game study shows him to be a good blitzer with a bit of edginess in his game.  He plays well off of blockers and can function in the box against the running game. He is reliable in zone and has some man skills.

Concerns center on level of competition, his tendency to over commit to playing the run or jump underneath routes and a lack of recovery speed. Cyprien is likely best at free safety in a cover-2 scheme or could be on the strong side in a team that likes to man up. While preparing to write up Jerrard Tarrant I saw a similar player but wisely Cyprien stayed for his senior year and has shown more maturity as a player and person.

4. Eric Reid S 6’1¼” 213 LSU– Reid is supremely talented and has some very, very good tape, but he can be prone to playing out of control, gambling and is perhaps the most inconsistent of all of the draft-worthy safeties I have seen. In his final season with the Tigers in 2012, Reid started all 13 games and finished third on the team in tackles with 91. He had seven pass breakups, two pass interceptions, one tackle for loss and recovered a fumble.  Those are all very good numbers; however the tale of the tape is that he should have been even better.

With his range, powerful hitting, smooth, fluid movement and the fact that Reid had a fantastic sophomore season in 2011 as a part of an incredibly talented secondary that featured Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, and Brandon Taylor.  Understandably expectations were high in 2012 as he was seen by some as having top half of the 1st round potential in the NFL Draft. But this year he simply hesitated to pull the trigger, a player of his caliber should have had twice the PBUs and picks that he did. Put Swearinger’s heart and mind in Reid’s body and you’ll have a perfect safety prospect.

His 4.53 40 speed; [4.49-4.51 at his pro day] 40 ½” vertical; 17 reps at 225 are all solid to exceptional and when combined with good range and the ability to be a factor against the run and pass well and coming downhill he flashes a near elite level burst at times he’s very aggressive to read and react and gets caught cheating on pump fakes and is over-aggressive to read the quarterback. He does not always show the ball skills, you’d want to see especially when trying to high-point the football.

Despite being a fine athlete Reid struggles in man coverage. He takes poor angles far too often and struggles to properly break down in open field tackling. Reid seems stiff at times and his hips aren’t as fluid as you’d like, he takes a too many false steps off the line which allows receivers to beat him vertically as well. With his size, athletic ability and potential for greatness, Reid will likely be an early 2nd round selection and the late 1st is an outside possibility

5. D.J. Swearinger S 5’10½” 208 South Carolina – If Swearinger were simply evaluated just based on his tape with no attention being paid to size or athletic ability, he’d be even higher if you just listened to his teammates coaches and opponents. He was a leader, a player who played his best when his team needed him and a ball hawk as well. Swearinger was a four-year starter, a defensive captain and the enforcer in Steve Spurrier’s secondary. His 79 tackles were the second most on a team that features All-American Jadevean Clowney, Shaq Wilson and DeVonte Holloman. He also had two interceptions, one against Arkansas that he returned 69 yards for a touchdown, with two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and seven passes defended.

There are concerns raised about his size and style of play. During South Carolina’s 49-6 rout of UAB last September, Swearinger initiated a head-on collision with a defenseless Blazer that likely would have resulted in a penalty, fine and possible suspension in the NFL.

He has played cornerback, defended slot receivers, and has moved back and forth between free and strong safety. In 2012, he split time at corner and free safety; he has quick feet and loose hips. However his 4.67 and 4.63 combine 40 times and 4.65 at his pro day will make a few teams to look more critically at him. If he can overcome his fixation on the knockout blow and still be effective his short-area quickness, instincts and exceptional ball skills will allow him to be a good NFL safety. The NFL comparison I would make is TJ Ward.

6. Phillip Thomas S 6’0½” 208 Fresno State – He is a classic centerfielder and while he is not at all the athlete that Ed Reed was, that is however the type of nose for the ball he has. He’s the first player in Fresno State history to be a unanimous All-American, was named a first-team All-American by the AFCA, Associated Press, FWAA, Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation. Thomas was one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award that goes to the top defensive back in the nation, received the College Football Performance Awards Defensive Back Trophy. In 2012 his eight interceptions leads the nation and has set a new conference single-season record.

