NFL Draft Mock 2018: Top 10 Safety Prospects

NEW YORK – APRIL 29: The stage is shown with the NFL Logo at the 2006 NFL Draft on April 29, 2006 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

From a leadership and intelligence perspective, safeties have to be able to play a variety positions with a high degree of skill. However, even more importantly, the consummate safety prospect will have the exceptional vision to read routes before they happen while being able to effectively read the eyes of the quarterback. Similar to cornerbacks, there are very few safeties in the NFL that could be considered elite, which is why this is a highly coveted position every year going into the NFL Draft. Although this years safety class may appear to be top heavy at an initial glance, there are actually a plethora of unknown and capable defensive backs at the position that could quickly step into a starting role given the proper time and guidance to fully develop their unique skill sets.


10. Armani Watts, Texas A&M

With great instincts and intelligence, Armani Watts somehow always manages to be around the ball in spite of his unimpressive speed. With that being said, Watts does struggle in man coverage as speedy receivers can create separation from him fairly easily. Still, Watts’ reflexes and impressive play recognition abilities will allow him to become a late bloomer at some point during his pro career.


9. Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh

Suspended during the first three games of the 2017 season, Jordan Whitehead clearly has some off the field concerns. However, Whitehead is highly physical and has the instincts to be a relentless and effective strong safety at the next level. Although Whitehead will likely drop into one of the later rounds of the draft due to his somewhat diminutive size, he has the tackling skills to be a bully defensive back that will consistently disrupt would be pass-catchers.


8. Jessie Bates, Wake Forest

What Jessie Bates lacks in strength, he makes up for with his exceptional tackling abilities and an impressive nose for locating and knocking down passes. If the tenacious safety can put on some more muscle and perform well at the combine, he could quickly rise up draft boards as a reliable, tackling safety.


7. Kyzir White, West Virginia

With the ideal frame to be a strong safety in the NFL, Kyzir White has all of the physical tools and aggressive to both rush the quarterback and force fumbles consistently. Although White may be on the slow side, he is clearly a physical force that could contribute immensely in blitzing situations while forcing turnovers to get his eager offense back on the field.


6. Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Although he may not have elite speed, Terrell Edmunds has great coverage skills and the prototypical frame to be an intimidating and physical safety in the NFL. While his production in 2017 could have been better, he clearly has all of the physical skills and the developing covering abilities to be an intriguing safety at some point in his career.


5. Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

A fearless enforcer, Ronnie Harrison is the ideal strong safety prospect that can both stop the run and consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. Although Harrison has the athleticism to be effective in coverage, he struggles in man coverage as he lacks the anticipation skills to cover speedy wideouts one-on-one. Nevertheless, Harrison is a great tackler with a tremendous motor that will be coveted by NFL teams that want to beef up a physical and relentless secondary.


4. Deshon Elliott, Texas

Despite lacking elite athletic abilities, Deshon Elliott has the exceptional instincts and size to be a solid to great free safety at the next level. Also a strong tackler, Elliott is much more than a typical cover safety and should go far in the NFL if he can find ways to make up for his lack of speed.


3. Justin Reid, Stanford

A jack-of-all-trades safety prospect, Justin Reid makes up for his lack of size and range by being effectively versatile. Although he may not have impressive speed, he is quick enough to run to and tackle an opposing offensive player. Given his well-rounded skill set, Reid is an ideal developmental safety that can play any defensive back position with relative ease.


2. Derwin James, Florida State

Similar to Justin Reid in terms of being versatile, Derwin James is a bit more impressive because of his intriguing combination of size, speed, and physicality. While James has the solid instincts to be an above average free safety, his toughness and physical nature will allow him to be much more dominant as a ferocious strong safety. Regardless of what defensive position James ends up playing, his wide-ranging skill set will allow him to be a constant threat anywhere on the field.


1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Whether covering receivers one-on-one downfield or providing help to his fellow cornerbacks in coverage, Minkah Fitzpatrick is the ideal do it all defensive back that is fantastic in any pass covering position. He is also a clutch tackler that can effectively be the eighth man in the box. Fitzpatrick does not appear to have any limitations or preferences for where he lines up on the field, which should allow him to step into any defensive system right away and contribute in any way that he is needed by his future team.

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