He missed the entire 2011 season after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle three days before the season opener. His dedication to return to the field, working hard rehabbing the injury with the athletic training staff and building back strength in his leg paid off. The Bulldog safety had one of the best seasons, if not the best, of any defensive player in the nation. He tallied 9 total takeaways, forced 4 fumbles and scored 3 times as well as 82 Tackles. He also added 4 Sacks, 12 TFLs, four pass breakups.

When a player has such a remarkable season the first thing an evaluator must do is try to see if this was more due to individual excellence or the system. Both are always factors, but a player’s grade is influenced by which seems to predominate. Coaches have used Thomas at both free safety and strong safety, as a run stopper, pass-rusher and in man and zone coverage. Thomas hasn’t seemed to struggle. It helps that former NFL standout [and father of T.J McDonald] Tim McDonald coached him at Fresno. Clearly he has dedicated himself to film study, he recognizes formations, motions alignments and routes very quickly and gets into the proper position.

The concerns are about his straight-line speed a 4.65 official combine time and pro day 40 times ranging from 4.59-4.53 mean he’s not a blazer. His 2011 leg and ankle injury was harrowing to witness, he does not disengage from blocks as quickly as on would prefer, and on occasion he can bite on play action or a double move.

If he goes to a Cover-2 team and continues to get great coaching, Thomas has a chance to play at a pro bowl level.  He could be selected as early as the late 2nd round; I consider it unlikely he’d make it past the early 3rd. The NFL safety I am most strongly reminded of is Chris Hope.

7. Shamarko Thomas S 5’8⅞” 213 Syracuse – Thomas is a compactly built power SS. He is an elite level athlete, perhaps the most physically gifted and explosive in the draft class. A Virginia Beach native he has started since he was a true freshman and during the offseason before his sophomore year his dad was killed in a motorcycle accident.  Nine months later his mother passed away.  He now plays in their memory. He ran a 4.42, Benched 28 Reps (First among safeties), Vertical 40.5 (Tied for First with Eric Reid), and had an 11’1″ broad jump. The only other thing he participated in was the 20 yard shuttle, in which he got a 4.26. What he needs is more coaching and a little time.  Currently he slows down when somebody has a 2 way go and could juke, breaks down to make the tackle, he displays solid reflexes when exploding into the player as they try to make a move, and most importantly, actually has the strength to consistently make tackles even when in difficult or awkward positions.At times he is too aggressive and this seems like a cover safety draft. I think Thomas could be a solid strong safety in maybe a year or so (or maybe sooner, depending on how fast he can fix his overaggressive technique), and he has the potential to be a more versatile safety as well, he might just need to be coached. Earlier in his career he played LB, prior to moving to SS, so he never got the chance to try being Free Safety. We know he’s a heat seeking missile and about his explosiveness. He is a hard hitting, fast running, strong, also he passes the eye test with flying colors; Shamarko Thomas shows man to man coverage skills, violent hitting ability, and exceptional run support between the tackles and as stated he struggles in open space due to his hyper-aggressive nature.

What appears to be the main problem that he tends to actually be too aggressive. He’ll take some poor angles and over pursue, which leads to him getting beaten. He has the athletic ability to recover, but it’s typically after he’s already been beaten on the play. If he can become more disciplined, he could be a very good player. He’s probably going to go in the late 3rd to early 4th round.  His unusual measurables and safe-like build have drawn Bob Sanders comparisons however I am reminded more of Blaine Bishop.

8. Tony Jefferson S 5’10¾” 212 Oklahoma – There has recently been a great deal of discussion about just how good Tony Jefferson might, or might not be, as an athlete and as a person. On tape he never ever looked lazy or looked like he had bad habits. He was a three year starter and the coaches and opponents’ coaches both raved about him all three years. He was flexible and changed positions when asked to help the team, at times playing out of position to his own detriment.  There are some legitimate reasons to criticize his play however.  He has good but not great size; his 4.64 combine 40 is at least in part attributable to a slight, but persistent hamstring problem. At his pro day his Short Shuttle: 4.18, 3-Cone Drill: 7.32 seconds 22 tackles for loss in his three-year career were acceptable but not eye-opening.

In fact the most truly impressive things to be found about Jefferson are to be found when he’s playing football. After nearly attending UCLA, close to home, he instead followed his friend Kenny Stills to OU. He apparently made the right choice as he was immediately productive. As a freshman he was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and was the team’s Nickel back. As a sophomore Jefferson led the team with four interceptions, was third on the team with 74 tackles, fourth on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss. He started 12 of 13 games and appeared in all 13. This year he was ranked second in the Big 12 and led the team with 119 total tackles, the fourth-highest total in the nation by a defensive back this season and led the Big 12 in total tackles in conference games with 91 stops. Jefferson also led the team in solo tackles and assisted tackles, he reached double digits in tackles in seven games, with a career-high 14 tackles against both Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

What sets Tony Jefferson and Vaccaro apart is their versatility.  Jefferson lined up as a deep safety, in the box, covered TEs, and covered WRs outside and in the slot. There is a chance that his lack of elite physical ability will cause him to slide I think a team that values playmaking, position flexibility and good film study habits will not let him out of the 3rd.  The NFL safety he most reminds me of is a shorter version of Eric Smith.

9. Bacarri Rambo S 6’0½” 211 Georgia – Beyond his rather colorful name Rambo has some impressive qualities as an athlete; he is productive and has played in 47 games while starting 36 of them. He made his presence felt early in 2010 Started all 13 games recording 82 tackles at while also notching three interceptions, three pass break ups and forcing three fumbles.  The next season he truly broke out. That season he was: First Team All-American by Associated Press, Yahoo Sports and and Second Team All-American by Walter Camp, Phil Steele and Sports Illustrated. Selected to: All-SEC First Team by Associated Press, and SEC Coaches and Second Team by Phil Steele, Rambo started all 13 games in which he appeared recording 55 tackles, recovered a fumble, had eight PBUs and a team-best eight INTs.

Entering his senior season he was a consensus All-American, however He started off the season suspended for failing a drug test. There are some character issues that must be answered. This was his 2nd suspension and he will need to show that marijuana is not a long term problem. On the field he has a strong sense of route reading and will jump routes based on the QB’s eyes, tendencies, down and distance. He can get to the apex of the ball’s arc and win at the moment of truth. He plays with good playing power, but his 4.64 40 at his pro day makes it less likely that every team will see him as a free safety. Other concerns about his play center around his inconsistency as a tackler, his tackling ranges from devastating to tip-toeish, he creates big plays but at times he creates them for the offense. He’ll to prove he can be trusted on and off the field. If he can he may be chosen in the late 2nd round if teams feel he can’t be trusted he may last until the 4th.  The NFL comparison that comes most readily to mind is Yeremiah Bell.

10. Shawn Williams S 5’11⅞” 213 Georgia-Williams teams with Rambo to make 2 NFL safeties in their back end and remember Jakar Hamilton transferred but may be taken late. As a Senior, Williams started 14 games, with 98 Tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 Sack, 8 Pass Breakups and 1 Forced Fumble. He is another thickly built power safety, he can bang in the box and Williams made headlines for calling out his defensive teammates as “too soft.”  Williams, showed he is far from that with 98 tackles (5.5 for loss), and four passes defended.  He is capable of playing with great violence, however at time he is slow on the trigger, if he does a better job of seeing things and getting in the proper position it will be helpful. Williams is a very solid tackler, that and his 4.46 speed have several teams looking at him at both the strong and weak side.

When studying Williams there are some qualities that stand out: he closes quickly on the ball, he understands run fits, he can cover running backs and tight ends and he can deliver a jolt. The things that scouts will not like: like so many aggressive, gritty safeties he can over commit and get out of position. He is much like Thomas Davis and he could likely gain 15-20 pounds and play WLB.  When he trusts his eyes and plays under control he looks very much like a future NFL starter. The NFL safeties that I most see when I watch Williams are Coy Wire and Da’Norris Searcy.

11. Earl Wolff S 5’11½” 210 North Carolina- Wolff is ‘sneaky’ athletic he had a 6.96-second 3-cone at his pro day, he earned first-team All-ACC honors, totaling 119 tackles, two interceptions, and eight passes broken up; and his career total of 391 was fifth all-time at NC State. Wolff had a career-best 19 tackles at Clemson, and has four games of at least 17 tackles this season. Wolff has also recorded a pair of interceptions this season, and has five for his career. Wolff has faced some very explosive offenses, he is a terrific all-around athlete, evidenced in his 4.44 40 time, 39″ vertical, 4.07 short-shuttle and 11’2″ broad jump, and he was among the top safeties in all of those events. But he is not just an athletic freak; he is good at reading and reacting to what he sees. He has polish in both his zone drops and coverage technique and has good hips and foot quickness. Wolf has excelled at playing downhill (run support, blitzing, and blowing up short passes). He will need to prove he has NFL center-fielder instincts to improve his draft stock otherwise he’ll be seen as a SS only and he won’t go off the draft board until the mid-5th.

However if he is able to translate his rare athletic ability into   showing he can cover in the deep middle as well as the deep half and even man then he will likely go earlier. By way of comparison he is similar to Gus Scott. In my mind I think in a Tampa 2 scheme Wolff would find his best fit on the strong side.

12. Keelan Johnson S 5’11⅝” 209 Arizona State – Johnson played in 49 games for the Sun Devils, starting 18 of them across all four seasons, originally he was slated to play wide receiver but was moved to the defensive side of the ball before his first start for the Sun Devils. In his four years on varsity, Johnson recorded 8 interceptions which is the second most in school history since 2000. Johnson was a captain for the past two seasons so he has experience leading a secondary. In his senior season, Johnson was first team All-Pac-12 All-Conference. He finished his career with 169 tackles, over half of which came in his senior season of 2012 (88). He had eight career interceptions, five coming in 2012.  Things that you notice about Johnson: he is comfortable in playing downhill against the run and a very aggressive and effective pass defender. However he can, at times, be too aggressive and over pursue. He has a reasonable mix of speed at 4.54 and is size; in person he looks like a running back.  Anytime from the mid-5th on he might be selected.

13. J. J. Wilcox S 6’0⅝” 216 Georgia Southern- Wilcox might be one of the most versatile players in this draft. He has played on both sides of the ball. He spent his first three seasons with the Eagles on offense, mainly as a slot receiver/wingback in a triple-option offense. During that time, he rushed 137 times for 964 yards. He is a big bodied safety with 4.51 speed; he has good hands and ball skills. In his only season on defense made 84 tackles and intercepted two passes. He’s also returned kickoffs for an average of 25.5 yards on 30 attempts. He has range and makes plays. I don’t think he’ll get out of the late 4th round or early part of the 5th round.

14. Duke Williams S 5’10⅞”  202 Nevada- He can really hit and Williams was a 3-sport star in  high school; an athlete who earned 12 varsity letters between football, basketball and track and field. As a track star, Williams was part of championship teams in the 4×100 relay that broke the state record at 41.34 seconds, and was ranked in the national top 10 in the triple jump. On the gridiron, Williams played both as a quarterback and defensive back and was the Northern Nevada Player of the Year as a senior. He was also a three-time all-state selection as a safety. He’s forced three fumbles, recovered two more and has been credited with eight pass breakups. The Wolf Pack as a team had just four interceptions and forced only 15 turnovers in 12 games. Williams is yet another safety that could likely be seen as a player who could play at either safety position as the game has changed coverage is now more important than rocking people in the run. At times he can be quick and fluid in coverage but he can be fooled and see ‘ghosts’ he’ll need to improve his route recognition, if he does he should have a long career.

15. John Boyett S 5’9⅞” 204 Oregon -Oddly enough there are two consecutive prospects the first freshman on record to lead the Ducks in tackles, with 90 in 2009. He led the Ducks with 108 tackles in the 2011 season, earning second-team all-Pac-12 honors. With 276 career tackles and nine interceptions Boyett has played well in big games. He had 12 tackles in the Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State in 2009; 11 tackles vs. Auburn in the BCS national title game; 14 against LSU in the season opener last year; and 17 in the win over Wisconsin, tying a Rose Bowl record. Boyett has had surgery on both knees, and is likely now to be a 6th round selection at the earliest. When healthy he was quick player, with a high level ability to react to formations and route recognitions, and he’s very strong and despite his injury he knocked out 27 bench repetitions at 225. If a team is able to be patient with him at the very least he’s a future special team’s captain. He has the potential to become a starter.

16. Malcolm Bronson S 5’10⅝” 189 McNeese State -Bronson had been named all-Southland Conference three times, and could have become only the sixth player in league history to make the all-conference list four consecutive years, as did his uncle, Zack, a former McNeese and San Francisco 49ers player. Bronson also was named to watch lists for awards honoring the best defensive player and top defensive back at the FCS level. Unfortunately after injuring his knee during the 3rd game of this season against Weber State he missed the rest of the season. His previous season, in 2011, Bronson led the Pokes with 90 tackles and three interceptions. He is an instinctive leader whose toughness belies his size. While he’s not a vicious tackler he will make plays in the run game and in the open field. The thing that will make him valuable, despite his injury, is that he has showed he’s highly adept at playing in the deep third, Bronson has lead the back half of the McNeese State defense for the past few years making the calls in the secondary.  The knee is what will make Bronson a 3rd day selection; prior to getting hurt I was projecting him to the late 2nd/early 3rd round.

17.Rontez Miles S 5’11⅝” 203 California (PA) – A team captain, he had five interceptions last season, he transferred after his half-brother and he struggled at Kent State, Miles with the books but Griffin, however, was kicked off the Kent State team because of academic issues and charges for marijuana possession and driving without a license. In 2011Miles started all 13 games at defensive back and finished with 71 tackles (51 solo), 6.0 TFL and eight pass break-ups. At the NFL Combine he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.62 he showed good overall athletic skills. On tape you see a big hitter who excels in the running game. Despite showing good short area speed he struggles a bit in flipping his to ‘turn and burn’ when in coverage.

18. Cooper Taylor S 6’4¼” 229 Richmond – [GA Tech transfer] After a cardiac arrhythmia caused by Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome Taylor lost his starting job with the ‘Rambling Wrecks’ he go medical clearance and transferred to Richmond. Taylor is a very big safety with very good athletic ability. Taylor ran the 40-yard dash in times of 4.45 and 4.53, much faster than expected and put up 23 reps on the bench press. Taylor also posted a 36.5″ vertical jump as well as a 10’7″ broad jump. In the agility drills, Taylor had results that were excellent for his size with a 4.2 short shuttle and a 6.9 3-cone. Scouts are intrigued by his frame that makes him a good candidate to defend tight ends he has made impressive plays in both the running game and coverage. He does have some question marks, as he’s been injured a couple of times (broken hand, etc.) and his health will need to be checked as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome triggered his loss of playing time at GA Tech. However I think he could go earlier than expected, perhaps as early as the late 5th.

19. Kemal Ishmael S 5’10¾” 212 UCF – Ishmael was extremely productive, with 116 tackles this season and a sack as well as three interceptions this season along with three forced fumbles he also snagged the C-USA defensive player of the year award. He was a team captain for UCF was ranked number three all-time in UCF tackles, with 360 tackles in his career. Kemal Ishmael has been a mainstay for the Knights, starting every game since his freshman season in 2009.

20. Cody Davis S 6’1 ¾” 204 Texas Tech – Davis is one of the truly underrated prospects in this safety class, but his: 41½” vertical and 10’3″ broad jump, with a short shuttle time of 4.00 seconds and he had a 6.78-second three-cone drill, when combined with a 4.41-4.44 40 time he sent scouts scurrying back to look at his tape. What they’ll find is a solid player whose on-field performance does not match the suddenness or explosiveness he showed at his workout. But he’s a very dependable and durable athlete who was a finalist for the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Award; lead the Red Raiders with 91 tackles, 82 solo tackles and three interceptions this past season. He led all Red Raiders with 48 career starts and he can play on either side.

21.Robert Lester S 6’1¼” 220 Alabama – Lester is obviously well-coached, mentally and physically tough, however it’s hard to imagine him matching up on athletic tight end and running backs, let alone slot receivers. Of all the safety prospects I have scouted he is the one with the least amount of consistent movement skills he is very, very stiff and linear. He lacks burst and change of direction. Unless he can play LB he will be a special teams’ only player in the NFL.

22. Dexter McCoil S 6’3½” 224 Tulsa- Despite his size McCoil is quicker than his 4.61 [4.54 with the wind, 4.68 against] might suggest.  He is not just a thumper he has very impressive ball skills and above average range. I will not be surprised if he becomes a starter in the right system.

23.Jawanza Starling S 6’0¾” 202 USC – While widely considered the 2nd best of USC’s safety prospects He has some limitations in terms of his average, [4.64] straight-line speed, but he is very quick and can diagnose plays well.  He will likely be a special team’s ace and add depth at both safety slots.

24. Zeke Motta S 6’2¼” 213 Notre Dame – Motta is rather like Pitt’s Dom DeCicco, he is smart and tough, however in today’s NFL he’ll have to get bigger and play WLB. He simply lacks to movement skills in space to be used in most schemes even as a SS.

25. Ray Ray Armstrong S 6’3″ 216 Faulkner University [transfer from Miami (FL)] – There was a time when Armstrong was in the top 100 discussion. Now after 3 suspensions at ‘The U’ and a 4.69 40 at his pro day he is seen as fringe-draft-able. His last year of play showed that he’s a hitter and his 2010 tape shows real promise but that was a while ago.

26. Rashard Hall S 6’1⅜” 213 Clemson – Hall is a bit of a mixed bag, he will make a great anticipation play on one series and get caught flat-footed as a “Sluggo Route” [slant and go] burns him on the next. He lacks the elite ball skills sought in a centerfielder type FS and is not quite the fearsome in the box thumper some desire at SS. What is however is intelligent, though prone to guessing, productive and a leader.

27. Vaughn Telemaque S 6’0¼” 203 Miami (FL) – Telemaque is a fringe draft-able player who might actually start in the proper defense. He has the flexibility to play on the weak or strong side; however he lacks the special characteristics to excel at either.

28. Daimion Stafford S 5’11⅝”221 Nebraska- Stafford “looks the part” and plays the part of a downhill run defender, playing the run like a linebacker., Unfortunately in the current NFL his deficiencies in coverage mean he will likely struggle in most defenses.

29. Kejuan Riley S 5’11¾” 206 Alabama State – In a “normal” safety class this player would 5-10 slots higher. Only this class’s unusual depth has placed him here. Riley’s pro day times in the 4.8 range mean he will go undrafted and that does not mean he can’t make it. He has instincts, football IQ and has played very well for 4 years.

30. Bradley McDougald S 6’0¼” 215 Kansas – A 4.74 time in the 40 would have meant that most teams would have had no interest. However a 4.49 at his pro day and his old school, hard-nosed attributes will endear him to coaches.

Also there are 3 sleepers I’d like to highlight: Benjamin Ericksen S 6’0½” 196 from Illinois State, Jakar Hamilton S 5’11″ 192, South Carolina State and Jeff Heath S 6’1⅛” 203 of Saginaw Valley – All of these players may likely go undrafted but you can count on them being priority un-drafted free agent signings if that’s the case. Ericksen was the talk of the IL State pro day after being timed in the low 4.4 range; at the very least he’ll be a PUDFA and likely a key special team’s contributor.  Heath had a 4.51 40 at his pro day and has size and versatility, if he gets stronger and improves his run fits he could see time on defense. Hamilton’s likely the best known commodity of the trio; he nearly bested Bacarri Rambo for the FS spot at Georgia. He was a junior college All-American at Georgia Military College and had 27 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown in 2010 for Georgia. After academic and off-the field issues he finished up his career at SCSU. His size is a bit of a concern, but he’s quick, has very good hand-eye coordination and body control. There’s an outside chance he could be drafted to be in a system where in ‘Big Nickel’ they play with 3 safeties. Some Cover-2 teams will look at his slight frame and 4.57 40 speed and try him at corner.

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